The root of the evil is the across-the-board political consensus to conduct negotiations over our land. When Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett does not oppose the negotiations, why should he complain about the prime minister? After all, Prime Minister Netanyahu is simply fighting an unwinnable war, searching for all sorts of innovative ways to improve his and our situation.
From what I know of Netanyahu, it is clear to me that he is not happy about giving up parts of our land. Just like Menachem Begin, who, at the start of talks with Egypt promised to move to the Sinai, and like Ariel Sharon, who originally said, “The status of Netzarim is the same as the status of Tel Aviv,” Netanyahu also has Zionistic ambitions. Perhaps he even believes that he will be able to realize some of them. But those hopes are not built on the right foundation. That is why they always collapse in the face of reality.
The rightist leaders of the past have always enjoyed the generous support of the national religious parties to advance their plans for retreat. Surely nobody wants to break up the coalition over mere talks. When the talks ripen into action, even if the national religious parties walk out of the government, it is already too late. That is how Sinai and its towns were erased by Begin and the National Religious Party’s Zevulun Hammer. That is how Gush Katif and its towns were destroyed by Sharon and the NRP’s Zevulun Orlev. Our good friends in the Jewish Home Party have their fair share in the tragedy that is taking shape before our eyes – even if, toward the end of the process, they will leave the coalition.
When you vote for the release of terrorists just for the “privilege” of entering negotiations to surrender your homeland, you and your party are part of the problem – certainly not part of the solution. When you run out of the Knesset plenum so that you don’t have to vote in favor of a law to safeguard Jerusalem from negotiations, you and your party are part of the problem – not even near the solution. And when you see how the sovereignty over the Temple Mount is being transferred to Jordan (through the Moslem wakf) and you don’t lift a finger, you are a central part of the problem – not the solution.
The same is true when you support the transfer of the Negev to the Bedouins and when you ignore the destruction wrought by the defense minister on outlying settlements. And to top it off: What is the connection between a Jewish home and the equal status afforded same-sex couples? How is it that when a national religious party boasts 12 Knesset seats and a place of honor in the cabinet, we are witnessing a wave of legislation that, in exchange for fleeting coalition benefits, rips to shreds the time-honored status quo on religious issues?
I have no doubt that if Bennett and his party would have remained outside the government and the ultra-Orthodox would have been in the coalition, the prognosis for the Land of Israel would not have been any worse. But at least we would have been able to preserve some Jewish values.
So now what do we do? After you have already entered negotiations following questionable means, what does Israel get? A U.S. demand for retreat to the 1967 borders and the establishment of the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. Is there a way out of this mess?
Instead of meaningless advertising campaigns and ridiculous spats with the prime minister, we must make a simple and focused demand: a national referendum on the Kerry framework proposal. If Thomas Friedman, in his New York Times column, is correct in writing that the U.S. document includes a retreat to the 1967 borders with some land swaps and a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, then, as we know from our previous experience, that will also be the final result – until the very last grain of sand. Let us not forget that the U.S. represents the so-called middle ground. On the other side are the Arabs and the Haaretz newspaper demanding much more. Kerry’s framework is most likely the picture of the final- status agreement.
We must not allow the Israelis leading the negotiations to continue to slice up the land like a piece of salami while urging the public to get used to the idea – which is what happened in the past. Bring the entire salami to a national referendum – now – before the slicing begins.
Ask the nation this question: Do you support a retreat to the 1967 borders with some land swaps, along with the establishment of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem?
If the answer will be positive, Netanyahu will be able to tell Kerry that he has received a mandate from the nation to continue the process according to the secretary of state’s plan. If the answer is negative, we will most likely have elections that will focus on the real issue: not what we oppose, but rather what we support.
For my part, I will provide the Israeli public with the option to vote for the candidate whose vision is in line with the vision of the prophets – instead of the candidate who wages a hopeless war in the face of the vision of Oslo.