In the wake of the recent vote in the UN General Assembly, the reactions across the Israeli political spectrum were anything but a surprise. While some voices on the left simply welcomed the vote others blamed the Netanyahu government, arguing that Israel’s foot-dragging on peace talks during the last four years left the Palestinians with no other option than to bypass Israel and take their case directly to the UN.
Further to the right there were voices saying that since the Palestinians clearly violated the Oslo Accords with their unilateral action, Israel should act accordingly by taking the unilateral step of declaring Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea & Samaria.
For his part the Prime Minister had harsh words for both Abbas and for all the countries that helped secure a landslide victory for the Palestinian leader.
On top of this, while most political commentators in Israel were quick to add that from a legal perspective the symbolic vote has no binding aspect, many of the same commentators conceded the fact that it does nevertheless represent some sort of advancement in the direction of Palestinian statehood.
Once again, to anyone familiar with the Israeli political scene there was nothing new in any of these reactions.
Lost in all the fuss, however, is the fact that for years Israel itself has been encouraging the creation of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. In other words, the point is not whether or not the Arabs sidestepped Israel but rather the fact that the only one to blame for the approaching reality of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria is not Abbas, the UN or any of the hypocritical countries in the world but rather one of the most democratic, stable and tiniest countries in the entire Middle East, Israel.
After all, with successive Israeli leaders, including current Prime Minister Netanyahu, supporting the establishment of yet another Arab state in the region, this time in Judea and Samaria, rather than confidently and unabashedly asserting the rights that the Jewish people have to the land, be it the Biblical rights or the legal rights (Mandate, San Remo, etc), is it any wonder that we’re heading in the direction of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria?
However, rather than taking responsibility for this fiasco, Israeli leaders are throwing sand in our eyes by merely focusing on the qualitative difference of whether or not a Palestinian state will eventually be thrust upon us via the international community or whether one will be reached via an accord and a few signatures on a piece of paper called a peace agreement. Needless to say, for anyone who is genuinely concerned that an Arab state in Judea and Samaria, regardless of how it is established, will pose a threat to the very existence of an even smaller and more vulnerable State of Israel, the focus on the alleged difference in how the Palestinians achieve their state is not very comforting.
Moreover, as the last twenty years have shown us, whatever red lines Israel declares today will most likely melt away in a few years time. A clear case in point is the fact that there are already voices in Israel proposing that a dialogue be opened with the Hamas government in Gaza, a suggestion that just a few short years ago would have been roundly condemned across the political board. Thus, as much as Israel currently cries foul over Abbas’ unilateral move, history has shown us that within a short time period Israel will, in all likelihood, simply readjust its red lines and learn to live with the type of infraction that once upon a time we were told would nullify the Oslo accords.
Having said all this it’s clear that Israel’s long-term survival, something which will be endangered should an Arab state be established in Judea and Samaria and which therefore can no longer be taken for granted, is dependent on the emergence of a new type of Israeli leader, one that will no longer blame others for our difficult predicament but rather will look in the collective national mirror, draw the obvious conclusions and with full responsibility initiate the long overdue and necessary change in direction.