If I were the Israeli Prime Minister (and I’m not) I’d give the following speech next week at the peace conference in Annapolis. Here’s what I’d say:
Enough is enough. Let’s end this thing right here, right now.
To the Palestinians, I’ll say yes to practically everything you say. You don’t want any more roadblocks in the West Bank? Done. We’ll take them down. You want your prisoners released from our jails? Here you go — take them. You want us to withdraw to the 1967 borders? No problem — but you know that realistically we’re going to want to tinker a bit with the borders so that we keep some of the older, larger settlements but you get an equal amount of Israeli land. But if you really want to return to the 1967 borders, we can do that too. You want to share Jerusalem with us? Be our guest; feel free to put your capital somewhere in East Jerusalem. And when you declare your state, we’ll the first country to recognize you, and we look forward to welcoming the first Palestinian ambassador in our capital.
What do we want in return? From you – nothing. Of course you’re expected to promise to end terrorism, and I’m sure you’ll do your best. What we want is not something that you can provide and I’ll come to that in a moment.
To the Syrians, welcome back to the peace process. Would you like your Golan back? You can have it. We know that in 1967, when you held the entire Golan, our army cut through it like a hot knife through butter. It was hardly an obstacle for us. In 1973, when we held it, your army swept through it as if we weren’t there. So much for a “natural line of defense” for either one of us. You can have it all in exchange for a peace treaty — even though we know at best we’ll get a cold peace out of you.
To the Saudis, thanks for the peace plan. It’s just what Israel used to call for back in the good old days, 40 years ago. You could have had it all then — the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, the Golan were all in your hands. All we wanted was recognition — which you wouldn’t give us. Now you’re offering it in return for us going back 40 years. Consider it done. We have no problem with that. It’s what we always wanted.
To the Israelis, I know what you’re thinking. Is he insane? Is he giving back everything in exchange for promises from regimes which have waged war on us for decades? Their promises mean nothing. And I say: you’re right.
Because in exchange for giving back all of the West Bank, and freeing the Palestinian prisoners, and recognizing a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, and giving the Syrians the Golan back, I would be insane to ask for nothing.
That’s not what I’m doing. I don’t want anything from Abbas and Assad — because they cannot give us what we need.
Here is what I do want, and it’s a precondition for our signing any agreement:
I want the United States to guarantee, today, Israel’s membership in Nato. I want permanent Nato bases with a significant commitment of forces on Israeli soil. I want Israel’s sovereignty guaranteed by the Atlantic alliance and I want Israel to be able to invoke Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty which specificies that “an armed attack against one or more of them … shall be considered an attack against them all.”
Collective security worked for you and it will work for us too. Let us into Nato and we can end this hundred-year war right here, right now.