Here is a radical, yet simple, proposal that requires some thinking out of the box: UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders actually should appease Israel’s deepest existential fears. Netanyahu has been warning constantly that the world does not accept Israel’s legitimacy. He seems not to notice that recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders would put an end to the doubts of many Israelis that the world does not want Israel to exist.
A Palestinian state along the 1967 boundaries means that Israel, for the first time in its history, would have internationally recognized borders. It would be clear that the Palestinians have no more legitimate demands on Israeli territory west of today’s Green Line. This would silence the radical voices in the free world that do not accept Israel’s existence.
The mainstream of the international community would now have a very clear case against any group like Hamas that doesn’t accept Israel’s right to exist. Israel could then count on a unified international front against Iran, Hezbollah, and other radical Islamist movements, and would no longer have to rely on unpalatable Islamophobic right-wing groups for support.
An Israeli government capable of thinking out of the box would welcome and sponsor UN recognition of the Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. Instead of trying to prevent this outcome, Israel would cooperate with the Palestinians and the UN to include the following provisos: one-on-one land-swaps need to be determined by negotiations between the two parties; implementation of the agreement needs to be gradual, taking into account Israel’s security concerns. From the Al Jazeera leaks – the Palestine Papers – we know that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is quite close to accepting these positions. Hence such a plan is quite realistic.
Israelis could finally breathe more freely: they would know that the country is no longer under diplomatic barrage, that neither sanctions nor boycott need to be expected, and that the international community would fully support Israel’s right to self-defense if it were attacked from the State of Palestine.
Such a step could be expected by many observers who marvel at the daring of Israeli business entrepreneurs and the creativity of its scientists and artists. Quite unfortunately there is a huge gap between the mindsets of Israel’s entrepreneurial and cultural elite and its political leadership. The foreign ministry’s current threat to implement unilateral steps to counteract Palestinian UN recognition indicates that Israel’s current leadership is very far from thinking out of the box; instead it is locked into a bunker with no connection to the outside world.
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