Israel’s refusal to withdraw to the 1967 borders has never been made clearer. On his visit to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reiteration of the fact can only spell one thing.
Israel’s vision of lasting peace will only come about on its terms, one that sees the Jewish state continuing to retain occupied territories. Besides, retaining an undivided Jerusalem, as its capital and refusing the entry of the millions of Palestinian refugees to their homeland are non-negotiable issues. The best thing is that after waxing eloquent on Israel’s no-go areas in a future peace agreement, Netanyahu spoke of his willingness to make “painful concessions” for the sake of achieving peace.
The pertinent question to ask would relate to the sort of peace he hopes to achieve by pursuing a belligerent policy that is in complete violation of international law. More importantly, one that the Palestinians are likely to reject since it denies them the fulfilment of their most important objectives. Palestinian territories have already been reduced to a fraction under Israeli occupation and the continued settlement activity there only denotes Israel’s long term plans to absorb these permanently, even if a two-state solution is worked out.
Even if Israel decides to cede land in other areas as part of the land swap proposal put forth by the US President Barack Obama, the Palestinians are not going to be convinced.
The fact that Israel can blatantly continue illegal occupation and pursue policies that if exercised by another state would have compelled the world powers including the US to launch a war makes it particularly galling. Even the President Barack Obama is forced to beat a retreat after making public support for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders because of the powerful support Israel commands in America. While Obama may have been cautioned to do so in order to not lose crucial pro-Israeli electorate support before the next election, he should have thought of the impact his vacillating stand would generate. For Obama’s Middle East policy has been marked by confusion and staggering U-turns that can only spell disaster for his credibility especially in the region.
Even if the US pledges unflinching support to its ally, it must consider the detrimental effect of such support to itself and also Israel in the long run. The status quo cannot be maintained for much longer through force and might. The regional dynamics have proven that. It is time Israel stops indulging its paranoia and stops its reliance on brute force and powerful allies to survive. It’s security and stability can only come about by giving back to the Palestinians what is rightfully theirs.