Another Perspective

Second Thoughts

Israel has gone along with the "peace process" since 1993 -- only to find itself ever more reviled and isolated.

By 6.24.10

Uzi Arad, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's national security adviser, appears to be having second thoughts about the so-called "peace process."

"Have you failed to notice," he asked a Jewish Agency audience in Jerusalem this week, "that the more we lend legitimacy to a Palestinian state, the more it comes at the expense of our own?"

Well, yes, some observers actually have noticed this. We've also noticed how the goals of the peace process have evolved over the years. It was launched by Israel back in 1993 in the expectation of actually achieving peace with the Palestinians. But it soon became evident that Yasir Arafat and his gang of cutthroats had a different idea. They sought to use their newly established (courtesy of Israel) strongholds in the West Bank and Gaza as springboards from which to "liberate" the rest of "occupied Palestine." The Palestinian leadership called this a "strategy of stages," and they launched a new and terrible wave of terrorist attacks to implement it.

Did Israeli leaders, seeing that they had dug Israel into a deep and dark hole with their peace process, decide at least to put down the shovel? Hardly. Since the United States and the European Union strongly favored the peace process, successive Israeli governments felt that they couldn't simply abandon it; instead, they re-defined it. Now the principle goal of the peace process became winning over "international opinion." By releasing convicted terrorists, withdrawing unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, offering to withdraw from virtually the entire West Bank, freezing settlement construction, and using every possible occasion to reiterate its unwavering commitment to a "two-state solution," Israel sought to convince American and European opinion-makers that it was truly and genuinely devoted to peace, thereby taking the sails out of the increasingly successful anti-Israel propaganda campaign being waged by the Left and the Arabs.

But as the international hysteria over Israel's interception of the pro-Hamas Turkish flotilla demonstrated, this strategy hasn't worked out too well, either. Today, Israel is more isolated than ever -- so much so, in fact, that when the British rock star, Elton John, decided to perform in Tel Aviv last week (thereby administering a stern rebuke to the Pixies and Elvis Costello, who had canceled their performances), Israelis heaved a collective sigh of relief. Arad called Israel's Palestinian peace-partners "major actors" in the on-going de-legitimization of Israel campaign, and raised a provocative question: "Maybe we should have acted somewhat differently, less zealous to champion the Palestinians, and more eager to defend our own ranks?"

Duh, ya think?

But even while expressing reservations about past Israeli support for the peace process, Arad seemed to come up with yet another rationale for pursuing it:

"I also took notice -- all of us did take notice -- that the United States [has] changed the definition of its policy on Iran, from one that said a nuclear Iran would be 'unacceptable' to one in which it said that the United States 'is determined to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear.' There is determination there. There is activism."

Translation: With the Obama administration supposedly demonstrating "determination" and "activism" toward Iran, it would be foolish for Israel to pick a fight with Washington by abandoning the peace process.

On such delusions and false hopes does Israel's national security strategy appear to rest.

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About the Author

Joseph Shattan is the author of Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War.