Israeli Perceptions of Vulnerability

(Georgetown Journal of International Affairs) Gerald Steinberg - The combination of six decades of war and terror, Iran's shrill threats of annihilation, and discriminatory boycott campaigns reinforce the dismal lessons of Jewish history for Israel. For most Israelis, the main obstacles to peace include terror and the Palestinian rejection of Jewish historical claims and the right to sovereign equality, independent of border concerns. The "average Israeli" pays close attention to the widely heard chant "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," which leaves no place for the Jews. But the problem is more than words: the rhetoric is accompanied by rocket attacks from Gaza and terror from the West Bank. Israelis have also not forgotten the mass terrorism that occurred in the wake of the 1993 Oslo agreements that created the Palestinian Authority. Viewing the massive violence in Syria and Iraq, the presence of ISIS in Sinai, and the strengthening of the Iran-Hizbullah regional alliance, Israelis - including those who support a two-state solution in theory - perceive withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as a dangerous fantasy. Israeli policies with respect to Palestinians and the West Bank will continue to be framed by history and perceptions of vulnerability. This will only change when the Palestinian side - and the wider region - address them directly. The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation.

2017-05-18 00:00:00

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