A Realistic Solution to the Never-ending Israeli/Arab Conflict

Redacted from a detailed  article by Dr. Martin Sherman

Arutz Sheva  –  Israel National News.com

November 1, 2019

Last week, Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, and Justice Minister, Ayalet Shaked, dropped a political bombshell when they announced that they were breaking away from their current party, “Jewish Home”—and were setting up a new party, with the (somewhat bland) name of the “New Right”.

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If the “New Right” is to advance “Right wing” causes, it must abandon schemes that lead to the creation of a never ending political strife with inevitable Lebanonizztion or Balkanization of Israeli society. They must  work towards legitimizing the idea of incentivized emigration of the Arab population of Judea-Samaria

According to this line of reasoning, they needed a new political vehicle, with a fresh image, unfettered with trappings of “excess” religiosity and political rejectionism. So the birth of “New Right” was announced, amid considerable drama in the media—and commensurate acrimony from the Jewish Home, who, understandably, felt betrayed by the unexpected, unilateral split.

It is, of course, still far too early to judge whether the abrupt break-away will yield positive results. However, two things can already be determined. The first is that by their decisive action, Bennett and Shaked have demonstrated that they have the necessary nerve and ruthlessness for taking high risk decisions—an indispensable requisite for the positions of leadership they seek. The second is that they have identified, at least partially, an important gap in Israel’s political landscape, which, almost inexplicably, has been left unfilled for decades and which, if suitably addressed, has the potential for considerable political rewards.

By explicitly opening the party ranks to religious and secular sectors of the electorate, while adopting a hardline (“Right” of Likud) approach to foreign policy and security affairs, they correctly challenge a widespread misconception. This is that when it comes to the Palestinian issue, rejection of political appeasement and territorial withdrawal is largely limited to the more observant portions of the population.

There is a sound secular rationale, backed by historical precedent, underscoring the folly of concessions to despotic adversaries. Moreover, historically, among the most hawkish opponents of territorial withdrawal was the hard-Left (i.e. socialist) Ahdut HaAvoda faction of the Labor Party, led by Yitzhak Tabenkin, one of the leading figures of the Kibbutz movement, who vehemently opposed any territorial withdrawal after the 1967 Six-Day Way.

Significantly, the Movement for Greater Israel, formed almost immediately after the Six-Day War to oppose any withdrawal from territory taken by the IDF, was founded mainly by prominent individuals with roots in the Labor Party, along with a few “Right-wing” revisionists.

Accordingly, it could well be that Bennett and Shaked have shrewdly diagnosed an inherent lacuna in Israel’s body politic and have identified a significant, yet untapped constituency of secular hawks.

This is the constituency comprised of those who recognize the folly and futility of persisting with a policy of ceaseless concessions to the Palestinian-Arabs, but find the Likud too equivocating on security and overly accommodative of the haredi demands for religious legislation.

Of course, it is still an open question whether the formula devised by Bennett and Shaked—of parity between secular and religious elements—is the right one to win over this constituency. For while I foresee little difficulty on some issues—such as reducing the tyranny of the judiciary, bolstering the Jewish settlement of Judea-Samaria and enhancing the emphasis on Zionist values and Jewish identity in the education system, other thorny and divisive issues may well arise.

But with all due respect to these domestic issues, the real litmus test of the New Right’s strategic value will be in the manner it impacts the discourse on the “Palestinian” problem.

Both Bennett and Glick have done an admirable job in pointing out the disastrous defects of the two-state formula. Regrettably however, they have advanced poorly thought-through alternatives to replace it—alternatives, which are no less detrimental to the ability of Israel to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people! Perhaps even more so!

Thus, Bennett’s blueprint for annexing 60% of the area would, in all probability, involve the same “political pain” as annexing 100%. Moreover, it is unlikely to solve any of Israel’s prevailing security and diplomatic problems.

Quite the opposite, it is highly likely to exacerbate them. So, in the final analysis, it is an almost certain recipe for the Balkanization of Israel – i.e. dividing the territory up into disconnected autonomous enclaves, which will be recalcitrant, rivalrous and rejectionist, creating an ungovernable reality for Israel.

It would take considerable—and unsubstantiated—faith to entertain the belief that Israel could sustain itself as a Jewish nation-state with a massive Muslim minority of almost 40% – as the societal havoc, that far smaller proportions have wrought in Europe, indicate. Indeed, this is a clear recipe for the Lebanonization of Israeli society with all the inter-ethnic strife that tore Israel’s unfortunate northern neighbor apart.

Incentivized Arab emigration: A Zionist imperative

Accordingly, the only policy proposal that can address both these imperatives, without the use of considerable “kinetic” force, is to induce large-scale Arab emigration by means of a comprehensive system of material incentives to leave, and disincentives to stay. The details of how this policy is to be implemented are unimportant at this stage. What is important is to grasp is its underlying principle and the unavoidable necessity for it to be adopted.

By Dr. Martin Sherman, 11/01/19

The writer served for seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli Defense establishment, was ministerial adviser to Yitzhak Shamir’s government and lectured for 20 years at Tel Aviv University in Political Science, International Relations and Strategic Studies. He has a B.Sc. (Physics and Geology), MBA (Finance), and PhD in political science and international relations, was the first academic director of the Herzliya Conference and is the author of two books and numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of political, diplomatic and security issues. He is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategicisrael.org). Born in South Africa, he has lived in Israel since 1971.

 

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