Israel is a small country, roughly the size of New Jersey, looking out at a world of much larger Arab nations in a region of aggressive, violent Islamic fanaticism, whose children are taught to hate Israeli children. Millions of dollars from Europe and the United States are spent on poisoning the minds of the Palestinian young.It's a moral outrage. It explains why the Israelis know they will have to protect themselves without assistance from risk-averse Western democracies. International U.N. forces have a poor record of defending Israel; just look at Lebanon. They have thoroughly earned the derisory description of them by Abba Eban, Israeli foreign minister during the 1967 war, as an umbrella that is taken away when it rains. Hence Israel's determination that any Palestinian state must be demilitarized and be without tanks, artillery, or missiles that could be deployed and threaten Israel. It is also why Israel has consistently rejected the 1967 lines as future borders. It was Abba Eban again who epitomized what they meant: They are "Auschwitz lines."
In 1967, Israel did not face the existential menace of short- and medium-range rockets, mortars, and missiles supplied by Iran. Thousands of them were launched from Gaza after Israel's withdrawal in 2005 under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and now Hamas has wrested control there from its rival Fatah. The Israelis would be committing suicide if they did not insist that the border between the West Bank and Jordan be made impenetrable. For the same reasons, they are right to insist upon a joint Israeli-Palestinian military presence along the Jordan River and the deployment of Iron Dome anti-missile batteries along the border of a future Palestinian state.
Something else has changed since 1967. As Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times has noted, Israel's regional policy had long been built around a peace treaty with Egypt, cordial relations with Turkey, a cold peace with Syria, and a shared interest with Saudi Arabia in the containment of Iran. All these arrangements have been undermined by the Arab Spring upheavals, diminishing the prospects that peace with the Palestinians would lead to permanent peace with the wider Arab world or indeed would last.
The Israelis see the Palestinians as divided into one camp that is more radical and one less. The more radical camp is led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They want 100 percent of everything and will not make any concessions to Israel's security, the Hudson Institute's Khaled Abu Toameh has written, for their goal is to replace Israel with an Islamic state. The less radical are the Palestine Liberation Organization and its main faction, Fatah, who want 100 percent of the pre-1967 lines, which would encompass the entire West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. And they too are unwilling to commit to the end of the conflict.
The PLO of today seeks not a peace agreement but a U.N. resolution in the hopes that this will give the Palestinians what Israel cannot and would not give them at the negotiating table, to wit, a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines. Opinion polls indicate Palestinian support for their own state alongside Israel, but only as a first step toward one state in which they will rule over the Jewish people.
It does not inspire confidence when President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly asserts that the Palestinians have been "under occupation for 63 years," as if the "occupation" began in 1948, with the creation of the state of Israel, and not 44 years ago, in 1967, with Israel's takeover of the West Bank and Gaza after a war that threatened its existence. He repeatedly asserts that this is the land of Muhammad and Jesus, as if Moses never existed. The PLO goal seems to be an Israeli state without peace, without security, without the end of conflict, and without the recognition of the state of Israel, rather than a Palestinian state living side by side with the Israeli state in peace and security.