They Say, We say: Removing settlements and outposts from the West Bank will not satisfy the Arabs

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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Are settlements really a problem?

They Say:

Removing settlements and outposts from the West Bank will not satisfy the Arabs and bring peace. The Arabs regard even Tel Aviv as "occupied territory" and aspire to "liberate" all of Palestine.

We Say:

The question is not whether Palestinians will give up the dream of "liberating" all of Palestine. The question is whether the existence of a rejectionist minority, potentially willing to use violence against Israel to pursue their "liberation" dream, means that peace is not possible. The answer, clearly, is no.

Most Palestinians recognize that Israel is here to stay. Most also accept the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as the only real option available to fulfill their national aspirations. Most accept that an agreement to create a viable Palestinian state would mean the end of territorial claims against Israel. For years, public opinion surveys among the Palestinians have consistently found this to be the case.

Certainly, there is a minority of Palestinians who don't accept a two-state solution, and even Palestinians who accept the two-state solution are not necessarily happy about it. But there is no reason they should be: peace requires the Palestinians to sacrifice their dream of returning to homes and land that they or their families left within living memory.

Likewise, some Israelis and Diaspora Jews dream of a Greater Israel that includes all of the West Bank and even land beyond. This minority clings to its dangerous desire, irrespective of how unattainable its dream is. At the same time, many Israelis who support the two-state solution - recognizing that it is the only thing that can guarantee Israel's future as a Jewish state and a democracy - do so reluctantly. This is understandable: just as peace requires Palestinians to give up the dream of returning to Jaffa, so must Israelis give up the dream of holding on to Shechem (Nablus) and Shiloh, or Hevron (Hebron), cradles of Jewish civilization.

The vast majority of both Israelis and Palestinians want peace and accept the two-state solution. A successful peace agreement will include two mutually reinforcing components: meaningful incentives to further buttress the notion among both Israelis and Palestinians that peace is better than the reckless pursuit of unattainable dreams; and a strong security component to deter and fend off any threats from rejectionists.