When Israeli judges were the Judges of Israel, there was a judge named Yiphtah. One day an Ammonite king sent him a very reasonable message: give me the land back. And he was right, the king: the Jews had indeed taken this land from the Ammonites. By any international standard, the land belonged to the Ammonites. Their offer was the best of Oslo: give us back the occupied territories and let’s live in peace. Yiphtah said No, and went to war. We will never know whether he acted out of the firm belief that we should never surrender the cities of our God. Perhaps he was a Jewish nationalist who disliked Ammonites. Or maybe his years living Robin Hood’s life had made him into an adventurist. Whatever the case, the Jews preferred land to peace.

And so it was until very recently. No less a peace maven than Abba Eban called the pre-1967 boundaries “the Auschwitz borders,” as indeed they are: who can imagine defending a state nine miles wide? In fact, who would call such a strip of beach a state?

Ben Gurion accepted the idea of land concessions in return for peace, but he spoke in terms of giving some land to Jordan rather than establishing a Palestinian state. The man who systematically expelled the Palestinians, Ben Gurion was no supporter of their statehood. He, too, explicitly rejected the pre-1967 borders.

If Israel has a peace idol, it is Rabin. But only weeks before his assassination Rabin declared in the Knesset that “the borders of Israel lie in the Jordan Valley in the broadest sense of that term.”
No Arab leader ever took Palestinian statehood seriously. Sadat accepted peace accords with Israel which vaguely promised the Arabs a sort of self-determination.

Olmert’s plan for a peace settlement with the Palestinians is devilishly good. The original proposals, to which the Palestinians had more or less agreed, left Israel with the settlement blocs, and the Palestinians were to receive tracts of desert in exchange. That plan would have required the eviction of a few faraway settlements—twenty to forty thousand people. Even that would have been a problem several times the scale of Gush Katif, but it would have been somewhat doable. The newly unveiled plan to cede the Arabs the entire West Bank, including the settlement blocs and major towns, means uprooting up to 300,000 Jews, a clearly impossible task. Even if the Knesset approved such a bizarre deal, popular opposition would be overwhelming. The US, asked to shoulder the burden of relocation costs in exchange for pushing the peace treaty through, would likely refuse Israel the mammoth aid that would be necessary. The Gush Katif compensation standards were lean, as most evictees couldn’t afford new housing. But even by those standards the 98 percent plan would cost in excess of $200 billion. So Olmert’s idea is great in being impossible. Abbas may even accept it because he doesn’t want a state. For him, signing a peace deal with the Israeli government and then seeing the Jews renege on it would be the best PR.

The 98 percent solution also involves ceding the water rights to Kineret and the Dead Sea. Everyone realizes that the Palestinians would engage in predatory pumping of freshwater and mineral production, precipitating an ecological catastrophe. Decades ago, Israel shelled Jordan over their less dangerous plan to divert some water from the Jordan River. Even if the Palestinians agreed to a pumping quota, they would violate it, and Israel won’t be able to bomb them over water consumption.

The Israeli government also agreed to accept a token number of Palestinians from refugee camps, the figure ranging from five to twenty thousand. The Palestinians will take care to select the worst thugs for repatriation. Arab villages will refuse them, and they will settle in Jewish towns. In a short while, they will bring many more Arabs through family reunion schemes.

The government’s plan to transfer the Jewish settlers is odd. The rulers’ fiduciary obligation is to their citizens, and if transfer we must, our first choice should be to transfer Arabs rather than Jews out of Judea and Samaria. The proposal to relocate settlers to Galilee is incredibly cynical. There are the people whom the government asked to settle in Yamit; they were evicted during the evacuation of Sinai. Some moved to Gaza—again, on the government’s call—and were evicted from Gush Katif. Now the settlers, evicted from Judea and Samaria, should go to Galilee. But very soon Israel will abandon Galilee for the very same reason she now abandons Judea: there are too many Arab there. In fact, in most areas of the Galilee the proportion of Arabs is higher than in Judea. The problem is, we cannot shrink to Tel Aviv-Yaffo because Yaffo is already swarmed by Arabs.

Israel’s young are 34 percent Arab; add Russian non-Jews and Muslim/Christian blacks, and Jews are close to becoming a minority. The bi-national state is already here, we don’t prevent it by shedding territories. If we want our country Jewish, we have to shed Arabs rather than land.

As soon as a Palestinian state is created, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda would rush to control it. Israel cannot do anything about massive military buildup in Gaza. What would we be able to do about the West Bank? Hezbollah replenished its arsenal of rockets in less than a year despite a considerable hostile buffer area in North Lebanon. The Palestinian state will have a common border with Syria, and will be stocked up with rockets in a matter of weeks. Even if Israel signs a peace deal with Syria, it would still happily subvert its Jewish nemesis through Palestinian guerrillas. Iran, too. Other Arab countries show no intention of signing a peace treaty with Israel even if we abandon Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians. On the contrary, other Arabs need a conflict with Israel to vent their internal squabbles. They don’t want a major flare-up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they love to keep it smoldering.

Today, Israel prevents Hamas from taking over the West Bank. As soon as the peace is signed and IDF withdraws, Hamas would reign there. Realizing that, the Israeli establishment gears up for a large-scale military operation in Gaza. Hamas can be beaten but not extirpated. In all likelihood, it will inflict considerable casualties on an IDF bent on entering the supposedly moral urban battles instead of bombing its enemies. The victorious Hamas would blow away the Fatah government in the next elections.

It doesn’t matter a single bit whether common Palestinians want peace with Israel. Iran won’t ask for their opinion. There will be no cooling-off period in the Palestinian state during which the people can learn to coexist, hatreds may calm down, and the framework of a peaceful state established. The run-up to the next military confrontation with Israel will start immediately. And all of Israel will understand what it means to live in Sderot.

Israeli Palestinian peace process guarantees war