Jerusalem Day Parade enters Old City from Dmascus Gate

Jerusalem Day Parade enters Old City from Dmascus Gate

Well, in case you thought Bibi Netanyahu reads Jewlicious and was convinced by my suggestion that Jerusalem can be divided with the Old City becoming an international protectorate, think again.

Today he announced, as have all previous Israeli PMs since 1967, that Jerusalem is indivisible and shall never be divided again. Never ever. Not even a little bit.

Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided.

Only under Israeli sovereignty will united Jerusalem ensure the freedom of religion and freedom of access for the three religions to the holy places.

Of course, Ehud Barak made similar assertions and he ended up offering half of Jerusalem to the Palestinians (although there is some question as to whether at Camp David he actually offered sovereignty over the eastern part of the city).

Still, Netanyahu’s statement does give us a clear status check. Now let’s see whether he has the balls to build out E1, the area that connects Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim.

About the author



  • Good to know he’s part of the “reality based community” and not one of the people who aren’t and claim to be. IE Leftists.

  • I will venture into this because I cannot help myself. Israels are divided on this issue also – and while I think that the diaspora has some input on such a massive decision, ultimately the decision rests with Israel and Israelis.

    But the important thing is the new “tag ball” in the bottom right column.

    Have you seen this cool thing? I mean that is cool.

    And back to Jerusalem – it is forbidden to relinquish ownership over the city by choice, but to create a canton/ borough system, where East Jerusalem has its own governance is permitted. The governance of the Eastern Borough must be inline with the general laws of the cit. For that matter, Bethlehem can be another borough.

  • Let’s see, Middle. Yesterday you were all for Obama’s ‘trial balloon’. The wind changed direction overnight, apparently, so today you’re for consolidating Israeli control. Time to change your nom de blog to Sybil.

  • Glad to see Bibi remains unabashedly opposed to any assclown idea originating in the UN. If I could vote in Israel (given how many jews voted more than once for Obama, maybe I can claim the right) I’d vote for Bibi.

    WHEN is the other shoe going to fall about Obama being born in Kenya and not being a natural born citizen?

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that BHO is the Indonesian Candidate. I’m surprised the irish didn’t smack him down at Notre Dame. He’s pissing off all the right people.

  • Tom, I’m not for anything different than what I wrote yesterday. How did you glean that my mind changed from this post? And why can’t I just report things without an assumption that I’m for or against something unless I say so explicitly?

  • Bibi forgot to mention “why” Jerusalem is ours.
    I believe this is a weakness in the Israeli leadership today.
    Our connection to Jerusalem is biblical… end of story.
    Why are people so afraid to say this?!

    I recently mentioned on my blog that:

    1) every synagogue in the world is built to face Jerusalem
    2) in daily prayers/ blessings Jerusalem is mentioned
    3) every Passover we say “Next Year in Jerusalem”
    4) we mention Jerusalem under the wedding canopy
    5) Jerusalem is mentioned at circumcisions
    6) a piece of a new home is left unfinished to remember Jerusalem
    7) we end the Yom Kippur service with “Next Year in Jerusalem”

    Our connection to Jerusalem is much deeper than most Jews realize.

  • Division of Jerusalem is a non-starter because a Pali state on the West Bank is a non-starter – at least for the increasing number of Israelis who are finally facing reality as the pretty confetti of the Oslo years blows away.

    We have no partners for coexistence.
    It still is all-or-nothing for the Palis and the Arab world.
    They still really do want to kill us.

    Twenty years of peacemaking and PC vacillation in our self-defense have spawned terrorist bases on our borders, compromised our international position – and left us with “recognition” and “agreements” not worth the paper they’re printed on.

    The Middle and others who don’t have to live with the consequences can loop back to tropes that comfort them and confirm their liberal self-image.

    We Israelis have to live in reality.

  • And Ben David, since you have to live with the reality, please tell me what you’re going to do in 5-7 years when they officially declare demographic parity with Israel and the “anti-apartheid” international campaign against Israel starts in earnest?

  • themiddle – demographic parity is nowhere near that close. arab growth rate is higher than jewish growth rate overall – but in fact, in the WB in 2007 i think it was something around 4.x% Jewish growth to 3.x% arab growth. So, in fact, the problem will not be resolved by simply withdrawing – unless you think Lieberman’s plan for the triangle is a good idea. Do you?

  • LB, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have demographic parity. What matters is whether Palestinian institutions are claiming there is and their numbers are closing in. Also, the average Arab family in the WB is still having 6 kids and outpacing the Jewish families there. Even if they weren’t, assuming you’re counting 250,000 settlers, vs. at least 5 times and probably 8 times as many Palestinians with 50% of them under the age of 18, the future indicates the Palestinians continue to outpace Jews in the WB.

    As for the Triangle, Lieberman is not the first to propose that those citizens be given to the Palestinian authority or state. In fact, this idea originated with Malley and Agha, two pro-Palestinian scholars who are well known because of their assertions that at Camp David it was the Americans and Israelis who screwed up and whose fault it was that the Palestinians didn’t negotiate.

    In a 2001 article in Foreign Affairs, Malley and Agha proposed a peace plan and it revolved around taking the Triangle – land and people – and trading it with the new Palestine for the settlement blocs. The idea was that this would secure Israel’s Jewish identity in the long run, not just the short term.

    The Last Negotiation
    By Hussein Agha and Robert Malley

    From Foreign Affairs, May/June 2002

    Hussein Agha is Senior Associate Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. He has been involved in Israeli-Palestinian affairs for more than 30 years. Robert Malley is Middle East Program Director at the International Crisis Group. Between 1998 and 2001, he was President Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs.


    Since the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the outbreak of the second intifada, two propositions have gained wide acceptance. The first is that trying to find a comprehensive solution to end the conflict has already been attempted — and at this point, if tried again, can only fail. The second is that an interim solution is therefore the only way out of the current crisis and might succeed if properly implemented. The mounting death tolls on both sides seem to confirm the notion that conflict management rather than conflict resolution should be the order of the day, and that now is the time for taking incremental steps in order to rebuild the torn fabric of trust. In fact, now is precisely the time for a U.S.-led international coalition to put forward an end-of-conflict deal.

    The idea that only incremental steps can resolve the current crisis flies in the face of the experience of the past decade. Everything Israelis and Palestinians have tried since 1993 has been of the interim sort — whether the Oslo accords themselves, the 1995 Interim accords, the 1997 Hebron agreement, or the 1998 Wye memorandum. However sensible it may have seemed at the start, in practice the incremental approach has demonstrated serious shortcomings.

    Lacking a clear and distinct vision of where they were heading, both sides treated the interim period not as a time to prepare for an ultimate agreement but as a mere warm-up to the final negotiations; not as a chance to build trust, but as an opportunity to optimize their bargaining positions. As a result, each side was determined to hold on to its assets until the endgame. Palestinians were loath to confiscate weapons or clamp down on radical groups; Israelis were reluctant to return territory or halt settlement construction. Grudging behavior by one side fueled grudging behavior by the other, leading to a vicious cycle of skirted obligations, clear-cut violations, and mutual recriminations.

    By multiplying the number of obligations each side agreed to, the successive interim accords increased the potential for missteps and missed deadlines. Each interim commitment became the focal point for the next dispute and a microcosm for the overall conflict, leading to endless renegotiations and diminished respect for the text of the signed agreements themselves. Steps that might have been easy to win support for domestically if packaged as part of a final agreement were condemned as unwarranted concessions when carried out in isolation. Increasingly beleaguered political leaderships on both sides thus were tempted to take compensatory actions: incendiary speeches by Palestinians, building more settlements by Israelis, and from the two parties, a general reluctance to prepare their people for the ultimate compromises. Designed to placate angry constituents, these moves had the unintended consequence of alienating the other side, making a final deal all the more difficult to achieve. Finally, the succession of piecemeal, incremental agreements made it more difficult to mobilize the support of other countries.

    Yet another interim agreement could not cure ills that are inherent in the culture of interim agreements. It would not rebuild trust, it would not lead to a durable political agreement, and it would use up considerable local and international energy in the process. The same defects plague plans that call for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state with negotiations to follow over its size, prerogatives, and other final-status issues. As for the notion of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and Gaza, such a gesture would only add to these problems the real risk of emboldening those Palestinians who believe that Israel can be forced by violence to pull out. As all of these factors suggest, the current confrontation is not an argument in favor of acting small, but rather a call to start thinking big.


    History demonstrates that the incremental method has failed. Yet because Israelis and Palestinians did not reach an agreement at Camp David in 2000 or at the talks in Taba, Egypt, that followed, because the parties are deemed unripe, because their leaders seem uninterested and the gaps between them seem unbridgeable, proponents of moving toward a final agreement immediately are dismissed as being at best naive and idealistic, at worst desperately out of touch.

    In truth, however, the final-status negotiations that took place in 2000-2001 were not an exception to or a departure from the approach that had prevailed since 1993, but rather its extension and culmination — conducted in the same spirit, and with the same vices, as that which prevailed during the rest of the interim period. No common principles guided these latter discussions; instead, a vision was meant to emerge from an incremental process of give-and-take. As a result, neither side was able to rebut its domestic opponents or rally potential supporters behind a comprehensive vision. Negotiators who might have been able to market a comprehensive deal were uneasy defending its constituent parts in isolation. And the parties were unable to rally significant regional or international backing for a clearly articulated package deal.

    The process that started at Camp David suffered from another basic flaw: it was predicated on the widespread but erroneous belief that genuine, durable agreements can emerge only from direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Although this might be true when it comes to interim or technical agreements, it does not hold for a permanent accord. With the stakes so extraordinarily high for both sides, Israelis and Palestinians have been reluctant to put forward or accept proposals that risk undermining their bargaining position absent the certainty of reaching a comprehensive deal.

    Indeed, as a result of the character of the parties’ interactions, the inherent power imbalance, and the existential nature of their dispute, negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have now reached the point of diminishing — even negative — returns. Rather than bring the two sides closer, negotiations serve to play up remaining disagreements and to play down the broad scope of actual convergence. The time for negotiations has therefore ended. Instead, the parties must be presented with a full-fledged, non-negotiable final agreement.

    The arguments routinely deployed against making an immediate effort to end the conflict are flawed. Some say, for example, that a permanent solution must await the building of trust between the two sides. But the belief that the conflict cannot be ended so long as mistrust persists is a seemingly logical argument that actually stands reason on its head. Mistrust, enmity, and suspicion are the consequences of the conflict, not its cause. A deal should not be made dependent on preexisting mutual trust; the deal itself will create it.

    Other skeptics point to the rightward move of the Israeli public in reaction to the intifada and supposed Palestinian intransigence in 2000 and 2001 as an insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of a final-status deal anytime soon. But this same public moved swiftly from supporting the most peace-oriented government in the country’s history to electing one of its most aggressive — suggesting that it could swing back just as quickly. Every poll confirms that Israelis want quiet, normalcy, and safety in their everyday lives. If they were presented with a U.S.-backed, realistic, end-of-conflict agreement, in all likelihood most of them would embrace it. The impact that the recently proposed Saudi offer (full normalization in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from the territories conquered in 1967) has had demonstrates just how hungry Israelis are for a conclusive way out of the quagmire. And just as one ought not read too much into the Israeli public’s apparent frustration, so would it be a mistake to read too much into past Palestinian behavior. Neither the substance of the ideas at Camp David and subsequent talks, nor the process by which they were presented adequately tested the Palestinians’ readiness to accept a fair, end-of-conflict deal that met their core interests.

    Many argue, finally, that as a matter of principle, any political effort must await the end of the violence so as not to reward it. Yet violence is a byproduct of the political relationship between Israelis and Palestinians and cannot be divorced from it. That relationship is unfortunately destined to remain a conflictual one until its core issues have been, or are in the process of being, resolved. It would be a historical anomaly for a conflict between two fundamentally unequal antagonists to be resolved without violence. In that sense, violence is latent in the interim approach as much as it contradicts it. Unless the two parties reached an accord, in other words, Oslo all but ensured that their perceptions and expectations would clash, and from that point on the cycle was bound to become ever more vicious. Israel believes it cannot negotiate under fire, and the Palestinians fear that, absent fire, the Israelis will have no incentive to negotiate. The violence so inconsistent with the spirit of Oslo thus became its natural successor. The only certain way to stop the killing is to offer the parties a tangible and fair way to end the underlying conflict.


    The case for seeking a comprehensive deal ultimately depends on whether one believes it is possible to design a package that both sides can accept. Such a deal must protect both sides’ core interests without breaching either party’s “redlines,” or non-negotiable demands.

    Israel’s basic interests are to preserve its Jewish character and majority; safeguard its security and the safety of its citizens; acquire international legitimacy, recognition, and normalcy; maintain its attachment and links to Jewish holy sites and national symbols; and establish with certainty that the conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab states has ended once and for all and that there will be no further claims. These principles translate into a core set of policy redlines: no mass influx of refugees that would upset Israel’s demographic balance; Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; recognition of the sacred Jewish link to the Temple Mount; no return to the 1967 borders; the incorporation into Israel of the vast majority of settlers in their current locations; no second army between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea; and the perpetuation of the Jordan Valley as Israel’s de facto eastern security border.

    As for the Palestinians, their basic interests can be defined as living in freedom, dignity, equality, and security; ending the occupation and achieving national self-determination; resolving the refugee issue fairly; governing and controlling the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem; and ensuring that whatever deal is finally struck is accepted as legitimate by members of the Arab and Muslim worlds. These principles similarly translate into a set of policy redlines: Palestinian statehood, with genuine sovereignty over the equivalent of 100 percent of the land lost in 1967; a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in which refugees are given the choice of returning to the areas where they or their ancestors lived before 1948; Jerusalem as the capital of their state; and security guarantees for what would be a nonmilitarized state.

    A close examination of past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and informal discussions shows that a solution does in fact exist that would be consistent with both sides’ needs. The key concept on the territorial issue is swaps: Israel would annex a minimal amount of land in the West Bank and in return provide Palestine with the equivalent amount of land from Israel proper. These swaps would be based on demographic and security criteria and be designed to preserve the viability and contiguity of both states. Israel would incorporate a large number of its West Bank settlers and the Palestinians would achieve their goal of 100 percent territorial restitution. Physically linking Gaza and the West Bank could be achieved without splitting Israel by providing the Palestinians unhindered access to and control of a safe-passage route connecting the two areas.

    On security issues, the essentials are the nonmilitarization of the Palestinian state and the introduction of an international force — led by the United States and initially including an Israeli presence — stationed on Palestinian territory in the Jordan Valley and along the border with Israel. This force would serve as a political deterrent to any attack, thereby enhancing both sides’ sense of security. The fact that it would be an international force would meet Palestinian concerns, while the fact that it would, at first, include an Israeli component would help assuage Israeli fears.

    Solving the problem of Jerusalem — claimed by both sides as their political and religious capital — will require a deal based on the dual notions of demographic and religious self-governance. In other words, what is Jewish — namely, West Jerusalem and the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, including those established since 1967 — should become the capital of Israel, and what is Arab should become the capital of Palestine. Each religion would have control over its own holy sites. Provisions would be made to ensure the territorial contiguity of both capitals as well as unimpeded access to each community’s religious sites.

    The remaining question is the status of the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount, which both sides claim as sacred. Israel’s priority is to preserve its connection to this holiest of sites, the cradle of Jewish identity. For the Palestinians, the key is to make it plain to their people and the larger Arab and Muslim worlds that the Haram is theirs. One of the fundamental flaws of prior negotiations was that they viewed this issue through the lens of sovereignty rather than focusing on the practical arrangements required to meet both sides’ needs. What should ultimately matter is ensuring that both sides have power over that which affects and concerns them most. Control over the Haram would remain in Palestinian hands — where, indeed, it has rested since Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967. At the same time, Israel — which is less interested in governing the area than in preserving its physical integrity — would be provided with guarantees against any digging or excavation without its express consent. Those guarantees would be backed by the international community and monitored by an international presence.


    This leaves what is perhaps the most vexing topic of all: the question of the Palestinian refugees. With one side clamoring for their right of return and the other adamantly rejecting it, this problem seems like one on which no compromises are possible. Throughout the 2000-2001 negotiations, the Palestinians underestimated the degree to which Israelis associate even a theoretical Palestinian right of return with the prospect of the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Israelis simply cannot comprehend why Palestinian refugees, if given a chance to live in their own country, would instead choose to move to what has become an alien land. The only plausible explanation, in their eyes, is that the Palestinians continue to harbor the desire to undermine Israel’s long-term viability as a Jewish state. Given the already uneasy demographic realities in Israel — which now has a 20 percent Arab minority growing faster than the Jewish population — it is no wonder that the idea of an Arab influx rings alarm bells.

    If the Palestinians seem blind to Israelis’ fears, the Israelis, for their part, have belittled the seriousness of the Palestinians’ demand. With two-thirds of the Palestinian people still living as refugees, Palestinian nationalism remains, at its roots, a diaspora movement — born and bred in refugee camps and animated by the desire to recover lost homes and belongings. The sense of injustice at being evicted from their land pervades Palestinians’ national consciousness and has defined their struggle — even more than the desire to establish an independent state.

    A solution that satisfied the political demands only of the nonrefugees in the West Bank and Gaza while appearing to ignore the moral, historical, and political demands of the refugees, would be inherently unstable. It would have questionable legitimacy, would undermine the new Palestinian state, and — most alarming from an Israeli perspective — would leave open the prospect that a sizeable number of Palestinians would decide to carry on the struggle. Although denying outright the Palestinians’ right of return might seem a way to end Israelis’ immediate anxiety, it would not end the conflict; it would only transfer the seat of unrest to the Palestinian diaspora without eliminating the threat to Israel’s security.

    The challenge is to find a stable and durable solution that accommodates both the refugees’ yearning to return to the areas they left in 1948 and Israel’s demographic fears. This can be accomplished by relying on two basic principles. First, refugees should be given the choice to return to the general area where they lived before 1948 (along with the choice to live in Palestine, resettle in some third country, or be absorbed by their current country of refuge if the host country agrees). Second, any such return should be consistent with the exercise of Israel’s sovereign powers over entry and resettlement locations. Many of the refugees presumably want to go back to their original homes. But these homes, and indeed, in many cases, the entire villages where they were located, either no longer exist or are now inhabited by Jews. The next best option from the refugees’ own perspective would be to live among people who share their habits, language, religion, and culture — that is, among the current Arab citizens of Israel. Israel would settle the refugees in its Arab-populated territory along the 1967 boundaries. Those areas would then be included in the land swap with Palestine and thereby end up as part of the new Palestinian state.

    Together with generous financial compensation and other incentives to encourage refugees to resettle in third countries or in Palestine, this solution would promote several key interests. On one side, Palestinian refugees would carry out the right of return. For them, returning to the general area from which they fled or were forced to flee in the 1948 war would be extremely significant because it would cross an important psychological and political threshold. Although they would not return to their original homes, the refugees would get to live in a more familiar and hospitable environment — and one that would ultimately be ruled not by Israelis, but by their own people. Through the swap, Palestine would acquire land of far better quality than the desert areas adjacent to Gaza that have been offered in the past. For Israelis, meanwhile, this solution would actually improve the demographic balance, since the number of Arab Israelis would diminish as a result of the land transfer. Most important, it would pave the way for a stable outcome in which Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and the diaspora would all have an important stake.

    Of course, such a solution would not be problem-free. Israelis might fear that it will add to the anxiety and discontent of the Israeli Arabs who remained under Israeli sovereignty. But the demographic and political problems posed today by the Israeli Arab community already demand urgent attention. How better to neutralize their potentially irredentist feelings than to resolve the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    Some Palestinians might argue that the above plan represents nothing more than a sleight of hand, disguising resettlement in Palestine as a return to their pre-1948 lands. But do the refugees actually want to live in Jewish areas that have become part of an alien country? Would they rather live under Israeli rule than Palestinian rule? And short of calling into question Israel’s Jewish identity, is there any other way of implementing the Palestinian right of return?


    Lurking behind every dispute over the substance of an Israeli-Palestinian deal is the problem of its implementation. Over the past decade, Israelis and Palestinians have routinely balked at carrying out obligations they have agreed to. Just as routinely, the international community has watched these violations helplessly and done nothing to stop them. Achieving a lasting final-status agreement now will require some means to persuade both parties that this time, commitments will actually be upheld.

    A U.S.-led international force would help provide such assurances. This force would do more than merely verify compliance on the ground — although it would do that too, adding an element that has been missing from previous accords. The international force would also act as a neutral broker and referee. It would be the recipient for each side’s assets during the initial period of implementation — receiving weapons from the Palestinians, for example, and land from Israel. Handing over valuable assets to a dependable foreign trustee would be much easier for each side than turning them over to a partner deemed untrustworthy. Implementation of these steps could be tied to a transparent system of international incentives and disincentives (such as economic aid to the Palestinians or security assistance to Israel), thus further promoting accurate and timely compliance.


    The paradox is that, although the outlines of a solution have basically been understood for some time now, the way to get there has eluded all sides from the start. The lesson of the interim period, and the type of final-status negotiations that concluded it, is that relying on the intentions of Israeli or Palestinian leaders is a strategy with scant chance of success. The nature of the conflict, the imbalance of power, domestic politics on both sides, the character of the negotiators, the psychological makeup of the leadership — all these factors have prevented the parties from moving toward a solution.

    What is needed to overcome this deadlock is a novel process, a means of waging diplomacy that is independent of the will and whims of the parties’ leaderships, one that does not cater to their immediate preferences and that bypasses their immediate constraints. Achieving such a deal will require the forceful intervention of outside actors who can present a package that resonates with both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples, addressing their fears and concerns and showing that some way out of the impasse is actually possible.

    Led by the United States, the effort should involve a broad coalition of European, Arab, and other countries and institutions capable of providing security, as well as economic and political support, to Israelis and Palestinians. The proposal should be sanctioned by a UN Security Council resolution and complemented by a number of third-party arrangements such as a U.S.-Israeli defense treaty, possible Israeli membership in NATO, a pledge by Arab nations to recognize Israel and move toward the normalization of their relations (a process that, to be completed, would also require a peace deal with Syria), American and European security guarantees to the Palestinian state, and a sizable aid package to help build the new state’s economy.

    The forceful presentation by a U.S.-led international coalition of a deal like the one outlined above would oblige the leaderships of both sides to either sign on or defy the world — along with large segments of their own publics. Indeed, even an immediate negative reply from one or both sides would neither erase the initiative nor rob it of its importance, for the very proposal would marginalize those reluctant to espouse it and set in motion a new political dynamic that, in due course, would force a change of heart among the leaders — or else a change of leaders.

    Some will argue that anything coming from the outside will be viewed as a foreign imposition and therefore be rejected. However, if the deal is based on past and present Israeli-Palestinian discussions it will not be viewed as imposed from outside; and if it is fair, it is unlikely to be rejected. This would not be a case of outsiders seeking to force a secretly concocted agreement on unwilling parties, since the core of the agreement will have derived from the parties’ own previous interactions. Moreover, the mechanism of ratification should be predicated on popular referenda in Israel and among the Palestinian people and should be built into the proposal itself.

    The danger is to believe that what looks practical and down-to-earth — step-by-step rebuilding of the process, resumption of security cooperation, gradual improvements on the ground — is the preferable approach. The incrementalism of the previous decade has proved bankrupt time and again because it was based on a misunderstanding of the nature and dynamics of the conflict. The approach did not fail as a result of the parties’ ill will or a lack of faithful implementation; rather, it was the approach that contributed to both.

    Seldom has more ink been spilled than over the issue of whether Israeli or Palestinian leaders genuinely want or can make a final deal. These are assumed to be the key questions, the answers to which can unlock the door to a peaceful settlement. But they are not and cannot. The point now should not be to accommodate the Israeli and Palestinian leaders’ limitations and shape the effort to fit their proclivities; it should instead be to make the limitations of both sets of leaders irrelevant. As violence continues to threaten and the outlines of a fair agreement lie idly by for all to see, the notion of simply waiting for these leaders to finally negotiate a deal or for the two sides to gradually regain their trust in each other is ringing increasingly hollow. The time has come for an effort that is neither top-down nor bottom-up, but outside-in: the forceful presentation by external actors of a comprehensive, fair, and lasting deal.

  • themiddle – of course actual demographic parity is what matters. After all, the issue what will happen once it comes to a vote. If they yell and scream that they are the majority – but they’re not – it doesn’t matter. They won’t win an election.

    Also, the average Arab family in the WB is still having 6 kids and outpacing the Jewish families there. Even if they weren’t, assuming you’re counting 250,000 settlers, vs. at least 5 times and probably 8 times as many Palestinians with 50% of them under the age of 18, the future indicates the Palestinians continue to outpace Jews in the WB.

    Over the green line: Jewish growth rate – 5.2%, Total growth rate – 2.178%

    I’m not saying Lieberman came up with the plan. Or that it is so horrible.

    Note that I’m not saying we’re on safe ground. But that it’s not nearly as clear-cut as it seems. But the way things are today – it seems that if there is a demographic threat – it’s not on the other side of the green line.

  • The Jewish growth rate is not your only concern. The actual population is. Also, the perception of the numbers is a key concern.

  • This discussion is sort of pointless.

    Abbas already said the Pseudostinians insist on control over the Old City and implementation on the “right” of “return”.

    So it doesn’t matter what Bibi says or doesn’t say. Abbas has already said no to Obama.

    So that’s that.

    And what do you mean by “perception of the numbers”, Middle? Do you mean that if people think the Arabs outnumber the Jews it should make a difference/ That is, that the actual numbers don’t matter, only what people perceive the numbers to be? In other words, “narratives” as opposed to actual facts?

    The Pseudostinians lie through their teeth about everything, including their population figures. You cannot trust a single thing they say. I can’t believe that you think their claims are important enough for Israel to make policy based on them.

  • Correct, Ephraim.

    I, for example, don’t believe the official Palestinian stats about their population size. I believe the stats provided by the group of researchers who claim there are actually only 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza and the WB. However, the rest of the world, whether it’s the US State Dept., the French Foreign Ministry, the UN, the Libyan President or Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, all believe the published Palestinian stats and will continue to believe them. You can rant and rave, you can froth at the mouth and you can claim that they’re not a nation, not Palestinians, that they’re terrorists or murderers or both, you can distrust them or their narratives. You can do what you like and it won’t matter…because the perception does matter.

    On the day that the world believes that a minority of Jews is lording it over a majority of Arabs, you will see the world turn Israel into South Africa II. And with all your best wishes for Israel, you can rest assured that the conclusion of such a position for Israel will be either a one state solution or a Jewish dictatorship that becomes poorer and poorer, not to mention oppressive towards both its Jewish (especially the ones who aren’t Orthodox) and non-Jewish residents.

    To avoid this outcome, Israel needs to pull back west of the Fence.

  • themiddle – look, I don’t want to grant citizenship to 2.3 million more people who aren’t exactly in love with Israel.

    But for those who do (from either the Left or the Right) – perception doesn’t matter at all. At the end of the day, such a scenario will lead to a vote, and if those are the correct figures, we’re looking at approximately 6 million Jews and 3.5 million non-Jews. And all (adults) of them will be able to go to the polls. The Jews will retain control and then what? They’ll just yell about voter fraud? There’s a limit to that even.

  • No, you’re wrong in your numbers because the Arab vote will be unified and the Jewish vote will be divided. You will end up with a parliamentary government that will be dominated by Palestinian Arabs. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, unless you would like a Jewish state.

  • That’s an interesting argument, but I don’t think it’s accurate. Currently, Israeli-Arabs constitute about 20% of the population. Yet, because they are not unified, I think there are only 12 Arab Knesset members (not sure, in any case that would exclude Labor’s, if any made it in this time). I would have a hard time believing that 50% of the Arab sector votes for “Zionist parties.” How many boycott the elections?

  • Yes, yes, of course that’s true today. But today they don’t have a realistic chance of changing the essence of Israel from a Jewish state to a generic state. In an election where that is a possibility, the Arab vote will be unified. The Arabs are able to generate about 17-20 Knesset members today, and while it’s true that 9-11 votes are usually split among the 3 Arab parties, there is every reason to believe they will unify for a game-changing election. Is that a risk you want to take? Is that a risk you consider viable? Why wouldn’t you move your people west of the Fence instead? It only seems prudent.

    I want you to note that in this discussion, the Leaving WB discussion as well as the others we’ve held here over the years, we haven’t really seen those people who support continued Jewish presence in the WB and/or Gaza ever explain how the future will work out. They don’t have a plan, just hope that everything will work out. In the meantime, perceived strength of the state of Israel is obscuring the shallow underpinnings of that strength.

  • “In an election where that is a possibility, the Arab vote will be unified.”

    Israel’s neighbors were never able to unify – if that could actually happen, who’s to say the Jews won’t unify as well?

    “we haven’t really seen those people who support continued Jewish presence in the WB and/or Gaza ever explain how the future will work out.”

    1. This discussion has gone back to simply a continuation of the “leaving the wb” thread (which isn’t necessarily bad). You haven’t explained why there are any demographic reasons to give up an inch of Jerusalem. There really isn’t any. I don’t care about their anger, or about trying to pacify anyone – if the issue is demographic necessity, then Jerusalem can be left out and we’re fine.

    2. I do not get the sense that you trust Israel’s neighbors very much. Neither do I. Such a massive withdrawal, creating such narrow borders (not to mention loss (=any sovereignty other than Jewish) of national heartland in Jerusalem) will definitely embolden enemies. What will happen during the next war? Another Six-Day War?

    3. What should be done? A few options (I DO NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THESE PLANS, just saying there’s a lot of room for creativity):

    a. Draw a line according to JEWISH demographic needs (Ariel, Gush Etzion, E-1 and Maale Adumim, 99% of the Jordan valley, ALL OF JERUSALEM, most of Jlem’s northern suburbs, southern and western parts of South Mt. Hebron, and Cave of the Patriarchs at least – too important). Withdraw there – not according to so-called Geneva accords, not according to European, American or Arab demands, requests, pleadings, or anything else. Build fence west of Triangle area. Declare borders and annex territory. Then tell the world to f$%^ off.

    b. Expel Arabs.

    c. Make life hell for Arabs – revoke legal standing, do not approve ANY building plans, and demolish ALL illegal buildings. Many if not most will eventually leave.

    d. Alternatively, pay Arabs to leave. Many, many will leave.

    e. Create federation with Jordan – citizenship and national identity will not necessarily be dependent on place of residence. Decision making will be.

    f. Sit tight. Do nothing. Wait. It seems to work for the Arabs.

    g. The Middle East is nowhere near peace. Iran has not truly unified the Arabs with Israel. The way US foreign policy is being handled these days – we’re looking at a MAJOR war not too many years from now. Major wars mean widespread population shifts. So who knows?

    Again, I DO NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THESE PLANS. But it’s not as simple as demographic problem, so Jews must abandon land.

  • I didn’t say anybody should evacuate Jerusalem or leave at all. I said, in a previous post, that the idea of making the Old City an international protectorate is one I think would work and satisfy all sides sufficiently to actually get peace. Real peace. Nobody needs to move. Jews remain in the Jewish Quarter and live comfortably there. Jews continue to pray and visit the Western Wall as today. Nothing changes except that the place is ruled by consensus and by an overseeing governor of some sort from some neutral country.

  • Ok, so that’s where we really differ.

    I do not believe that real peace is a possibility. Not this century. I am no certain that it will not happen. But I think snowballs have a better chance in hell.

    Also, nothing short of 100% Jewish sovereignty over all of Jerusalem (and just by the way, Arab eastern neighborhoods – east of the old city, are not necessarily really Jerusalem). Zionism is about Jewish sovereignty, not about just a shelter for Jews. Even if peace would come about if Israel allows neutral rule (which does not exist, btw) over the Old City – it should be turned down. It’s on the same level (if not worse) than Israel evacuating Tel Aviv. It’s a very bright red line.

    Oh, and yes, I know 100% Jewish sovereignty over all of the Jerusalem is not the status quo. Especially on the Temple Mount. We have the Rabbinate to thank for that. Not that we shouldn’t strive to change that.

  • Jesus, Middle, I just can’t believe what an idiot you are.

    “The goyim think there are actually more Arabs than Jews, so even though that’s utter bullshit and we can prove that the Arabs are lying about how many of them there are, let’s withdraw to make the goyim happy and hope they’ll stop hocking our chaynik.”

    That you call a policy? You haven’t ever explained, anywhere, on what you base your presumption that this will bring peace. You say it will, but everything that has happened so far shows that withdrawal only brings more war.

    A better answer would be for Israel to step up its hasbara and prove that the Psuedostinian figures are bullshit. It shouldn’t be that hard to do.

    Paying the Arabs to leave sounds like a good idea, as is strict enforcement of building laws to stop illegal building.

    Also, please suggest some “neutral” country or international organization that could administer Jerusalem fairly. And I’m not asking about who you think might be neutral. I’m asking you to suggest some country or organization that has actually shown itself to be neutral.

    Go on. I dare you.

    And you had better not suggest the UN.

  • Ephraim, we’ve already agreed that I’m an idiot so why keep repeating yourself? Are you insecure?

    You want to make the US administer Jerusalem’s Old City? Fine by me.

    You can have “hasbara,” one of the stupidest concepts ever, “stepped up” all you want. The underdog is perceived to be the Palestinians and they will always play this angle more successfully than you can explain away the history. The history is complicated and you have “new historians” with Israeli pedigrees and names contesting and challenging the very claims you plan to make. I’ve been battling online for years and the other side is quite sophisticated. They also own US campuses and will only extend their strength and reach in the coming years – it’s already happening. And the US Jewish community is either confused, unconcerned or busy trying to understand what Israel is doing. The ambivalence over here is deafening and over time it will translate to politicians caring less about Israel, and to Israel going it alone more and more. In fact, we’ve probably turned that corner thanks to Mr. Madoff and are currently in need of some Israeli governmental support.

    Wake up!

  • Well, glad that we agree on your mental status.

    I’m not denying that things look bleak.

    However, that is all the more reason to fight harder, not to give up like you want to, especially if you know that everything the other side is saying is a lie.

    Retreating because Israel aznd the Jews are seen to be weak and dispirited, which you clearly are, always, and I mean ALWAYS, brings not peace, but further attacks.

    You are essentially saying “retreat and hope for the best”. My policy is “stand your ground and hope for the best”.

    Both may be stupid. But there is no reason to think, based on what has happened so far, that retreating in the way you suggest will bring anything but more attacks. If attacks are inevitable, Israel needs to fight from a position of strength. Withdrawing in the way you suggest will sap the will of Israel to fight. That, even more than the size of the army, is the most important thing in a battle.

    If you had tried to make a case that Israel would be stronger if they retreated, I might listen to you. But all I hear is “The goyim hate us! Do what they say before we all get killed!”

    Is that really you outlook? It sure sounds like it.

  • No, you idiot.

    What I’m saying is that Israel today is in an advantageous position that gives it options it will probably not have in several years. As a result, it may actually be able to forge peace, that is, regional peace with most of the Arab countries. It may even be able to make the Palestinians focus on their own development instead of their dream of taking Israel for themselves.

    The settlements are in Israel’s way. They are not helping. Move west of the Fence, negotiate a deal and watch as the same self-interest that has kept peace with Egypt for 32 years and with Jordan for half as many takes root and compels all parties to keep the peace.

    Do you have a son in the IDF, Ephraim? Why are you so quick to sacrifice the sons of others? Jerusalem in the Old City and even in its eastern and western parts is already divided. It is de facto a divided city. Why not allow that to become a key element in a peace agreement? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  • Why are you always asking if I have a son in the IDF?

    Shouldn’t you direct that question to all of the Israelis with sons in the IDF who voted for Bibi rather than to me?

    Since Bibi has said he’s not going to divide Jerusalem, which, according to you, means certain war, the heartless Israeli parents who voted for him obviously want their sons to get killed, right? Why don’t you ask them why they are willing to sacrifice their children? Might it have something to do with, oh, I don’t know, protecting their country or something stupid like that?

    Israel already has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. There is no evidence whatsoever that unilaterally withdrawing (before any negotiations even start, according to your bassackwards plan) will bring any kind of peace at all. Why do you think it will work after we saw what happened in Gaza?

    Anyway, I have already said that I would support a withdrawal under a proper peace agreement. I just don’t think it will work, that’s all, since it would require the Pseudostinians to recognize israel as a Jewish state, something they are obviously not wiilling to do (yet).

    What I object to is your craven stupidity in advocating another unilateral withdrawal a la Gaza. We all know what happened there. It would be many times worse if Israel did the same thing in Judea and Samaria without a final peace agreement.

    However, we already know this is not going to happen. Hamas is, well, Hamas, and they can no more recognize Israel than they can stop breathing. And Abu Mazen has already said no to Obama’s plan. So what are you talking about? A unilateral withdrawal without an agreement is the worst thing Israel could do at this point.

    You say “move west of the fence and negotiate a deal”. You have it completely and utterly backwards. There would be absolutely no reason whatsoever for the Pseudostinians to negotiate any deal at all if Israel just gives away the store without them giving up something in return.

    And since when have the Pseudostininas shown a desire to act in (what you percieve to be) their own self-interest? Did you ever stop to think that they believe their self-interest lies not in establishing a state but destroying Israel? You condescend to them when you assume that they are not acting in what they see to be their self-interest.

    Man, I wish I had you as an enemy. I wouldn’t have to do anything, just sit back and wait for you to give up.

  • Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t mind at all if Israel gave the Pseudos Abu Dis or a bunch of Arab neighborhoods in this or that part of Jerusalem. They’re not really part of the real Jerusalem anyway. Israel would be well rid of them, and the fewer Arabs in Israel the better.

    But you know that’s not what they’re talking about. They’re talking about the non-existent fantasy city called “East Jerusalem”: the Old City, the Kotel, and the Har ha Bait. That is simply not going to happen, no matter what you might want.

  • Ephraim,

    By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.
    Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps.
    For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
    How can we sing the LORD’S song In a foreign land?
    If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill.
    May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.
    Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, “Raze it, raze it To its very foundation.”
    O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, How blessed will be the one who repays you With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
    How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock.

    Read it and remember that Jerusalem has been lost before. Your hubris and aggression are meaningless in the overall scheme of things.

  • Like I said, your vitriol is best directed to the people in Israel who voted for Bibi, precisely because they don’t want to see Jerusalem handed over to people who will attack them anyway.

    Have you got the chutzpah to call them warmongers?

    After all their children actually are in the IDF.

  • Ephraim –

    Why are you bothering to argue with someone who thinks that cut-and-run will work – after it produced terrorist bases in Lebanon and Gaza?

    Middle has stated – with breathtaking, refreshing clarity – that he is unmoored from reality, and does not care about facts.

    Reading between the lines we see that he only cares about people “liking us”. And about his own liberal bona fides.

    So like most libs, he is going to ignore inconvenient bits of reality – such as what happens to territory ceded to Palis.

    He’s going to blather on about “mutual self interest” – just like he did before the Gaza withdrawal.

    Why bother? No point arguing we people who are “post reality”.

    …. if only more PC “progressives” were as honest about their relationship with Israel – and with the facts.

  • I’m a progressive now? Poor Noam and Xisnotx are being insulted, poor guys.

    No, Ben David, my views come from the center. I have little sympathy for Palestinian claims or demands or their so-called narratives. I’m being pragmatic. Neither you nor Ephraim have explained what happens with the demographic issue, with a democratic Israel or with a future where Israel’s key ally (only ally?) determines that its best interests lie with Arabs, not Jews.

  • Defusing the “demographic time bomb” bullshit:

    And this is Ha’aretz, mind, not Arutz Sheva

    It is clear that the Arab birthrate in Israel is dropping to a point where is ti snot so different from the Jewish birthrate, so the Jewish-to-Arab population will probably remain roughly where it is now, 4/5 to 1. Figures are less clear in Judea and Samaria, but the Arab birthrate is dropping fast.

    Long may these trends continue.

  • Middle – see that?
    Ephraim cited FACTS – like he tried to above.

    You spun away from this factual discourse by saying “it doesn’t matter, what matters is what the media and others in the West THINK is true.”

    Well, we have terrorist bases in Gaza and Lebanon now because we ignored reality and played along with the “progressive” Western Left’s wishful thinking.

    You are not speaking from the center – not in Israeli terms. This is what I have been trying to tell you.

    The majority of Israelis are already post-Oslo. Liberman – who is willing to draw the obvious conclusions from recent terrorist attacks by *Israeli* Arab citizens, to say nothing of the Palis – won more votes that Barak – who stopped short of decisive victory in Gaza, and got punished for it at the polls.

    Israelis were ready to reoccupy/ethnic-cleanse Gaza. The penny has dropped, it really is still an us-or-them conflict, and they want to stop the attacks and re-establish deterrence.

    And rather than kowtow to Western opinion, they want Bibi and Liberman to recalibrate the terms of the discussion.

    Which is exactly what they are starting to do.

    Anyone calling for a two-state solution is no longer a centrist in Israeli terms.

    Or even a realist.