Gershon Baskin

Our future is in our hands


Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

Our prime minister, who is running for reelection, has no desire to make peace with the Palestinians, because he is simply not willing to pay the price.

So it begins. Elections are once again here and the people of Israel once again have a chance to raise their voice and determine the future of this land and its people. What are these elections about? They are about deciding whether Israel will aggressively launch a peace initiative to finally put an end to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict on the basis of two states for two peoples, or if Israel will aggressively face off against the entire world refusing to recognize the inevitable imperative of partition, ending its control over the Palestinian people. It is choice between facing a tsunami of boycotts and sanctions or emerging as a regional leader and partner in the development of the region in the common struggle against Islamic extremism. It is a choice between a bi-national reality in a one-state disaster, living a new form of apartheid with one government and two systems of control – one for Israelis and one for Palestinians, or marching forward in building a partnership with our neighbors that would end Israeli control over millions of Palestinians who refuse to accept Israeli domination and control.

There have perhaps never been clearer choices for the Israeli electorate than there are today. One camp, the right-wing religious camp, refuses to recognize that more than 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian Arabs who have no less a right to full equality and democracy than the other 80% of Jewish Israelis. That same camp sanctifies land and history above sanctifying life and the future. The center-left camp sees all Israelis as partners in the identity of the state, Jews and Arabs, as equal citizens with a commitment, finally, to include representatives of the Palestinian Israeli citizens as part of the future government. The center-left knows that nothing is more important to the future of Israel, to the Zionist movement and the Jewish people than making peace with our Palestinian neighbors on the basis of two states for two peoples. No other issue comes close to the importance of ending Israel’s control over the Palestinian people and allowing them to be recognized in a sovereign state next to Israel. The economy, the drafting of yeshiva students, the cost of apartments, the cost of living, newspaper ownership, and more – none of this comes close to the importance of finally bringing Israel into genuine negotiations with the Palestinians that will put an end to the conflict, an end to claims and real peace.

I have written so many times over the past years that we know what an Israeli-Palestinian agreement looks like. We know what compromises are possible. We also know what lessons we must learn from the past failures of the peace process. We know that partnerships have to be built and fostered. We know that security arrangements must be the highest priority and that no third-party troops can replace the essential security responsibilities of the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

We should know that no real peace can be built based on walls, fences and barbed wire and that genuine peace must be built on cooperation across borders.

We should also understand that one of the highest priorities should be to rapidly develop the Palestinian economy, ensuring that our neighbors are happy and prosperous so that they will also be peaceful. This is our interest and we have nothing to be ashamed of stating that it makes absolutely no sense for us as Israelis to want to have unhappy neighbors. It makes no sense at all for us to want them to suffer.

It is time for the electorate to understand the amazing wealth of power that Israel holds to actually make peace become a reality. Israelis should understand that we totally dominate the lives of the Palestinians and have close to total control regarding our ability to close them in, limit their access and movement, to make their lives difficult, almost unbearable, and of course, the opposite too.

Our prime minister, who is running for reelection, has no desire to make peace with the Palestinians, because he is simply not willing to pay the price. For Netanyahu the peace card was a public relations stunt.

He does not fool the world anymore and he should not fool the Israeli people anymore either. He wants you to be scared and to live in fear – fear of the Palestinians, fear of Islamic State, fear of Iran, fear of Obama, fear of anyone who suggests that Israel must allow the Palestinians to have 22 percent of the land of Israel.

He has been leading Israel into direct confrontation with the entire world. He has been leading Israel into the next intifada. He is allowing right-wing fanatics to provoke violence on the religious front in order to transform a political-territorial identity conflict, which is resolvable, into a religious-messianic conflict which can never be resolved.

No Netanyahu, the whole world is not against us – it is against you and what you stand for. The world is against you denying the Palestinian people what we Jews have fought for and have won – independence, a territorial expression of our identity, dignity, sovereignty – the ability to have a piece of land we call our own. Another term for Israel under Netanyahu means confrontation with the world, more Palestinian violence against us all, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic barrages against Jews wherever they are. Another Netanyahu government is too much for the people of Israel to suffer and too much for the Jews of the world to have to absorb.

This is the time of opportunity. The election campaigns will most likely be ugly, cheap, full of mud-slinging and very little real debate on the issues. Most likely the Israeli people will not be challenged with grand visions and people will vote much more against something than for something. The most important thing is that they vote. Every citizen must use their right, their obligation to make that critical choice. Every citizen, Jew and Arab, must not think that their vote is not important, or that by voting they are not making a choice. There is too much at stake. Whatever choices are made – we will all be impacted. I am glad we are going to elections – despite the costs. There are good reasons for hope – we are a people who have survived through history. Now we must survive the bad choices we have made in the past and hopefully make better ones now.

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?