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May 30, 2017 2:55 pm

Leading Strategic Analyst: Eagerness to Resolve Conflict With Palestinians Will Not Make Israel Safe

avatar by Ben Cohen

IDF soldiers in the West Bank. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The ongoing Israeli control of the West Bank hands the Palestinians a decisive strategic advantage they will never concede, and therefore Israel needs to make clear to the international community that the “occupation…is part of the price Israel has to pay to live here,” a leading Israeli strategic analyst argued in a newly-published paper.

The paper — authored by Max Singer, an expert at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel — comes at a time of growing apprehension over the viability of a “two-state solution,” within the framework of which Israel would hand over most of the West Bank and conceivably parts of eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinians. Since taking office earlier this year, US President Donald Trump has indicated on several occasions that he is among the concept’s doubters, saying that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators should not feel bound by the formula in shaping a final peace agreement.

Singer wrote, “Being a victim, an ‘occupied people,’ improves (the Palestinian) diplomatic position, causes Israel pain, and provokes internal conflict within Israel. There would have to be a lot more disadvantages to the status quo for the Palestinians before they would give up such a weapon against Israel to improve their living conditions.”

The reality that the “occupation” is more long-term than may have previously been thought “means that the question of what land we should give up is a question for the fairly distant future,” Singer noted.

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Present circumstances, Singer continued, required recognizing that while “the Palestinians will not give us any way of getting out of being ‘occupiers,’ we can work together, left and right, to reduce the moral and other harm of the ‘occupation.’ And we can stop the internal name-calling and harsh charges against each other for not trying hard enough to end the occupation.”

He went on: “Our diplomatic position would also improve if there were fewer Israelis blaming one another for the continued occupation when Israel has no choice in the matter…For the longer term, we  should do whatever we can to make the Palestinians and the Arab world more willing to give up their determination to destroy us. Being nicer to them might help, although that is not usually a very effective strategy in the Middle East. It may be more useful to let them see that we are not riven by internal division or unable to bear the moral burden of being occupiers, so we are as willing as they are to continue living with the status quo indefinitely.”

Singer concluded: “This is not to argue that the status quo does not have dangers. Israel is not safe. We are strong but also vulnerable, and quite capable of making decisive mistakes. But eagerness to settle our conflict with the Palestinians will not make us safe. Neither will anything else. Keeping our home here requires that we accept dangers and human costs of all kinds.”


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