Friday, June 19, 2009

Unambiguously Pragmatic

How else to describe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's considered and well-spoken response to American President Barack Obama's demands that Israel formally accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

In that sense, nothing has changed. From 1947 when the United Nations discussed and approved the tenets of the Balfour Declaration, dividing the territory left after TransJordan was formed, Israel was prepared to take its portion of the divided land, leaving the Palestinians to their approved portion.

It was then, as it remains to the present day, the Palestinian Arabs who refused to settle for the two-state solution. There is nothing ambiguous in the state of the Palestinian mind that continues to linger in the belief that all of the geography, inclusive of Israel, is theirs, meant for their nascent state. A state that would never have been granted them while the geography was under the mandate of other Arab government control, most notably Egypt, then Jordan.

Israel's most urgent requirement is peace and stability, above all else, including territorial integrity. Israel is prepared to bargain away certain portions of its territory in exchange for other portions of territory claimed by the Palestinians as their right of property. But the underlying, hidden agenda of the Palestinians is to refuse all offers of compromise, while insisting on even greater sacrifices of Israel to attain the peace it so urgently requires.

That the Palestinian population is itself in dire need of stability to enable it to realize its potential is a foregone conclusion, but one that continues to elude its leadership. Which, consumed with undying rage over the apportionment of the land compromising Jewish inheritance no less than Arab-Palestinian, prefers to ignore pragmatism in settling the conflict, while continuing to inflame the passions of the Palestinians.

So yes, when Prime Minister Netanyahu insists on "The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel" being a right that "arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people", his argument is unassailable. "When Palestinians are ready to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, we will be ready for a true final settlement", and that is most certainly reality.

The Palestinians must be prepared to reconcile themselves to the reality that Israel is and will always remain a Jewish state. One which is prepared to absorb a certain level of non-Jewish residents, but a Jewish state withal. A Jewish state which, under the circumstances, and with the caution required given its recent historical past, also requires a demilitarized Palestinian state living side by side with its own.

A Jewish state which has every right to claim Jerusalem as its capital. The United Nations-mandated 'international' control of Jerusalem of the past was an absolute and utter sham. Under Israeli protection and rule all holy places of all three 'Abrahamic' religions are given free access.

There is no place in a Jewish state for a mass return of descendants of former Palestinian residents. Their place, logically, is to be absorbed into the borders of a nascent Palestinian state. To believe otherwise is to cater to an underhanded plan to neutralize the Jewishness of Israel. And that is the plan.

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