To return to ourselves
Past Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Yediot Aharonot, Friday, October 6, 2000
At this time the entire nation
should support the efforts to stop the violent outbreak.
For the first time in many years, the very core of Israel’s existence is in
danger. This danger is a result of the undermining of Israel’s physical and
moral strength in the eyes of the Arabs. Since time immemorial, the key to
peace between Israel and the Arabs, those bordering Israel and those living
in Israel, has been the cohesiveness
and the power of the Jewish people in Israel. A polarized and feuding Israel
is a weak Israel, which will not be able to achieve peace or maintain it.
This situation encourages the Arab belief that the Jewish state is a passing
phenomenon, and all that is needed is another push or another sequence of
events designed to wear down and deplete, in order for the entire structure
to collapse. That is the basic motivation
behind the events of the past weeks, and not the perverse excuse of Ariel
Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount.
A strong Israel, united behind ironclad principles of a national consensus,
is the only guarantee to preventing violence and the descent into war, and to
creating the conditions which will eventually lead to a stable peace with our
First, we must forcefully repel the Arab violence. Every citizen
is entitled to express their protest, and the Arab public has a true
grievance for the many years of neglect;
however, this should not be mistaken: no country can tolerate blockades of
their roadways with gunfire and Molotov cocktails, or outbursts of violence
bordering on incitement to revolt. If we had surrendered to the violence in
1948, Israel would not have been born. If we surrender to it now, we will not
be able to continue to survive. Therefore, it is imperative for us to
support forceful action by the government, the
police and the armed forces, in suppressing this violent situation.
Secondly, we must not conduct political negotiations under pressure of
violence and threats of violence. Concessions that are made under these
circumstances, including one-sided concessions and “gestures”, do not
encourage an atmosphere of conciliation on the other side, but rather they
arouse the appetite to forcefully extort further concessions.
Thirdly, we have to establish boundaries for the expectations of the Arabs in
the geographical sense as well as in the psychological sense. The conflict
with the Arabs is not basically territorial, but rather existential. It
turns out that the Arab demand is not for the 1967 borders but rather the
1947 borders, which means cutting off the Galil and the Negev.
Therefore, we must determine our borders in any future
agreement with the clear understanding that we will have to defend ourselves
even after the signing of the agreement. Accordingly, we must not return to
the 1967 borders or thereabouts, because these borders are not defendable and
will hurt Israel’s power of deterrence.
Furthermore, we must summarily
dismiss any demand to discuss the right of return, or to sign an agreement
which returns even one refugee. One small hole in this dam will bring a huge
flood of masses of refugees into the borders of Israel. The riots in Jaffa,
Aco, Haifa and Jerusalem clearly show
that the Arab fantasy to fulfill the right of return is still alive. The
absolute rejection of any expression whatsoever of the right of return must
be a condition to any agreement, whether it is a partial agreement or a final
agreement, and that is a necessary condition for the rehabilitation of our
Above all, we must renew the national consensus with regard to a united
Jerusalem. The willingness to divide the capital of Israel paves the way for
the Arab demand to divide other “mixed” cities like Jaffa, Haifa and Ramla,
but the unity of Jerusalem is not just the unity of a city, but the unity of
a nation. The yearning of generations for Zion is the motivation that
brought us here from all corners of the world. Jerusalem is the glue that
binds us a nation.
The events of the past few days strengthen in many the feeling of despair
with respect to the ability to make peace with the Arabs. I do not agree
with this. It is possible to make peace with the Arabs provided that they
understand the nature of the peace that is possible with them. There are two
kinds of peace in the world: peace with democracies and peace with
dictatorships. Peace with a democracy is a
natural thing which supports itself, because in a democratic regime, the will
of the majority rules, and it tends not to initiate wars. Since in a
dictatorship the will of the majority does not determine anything and it is
guided by rulers, peace with a tyrannical regime is possible only if it rests
on an external force of deterrence, like the cold peace that the US
maintained with the Soviet Union.
The global information revolution will eventually reach also the Arab world,
will lay the groundwork for a multitude of opinions and a temperance of the
animosity, and will enable the kind of peace that is hoped for. As long as
the Arab world does not undergo a democratic revolution, we will be able to
maintain with it a peace that is based on deterrence which rests on a solid
It was not that long ago when this national consensus was taken for granted.
This is the time to return to ourselves.