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General Illusions

Two former high-ranking Israeli officers come to Washington on a misguided mission to promote peace

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Gaza City, 2009. (Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Beltway’s pro-Israel circles, anyone who has commanded forces against the enemies that surround the Jewish state is automatically seen as an heir to Yitzhak Rabin and Moshe Dayan. But not all warriors are as wily as Odysseus, and soldiers have the right to be as wrongheaded as the rest of us. Still, even their errors are apt to tell us something important about Israel’s troubled relationship with the rest of the world.

Recently I spoke with two retired Israeli officers, Gen. Natan Sharoni and Col. Shaul Arieli, who represent the Council for Peace and Security, a group of pro-peace former Israeli defense and security officials. Sharoni is a 77-year-old veteran of Israel’s many wars who speaks English with only the slightest trace of accent. Arieli, who looks as though he could be a Tel Aviv tech executive, defers to Sharoni’s experience. They had just arrived from Israel when we met in the lobby of a Washington hotel. We then moved to the bar, where Arieli put a small map of Israel on the table.

“The leadership of the state of Israel has to make a choice,” Sharoni said. “What does it want and where is it leading people? The longer there is no agreement, the more people will believe it’s not achievable.”

Sharoni and Arieli are part of a different Israel lobby—that segment of the military and security establishment aligned with the country’s dwindling left wing which sees itself as having a mission to promote an Arab-Israeli peace. If this lobby is less powerful than AIPAC, that’s because AIPAC represents the will of its American donors, who are broadly supportive of the government that Israelis elect, rather than one particular segment of the Israeli polity. The two ex-officers were in Washington to see members of Congress as well as State Department officials and White House aides.

Their presentation, earthy jokes, can-do optimism, hopefulness, and longing for peace seemed to me designed to reinforce the conviction of any American already convinced that Israel’s right-wing government is the main impediment to finding a solution to a century-old conflict.

Yes, it is likely that as President Barack Obama finds his domestic policy checked by a Republican-majority House of Representatives, he may turn his energies to the international scene. But this commander-in-chief, like his many predecessors, is not going to make peace in the Middle East. No Israeli leader is going to commit political suicide to make the Obama Administration happy.

Recent experience shows that when Israelis make hard choices for peace they get war instead. Both the 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the 2005 evacuation of Gaza led to battles with Iranian proxies. An IDF withdrawal from the West Bank would tip the balance of power against Mahmoud Abbas, Salam Fayyad, and the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, paving the way for a Hamas takeover—and leaving Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Ben Gurion Airport vulnerable to rocket attacks that would cripple the country’s economy. Nonetheless, Arieli and Sharoni still happily sing the peace movement’s mantra of the 1990s—Israeli leadership must make the difficult decision to withdraw from the West Bank in order to make peace.

Sharoni knows peace is possible, he’s seen it with his own eyes and remembers when Sadat came to Jerusalem. When I asked him which Arab leader could play Sadat’s role today and come to speak in the Knesset he tacitly conceded that there is none. “The Israeli Prime Minister could encourage the Israeli electorate, as Sadat did,” he said.

In effect, Sharoni agrees with his domestic opponents that there is no Arab partner to make peace with. Which means it doesn’t matter how much Israeli officials, or their American patrons, want peace, because the sound of one hand clapping is not a negotiated settlement.

“We won’t allow ourselves to be attacked just because we signed an agreement,” Arieli said. “We have the right to self-defense. And nobody in the international community will blame us.” Unfortunately, recent history shows this to be untrue. The Israeli government allowed its citizens to be attacked for several years after it withdrew from Gaza, and when it returned in the winter of 2008 and 2009 to stop the Hamas rocket fire, it was blamed by virtually everyone in the international community. The lesson is that once Israel withdraws from territory, political exigencies make it very difficult to return. In exchange, Israel wins neither the world’s sympathy nor its approval. What it gets instead is the Goldstone Report, accusing the Jewish state of war crimes.

The real problem, Arieli and Sharoni said, is that Israel left Gaza without a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. Since 2005, this has become the standard explanation rationalizing the rain of rocket fire on Sderot and other Israeli villages. But it is best to see this patch of reasoning as part of the ongoing narrative in which Israel is an extra-historical anomaly. In the annals of world diplomacy, we find two types of agreements between belligerents—the first is a surrender and the second is a settlement imposed by the victor after it has destroyed its enemy’s will to fight. So why do former Israeli soldiers, men who have committed themselves to the security of the Jewish state and its people, advocate what in real-world terms is clearly nonsense?

The first reason is that Arieli and Sharoni and the Council are fighting their domestic political opponents, namely the Israeli right, and Washington is a natural venue for such a conflict. But if the White House had hoped that Israeli officers might turn Jewish fundraisers and some in Congress their way, it’s too late now. Israeli peace processors are likely to find themselves blocked here by a Republican-led House that is largely sympathetic to the current Israeli Prime Minister.

The second reason is that Arieli and Sharoni are in the middle of an argument with their colleagues in Israel’s military and security establishment. In particular, as they told me, they are in disagreement with Major General Uzi Dayan, former national security adviser, and Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and currently head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold and Dayan were themselves in Washington several months ago speaking about Israel’s need for defensible borders, which in essence boils down to maintaining tight security control over the Jordan River valley and large chunks of the West Bank. Gold and Dayan’s message, in other words, is that everyone who has been saying that we know what a final settlement looks like is wrong.

“The Jordan River is the only defensible border and particularly the only place Israel can defend itself against possible conventional attack coming from the East,” Dayan told me on the phone recently. “Iraq has sent forces in every war since 1948. How do we know what the Iraqi government will be like in two years, five years, 10 years?”

For that matter, how do we know what Jordan will look like in five years if the hills of the West Bank becomes a Hamas-controlled free zone where Islamic militants from around the region can take shots at Israel’s coastal plain? The Hashemites have their hands filled maintaining security inside Jordan without having to keep their borders from being overrun. Israel, Dayan said, cannot afford to base its security planning on hope.

“Some people will never learn the lesson that land for peace doesn’t work,” Dayan said of Arieli and Sharoni. “We tried it for many years. We tried to be flexible. The idea was that if we compromise, then we can achieve peace and this will give us security. That seems rational, but it is really the other way around—only by providing security can we provide a lasting peace.” In Israel, Dayan said, Arieli and Sharoni have almost no support for their positions. “The Israelis understand that they are selling illusions.”

However, in one respect the two ex-IDF officers have fixed on an important fact. Throughout my conversation with them, they emphasized how Israel cannot afford to be isolated from the international community, and that the lack of a lasting peace with the Palestinians was serving Israel’s enemies. That is to say, the reason that veterans of Israel’s military and security establishment are deluding themselves is that the campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state is working. The international community is pushing the country into a corner, where the least of its worries are Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. Israel’s real security problem is a Western world that has grown tired of a conflict to which, realistically, there is no end in sight.

Lee Smith’s column will return January 5, 2011.

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Moderate Jersey Jew says:

“Recent experience shows that when Israelis make hard choices for peace they get war instead. Both the 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the 2005 evacuation of Gaza led to battles with Iranian proxies.”

Lee Smith and associates again ignore that it clearly was Israel’s loong time, brutal military occupation/destruction in both Lebannon and Jerusalem/WB/Gaza/Golan that created both Hezbollah and Hamas, respectively. Their historic creation dates are very clear and specific. Israel has not ruled these areas for almost all of 2000 years, yet Israel demands it is hers only because she says so.

Fortunately, the international community thru the UN created a state of Israel in 1948 and continue to protect and enrich her. Unfortunately, now continued bad Israel behaviours will inevitable cause these same generous powers to create a Palestinian state that will not remain friendly to Israel, hence possibly ultimately destroying Israel.

Not smart and not Jewish!

“Moderate,” Hizbullah was created in 1982 at the latest. This was done at the initiative of the Iranian regime among Lebanese Shiites, with –I believe– a founding ceremony in the Biq`a valley, an important concentration of Shiite population where Israel never ruled. The Hizb was not an indigenous reaction to “Israel’s loong time, brutal military occupation/destruction in both Lebannon and Jerusalem.” The Hizb was rather an Iranian initiative, as said. In fact, many Lebanese Shiites in the south of Lebanon welcomed the Israeli troops in 1982 for liberating them from the PLO’s brutal rule. Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority since the mid-19th century and in 1947-1948 Jews were expelled from parts of the city that came under control of the Jordanian [then Transjordanian] Arab Legion. These parts included the Old City and several other neighborhoods. Indeed, the British authorities had allowed Arab mobs to drive Jews out of several parts of the Old City and New City in several waves of pogroms starting in 1920.
I don’t believe that Israel’s rule in Jerusalem was brutal. And I live here. I rub shoulders with Arabs all the time, at the shopping centers, health clinics, city govt offices, buses, etc.
Now if you really believe that “the international community thru the UN created a state of Israel in 1948 and continue to protect and enrich her”, then your knowledge and understanding of history since 1947 are quite poor. And if you think that the major powers have been “generous” with Israel you are ignorant to the point of madness.

Moderate Jersey Jew says:

Wiki: “Hezbollah first emerged in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during the Lebanese civil war.[9]“

I agree with Gen. Natan Sharoni and Col. Shaul Arieli efforts, even if they may not succeed. I would ask the author what his solution is, and if his solution is achievable in the world of 2010.

I can remember standing on a beach in Israel when I was in the army 35 years ago, and saying to a friend, that I am not sure if the Arabs are ever going to be willing to make peace. However, we always need to know that we have done the most we could. Otherwise, we will not be able to look into the eyes of our children when the time comes for them to go to the army. Well, we are getting close to the point where my second child is about to go into the army and I truly cannot look her in the eyes and say that if there was a war it happened despite everything Israel has done to avoid it.

The Palestinians may never be willing to compromise- and that has been the story of the last 100 years. However every 2 or 3 years we need to show that we are willing to. I also would like to remind the writer, that while the outcomes of both our pull outs from Lebanon and Gaza have been sub optimal, we were losing soldiers at the rate of a few a week in both those cases, neither of which has happened since.

I read posts and comments by those on the Right. And then I read posts and comments by those on the Left. And I read stuff by anti-Israeli people and stuff by pro-Israeli people. And then I know I am truly Jewish because I say to myself: “On the one hand….but on the other hand….” and so I come to realize that it is true that We see things not as they are but as we are.

Lionel Gaffen / Lygafe says:

The title to Lee Smith’s article is completely accurate. The two former IDF officers are indeed, misguided, as they appear to be manifestations of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza tilting away at windmills.
Obama’s efforts over the past year and a half of his presidency have see the diminishing of the possibility of peace in the Middle East, owing to his impetuous demands that Israel cease all construction in any disputed area, and in some non- disputed areas[ which had never been an issue since the Oslo Accords of 1993, which governs all negotiations]giving Abbas the excuse to avoid any type of direct negotiations. After P.M. Netanyahu agreed to a 10 month moratorium on construction, Abbas denigrated the offer, saying that it wasn’t substantial.After nine months,Obama finally began to realize[possibly]that Abbas was simply wasting everybody’s time,and forced the issue. After a couple of meetings, once again Abbas used the excuse that he wanted the freeze to continue, and to be expanded, or he would once again, not negotiate. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain, that Abbas is unwilling to negotiate, as he is unable to make any meaningful decisions, and more than that, is completely unable to make any type of compromise which can lead to a decision. He was able to reject former P.M. Olmert’s more than generous offer two years ago without hesitation [ which would have put every Israeli citizen at risk from rocket fire and possibly worse, from the areas of East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria[ a.k.a. the West Bank ] and knows that he will not receive as generous an offer again from the present government. This government voted in because of the dangerous situation that Olmert and Livni had tried to put the country in, and they were rejected at the polls.
Abbas barely has control over the West Bank area, as his credentials have officially ended, and zero control over Gaza since 2007, which means that the emperor has no clothes, and Obama is flogging a dead horse.

Ken Besig, Israel says:

Let me see now, Moderat New Jersey Jew, since 1960 the PLO had refused to negotiate with Israel at all, in 1976 the PLO gave the three no’s of no to peace, no to Israel, and no to negotiations. And during the thirty five years those refusals were in effect the PLO hijacked airplanes, Israeli, French, British, and others, murdered Israeli Jews by the hundreds, attacked slaughtered Israel soldiers and civilians in well planned and executed terrorist attacks, and stated continuously that their plan was to destroy Israel, and never make peace. In 1995, the PLO under Arafat did sign the Oslo Accords, the precursor to a peace agreement and then went on to launch the Palestinian terror war which came to be known as the Second Intifada which killed thousands of Israeli Jews, and is now known to have been planned from the day Arafat entered Gaza under the terms of Oslo.
And withal, you moderate New Jersey Jew, still manage to find a way to place alll the blame on Israel when in fact the responsible party for the failure of the peace negotiations always has been and still remains the Palestinians.
I would like to assume that it is simple ignorance of history and the facts of the Palestinian Israeli conflict that informs your impossibly naive and tendetious view of the problem. But I am forced to believe that you are simply another unbalanced and resentful Leftist American Jew whose anti Israel invective will never let facts stand in your way, even if you don’t really know much of anything about Israel, the Middle East, or even Judaism.

Peace with the Arabs is a delusion. They cannot even make peace amongst themselves. Suni and Shiite kill each other daily. The conflict is not about land. There are 21 Arab states and 57 Islamic states, so they have more than enough land. The Arabs had no use for the land until the Jews returned from exile and made it blossom. Then the Arabs flocked to the land in the 1920’s to reap the benefits. But not until 1967 did they want the land they had had since 1948. Its realy about the supposed dimitude of the Jews, the Caliphate and the Mahdi. Only a reformation of Islam into a modern civilised religion will bring peace. Mean while they should check out the Koran, sura 5:20-21.

Here is a famous quote from Isaiah Berlin:

“I came to the conclusion that there is a plurality of ideals, as there is a plurality of cultures and of temperaments. I am not a relativist; I do not say “I like my coffee with milk and you like it without; I am in favor of kindness and you prefer concentration camps” — each of us with his own values, which cannot be overcome or integrated. This I believe to be false. But I do believe that there is a plurality of values which men can and do seek, and that these values differ. There is not an infinity of them: the number of human values, of values that I can pursue while maintaining my human semblance, my human character, is finite — let us say 74, or perhaps 122, or 26, but finite, whatever it may be. And the difference it makes is that if a man pursues one of these values, I, who do not, am able to understand why he pursues it or what it would be like, in his circumstances, for me to be induced to pursue it. Hence the possibility of human understanding.”

What is wonderful to see yet another idea, promoted by the Council for Peace and Security which is backed up by some of the very military who have fought for Israel’s existence as soldiers. As there is more than one truth, there is a an additional truth that must coexist with other apparently contradictory truth.

The more truths we tolerate, the less risk of making mistakes.

jonny b says:

I would like to ask the author and right-wing commenters: What is your vision for the future of the West Bank? You call the left’s two-state solution misguided, but at least it’s a proposal. What are your ideas? Is it permanent occupation? Annexation? Expulsion of Arabs? This is not rhetorical. I’m genuinely curious. Until you present a vision for the West Bank instead of disparaging the two-state solution I can’t see how you build any support outside of your right-wing echo chanber.

I go with jonn b, I have been asking this questions for years without getting a real answer. I am more then cynical about the chances of achieving peace, but at least its something to work for, maybe it will never come, maybe the Palestinians will never give up the right of return, but as I said in earlier post let it be the Arabs who continue to say no- my next child is only 11 but he is a boy- I really do want to be able to look him in the eye when the day comes for his induction and say we tried everything-

Jonny, I can answer only for myself. Safety and security of Israeli citizens should be the primary objective of any negotiated agreement. What is safe and what is not should be decided not by politicians (or us – you and me) but by the competent in that area professionals: by high-ranking military officers, by the heads of ShinBet, Mossad and other similar institutions. (By those who have the responsibility to provide Israelis with such security) If they will say that they see only one solution and that solution would be the expulsion of all Arabs – then all Arabs must be expelled. If they will say that it is safe for Israel to be within 1967 armistice lines then politicians might start negotiations on the “land exchange”, etc. If they will decide that in order to maintain safety Israel must continue occupation then occupation must go on.
Arabs and leftists and “all progressives around the world” must be convinced once and for all that this is a non-negotiable “red line”, this is it, that unless Israel will feel itself safe no agreement will ever be possible. Never.

Gene that is a cop out, and also you should know the overwhelming number of ex generals and heads of Mossad and Shin Bet over the years after they retire have joined the Labor party or center parties, very few with exception of Yaalon who I consider personally responsible for the state of the IDF in the Second Lebanon War, have joined the parties of the right. The person who has eld the most security portfolios in this government is Barak, and he stated clearly the other day that he favors a close version of the agreement he put forth at Camp David in 1990 which included giving up 94% of the West Bank- so if you leave it to the security experts then clearly Israel can withdraw. Keep in mind today is not 1968, if Israel is threatened it will not be a tank force crossing the Jordan

David Star says:

It is an unfortunate truth that no matter what we do the Muslim world in general and the Arabs living here in Israel in particular have no intention of living in peace with a Jewish State. The vicousness of Muslim hatred of one sect for another, as witness today’s news of the bombings of Shiites by Sunnis during religous observances indicates that there is no room in the Muslim mind for acceptance “The Other”.
There is an old Israeli joke of Moshe and Mahmud who have worked together at the same place for 30 years. They are the best of friends, take part in each other’s simchas and have family outings together.
One day at work Mahmud tells Moshe that the men in his village are planning to carry out a pogrom in Moshe’s community that very night.
Moshe asks, “Mahmud, old friend, after all these years of friendship, you would never hurt me or my family.”
Mahmud replies,”Of course not, Moshe. But tonight my brother will come to slit your throat.”
Marc, My youngest grandson was just Bar-Mitzvahed 2 months ago. 7 of his older brothers have been or are currently serving in the IDF along with one cousin. All in combat units since the first Lebanon War. Unfortunately he and his nephews face the same. With our neighbors, we are still living in a reality of non-acceptance.
As to those who talk 1967 borders, the Arabs do not need missiles to destroy us. Just the obsolete 155mm. US artillery used by the Jordanian army to bombard Netanya from the suicidal “Green Line” of ’67.
Our only real choices are self defence or run away.

yocha batdvora says:

In response to jonny b. I would also like to ask the same questions but of the Arabs – not of Israel! Is it permanent occupation (of Israel), annexation of what areas, expulsion of Jews.

What is there 2 state solution?

jonny b says:

@Gene. Your reply is very odd. It implies Israel is a military dictatorship. I was under the impression it was a civillian democracy. I thought the military serves at the behest of the Knesset, not the other way around. I admit to not being an expert in this area but I would be very surprised to learn that Israel is governed by the IDF and Mossad.

@David Star. Running away is obviously not an option. I want Israel to survive and thrive. But what does “self-defence” ultimately look like? Is it permanent occupation? Also, if the Green Line borders are “suicidal”, how did Israel survive from 1948 to 1967? And was there a plan previous to 1967 to invade the West Bank because the Green Line border was “suicidal”? Was this Ben Gurion’s vision? I don’t remember reading about such a plan in the history books.

Bernie says:

Years ago 100 American generals were unanimous on the question of the West Bank. They stated that without it Israel would be indefensible. I believe them.

“In the annals of world diplomacy, we find two types of agreements between belligerents—the first is a surrender and the second is a settlement imposed by the victor after it has destroyed its enemy’s will to fight. So why do former Israeli soldiers, men who have committed themselves to the security of the Jewish state and its people, advocate what in real-world terms is clearly nonsense?”

Could the author or an editor clarify this passage? I’ve read it a dozen times now and it still makes very little sense to me. Is he saying that we must fit Gaza into one of these two frameworks? Why?

Leaving aside that there are obviously many more than two types of agreements “in the annals of world diplomacy” (what a statement!), Gaza is nonetheless a highly unique situation – a contested territory, partially annexed, then deannexed, then overthrown in a coup the size of a small civil war – a coup which installed an international terrorist network as the governing body. If this is not unprecedented it must at least come awfully close.

Given those circumstances, it is rather rich of the author to accuse two generals of spouting “nonsense” for attempting to speak directly to the situation at hand, when he would rather shoehorn it into a bewildering series of political abstractions whose underlying tenants are themselves highly questionable.

Marc, they joined different parties, some on the left and some on the right, but I don’t think any one of them joined Meretz – the position of which you and other leftists are advocating now here. I have no doubt that present Israeli government consults Ashkenazi and Diskin and other respectable people before making any decision regarding negotiations. When I said that their opinion should be the primary source for the establishing of the “red line” in negotiations I meant the general consensus and not opinion of each individual separately, since each one of them can see only small part of the picture. This arrangement must be comprehensive because the question of security is not limited by the desire and ability of Palestinians to fire rockets from Rammalah, it also includes availability of water, possibility of the social unrest inside Israel and many other issues as well as safety of those Israelis who live now in Hebron and Kiriat Arba.
Only when this “red line” is established and (what is extremely important) explained to Palestinians and “impartial broker” only then the negotiations may start.
Tell me, for example, what is the reason to start negotiations when Palestinians insist on the “right of return” for refugees? “Red line” means the line which is not negotiable. Safety and security of Israeli citizens are not negotiable. They (and you) need to understand that: not negotiable.

Like in America, the always say NO party is like the Israeli ultra Right,
and ultra religious. Two brave Israeli soldiers come to tell us they want
PEACE. And some spit in their face. SHAME.
Best Reply and answers are Jonny b, moderate Jew from NJ, and Mark Schulman,
who is a Jew from Israel, with children on the line.
I am a Zionist from Fort Lee NJ.

jonny b says:

@yocha bardvora

I know it’s in our nature to answer questions with questions, but come on! Your questions to the Arabs are valid and I’m not so naive to think that their answer is full of hugs and kisses. But today I’m asking YOU. What’s your plan? You think my plan is stupid. Fine. Please present an alternative.

Gene most of them joined the Labor party over the years, and some of course are in what now is Kadima, both parties have made it clear that they are willing to give back most of the West Bank in return for an end of conflict. I do not believe we will get it, we just have to keep calling their bluff, and if it turns out real then grab the future. As to the generals, that statement was after the Six Day War – a tank war, and the sort of war that no one expects. If by wild chance the Arabs agree to a final peace agreement then there will be a risk, but no more then when the Zionist agreed to partition to a small state. The risk is seeming to the world that Israel’s policies are determined by religious ideologues and not pragmatist. By way of clarification I am at the moment in NY, but will be back in israel with my daughter when she graduates HS here and goes into the army.

I’ve always been in favor of a two-state, land-for-peace approach and still try to be. I admit I’m also troubled by Israel’s vulnerability and the lack of a “Sadat” in today’s middle-east. Yet, it seems pretty obvious to me that the current Israeli Administration has no interest in doing anything that might support the emergence of moderate, nonviolent leadership inside the occupied territories. This hit me most painfully when I read Tablet’s own Michelle Goldberg’s column:
http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/52645/disobedient/
about ongoing nonviolent protests in the West Bank and the punitive, draconian response of the Israeli authorities.
Obviously, any Palestinian leader or group publicly embraced by Israel would lose cred with other Palestians, but what about some creative back-door communication? Instead, the powers-that-be throw everyone in jail as a one-size-fits-all solution, giving more ammuntion to the putative 84% on the West Bank who currently reject nonviolence as a strategy.

I believe that the way toward deep and successful change hasn’t a chance unless it begins with what’s closest at hand. If you’re deeply convinced that every Arab and Muslim wants to drive every Jew into the sea and nothing can ever change their desire for that, then I don’t imagine anything you do can ever lead to peace. But if you accept the possibility that you just might not know what the “other” is going to be thinking or feeling tomorrow, or what they’ll do in response to something you might do, and if you then proceed to act in accordance with your own best angel’s promptings, anything is possible. The “you” in question is an all-purpose pronoun. It’s me, all you folks, them, us, her, etc. And all of the above is covered in Hillel’s famous standing-on-one-foot all-inclusive midrash and in most spiritual teaching. Treat people the way you want to be treated. It may not always work, but you can be prepared for that. Anyway, what’s the alternative?

Tom Mitchell says:

Lee Smith’s claim of only two ways for agreements to come about is ahistorical and unempirical. Mediation and negotiation specialist I. William Zartman speaks of ripeness based on a “hurting stalemate” in which neither side is victorious but there is the danger of a shift in the balance of power.

Northern Ireland is an example of a wounding stalemate–the IRA and INLA couldn’t impose their will on Britain and the unionists but made for a very expensive containment effort. So Britain pressured the unionists to enter into negotiations and a peace was reached. The unionists then basically collapsed the settlement until the IRA was willing to abide by the terms of the settlement and disband. But Ian Paisley’s DUP was forced to accept sharing power with the political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein, which had been anathema to them for decades. So this is an example of a compromise settlement in which neither side imposed its will but compromised to produce a third outcome.

JimUSA says:

The Day In Israel: Sun Nov 21st, 2010

A new poll has confirmed what many (including me) have been saying for years: the palestinians’ ultimate goal is not peace and a two-state solution.

The majority of Palestinians support direct talks and the two-state solution, but ultimately want the entire area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea to turn into one Palestinian state, a poll sponsored by The Israel Project, a Jewish-American organization, shows.

—-

According to the poll, 61% of Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank support direct negotiations with Israel, and 60% accept the two-state solution. A 54% majority also agree peace is possible with Israel.
A closer look, however, reveals a different picture: According to the poll, most Palestinians refuse to reconcile with the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. While 23% accept the statement that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people,” two-thirds prefer the alternative statement that “over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state.

Moreover, the Palestinians perceive the two-state solution as a precursor to this entirely Palestinian state. When presented with the statement that “the best goal is for a two-state solution that keeps two states living side by side,” 30% agreed, while 60% opted for the alternative statement that “the real goal should be to start with two states but then move it to all being one Palestinian state.”

On the issue of terrorism, 58% said they support the armed struggle with Israel, while 36% believes that the direct talks are the only option. In the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, support for armed struggle was lower in Gaza (51%) than in the West Bank (62%).

In other words, even those palestinians who seem to support negotiations are doing so because they know they have a better chance of destroying Israel once they have a state.

You can view the full poll results here.

palestinian poll

It is ridiculous to compare situation on the Middle East with the one in Northern Ireland. First of all there wasn’t any “third outcome” in Northern Ireland based on mutual compromise. Sinn Fein wanted Northern Ireland to be part of Republic of Ireland while Unionists wanted it to be part of UK. This was the most important aspect of their struggle. So, part of which entity Northern Ireland now? Where is the “third outcome”? Second, this is only a temporary solution because it was not struggle between Sinn Fein and Unionists or Sinn Fein and British government. Yes, their leaders came to some agreement (not by “mutual compromise” though but agreement anyway). However, people on both sides – did not. And as long as people did not resolve their differences the fight will start up again in some not so distant future. And third, the most important part. You cannot compare the differences between people of Northern Ireland with the differences between people of the Middle East. People of Northern Ireland share a lot of similarities: they have the same language, similar culture, common history. There is nothing common or even close between westernized and civilized Jewish part of population and backward, indoctrinated, corrupted, filled with religious fanaticism, Arab part of population. You made flawed comparison.

I think the Israelis have change since we left Gaza . I and lots of my friend who were in favor of living Gaza and thought that the next step is living the west bank got a slap in the face. How can I support living the west bank who will promise me that Hamas won’t take over and start shooting on centeral Israel. what will we do ? fire back? occupy it again ? central Israel is not the negev it’s much more risky to us. We can’t agree to the returning of the refugees back and that is one of the must of the palestinian side. As for the green line we saw how suicidal they can be if you remember 1973 war. Imagine if we didn’t have sainai and the golan I think we woudn’t be here now to talk to you . Just look at the situation of the left today the left parties are getting smalle and smaller in Israel

I have read some lofty sounding words in all these comments but I don’t really get how a lot of people seem unable to accept the reality that is staring them in the face. The very simple truth is that the Arabs seem incapable of accepting Israel as the national home of the Jewish people and will use whatever means at their disposal to dismantle the state.
This is very clear to me so in my opinion everyone who thinks that pulling out of Judea and Samaria, dividing Jerusalem, and lifting the Gaza blockade will bring peace is seriously deluded. I think the Gaza experience lends weight to my argument. Are you all willing to gamble again ? I can perhaps understand those “Jews” who don’t live in Israel advocating this course because they might feel “safe” in their respective countries. I can only conclude that any Israeli who feels this way has lost the power of logical reasoning.
Jonny b asks how Israel survived between 1948 and 1967. The answer for starters is with constant shelling from the Golan heights and the inability to freely go to one of Judaism’s holiest sites. You also want a proposal for Judea and Samaria. You blithely say “permanent occupation”, but you forget that Israel captured this territory from Jordan in a defensive war and that Jordan gave up its claims to it in 1994. Moreover by the terms of the League of Nations mandate for Palestine the Jews were to settle the WHOLE of Palestine and make it their national home. This was a binding international treaty which nobody seems to refer to any more. Setting this aside how about what the Arabs were prepared to agree to before the partition ? They wanted to allow the Zionists to live in Palestine with a certain degree of autonomy provided their numbers didn’t rise above 35% of the population.
Of course, no state for them. So if the “Palestinians” are desperate for a state they can declare it in Gaza. The PA already enjoys a degree of autonomy. They live in peace and everybody lives happily ever after!

Yaakov Hillel says:

Three points that I must say as misconceptions that appeared in the above article. There have never been two politicians in Israel who have fought for peace and willing to give all Israels defensive areas as Moshe Dayan and yitzchak Rabin. the reason the guy assasinated Rabin was that he felt like most of the country that Rabin was endangering the Jewish state by giving up lands that are necessary for Israels Defense.Two thirds opf Israel is desert that very few people live in. the rest of the country has a mountainous mid section known as Judea and Samaria. the antisemites refer to it as the west bank. To give ninety percent of this mountainous area in the area over looking Tel Aviv and all the other central cities would be suicide. Israel would not be able to fly planes to their airport with out the probability of a Hamas Manshooting it down.80 percent of Jews of Israel live under this mountainous area. As Rabin once said ” to be shot down like a row of ducks at an arcade”.Dayan did everything that Israel should not go out to war against Jordan at the six day war , He was minister of defense then. The Jordanians were shooting fot six consecutive hours at Jewish towns cities and farms, He still did not let the Army shoot back. Only when the Jordanians used the long tom canons (they recieved from uncle Sam) at Israeli Airforce bases did he finally give in to the Generals. The Area of Judea and Samaria were conquered in 48 hours. The Jews paid dearly at the battle in Jerusalem. Dayan did everything to stop the Arabs from running away from their Homes. Secondly When Sadat reached the Knesset in Jerusalem he played a trick on the Jews that had the Arabs laughing at the stupid Jews. He used over and over the phrase a just peace. The Jews applauded, the only thing is they did not know what Sadat meant by a “Just Peace”. Justice in Islam is the will of Allah. The modern Allah does not want Jews hanging around in the middle east.A Just peace means peace without Jews.

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Yaakov Hillel says:

The Idea of A Palestinian free state would mean the end of Israel. Israel is willing to give the Arabs an area where they would have self rule in their Areas. They can have a police force with side arms.They cannot feed antisemitic hate in their schools, otherwise there never will be peace between the two peoples. They can have free access to anywhere in Israel after a period of a few years without attacks on Israelis. This is a situation that existed before 1985. The Arabs were visiting in every spot in Israel. I swam together with them in the lake Kinneret. So what happened? Israel made a mistake not understanding the Arabs class mentality. They started a plan of resettling the Arabs who lived in refugee camps in to a respectable housing project, thus ending the refugee problems. Students studying in neighboring countries were paid to start an uprising in Israel, which was known as the first intifada. They got street gangs together and they started throwing rock at Jewish civilians and military. The neighborhood of Shech Radwan where the jews were resetling the refugees the Arabs who moved into them were being tortured and killed. In those years I yet did military service a month and a half a year. We were sent to protect the Refugee families against their muslim brothers, those who were not living in refugee camps. The project was a falure. Again in the year two thousand immediately after the pope visited in the holy land, Ehud Barak who was P.M. offered the Arabs 100% of the land Israel took back from Jordan and Egypt after the 1948 those lands they took when they invaded Israel eventhough they were not supposed to take those lands. Why does one think we have peace with these two countries already 25-30 years. There was never such a thing as an Arab country in this area. for four hundred years it was under ottoman(turkish) rule. just after that the British held the land inviting Muslims from all over the world and Jews were not allowed in!Why did the Jews revolt

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