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Peace NOW

The Editorial Board
April 7, 2014

An Editorial

From the Spring 2014 issue of Jewish Currents

THERE IS MUCH FOR THE ISRAELI PEOPLE TO GAIN, and only the religious pipe dream of a Greater Israel to lose, by signing onto the two-state solution that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to unveil by the end of April. An end to the dehumanizing effect of occupation on Israel’s young citizen army; an end to hostility shown to Israel by potential allies and investors in Europe; an end to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement (which has gained enough traction for Benjamin Netanyahu to have denounced it angrily at this year’s AIPAC convention); an end to Israeli expenditures of more than a billion dollars each year on military occupation and settlement building; an end, at long last, to Palestinian grievances about exile and occupation — an end to all of this, along with formal peace with “twenty-two Arab nations and thirty-five Muslim nations, all of whom have said they will recognize Israel,” promises Kerry, adding: “Imagine how that changes the dynamics of travel, of business, of education, of opportunity in this region, of stability...”

Is all of this worth surrendering over a prisoner release, or for a few new settlement apartments?

The down side? Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has suggested that the Palestinian Authority, absent Israel’s occupation, would be overturned by Hamas or other hostile forces. But surely a U.S.-sponsored peace deal will account for this possibility, and surely Israel, backed by the U.S., has the security apparatus and military power needed to prevent it. Indeed, with the Muslim Brotherhood toppled by Egypt’s brutal military coup, and with Hamas cut off from Iranian aid because of their refusal to support Syria’s dictatorship in its brutal civil war, Hamas is more isolated than it has been since first achieving power in Gaza. The same is true of Hezbollah, which is fully engaged in that awful, chaotic war in Syria. With Israel’s sworn enemies at a clear disadvantage, is it not wise to secure international goodwill and achieve a measure of stability in Israel’s immediate neighborhood by creating the Palestinian state that should have existed alongside the Jewish state since 1948?

The real challenge to Israel will not be from the Palestinians but from that sector of the Israeli settler movement for whom trading land for peace is nothing short of a violation of God’s law. They number in the thousands, they are well-armed, and they will need to be confronted by Israel with compensation in one hand and military force in the other, if the peace agreement is to become more than a piece of paper. This, rather than the long overdue end to occupation, will be Netanyahu’s great challenge of statesmanship.