Gershon Baskin

No tango going on at all


Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right when he says Israel cannot return territory to the Palestinians that will then be used to attack it. Israel must be sure as possible that in recognizing Palestine next to Israel, genuine peace will exist between the two states. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians can afford to risk more failed peace processes. The past failures teach us that security arrangements are at the core of any possible agreement and that prior to taking additional risks we must be sure that territories no longer under Israeli control will not become breeding grounds for terrorism.

Netanyahu claims that he continues to believe that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the two-state solution. Anyone who believes in the twostate formula must understand that we have to find the proper balance between the Palestinians’ needs and right to sovereignty and Israel’s right to genuine security. We must find the formula that will enable the Palestinians to live free from Israeli control and occupation and yet not entrust Israel’s security to third parties which will never be able to replace the security provided for Israel by Israel.

Netanyahu is right when he asserts that UNIFIL- or UNDORF-type forces cannot be relied upon to ensure that bomb- and rocket-manufacturing industries do not pop up in areas Israel withdraws from. Nor can Israel rely solely on the word of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s answer to these dilemmas, however, is to do nothing rather than trying to advance some kind of understanding with the Palestinians. Not only that, he continues to foster settlement expansion that makes it plain to see that there will never be a chance to create a viable Palestinian state.

He knows that he cannot, at this time, advance the plans of the extreme right-wing members of his government to annex Area C – 62 percent of the area of the West Bank.

That would turn the entire world, including the United States, against Israel. So instead, combining no initiatives toward peace with active plans to remove as many Palestinians as possible from Area C, continue to impoverish Palestinians in east Jerusalem and pressure the young people there to leave, Netanyahu is pushing the Palestinians toward a new round of violence, which is already beginning in Jerusalem.

This is the perfect strategy to make his case that Israel has no partner for peace. If more radical groups like Hamas take over the West Bank, Netanyahu hopes that the enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and other jihadi movements will finally understand that they can find common cause with the State of Israel and no longer support Palestinian nationalism and a dangerous radical Palestinian state in the neighborhood.

Netanyahu is busy creating the enemy that he needs so as to not have to give up territory and to be able to continue to expand throughout the land untethered by the constraints of do-gooders in Europe who, according to him, have no understanding of who the Arabs really are.

So far the Palestinian leadership, understanding how hard Netanyahu is working to provoke a violent response, have been working equally hard to control and restrain that violence in the territories where they have control.

They do not have control in Jerusalem – Israel has full control over all of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem becomes a release valve for anger which is growing throughout Palestine and in the whole region.

But by allowing Jewish extremists to provoke violence on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif, Netanyahu is playing with explosives that have the potential to blow up not only in Jerusalem, but also in Amman, Cairo and throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Netanyahu’s strategy of no peace initiative, continued settlement expansion and constant provocation of Palestinian violence is leading Israel to disaster.

Not only is Israel marching toward the possible binational end of its Zionist dream, Netanyahu is placing Jews around the world in danger because of their identification and affinity for the State of Israel. It is clear that the Jews of Israel and the Jews around the world have not yet come to terms with the severity of the situation – but they will.

It will be unavoidable and all of Netanyahu’s excuses that Israel cannot take risks at this time in this dangerous region must be challenged now, before it is too late.

There can be a balance between Palestinian needs for sovereignty and control of their own destiny and Israel’s legitimate security needs. There can be ways to mitigate risks, including Palestinian agreement to a demilitarized state with regional security arrangements and performance based implementation of the agreements that will take place over years. There are ways to create joint security structures that would enable Israel to continue to have a non-intrusive security presence in areas required to guarantee the implementation of agreements and security arrangements in the framework of joint Palestinian-Israeli command and operations, with joint patrols. There are possibilities for trustworthy third-party monitors and verifiers of implementation of agreements and obligations.

These are not replacements for Israeli security personnel, but verifiers of implementation by both Israel and Palestine of their responsibilities regarding securing the peace.

Just as Netanyahu is working diligently to enhance animosity and enmity, it is possible to invest energy and ingenuity into building partnerships and understanding.

But this goes against what Netanyahu wants to advance.

Netanyahu must be replaced as soon as possible. The first step toward replacing him is understanding that there are much wiser and much safer options for the State of Israel. Netanyahu and his plans thrive when no one offers credible, viable alternatives. Netanyahu has succeeded in creating so much anxiety and fear about our neighbors that visions of a better future seem naïve, part of a false reality that will never emerge. He succeeds by convincing us that the whole world hates us, not because of what we are doing, but because they are all anti-Semites who will always hate us, no matter what. Even President Barack Obama, who has provided Israel with more military support and security cooperation than any other president in the history of US-Israel relations, is painted by Netanyahu and his representatives as dangerous for Israel. It is Netanyahu who is dangerous for Israel, not Obama.

In the absence of credible alternatives and concrete plans to demonstrate that peace is really possible, that security can be the core of peace agreements, that we have neighbors who are prepared to live in peace with us, in dignity and mutual respect, but only when we are prepared to end our control over their lives, we end up with Netanyahu, Bennett, Liberman, etc. etc. etc. No initiatives for peace, no hope, only threats, fear – and Netanyahu as the only credible leader able to face the disaster that he has created.

So far cottage cheese and Milki revolts are the focus of the masses, but there will be no progress on the economic front until we all understand that it is all connected to not having peace with our neighbors. And yes, it does take two to tango, but when we control the electricity, the radio airwaves, we own the music player and we don’t let our dance partner out of the locked room to join us on the dance floor, there will be no tango at all.

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

World Wide Web

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?