By GERSHON BASKIN/The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people – all of it, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The Jewish people have rights to the land, and not just inside the Green Line. All of Judea and Samaria belong to us. The cradle of our civilization, the land of the Prophets of the Torah is there – in the heart of the mountains and valleys of Judea and Samaria. The miracle of 1967: In six days, facing annihilation, Israel battled with brains and with brawn, with technology and determination and extended our borders erasing the armistice lines of 1949 and giving renewed life to our young state.
We conquered territories that had been annexed by Jordan, illegally against international law, after being attacked by the Hashemite Kingdom. If King Hussein had not ordered his forces to shoot at us, Israel would have focused its battle against Egypt in the south and Syria in the north and east Jerusalem and the West Bank would have remained in Jordanian (illegal) control. Gaza was never annexed to Egypt, which rather kept the narrow strip under the control of its military and encouraged Palestinians to raid Israel from territory under its control.
Occupation? What occupation? We returned to our ancient homeland, to our historic capital, for 3,000 years the center of Jewish existence. There has never been a Palestinian state. Jerusalem was never a Palestinian capital. The West Bank was not under any legal sovereignty before 1967.
How could it be occupied by us, by the Jewish people, by the State of Israel? That is the argument I faced a few days ago after I lectured to a group up north. Yes, I can also claim that the Land of Israel is ours; that we have rights to it all. Yes, Jerusalem is the center of our existence, and we have been facing Jerusalem in prayer for thousands of years. Yes, it is true that there was no legal sovereign in the West Bank (as there is no legal sovereign there today).
All of this does not change the fact that there are millions of people living on the land who are not Jewish, are not part of our state and do not want to be part of our state.
So what do we do? Expel them? Round them up and kill them? Deny them their basic human and political rights? Keep them in cantons and control their movement and their lives? Honestly, those of you who want it all, what do you propose? There are those with the phony “solutions,” such as “Jordan is Palestine” – the Arabs in Judea and Samaria can stay where they are but will have their national expression in Jordan. Or, the Palestinian Authority provides them with their democratic rights under Israeli sovereignty. Or, there is no Palestinian people, there never has been and there never will be. Or maybe if we just continue to build and build they will get the message and simply go away.
I HAVE yet to find someone who claims that we must exercise our rights over all of the land who also has a real, practical answer regarding what to do with “the other” people living there. None of them has a solution that will end the conflict and allow us to live in peace.
The best they can come up with are proposals for managing the conflict, but while they’re busy managing it, they continue with their building drives, exacerbating the tension, weakening those on the other side who want peace and empowering all of the extremists who will drive us back to violence.
I want to know who will face the families of the next round of victims of this conflict? Will our leaders tell us that another few hundred housing units on a hill are worth the lives of tens of innocent Israeli citizens? How many Israelis will pay with their lives so that we can claim our rights? If they have no solution to offer they are promising us another round of violence.
Why doesn’t the right-leaning electorate ask their leaders these questions? There is no ideal solution, but there is a solution. The Palestinians will agree to a state of their own on 22 percent of the land between the river and the sea. They will agree to a non-militarized state. They will agree to security arrangements that will enable Israel to defend itself without denying Palestinians the right of sovereignty. It will be possible to keep all of Jewish Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty while Arab Jerusalem is under Palestinian sovereignty, and for Jerusalem to remain an open city.
There is a solution to the refugee issue that will not turn Israel into a binational state and whereby most of the Palestinian refugees who want to return home will return to the State of Palestine. There is a possibility for Jews who wish to live in the territory of the State of Palestine to do so.
All of the issues can be on the table and solutions can be found. There is even a possibility that in the end of the process, the Palestinians will acknowledge that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, as long as we guarantee the full equality of the Palestinian Arab citizens of our state.
Even if we believe that it is all ours, we simply cannot have it all. There is no possibility that one day the Palestinian people will simply go away, or that they will acquiesce to our rule over them, or that we will convince them to give up what they believe is their basic right. There is no way we can remain the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people and suppress the Palestinian rights for freedom and liberty. There is no way that we as Jews can do that and there is no way that the world will allow us to do that much longer.
While many people are saying that we have come to the end of the viability of the two-state solution, I say that we have come to the end of the viability of a onestate reality.
The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI – the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.