Gershon Baskin

Our most important elections


Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

The sense in Gaza is that without more violence Israel will not end the siege on Gaza. That is what people in Gaza understand.

I was down south twice this week speaking to people who live next to Gaza. One evening I was at Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak near Rafiah speaking to about 50 people from the Movement for the Future of the Western Negev. The next evening I was in Sderot speaking to about 35 young people from the Sapir College branch of the One Voice Movement.

Most of the people I met are still living the trauma of the summer’s war. Some told me the painful stories of the stress and anxiety that children in the area are still suffering from.

A mother told me that her son wakes up every morning and asks if the cease-fire is still on. Some people were able to express empathy for the horrible suffering of people inside of Gaza.

The older people there still remember the days of visiting Gaza, shopping there, and having friends and workers from Gaza in their own homes.

Almost everyone voiced deep concerns about when the next round would take place, and not “if” it would take place.

Everyone believes it is just a matter of time – and not too much time – before it all begins again. There is a deep sense that the war did not create the so-called “deterrence” that the generals spoke about. There is keen recognition that nothing has improved for the people of Gaza, that in fact their situation is much worse than it was before the war. So many thousands of people in Gaza are homeless, jobless and hopeless. The economy is in total shambles (by the way, many of the people in the south, especially in Sderot, also spoke about economic doom). Less than two percent of the money pledged for Gaza by the international community has arrived and also no building materials have entered Gaza for the reconstruction of destroyed homes. Gaza is in ruins, it is winter, raining and cold and there is even no glass to replace shattered windows.

The Palestinian national reconciliation government is barely functioning in Gaza. Services are at their worst level in the past decades. There are still long hours of the day and night without electricity. Sewage continues to flood the streets and flow into the sea (which by the way ends up on Israel’s beaches).

Factories are still shut because there is no market in Gaza to sell the goods and Israel still almost totally restricts the movement of goods out of Gaza. There has been some opening for some building materials and more goods entering Gaza from Israel.

The sense in Gaza is that without more violence Israel will not end the siege on Gaza. That is what people in Gaza understand.

There has still not been any Israeli political initiative. Continued international and regional pressure will mount on Israel to reduce the suffering inside of Gaza. Some of that pressure will even come from within the Israeli military and security establishment. Any openness by Israel toward Gaza in the absence of a comprehensive political initiative will correctly be viewed as an incentive to use force rather than the opposite, which would be the empowerment of moderates interested in negotiating real peace.

The government of Netanyahu still lives in the world of delusion thinking that the Arab world will accept Israel’s courting for cooperation against common radical Islamic threats while leaving the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. This will not happen. Even Egypt is limited in its ability to cooperate with Israel in public, and cooperation that goes beyond direct intelligence and security issues concerning the terrorist threats in Sinai is impossible for Egypt to accept.

The key to Israeli engagement in wider regional stabilization and security affairs remains the offer made to Israel way back in March of 2002 through the Arab Peace Initiative. From talks that I have held with Arab leaders and opinion makers, in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and even in Saudi Arabia it is quite clear that by accepting the Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, real opportunities would be created for regional cooperation through which there would even be Arab support for the disarming of Hamas and Gaza within the framework of what would become a demilitarized Palestinian state. But that requires Israel to take some political initiative.

The government of Netanyahu has not taken any political initiatives of this kind, nor will it before it turns into history. If the next government of Israel does not take these steps then it would not be unreasonable to predict that the next round of Gaza-Israel violence will happen very soon after the new government is created. Anyone who thinks that Hamas is not busy preparing itself for the next war and actually thinks that the war created deterrence has absolutely no understanding of Hamas.

The second thing which should be clear to everyone is that the Palestinians will continue their international diplomatic offensive and will continue to gain bilateral statehood recognition from almost every nation in the world.

They will continue to advance a new UN Security Council resolution and they are clearly on the path to victory. For that, I would venture to say that we Zionists in Israel should thank them because they are essentially working to preserve the two-state solution in which Israel is recognized on 78% of the land of Israel.

The Palestinian diplomatic offensive will eventually lead to a wake-up call to us all that Israel can no longer occupy the Palestinians and continue to be a Jewish and democratic state. The game is over. It simply will not work anymore.

We have finally come to that final crossing point. The choice is very much in our own hands, not exclusively, but to a great extent it is up to us, the people of Israel, to determine if we have the wisdom to enable the Palestinians to have their freedom on 22% of the land in exchange for the preservation and sustainability of the Zionist enterprise, meaning us having our own piece of land, the State of Israel, under our own control, in which we express our identity freely and democratically.

This is the time for us to act intelligently, cautiously but decisively in preserving our own identity, independence, security and our place in the world as a genuine peace-seeking nation dedicated to the values of the Jewish prophets that our Declaration of Independence speaks of. We must take control of our own destiny and future. We, the people of Israel, must forge a course forward which is no longer willing to accept a government that issues daily messages of threats aimed at flaming the fears which already exist and the anxieties that we face from living in such an unstable neighborhood.

No, it is not acceptable to have a government which has no vision for leading the nation toward peace.

Empty words of peace will no longer fool anyone. As we enter the gates of 2015 we will face the most important and fateful choices that our nation has ever faced. It is not about the cost of living, it is about life itself. Never before have we faced such important elections.

Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier

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Beiträge von Gershon Baskin

De-risking peace - Part I

The Left is right

The French connection

The United Nations and Israel’s legitimacy

A moment of opportunity

The darkness of our times

Addressing the core

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian turmoil and Israeli interests

This one is for you - the Palestinians

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

Sooner or later

There is no partner

There is no partner


Yes, it is difficult to make peace

What does he really want?

To those who oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace

Israel – my sad home

Have I got news for you

It is still not too late for peace

Netanyahu, tell us what you really think!

The partnership challenge

The binational reality that we are experiencing

Abbas is still the leader who can make peace

A new intifada?

After Abbas

The distance between here and peace and security

Doing the wrong thing at that wrong time

The one and only solution!

Yeshayahu Leibowitz was right!

The disengagement – 10 years on: What we choose to forget

Needed - a new approach to Gaza

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Obviously no peace now, so what then?

Ramadan Kareem!

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza

Anti-normalization hypocrites

FIFA, soccer and the Palestinians

Both sides now

It’s time for Palestine

The citizens’ challenge – from despair to hope

We have the chance to do the right thing in Yarmouks

The world is not against us

This is what you voted for, and this is what you will get

The no decision elections

A cautious peace, but peace nevertheless

For the sake of Israel, Netanyahu must be sent home

Going ballistic even prior to an agreement

To the new IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot

The Peace Bridge

The choices we must make

Israeli elections – It’s not about the economy

Threats and security


Returning to negotiations

Our most important elections

The missed opportunities

We want peace, but they don't

Our future is in our hands

Defining who we are

Unlike religious wars, political wars have solutions

Today and tomorrow

If we had a real leader

Jerusalem of peace, Jerusalem of war

No tango going on at all

The Gaza challenge

Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?

The end of the ceasefire, the renewal of war and the end game

The aftermath

Some thoughts this morning

Regional forum for security and stability – Gaza first

After a long phone conversation with a Hamas leader in Gaza

Don’t destroy Gaza, build it!

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 3 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 2 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Annexing the West Bank – a catastrophic plan for the Jewish people

Mutual and reciprocal recognition

Our Palestinians, their Jews

A very personal statement on peace


Contextual reciprocity

Negotiating atmospherics

My Conversation With Hamas

Ramadan Kareem

Wahrheit, Lügen und Rechtmäßigkeit

Kauft palästinensisch!

Rat für den Präsidenten

Keine Fortsetzung des Unilateralismus!

Diesen Weg müssen wir einschlagen!

Die Kluft im Umgang mit den israelischen Arabern schließen


Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

Strategische Fehler und Herausforderungen

Mord an der Chance für Ruhe

Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Die Aufgabe eines Staatsmannes

Es gibt einen Ausweg

Atomwaffen raus aus dem Arsenal

Was Abbas Israel sagen sollte

Obama, gestatte es uns nicht!

Ist mein zionistischer Traum gestorben?