It is abundantly clear, that, because of the composition of the current Israeli governing coalition, there will be little movement on the Israel-Palestinian conflict in either direction.
The right wing, represented by Yamina, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu will not let any sort of diplomatic process take place, whereas the left-wing parties like Meretz, Labor and Blue and White will ensure that any ideas like sovereignty for Judea and Samaria are firmly off the table.
Some might argue that, as a result, the only actions that can be taken are to ensure security for Israel and survival and prosperity for the Palestinians through “confidence-building measures,” the likes of which we witnessed recently after the meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
According to media sources, Gantz promised that Israel will provide the PA with a NIS 100 million loan ($32.2 million) on tax revenues Israel collects on the Palestinian’s behalf, in an attempt to reduce the PA’s rocketing deficit. In addition, Israel will also legalize the status of 9,500 illegal Palestinians and foreigners living in Judea and Samaria and Gaza.
In return, Israel received some amorphous promises about security assistance. However, the PA preventing attacks from groups like Hamas is hardly doing Israel a favor. In its backyard, the PA is more directly threatened by Hamas than Israel.
Either way, it is outrageous that Gantz met with Abbas at a time when the Palestinian leader remains committed to taking Israeli leaders to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, including the Defense Minister himself, and trying to convict them as international war criminals.
It is also absurd that the Defense Minister promised funds to the PA, when legally he is supposed to hold them back until the Palestinian leadership ends its pay-for-slay salaries. It is making a mockery of this important issue which incites and incentivizes the murder of Israelis every day.
Instead of encouraging, or at least ignoring, these types of foolhardy gestures towards the Palestinians that do not achieve anything except provide the Palestinian leadership with a sense of immunity and impunity, Israeli leaders should be thinking longer term and more strategically.
While the ‘facts on the ground’ will not be changed during the tenure of this government, they could move the needle significantly on trying to end the conflict.
Since Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamist Ra’am Party, which is a member of the government, said publicly that he supports Israel as a Jewish State, there is now wall-to-wall consensus on this issue.
As should now be clear to all, the conflict is not and has never been a border dispute or about land or settlements. It began as one thing and will end over the same issue, the Palestinian rejection of the Jewish people’s rights to sovereignty in their ancestral and indigenous homeland.
That is a principle which now unites all in the government, even if there is disagreement about what the contours of an agreement, whether imposed or mutually approved, would look like.
This is why there needs to be a strategic understanding among all members of the government that there should be no time wasted, and that the victory of Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s rights to sovereignty should be the target of all interaction with the PA.
If we want this conflict to end, and all do, then any future Gantz-Mahmoud Abbas type meeting and the measures Israel took subsequently should be off the table. They can remain in the background, but only provided when the Palestinians have made clear that they accept the conditions of their defeat in the over-100-year war, acceptance of Jewish sovereignty.
In their stead should be measures to convince the Palestinians that they have lost, until the permanence of the Jewish State is publicly conceded.
This can mean economic, diplomatic and military pressure. The decision is the Palestinians’ solely on how much their war of rejectionism should cost them.
It doesn’t even have to be the strongest pressure, because it might mean that certain members of the government might not readily accept certain measures.
However, every action, step or measure taken by the Israeli government must be seen through the prism of whether it is helping to end the conflict with a defeat for Palestinian rejectionism or not. Everything else done is just prolonging the conflict and bloodshed.
The carrots of defeat can be dangled, because the Palestinian people should be made to understand that once the conflict is over, there can be investment in infrastructure, education, health and the building of a peaceful Palestinian polity. This will ultimately be a win for the average Palestinian, but first they must understand the bitter crucible of defeat, as Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, describes it.
We look around the world and see that some of the most thriving nations today that underwent crushing defeats in the last century, whether Germany or Japan.
Just under 80 years ago, these nations, which provoked war and bloodshed, were on their knees in submission, but today are two of the most thriving and flourishing economies in the world.
Defeat is harsh but necessary. It is the only way conflicts truly end, and not merely go into hibernation.
The Israeli government should keep this in mind in its relations with the Palestinian leadership. It should not be thinking how to manage, shrink or contain the conflict, but to end it. Everything else means it will merely continue.
They don’t even have to publicly declare it, if that will be difficult politically. Nonetheless, every decision should be taken through the prism of whether it helps Israel win. When assessing steps to take that is the only question that should be asked and truly matters.