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An Israeli Platform for Peace: A Foundation for Unity

Because we are so divided, it is critical to create the foundations for a shared narrative. Let us disagree about policy but not principles and share a core vision of our national aspirations even though we may disagree as how best to achieve them

By DONNIEL HARTMAN
 
One of the flaws in the current reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that there is no serious conversation amongst Israelis as to what our stands and aspirations are. The trauma of the intifada coupled with the response to our withdrawal from Gaza has left many Israelis despairing about the possibility of peace. Whereas we laud the idea of peace, and theoretically support negotiations, territorial compromise, and a two-state solution; we have not made strides to develop a policy for attaining peace because we do not truly believe that it is attainable.
 
Despite the existence of a broad Israeli consensus and the declared policies of most of our major political parties, the absence of a conversation on our aspirations inhibits us in taking a substantive, creative stand. In order to reach a moral and ideological consensus that will serve as a platform for peace, we must begin an internal Israeli dialogue today. Such a platform will never be the subject of a total consensus. It can, however, unite the vast majority of Israelis and create both the political backing for serious peace negotiations, as well as a foundation for unity in the midst of vociferous political debate.

What might serve as the foundations of Israel’s peace platform? Here are some suggestions: 

  1. The pursuit of peace and the belief in the equality of all human beings created in the image of God are not merely political statements. Rather, they are key values on which the Jewish state of Israel is based.
  2. The "Jewishness" of the State of Israel will be determined by the identity of the majority of its population, the quality of its policies, and the nature of its public culture, and not by the quantity of land that it holds.
  3. Territorial compromise is a necessary step to enabling peace and ensuring the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.
  4. The Palestinian people have a right to national self determination. Denying their rights undermines the validity and value of ours.
  5. Occupation of another nation is an evil which must be brought to an end in accordance with our legitimate security needs and concerns.
  6. The State of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Any final status arrangement must bring to an end the Palestinian aspiration to express their national identity within the borders of the State of Israel.
  7. The land of Israel is the historical birthplace of the Jewish nation. The issue of borders, especially in Jerusalem, must reaffirm the historical and ideological roots and meaning of the land of Israel to the Jewish people.
  8. The border between the Israeli and future Palestinian states must take into account the security needs of the State of Israel; the ability of the Palestinians to create a viable and contiguous state of their own; and the facts on the ground generated by the location of large population masses of Palestinians and Israelis.
  9. Israel is a democracy and must live up to its highest standards. No Arab citizen of Israel can be stripped of his Israeli identity unilaterally, and every effort must be made to minimize the hardship and maximize the support for citizens negatively affected by the outcome of territorial compromise.
  10. Peace must be made between peoples and not merely governments. Any peace platform must allow the time necessary for its principles to be inculcated amongst the country’s citizens.

Adopting the principles of a platform for peace will not bring to an end the profound political debate within Israeli society nor will it affect the Palestinian people. The Palestinians need to formulate and commit to living by a parallel platform of their own. Dialogue between two platforms is fundamental to peace negotiations.

 

Our lack of a shared Israeli narrative is detrimental to our national unity. It would be a tragedy of immeasurable proportion if a process of reconciliation with the Palestinian people would lead to disunity. We can disagree about policy but not about our basic principles and values. We must come together around our national aspirations even though we may disagree as to how best to achieve them. It is important that no side lay exclusive claim to commitment to peace, love of Israel, love of the land, concern for security, and commitment to morality. As Jews, they must be the shared inheritance of us all and create the foundation for the future of our national homeland.

 

You care about Israel, peoplehood, and vibrant, ethical Jewish communities. We do too.

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The End of Policy Substance in Israel Politics