Finding a solution to any conflict or disagreement between two sides demands the will and mutual understanding. It cannot be accomplished unilaterally.
This is just as true for the so-called, “two-state solution,” which on a practical level was never more than a “two-state slogan” or a theoretical idea – and not an especially successful one at that.
It is unsuccessful even theoretically because Israel cannot live with the inevitable outcome – the loss of control between the River and the Sea in two crucial aspects: security and demography.
What can we learn from history (and in our case, we are talking about a history of 100 years)?
It never worked. At the crucial moment, the Palestinians always said “no” to any solution based on this idea, regardless of where the lines were drawn or how the land was divided.
We saw this all the way back in 1937, when the Peel Commission made their proposal, and again in 1947 when the UN Partition Plan was passed – even though the Palestinians were offered the majority of the country.
The same goes for the generous offers made by former prime ministers Ehud Barak (in 2000) or Ehud Olmert (in 2008), even though both of them accepted most of the Palestinian demands.
This Palestinian rejection also explains why bilateral negotiations – that have lasted for a generation since Oslo – have not only failed to solve the conflict but have not brought us any closer to peace, security or stability.
So what is the reason behind this rejectionism? Very simple: The Palestinian side never wanted to end the conflict. Their goal was always to carry on the conflict with a better hand.
The Palestinian goal was and remains not the end of the conflict, but the end of Israel’s existence.
In this regard, there is no difference between the various Palestinian factions, such as Hamas and Fatah, but rather in how effective their different methods are in achieving their goal. When we understand this, we understand that almost every Palestinian achievement damages Israel, and vice versa (with very few exceptions).
When we understand this, we also understand that Palestinian achievements have worsened our situation, without bringing us any closer to a solution.
It is also important to understand that all of the Palestinian’s achievements are a result of our actions. For example, regarding territory, they did not acquire one meter militarily.
The Palestinian Authority was established on land that was handed over by Israel under the Oslo Accords. This was after Israel returned the PLO gangs from Tunis (expelled from Lebanon in the First Lebanon War in 1982) and another piece of land given after a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as the result of an Israeli decision.
Regarding political status, the so-called Palestinian “state,” sanctioned by the United Nations and other international institutions, was granted only after Israel accepted the model of two states – that is, the acceptance of their right to a state between the Sea and the Jordan River. As long as Israel opposed a Palestinian state, that didn’t happen.
Since the early days of the conflict, Ze’ev Jabotinsky proposed an alternative approach to the left-wing idea, centered on the understanding that there is no possibility of reaching an agreement against their will. Jabotinsky wrote about the concept of the Kir Barzel (Iron Wall). This is the correct basis for understanding today’s reality also.
What he said remains relevant: “This does not mean that there can be no agreement with the Arabs of the Land of Israel; only that it is not possible to have an agreement against their will. As long as the Arabs have one spark of hope to get rid of us, they will not give up that hope, not in exchange for sweet talk and not for different promises… The only way to reach such an agreement is the Iron Wall… In other words, the only way to reach an agreement in the future is to completely relinquish attempts to reach an agreement in the present.”
Of course, according to Jabotinsky’s view, the type of understanding or agreement that would be possible to reach in the future would be quite different in nature.
If we accept this analysis, we must move to a binary approach – to the concept of “zero-sum game” in the struggle between us and the Palestinians, in all its different aspects.
The victory paradigm assumes – like the Iron Wall – that an agreement may be possible in the future, but only after Israel’s victory is clear and absolute. In other words, when there is a lack of choice on the part of those who do not want compromise (i.e., the Palestinians).
But we must understand that moving to the “Israel Victory Paradigm”, requires the abandonment of the Oslo concept.
That is, the concept that peace and security will be achieved through two states between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
At the end of the day, the only way to find a solution is to find a way to link Palestinian autonomy in Judea and Samaria to the Kingdom of Jordan.
Don’t forget that the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria were Jordanian citizens until 1988, when the King, unilaterally and illegally, took their citizenship away.
Israel must return to the classic Zionist idea of creating and securing critical mass between the Sea and the Jordan River.
What does this mean? Well, let me give you some examples: On the political side, I praise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to bring more embassies to Jerusalem.
I would add that the Jewish majority in Jerusalem must be strengthened, and there is a need to promote large-scale construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
The future of Jerusalem will be determined, first and foremost, by the facts on the ground – by the clear Jewish demographic majority, which has begun to be challenged.
The Victory Concept requires a clear Israeli claim to Area C. It needs us to set the objective of Israeli sovereignty in this territory, including in the Israeli settlements of Judea and Samaria and in the Jordan Valley.
The Victory Concept requires Israel to take action to stop the Palestinian attempt, supported by the European Union, to take control over lands in Area C.
The classic Zionist approach understood the importance of, and the need to take action in order to see positive change – especially in the demographic balance. It did not attempt to create a false conflict between our territorial and demographic interests.
We must return the issue of aliyah, Jewish immigration, to the very heart of the national agenda. We must take advantage of the opportunities that exist today to support and realize the dream of bringing the Jewish people back to their homeland.
All of these important policy points are guided by the principle of ensuring an “Israeli victory.”
Such a policy must also see a change in the way Israel conducts its public relations and talks about its principles abroad.
Instead of continuing to swear allegiance to a dangerous and unrealistic idea, Israel’s representatives must begin to tell and explain to the world the truth – the reality and our real interests. We have many friends waiting to hear it – and they are waiting to hear it from us.
Gideon Saar is the Former Education and Interior Minister and a former member of the Security Cabinet. The article is based on a speech given at the annual conference of the Israel Victory Project of the Middle East Forum.