My third point is that not only do concessions endanger security without bringing peace any closer, they damage Israel’s legitimate legal rights, both in Judea/Samaria and west of the Green Line. The implication of a freeze that applies to Jewish, but not Arab, construction is that the Jewish right to live there is questionable.
The legitimacy in international law of Jewish settlement in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan comes from the adoption of the League of Nations Mandate, which called for ‘close settlement’ of Jews on the land in order to create a “national home” for the Jewish people. This applies on both sides of the Green Line. If Jews are not permitted to build east of the line, what justifies building west of it?
The 1949 armistice lines have no significance as borders, and the claim that territory to the east of the line is “Palestinian land” is equivalent to saying that the Jordanian invasion, ethnic cleansing of Jews and occupation of 1949-1967 made it so. How could this be?
Pseudo-legal quibbles with no practical significance? I don’t think so. Once one abdicates principle, there is no justification for practice that depends on it. On the other hand, insisting upon one’s rights does not imply that at some later date — if there were a Palestinian leadership actually prepared to accept a Jewish state — it would be possible to cede territory. But you can’t begin a negotiation by surrendering your rights.
Israel has already given up much by accepting its opponents’ characterization of the Jewish presence in Judea/Samaria as a military occupation. Now the Levy commission has made it possible to redefine Israel’s relationship to the territories, and the government should adopt its report and firmly stand behind its legal rights.
Finally, where is the urgency that requires Israel to imperil itself today, when the Iranian threat is about to come to a head, when Syria is imploding, when Egypt has decided to ‘reevaluate’ its peace treaty, when the Sinai has become a jihadist playground and the Syrian Golan may be next, when Turkey has gone from an ally to a hostile power, when Hizballah has de facto control of Lebanon and may shortly get its hands on Syrian WMD — do I have to continue?
It is remarkable that Rabbi Yoffie finds it possible to bring up “the needs of the Palestinians” while suggesting a path that can only end in the expulsion of Jews from their homes and which, given the players, is positively guaranteed not to bring peace — and at a time when Israel’s security is under unprecedented threat.
I believe that their are alternatives that Yoffie and others have not considered that need not lead to a forced choice between a Jewish or democratic Israel. This piece is already too long, but the general idea is that a solution to the question of Israel’s eastern border must primarily take into consideration Israel’s security needs, its historical rights and existing Jewish and Arab populations. “The needs of the Palestinians” are not top priority (sorry, not after decades of terrorism).
“Israel’s moral standing” is not necessarily enhanced by failing to stand up for its legal rights and by, in effect, selling out the Jewish people by surrendering to pressure from an international community that is more interested in pleasing Arab oil producers than in the survival of the Jews (indeed, many are interested in the opposite). Moral standing comes not only from readiness to compromise — which Israel has demonstrated in spades — but in maintaining self-respect (and its practical counterpart, deterrence).
After 19 years I think it’s time to put the “two-state solution” aside. It may be the case that the continued existence of a Jewish state is simply incompatible with a hostile sovereign Palestinian state a few miles from its population centers.
If that’s so, then maybe, finally, the Palestinians will have to make difficult choices, too.