For many years, Israel has repeatedly attempted to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and reach a state of peace and stability with the Palestinians, based primarily on the formula of "land for peace".
Israel recognized the PLO and pressed for the establishment of a Palestinian entity in Judea, Samaria and Gaza – but peace became even more remote. Even the territorial withdrawals carried out by Israel did not improve the situation. On the contrary, the threat of terrorism against Israel intensified dramatically. Thousands of Israelis have been murdered, tens of thousands injured, and life in Israel returned to normal only with the adoption of strict security measures, the construction of fences, and the return of the IDF to intensive activities in Shechem, Jenin, and Tul Karem.
Palestinians have likewise received no benefits from the peace process. No refugee has been rehabilitated, the standard of living has dropped, and tens of thousands have fled from the territories under Palestine Authority control. Instead of allocating the tremendous sums of money contributed by the international community for the construction of an advanced economy for the welfare of Palestinian residents, the Palestine Authority has allocated massive sums for the personal benefit of its leadership, as well as for terrorist activities against Israeli citizens.
Even the Gaza "disengagement" of 2005 brought not peace but only a further deterioration in the situation. The pro-Iranian Hamas gained control of Gaza and is overtly striving for the destruction of Israel. These forces fire Kassam rockets into the Negev and perpetrate day-to-day terrorism against the Arab residents of Gaza, many of whom have been cruelly tortured or murdered.
It is now quite clear that the concept of "the Palestinian State" has collapsed. If we desire peace, we must soberly examine the reality and understand where we went wrong. Now is the time to display creativity and advance towards peace along a different path.
The Alternative – The Israeli Initiative
The Israeli Initiative is based on a totally different concept.
- Striving for a humanitarian solution to the Palestinian problem, instead of a political one.
- Basing peace on strategic cooperation with Jordan, instead of with the Palestinian Authority.
- Extending Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, instead of handing over these parts of the country for a Palestinian State.
A humanitarian instead of a political solution
....The problem of the Palestinian refugees is not a political, but a humanitarian one. The establishment of the State of Israel did not take away their state from the Palestinians, since such a state had never existed. However, in many cases it did take away their homes and their dignity. There is a way to give the refugees back their dignity, provide them with a home and a starting point for a new life. It is possible to replace their status as poverty-stricken refugees with a reality of welfare, prosperity and hope. Such a solution is what Palestinians themselves desire.
Peace is made with stable entities
The choice of the leaders of Palestinian terrorism as "partners" for peace was a mistake. Peace must be made with entities that desire stability and peace, not with the leaders of terrorist organizations. The Israeli Initiative proposes strategic cooperation with Jordan and additional Arab countries seeking a solution of the Palestinian problem and an end to Islamic extremism.
Israeli sovereignty – regional stability
The Israeli Initiative assumes that the most effective and correct way to preserve the stability of the region is to guarantee Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and bring to an end the long-existing vagueness regarding the status of these areas. Only Israeli sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean can prevent Shiite penetration into the heart of the western region of the Middle East and guarantee the continuation of Israel's existence as a Jewish State.
Judea and Samaria form the geographical and historical heart of western Eretz Israel and there is no reason – moral, legal, demographic or geographic – to abandon those parts of the country that provide vital strategic depth and land reserves.
Now is the time—This is the opportunity
The Middle East has undergone dramatic changes in recent years that create an opening for the fulfillment of new hopes based on the principles outlined above.
The Iranian threat, the rise of Al Qaeda, the strengthening of Hezbollah and the victory of Hamas in Gaza are causes of anxiety today in both the Western and Arab worlds. Dangerous Islamic extremism has become a major force in the world....
Abandonment of old fixed ideas
We must abandon the old fixed ideas: No to a "Palestinian State," no to "territories in return for peace," no to "the strengthening" of Abu Mazen and/or the Palestinian Authority. The time has come for the State of Israel to present its own diplomatic initiative based on the integration of its interests and those of its neighbors—an initiative that realistically leads to peace and prosperity for the entire region.
Such a proposal must be fully integrated with the need of all nations in the region to halt the advance of Shiite Islam, a force that threatens the stability of all the Arab countries.The Israeli Initiative proposes an implementable, regional, humane and just solution that responds to the real needs of all parties.
Overall and full rehabilitation of all the refugees and a new and simple map in which Israeli sovereignty extends to the Jordan River, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is recognized as the national home of the Palestinians.
*Binyamin Elon is the Chairman of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) and the Chairman ofthe Moledet Party. He has served twice as Israel’s Minister of Tourism. He currently serves as Chairman of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee, Chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, and is a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.