Gershon Baskin

Cross border cooperation and partnerships, not divorce

20.12.2018

Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

In my 40 years of working with Palestinians, the clearest insight that comes to mind is that Israeli unilateralism almost always ends badly. We should not control the Palestinian people. We should not have a military occupation that denies the basic human and political rights that we have fought to attain for ourselves. While confronting the threats and the dangers of Palestinian terrorism, we must never cease working to build cooperation and partnership with our neighbors.

It might be too late to reach a two-state solution with the Palestinians. That is what a majority of Palestinians believe. A growing number of Israelis believe the same thing, perhaps even a majority. Years of right-wing governments have worked systematically to erase the Green Line and to move hundreds of thousands of Israelis to the West Bank. The idea of peace, on both sides, has been delegitimized and the Oslo agreements are perceived as the most strategic mistake of the past 70 years. So what now?

“We must get divorced from the Palestinians!” Great slogan. It seems to have so much appeal to a majority of Israelis. Animosity and hatred toward the Palestinians are once again reaching new heights. The trashing of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people by Israeli leaders from the deep Right to the deep Center is part of every speech. Palestinian citizens of Israel and their leadership are delegitimized by legislators, mayors and members of the Israeli government regularly and systematically. Even the Arabic language is downgraded by the Knesset.

Political movements are built around ideas, and ideas are expressed to the public though slogans. Ideas and words are important, and when dealing with complex and sensitive political issues, ones with life and death consequences, the selections of words and terminology must be calculated beyond their electoral value.

Commanders for Israel’s Security is an organization that was founded around the basic idea of ending Israel’s control over the Palestinian people and pulling Israel back from the edge of the cliff of annexation of the West Bank. In their own words this is who they are and what they stand for: “Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS) is a nonpartisan movement comprising the overwhelming majority of available retired IDF generals and their Mossad, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police equivalents. CIS members are united in the conviction that a two-state agreement with the Palestinians, as part of a regional security framework, is essential for Israel’s security as well as for its future as the democratic home of the Jewish People... Driven by a sense of urgency given past missed opportunities, current challenges and opportunities, and concern with the overall national direction, the CIS action plan for 2018-2019 is focused on the single objective of persuading the Israeli public to demand of our leadership a commitment to our primary battle cry of ‘No Annexation. Separation!’”

CIS correctly verbalizes the assessed dangers of annexation that would lead to a binational, apartheid-like state. They also correctly assessed the impossibility of a negotiated agreement at this time between Israel and the Palestinians. There is next to zero chances that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas could ever reach a meaningful agreement. The lack of progress on the Palestinian side is leading to the strengthening of more radical groups such as Hamas. CIS’s explanation and analysis is all “spot on.” The problem with their message and their latest billboard campaign, “For the security of Israel, it is time to divorce the Palestinians,” is that it strengthens the fear of our neighbors, it strengthens racism against Arabs by Israeli Jews, it calls for basing present and future relations on separation, walls and fences, it will bring about further isolation of Israel in the region, and in the end it is counterproductive to the ability and willingness of the Israeli public to believe in and work for peace. It also calls for more Israeli unilateralism, which hasn’t worked so well for us until now.

In my 40 years of working with Palestinians, the clearest insight that comes to mind is that Israeli unilateralism almost always ends badly. We should not control the Palestinian people. We should not have a military occupation that denies the basic human and political rights that we have fought to attain for ourselves. While confronting the threats and the dangers of Palestinian terrorism, we must never cease working to build cooperation and partnership with our neighbors. The relations that we develop with our Palestinian neighbors have a direct impact on the relations Israel has with its neighbors in Jordan, Egypt and beyond. Israel is part of the Middle East, not part of Europe or the 51st state of the United States.

The CIS campaign is a continuation of the incorrect implementation of the Oslo peace process that was doomed to fail as soon as it adopted the separation paradigm of “us here and them there” behind walls and fences. The initial architects of Oslo, the late Dr. Ron Pundak, Prof. Yair Hirschfeld and Dr. Yossi Beilin initiated a process that was based on cross-border cooperation and partnership. The first Oslo agreements and architecture created some 26 joint Israeli Palestinian cooperation mechanisms. None of them exists now. Oslo did not fail, as most people believe; it was not implemented as written and conceptualized. Oslo was hijacked by many who had no interest in its obviously conclusion – two independent states living side-by-side in cooperation and peace.

The incorrect implementation of Oslo created an architecture of permits, blockades, fences and walls. There was a need to confront the spoilers and their use of terrorism, but the result of the separation paradigm was to punish those who were in the majority and supported genuine peace. There are very few Israelis and Palestinians today who believe that there are partners for peace on the other side. Partnership died with the distortion of what was supposed to be the peace process. The statements by Israeli and Palestinian leaders that there are no partners on the other side is not only their assessment of reality, it is in fact a statement of policy. The policy of rejecting partnership is implemented by both sides and is reflected in the reality on the ground every day.

The existence of a group like Commanders for Israel’s Security, which believes that it is part of the peace camp, is a bizarre distortion of the concept of peace. Israel’s security will not be strengthened by building higher walls. Israel’s security would be strengthened by ending the occupation, but Commanders for Israel’s Security does not talk about ending the occupation, it talks about not having Israeli settlements east of the separation barriers and walls. Unilateral Israeli actions such as what is being proposed by CIS is what Israel did in Gaza. It was necessary for Israel to leave Gaza, but it could have been done in cooperation and as part of a peace process. Ariel Sharon rejected coordinating the disengagement from Gaza with the Palestinian leadership and awarded the extremists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad to claim Gaza on a silver platter.

Ismail Haniyeh in his speech marking Hamas’s 30th year said it all: Fatah tried to negotiate with Israel and got nothing. Hamas launched its “resistance” and Israel was chased out of Gaza, without negotiations. And that is what almost every Palestinian believes until today.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins www.aixpaix.de. Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier


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Beiträge von Gershon Baskin
2018

Cross border cooperation and partnerships, not divorce

Lost love of the homeland

Inspire us!

Why I support a Palestinian list in Jerusalem

All of his achievements

A question of honor

Heroes and terrorists

Barak is coming?

Israel’s strategic dead end in Gaza

Undoing the two-state solution

Leveraging the Gaza crisis

Memories and the future

Encountering drama and lies

From Jerusalem will come hope!

Preventing the next war

No more slogans, we need action!

The missing Jerusalem

It still is the occupation

Beyond deterrence

Alienation

It is up to us

The past is beyond us

Existential Realities

2017

Our Jerusalem

November 29 - a national holiday

Two nation-states, two national minorities

Being Jewish

Public diplomacy

Gabbay on the road to defeat

Gaza’s geo-strategic remaking

The Americans are Coming, Again!

The next Palestinian generation

The house of God

IF I WERE THE PALESTINIAN LEADER...

The Zionist Left – Israel’s only hope

To be a free people

The Day after Independence Day

Prisoners, strikes and rights

The inevitability of peace

From Washington to Jerusalem

Eight pieces of advice to Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt

Becoming a real, effective democracy requires a real, effective opposition

Only two states – nothing else

The fatal Israeli-Gaza mistake (2)

The fatal Israeli-Gaza mistakes

The wisdom to limit our rights

Where to, Israel?

Get out of our lives already!

The authority of the Authority

2016

The state of denial

Settlements, annexation and the death of Zionism

It’s not just the economy

Encountering peace?

Building a shared society

Excuse me for asking

Secret back channels

Anti-anti-normalization

The Left is right

A moment of opportunity

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

There is no partner

2015

The partnership challenge

A new intifada?

After Abbas

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza

2014

Jerusalem of peace, Jerusalem of war

The Gaza challenge

Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?

Some thoughts this morning

Regional forum for security and stability – Gaza first

After a long phone conversation with a Hamas leader in Gaza

Don’t destroy Gaza, build it!

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 3 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 2 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace

2013

My Conversation With Hamas

Keine Fortsetzung des Unilateralismus!

Diesen Weg müssen wir einschlagen!

2012

Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

Mord an der Chance für Ruhe

Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Es gibt einen Ausweg

Atomwaffen raus aus dem Arsenal

Was Abbas Israel sagen sollte

Ist mein zionistischer Traum gestorben?