Thursday, May 02, 2013

Time to March on Jerusalem? I Don't Think So

Yesterday on The Times of Israel website, blogger Emanuel Shahaf wrote an article imploring Israelis to march on Jerusalem and demand that the Israeli government gets serious about making peace with the Palestinians. He concludes:
If the Israeli public doesn’t take the initiative, gets its act together and without much further ado marches on Jerusalem to convince our fearful politicians that this is crunch time, that we have to act, seize the moment and negotiate this conflict away before it consumes us, then we deserve no better.
I strongly disagree with Mr. Shahaf and wrote a response which I posted as a comment. Here it is in full:

I've read the article as well as the comments and responses. עמנואל שחף, with all due respect, you can only make peace when both sides want peace. The majority of Israelis still accept a "two state solution." I put it in quotes because today that means a four state solution within what was the original British Mandate of Palestine: three Arab states (Jordan, Gaza, West Bank) and a Jewish one which would be much weakened. Most of the recent polling I've seen from the P.A. indicates a two state solution is only acceptable as a step to liberating "all of Palestine," meaning, of course, all of Israel. The percentage that accepts the idea of living along side of a Jewish state is around 19%, and that was the most generous number I've seen.

The fact is that Ehud Olmert's 2008 offer, while now "off the table" as you point out, certainly was about the maximum Israel could ever offer. Mahmoud Abbas didn't even grace it with a formal response. There was no counter offer. Prime Minister Netanyahu lost his first government, in part, over the Wye River Accords. Yes, I know the budget was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, but after withdrawing from most of Hebron he lost most of his support from the right. In his second term he tried the settlement freeze which was ignored up until the last minute by Abbas and then it's end was used as an excuse for not negotiating. Recently we heard of a possible freeze again and Abbas suddenly needed every last Palestinian prisoner released no matter what they had done. Neither the Prime Minister nor his predecessor have failed to work for peace at all.

The reality is that Abbas has little popular support and nowhere near the courage to risk his life for an agreement even if he believed in peace. Having read and listened to his statements over the years, and what he has to say to his fellow Arabs in particular, I don't really believe he has any interest in peace at all. Once upon a time I was a peacenik. Like so many in the '90s I thought peace might be right around the corner if only we worked hard enough for it. Like so many I've since come to realize that I succumbed to a popular delusion.

Israel should always leave the door open to peace. We should always be ready to sit down and negotiate in good faith. We shouldn't beg those who fire rockets into Israel daily or those in Judea and Samaria who plot destruction to please, please, please make peace. That smacks of weakness and achieves nothing.

A mass march on the government that fails to work for peace is a wonderful idea. You would need to march on Ramallah, not Jerusalem.

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