The Place: Kefar Etzion
The Time: Eve of Elections
As I near my eightieth year I ask for the public’s support in elections for one single purpose: to complete the partition of Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state.
The state of Israel has many challenges, but the struggle for a more just society, the fight against corruption and the healing of divisions, I leave to the leaders to come. I take upon myself one mission only: the determination of final, clear, recognized and secure borders for the State of Israel.
My fellow settlers, on the morrow of my election to Prime Minister of Israel, I will annex to the State of Israel all of the settlements adjacent to the green line, where the vast majority of you live. Efrat and Tel Aviv, Kefar Etzion and Netanya will be equal towns in one State of Israel. This will become Israel’s eastern border. This border is the outcome of your actions and settlement. We will be annexing a mere four percent of the entire territory of Judea and Samaria – less than one percent of the total territories conquered in the Six Day War. Following a final peace agreement, we will hand over to the Palestinians other territories of equal size, in their stead.
My fellow settlers, only I will be able to annex your settlements with the tacit agreement, if not more, of the governments of the United States, Europe, and the world at large. Only a leader who dared make peace, and is willing to do so again, will be able to complete what you have begun. Not Naftali Bennett, not Benjamin Netanyahu, and no other leader would be able to go to the world and say: we are annexing these settlements, and in doing so we have determined Israel’s final eastern border. Only I can get for you that which you crave: recognition, legitimacy and belonging. At the end of my term you will no longer live under a cloud of impermanence and illegitimacy over your presence here.
My fellow settlers, I understand you. But unlike De-Gaulle, I am telling you the truth now, before the elections. East of the border, that I have delineated before you, the State of Israel will have no territorial demands. The acts of settlement east of the border will cease, and will receive no support. Whoever lives east of the border could return to the State of Israel, within its borders, and will receive support for doing so. Whoever decides to remain, will be like any Israeli citizen who lives outside of Israel. The Palestinian Authority would be able to realize its authority over the entirety of the territory from the border to the Jordan River. The Jordan River will continue to be Israel’s line of defense. The Israeli Defense Forces will retain freedom of action throughout the territories, as they do today. East of our final eastern border the military will stay, the citizens will not.
The late Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy was right: we have a legal right to the territories of Judea and Samaria. Far more important, we have a deep historical and emotional connection to the lands of the Bible and the cradle of Jewish civilization – the home of the tribe and the Kingdom of Judea. We are an indigenous people who have come home. But there is another indigenous people in this land. Another people, who have the equal right to be masters of their fate, determine their future, be sovereign, like all people. This land must be divided between the two peoples. In delineating our border, we will exhibit our ongoing commitment to the partition of the land between a Jewish State and an Arab State. We have a right to all of the land, but our right is neither exclusive, nor superior. We will not have all of the land. The dream of greater Israel is over.
I call upon the Palestinians to abandon their dream of greater Palestine as well. There will not be Palestine from the River to the Sea, just as there will not be Israel from the River to the Sea. I call upon the Palestinians to recognize the equal right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its homeland, just as we recognize the equal right of the Arab Palestinian people to self-determination in its homeland. I call upon the Palestinian refugees to recognize that the war is over, and that they and their millions of descendants will never return into the State of Israel within its borders. We will not return to Beit-El, Ofra and Hebron, east of our border. The Palestinians will not return to Jaffa, Haifa and Magdal, west of the same border.
It is a tough demand, but peace requires tough and clear decisions. As long as the Palestinians continue their war for greater Palestine, in the form of the demand for return, the Israeli Defense Forces will remain between our eastern border and the Jordan River. Full peace with the Palestinians might not be immediately attainable, but it doesn’t mean we should to nothing. Our responsibility as leaders is to make it easier, rather than harder, for future generations to make peace. This is the responsibility I take upon myself.
The time has come for clarity and determination. I commit myself to leave to the leaders that follow a state in which it is clear who belongs and who doesn’t, who is in and who is out, a state that has completed the process of determining its borders, and all the considerable capacities and energy of its citizens are turned towards building a more perfect society.
To this end I stand before you today, and with its completion, my decades-long service to the people and the State of Israel will be complete.
This article was originally published by Haaretz in Hebrew.