The New York Times published a strongly worded Op-Ed this week by Danny Dayan, Chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, under the title “Israel’s Settlers are here to stay”. Seth Mandel, in an article in Commentary Magazine, called his comments “wrongheaded”.
Mandel accused him of ignoring "both an accepted reality and the Palestinian people". Dayan has every right to ignore or even reject both. Mandel further complained that "two of his ideas contained in the op-ed would be, if accepted, detrimental to the American foreign policy doctrine that results in such steadfast American support for Israel." I beg to differ for reasons set out below.
“First and foremost, a majority of Israelis (usually around the 60 percent mark, sometimes higher) consistently support the two-state solution, even at a time when that proposal is clearly at a post-Oslo low point.”
If such a poll exists, the wrong question was asked. Last year, a Dahaf Institute poll commissioned by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs found that Seventy-seven percent of Israelis oppose returning to pre-1967 lines, the poll reads “with minor border adjustments”] even if it would lead to a peace agreement and declarations by Arab states of an end to their conflict with Israel.
The poll found that large majorities of 85 percent and 75%, respectively, recognized the importance of maintaining a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty within the framework of any final peace deal and opposed transferring the Temple Mount to Palestinian control even if the Western Wall were to remain in Israeli hands. If that weren’t enough, a recent poll in Israel found that 64% of Israelis support the continuation of the settlement enterprise. The parameters of the two-state solution doesn’t come close to offering the Israelis what they want or settle for.
“‘[T]he American left would like to frame the debate as consisting of two points of view–Dayan’s and J Street’s. Both are outside the mainstream consensus on this issue, and it is only up against Dayan’s arguments that the hard-left can appear reasonable. “
To the contrary, it is Dayan’s solution that is reasonable compared to J-Steet’s “Auschwitz borders”. Only Dayan’s solution will bring peace. As to the debate, bring it on.
“What about the Palestinians? Dayan doesn’t say Israel should give the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria voting rights. If he would, is he not concerned about the demographics at play? If he would not, is he suggesting that the Palestinians should be a permanently stateless people and that Israel would be permanently without clear national borders? He writes that Israeli security should be paramount, but the Judea and Samaria he envisions would be a long-term security nightmare for Israel."
Dayan didn’t offer citizenship nor did he reject it. The vast majority of Israelis who support annexation also support giving citizenship to qualified Arabs while at the same time offering them, in the alternative, a financial inducement to emigrate. Upon annexation of Judea and Samaria, (West Bank) Israel would have clear national borders, the Jordan to the Mediterranean, though the international community would not recognize them. It is only the present situation where Israel’s borders are undefined. As for the security nightmare, he is absolutely correct. Where is Mandel on this issue. He doesn’t say.
“Second, has he thought through the implications to U.S. foreign policy of his proposal? Specifically, he seems to want the U.S.–a principal external force on the peace process–to ignore its own dedication to the right of self-determination for the Palestinians. But that would mean weakening American devotion to the general principle of self-determination, which is a major driving force behind continued American support for Israel. Does Dayan, as a political figure in a country whose right to exist is constantly being questioned by a resurging global anti-Semitism, not just in the Arab states but all over Europe, really want to weaken American support for the idea of a right to self-determination?”
This argument is misleading. American support for self-determination is very selective. I don’t see America supporting such a right to the Kurds, the Basques, the Tibetans and so on and they are a real people, not an “invented people”. The Balfour Declaration, the legally binding decision at San Remo and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine all asserted the right of the Jews to not only self-determination in Palestine but to the reconstitution of their national homeland there. The Arabs were specifically denied such a right in Palestine but not in Jordan which was separated from it. Why doesn’t Mandel and the US government support their right of self-determination in Jordan which is, after-all, 80% Palestinian?
America also supports the rule of law which favours Israel by a country mile. To prefer the Palestinian "right" to self-determination on these lands to the Jewish historical, legal and moral claims is just ludicrous. They have no right to self-determination there.
“Additionally, Dayan writes that the return of the Palestinian refugees from around the Arab world to the Palestinian state would be a major security threat. But he also acknowledges that those Palestinian refugees are treated as second-class citizens in those countries and kept in squalor elsewhere (chiefly by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency). Should they stay that way? And isn’t a primary goal of Israeli national policy to convince the Palestinians to return to a Palestinian state, not Israel? Humanitarian concerns often clash with security concerns, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the humanitarian concerns altogether–it means we go back to the drawing board and get creative, not give up.”
Though Israel does support the Palestinian return to a Palestinian state, rather than to Israel, in principle, it doesn’t she supports their return to Palestine in reality. This support in no way can be described as “a primary goal of Israel national policy”. If only a million would return to Palestine, should it ever be created, war would result. Dayan knows this. Mandel and the international community couldn’t care less.
If America or the international community really cared about the condition of the Palestinians in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, they would focus their attention on getting them resettled as they have done with tens of millions of refugees since the Second World War.
Dayan has gone back to the drawing board, Mandel and the west has not.
“And finally: Dayan claims removing the settlers would be impossible. Why? Today there are no settlers in Gaza. He’s also moving the goal posts; many of the settlements would remain in Israel as part of any final-status agreement. Israel’s critics often dishonestly ignore this when speaking in broad terms about The Settlers. Dayan is making the same mistake, and playing right into their hands.”
Though “many of the settlements would remain in Israel”, over 100,000 Jews would have to be forcibly removed. That may be acceptable to Mandel but it is not to Israel. Why doesn’t Mandel suggest moving the final border to include these settlers on the west of the border? Why not negotiate on the basis of Israel keeping 10% of the land? That would solve the settler problem. But the West, let alone the Palestinians, would not continence that. Even if you grant the Palestinians a right of self-determination, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it must be on 100% of the land. The land after all is Jewish land and not Palestinian land.
At least Mandel acknowledges:
“The fact is, Dayan is right that the current Palestinian leadership prefers the status quo, and are not making the effort needed to secure a deal. He’s also right that a Hamas takeover of all of the future state of Palestine would immediately nullify the peace deal, and anyone who thinks Hamas isn’t still dedicated to Israel’s destruction is not paying attention.”
“But it would be more constructive if Dayan made these critiques of Mideast policy as part of an effort to reform the current structure of the two-state solution in ways that might make it more workable, not less.”
Wrong suggestion. Why not abandon the pursuit of the two state solution altogether and work from a different paradigm. First resettle all the Arab refugees. Secondly, insist that all Palestinians in Jordan be fully enfranchised so that Jordan becomes the Palestinian state. Then invite all Palestinians to move there and get citizenship. Now that is a solution worth working toward.
It is Mandel's ideas that are wrongheaded.