Deputy PM Ya'alon says Israel must be recognized as Jewish state for peace to prevail
Moshe (Bogi) Ya'alon
The key sentence in the prime minister's speech before Congress made it clear that the main reason for the failure of all attempts to secure Israel-Palestinian peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State; that is, to recognize the Jewish people's right to maintain a Jewish nation-state, the State of Israel, on the land of its forefathers.
Israel's Palestinian dialogue partner in peace talks is the PLO; all members of this umbrella organization, including Fatah, reject Israel's right to exist, while accepting it (because of the IDF's military power) on the condition that it would be an entity that lacks an ethnic identity – that is, that it will not be the Jewish people's nation-state.
The Palestinians always stress that they are in favor of the "two-state" solution, rather than a solution based on "two states for two peoples." According to Palestinian leader Abbas, the Jews are not entitled to a state. He rejects a connection between the Jews, as a religion, and the Land of Israel, even though he admits to a Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael in the distant past, as the Koran often refers to it. Indeed, Abbas defines Jewishness as a religion, rather than a nationality.
Ever since the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians have resorted to a series of verbal maneuvers in order to reject Israel's identity as the Jewish people's nation-state, and they have never renounced the return of refugees. This approach is not only espoused by some sly statesmen. It is the main message conveyed to the Palestinian public in general and Palestinian youth in particular, via the media, textbooks, constitutive documents of political organizations, religious authorities and cultural work.
Palestinian maps make no mention of Israel, and the PMW website, which monitors the Palestinian media, shows us the Palestinian leadership, headed by Abbas, beaming while a talented singer promises that Haifa and other areas within Israel will again be part of Palestine. Moreover, Palestinian children are being educated from young age to hate Israel and adore suicide bombers. This is not the way to make true peace. This is not how one prepares for coexistence.
Rockets in response to concessions
Promoting an atmosphere that encourages violence and terror, combined with incitement for hatred of Israel and the Jews, is the reason for the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians rather than the steps adopted by Israel to defend itself in the face of this incitement. An Israeli concession on this matter will prompt the establishment of a hostile (and apparently failed) state near our population centers.
The heart of the conflict with the Palestinians is existential and not just territorial, as proven by Nakba Day events and as the prime minister made clear in his speech. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the occupation started in 1948 and not in 1967. Hence, Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish people's nation-state is a required condition for viable peace with the Palestinians, although it is not a condition for entering negotiations.
Imparting this realization to the Palestinian public is a condition for implementing a peace deal and will require significant time. We should not delude ourselves and cultivate false hopes.
Past experience taught us that for any territory we gave up in order to move closer to the peace we seek, we got terror and rockets rather than peace. I'm glad to see that more and more Israelis are aware of this danger, and the more united Israel is on this front vis-à-vis the Palestinians and the international system, the higher our chances will be of prompting the Palestinians and the world to address the issue, and as result to secure stable, agreed-upon peace that will meet the national demands of both peoples.
The writer is Israel's deputy prime minister and minister for strategic affairs