So far, we have seen negotiations about negotiations. Negotiations about the very existence of negotiations. Only now do the real peace talks seem poised to begin.
After many years of dealing with Israeli issues, and armed with the experience — not to mention quite a few scars — as an official who served as the head of the security committee during talks with the Jordanians, the Syrians and the Palestinians, I’m ready to offer my services and recommend seven core principles for this round of new-old negotiations.
1) A speedy, decisive return to negotiations, without any preconditions:
We must stop acquiescing to preconditions such as the release of terrorists. Freeing these prisoners is problematic both from an ethical and tactical perspective. The U.S. set that precondition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has decisively and wisely pushed peace talks forward, accepted it, to the best of my understanding, to neutralize prospects of either a settlement freeze or an early discussion on the 1967 borders. Negotiators must now return to a position of “no preconditions” in all other matters.
2) Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its undivided capital:
We do not need the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish nation’s historic right to a state in Israel. But failing to recognize the existence of a Jewish state draws a huge question mark over how ready the Palestinians truly are to agree to two states for two peoples.
3) Defensible borders:
Israel’s need for defensible borders is written in blood. But how will such borders look? The answer is that they will be drawn in a way that fulfills our three basic security needs:
The need for strategic depth: The average width of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is 64 kilometers (40 miles). The strategic depth here is of little importance. But the need increases in light of growing threats stemming from the age of nuclearization, ballistic missiles, and long-range rockets that mostly threaten population centers.
The need for defensive depth: The era of “slim chances for war” is over. The Middle East has become a realm of uncertainty. Civil wars and the lethal combination of terrorism and movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood make it necessary for us to remain vigilant over the possibility of an attack from the east.
The need to be able to combat terror: The only factor that will guarantee the demilitarization of the Palestinian entity is a permanent Israeli presence along the West Bank’s eastern border. The disarmament of the Palestinian state is not only a condition that was guaranteed to Israel’s when it signed the “two states for two nations” principle. It is also a condition that ensures the security and fulfillment of any agreement. The situation in Sinai is a testament to that. The Jordan Valley “envelopes the state of Israel.”