Sacrificing for peace, Olmert-style

Published in The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, March 28, 2014.

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Imagine that after escaping criminal conviction in next week’s Holyland trial verdict, Ehud Olmert re-launches his political career, oy. Peace will undoubtedly come to the Middle East… 

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Imagine that after escaping criminal conviction in next week’s Holyland trial verdict, Ehud Olmert re-launches his political career. After making a de rigueur stop at the Kotel, he’ll go on pilgrimage to Arye Deri’s office and form a Kadima-Labor-Meretz-Arab-Haredi coalition to take control of the government in 2017 and bring peace to the Middle East.

Imagine further that Olmert’s government completes final status talks with the Palestinians and withdraws from the West Bank. The new government will be very busy making important sacrifices for peace, implementing the treaty. Here is what may happen:

Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Yuval Diskin cuts an agreement with Saeb Erakat providing Israeli reparations for homes previously owned by Arabs in Jerusalem’s San Simon and Katamon neighborhoods. The funds are to be raised by a restitution tax on home-owners. “This hurts, but we must sacrifice for peace, and act to strengthen our moderate partners in the Arab world,” Diskin tells the press.

The Israel-Palestine deal to jointly administer Jerusalem is rocked by a fourteenth bombing in the city in one month. President Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer takes a page out of Shimon Peres’ book of press releases, and urges the government not to make too big a deal of the matter. “We must not let the enemies of peace sidetrack us, or lead us into rash action that might weaken Abu Mazen’s central government,” he says.

After a month of closure due to Ramadan, the Western Wall plaza re-opens for Jewish-only prayer throughout the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Repentance. Ultra-Orthodox Jews complain of humiliating body-searches by Palestinian security guards participating in joint security patrols in the area. Religious Affairs Minister Moshe Gafni expresses concern, but claims that “compromise is a central theme in Judaism, and we are courageously sacrificing for peace.”

Besides, Rabbi Gafni adds, Jews need not provoke the Palestinians by visiting the Kotel too often or in large numbers. “Praying in Bnei Brak or Brooklyn is just as good, as our holy ancestors have done for decades,” he says. Gafni then announces a 48 percent increase in kollel stipends for Haredi men with more than eight kids, alongside a 80 percent cut in funding for hesder yeshiva students.

Defense Minister Tzipi Livni announces that she has heroically succeeded in securing “a major Palestinian concession.” Israeli food-and-medicine relief conveys will now be able to resupply some 10 isolated settlements every seven days, instead of every 21 days as per the peace treaty. In addition, she negotiates 100 State of Palestine construction permits for residents of the isolated settlements Talmon and Dolev, allowing them to expand their bathrooms and kitchen porches in accordance with family size (as long as the settlers don’t exceed an average of 4.5 kids per family).

Mahmoud Abbas is lauded by the international community for this generosity. “You see, we too sacrifice for peace,” avers Abbas.

Terrorists strike on the outskirts of Kfar Saba, roiling public opinion. Palestinian Affairs Minister Amram Mitzna says on TV that “the enemies of peace are behind this. We have to understand the root causes of terrorism and act to redress these causes.” He suggests a 600 meter Israeli pull-back along the eastern border of Kfar Saba, which lies in too-close proximity to Kalkilya — in order to not to provoke Arab residents of that city. At the funerals, government ministers speak passionately about the tragic “victims of peace.”

Full administrative and cultural autonomy for the Arabs of Galilee is declared by Interior Minister Ahmed Tibi. Press reports indicate that land transfers in the Negev are under consideration, as well, something proposed years back in the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan. The international community hails Israel for “its inestimable, boundless sacrifices for peace.”

Military Intelligence warns of joint Fatah-Hamas military maneuvers outside Jericho, and of hostile activity in the Iranian Embassy in Ramallah. It also discovers Palestinian ground-to-air missiles in the hilltops overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport – in clear violation of the peace accords. Presidents Fuad and Mahmoud, as they affectionately call each other, discuss the matter and dismiss IDF concerns as “Old Middle East paranoia.”

“Territory and missiles are not important in the New Middle East,” Fuad avers (again, after consulting the Peres playbook). “Economic cooperation cements our peace, not archaic security provisions,” he definitively asserts.

Foreign Minister Merav Michaeli announces that in return for Iranian and Jordanian abstentions on a UN resolution decrying Israeli “obstructionism” in the development of Palestinian national institutions, Israel will agree to repatriate 250,000 additional Palestinian refugees with claims from 1948. Up to 15,000 will be allowed to return to Jaffa. “The smart thing to do is to sacrifice for peace and strengthen the Arab moderates in this region,” Michaeli explains.

In the meantime, Justice Minister Aryeh Deri convenes an international legal conference to deal with the aftermath of the Israeli Law of Return’s cancellation. Deri seeks Palestinian and international approval for Israeli absorption of new immigrants from France and Eastern Europe, promising that only potential olim with first-degree relatives already in the country, and recognized as Jews by the Haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate, will be considered.

Agriculture Minister Mohammed Barakeh begins the import of water to Israel from Turkey, to offset the Israeli shortages incurred as a result of peace treaty provisions which allocate 85 percent of Samarian aquifer reserves to Palestine. Given the new dependency on Turkey, the Rabbinate introduces a prayer for the well-being of the Turkish regime, similar to the text for the Welfare of the Empire used in Ottoman times.

For the new school year, Education Minister Zahava Gal-On introduces a high school study unit on the “Nakba.” The Israel Prize in history is awarded to two “new historians” whose books were central proof-texts in the refugee return accord.

Olmert wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Abbas gets a second Nobel, as does Peres. United Torah Judaism’s rabbinical leaders attend the ceremony, alongside Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. And in recognition of Prime Minister Olmert’s heroic sacrifices for peace, Ayatollah Khameini announces an end to the Iranian effort to secure a nuclear bomb…

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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