It's a biblical story that I repeat often and that has enormous relevance to the present dilemma facing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Cabinet. When Joshua set up the Tabernacle, which preceded the Holy Temple, in Shiloh, thereby establishing it as Israel's capital city some 3,300 years ago, he spoke the following words to the Israelites, words that resonate to this very day:
"How long will you wait, before coming to take possession of the land that the Lord, God of your fathers has given you?" (Joshua 18:3)
Joshua needed to say those words to the Israelis of that time, apparently because of their serious hesitation to take control of the difficult regions where enemies such as the Philistines were ensconced. The fear of entering costly wars in which many lives could have been lost, or the concern about applying sovereignty to a place where much of the population was hostile - These were all serious issues then as they are now, but Joshua reprimanded the people, urging them to go forward to claim their God-given lands, with faith in the justice of their cause.
In these perilous days for Israel, the Cabinet is discussing its next goals in the war in Gaza. Most Cabinet members seem to agree that Hamas and Islamic Jihad need to be disarmed, but there is less agreement about how to get the job done. Should Israel rely on a negotiated agreement that probably wouldn't be adhered to? Should it avoid a long stay in that troublesome coastal region?
It should by now be clear to all that only Israel can be counted on to disarm the terrorists, to bring them to their knees, and then to maintain the peace. Sadly, there is no other interested party that Israel can rely on to prevent the terrorist organizations from rearming with the help of their many friends, throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's strange suggestion that the United Nations, those well-known lovers of the Jewish state, should be given a mandate over Gaza, is an especially horrifying prospect. That same UN that couldn't or wouldn't prevent Hamas weapons from being based in its own UNRWA schools in Gaza, or that oddly claimed that it didn't even know that the weapons were there - This is who Mr.Liberman wants to safeguard the peace in Gaza?
It's not easy and it's not pleasant to reject the advice of ostensible allies, but this is what Israel must do. Taking full control of Gaza and asserting Israel's sovereignty over the historic coastal region of Samson is the only way to keep the peace after the disarming of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, may it be accomplished speedily and completely. As Joshua said to the Israelites, " Be strong and courageous, do not fear and do not lose resolve, for the Lord your God is with you..."