How can the current Government of Israel fail to embrace a genuine two-state solution with Arab sovereignty in much of East Jerusalem and 94-98% or so of the West Bank for Palestine? If Likud and other right-wing Israeli parties are aware of the demographic balance (or “threat”); if they want Israel to remain a Jewish state and a democracy; if they know the US, EU, Quartet, Arab League, and most others support such a solution; and if they want to focus on other issues such as Iranian nuclear proliferation, what are they possibly doing offering far, far less then the Palestinian minimum?
I suspect that Zionist/Israeli history of the last 130 years created and reinforced their worldview. Israel should have been an impossible dream. That a movement of a few thousand European Jews could pull off Israeli statehood in 1948? Impossible. Yet it happened. To do so, Israel accepted partition and did not get much of the biblical heartland. Yet just 19 years later, a historical blink of the eye, Israel occupied the West Bank. (1967)
As Israeli Jews, with and without their government’s help, began settling the occupied territories, who suspected that 40+ years later 500,000+ Israelis would live there? When the Oslo process (1993-2001) seemed like it might doom the settlement project, the right wing fought back – literally in the case of the assassination of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin – and the peace process failed. (with great help from Hamas)
Zionists and the State of Israel have repeatedly been defying the odds. So why not believe that it can be done again, especially when the Israeli right already has the magic formula:
1) establish facts on the ground. Buy land (pre-state) or occupy and expropriate land (post-1948). Build villages, towns, farms, roads, fences, whatever. Move Jews there. Settlements, checkpoints, bypass roads. Facts on the ground change the context. In a best case scenario for the right, they make a two-state solution that requires Israeli withdrawal impossible. They erase the Israeli-Palestinian win-set.
2) rely on military strength, not diplomacy. Ultimately, only military strength can protect Israel in its rough neighborhood. After all, it was Labor activism, not Moshe Sharett’s diplomatic orientation, that won out. Diplomacy may have a role, but not as a relation of two equals with an equal claim on statehood.
In short, the right-wing view is that time is not working against Israel. Dunam by dunam, red-tile roof house by red-tile roof house, Israeli Jews can continue to advance the Zionist project. The world will accede to the changes just as it (almost) always has when countries have expanded.