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Has the 'Greater' Israel project finished?

May 3, 2014 at 10:05 am

The question of whether or not Israel is finished with its greater project is received differently by different groups, as there are some who believe that this project has been buried once and for all. There are also those who believe that Israel’s intention to carry out its greater project is still nothing more than a dream buried deep within the Zionist imagination, especially when it comes to the extreme right wing which is fascist to the bone.

We ask ourselves this question once again, after nine months of negotiations have led us to a standstill and in the wake of the reconciliation agreement signed in Gaza. Let us imagine for a moment that right wing fascist groups in Israel gain control of the government (and in the end they are not much worse than Netanyahu’s government), would these groups not work towards implementing Israel’s greater project?

The majority of Israel’s coalition government still considers the West Bank to be Judea and Samaria. Moreover, in a statistical report published by Haaretz last year, 65 per cent of Israel’s population is expected to affiliate with right wing fascist groups by the year 2025. Thus, those who have come to the conclusion that Israel will bury its greater project are largely misinformed.

It is important to note that although Israel has attempted to establish a firmly defined state for almost seven decades, they have yet to demarcate their official borders and, so far, they refuse to define them. For many years after its establishment, Israel promoted the following slogan, which it wrote on the wall of the Knesset facing the House of Representatives: “The borders of Israel expand from the Nile to the Euphrates”.

In his book, A Place Under the Sun, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote that the Jewish right to a state expands beyond the land of historic Palestine, which he referred to as Israel. Netanyahu emphasised his belief that greater Israel incorporates many Arab countries and said, “Jordan, for example, is part of the lands that constitute greater Israel”.

Thus, the fact that Israel has yet to define its borders proves that the expansionist vision still lives inside the minds of many Israelis.

While it is true that a large number of Palestinians and Arabs believe that Israel has let go of its dream of establishing a greater state, reality suggests that the majority of Israel’s proposals in the recent period are aimed at establishing an economic and political Israeli hegemony over the Middle East at large. This type of hegemony would be difficult to achieve now due to many factors. Yet, this does not mean that Israel will not return to this ambition in the future when it goes through different and more optimistic periods than the current stage.

In order to reflect the true nature of Israel’s expansionist visions, it is perhaps helpful to demonstrate the beliefs of an Israeli military leader when he was asked where Israel’s borders begin and end, he replied, “Israel’s borders end wherever our tanks and our soldiers’ footsteps reach.”

Israel’s objectives can further be summarised by its national anthem, which still states: “This West Bank is ours and so is the other one [referring to the East Bank in Jordan].”

Israel has refused to define its borders much in the same way that it has refused to agree upon an official constitution which would require a clear definition of where the state’s borders begin and end. Instead, the Knesset has enacted a set of “Basic Laws” for the people to abide by and more importantly, the lack of a concrete Israeli constitution allows Israel to prolong and defer responding to Mahmoud Abbas’ request to define and agree upon the borders of the Palestinian state.

The possibility of a achieving a just settlement with the Palestinians is not on the Israeli agenda. The chairman of the leading ruling coalition in the Knesset and a leading member of the Likud Party, Yariv Levin, began to put pressure on the parliament to create a new lobby for the “Land of Israel”. The main goal of this lobby is to declare “historical sovereignty” over all of historical Palestine that is the land spanning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The formation of this lobby comes amid strenuous efforts to introduce new legislation that would prevent any Israeli government from reaching a settlement with the Palestinians.

Who is the chairman of this coalition to form such a lobby without consulting with the likes of Lieberman and Netanyahu when they are members of the coalition to begin with? What this means is Netanyahu’s recent remarks expressing the intention to promote peaceful efforts with the Palestinians are nothing more than attempts to prolong finding a solution to the conflict. There is, of course, the possibility that new basic laws will be implemented to bind all future Israeli governments from reaching such a settlement, which means that it is also possible that we will soon witness a prelude to the launch of a Greater Israel and that the image of what constitutes the “Land of Israel” will expand from not only incorporating all of historical Palestine but also other territories as well.

According to this lobby, Jordan is the perfect place for the Palestinians to establish a Palestinian state. In fact, this notion has been proposed by Israeli leaders a number of times because it would facilitate making all that I have mentioned above permanent and binding laws.

The dream of the Jewish state, as it is embodied by the image of a Greater Israel extends from the Nile to the Euphrates. Israel currently does not possess the demographic force (in terms of population) to control all of these areas and the nature of the current international political arena does not allow for it to achieve its expansionist vision, or even to transfer Palestinian citizens of Israel from the 1948 territories. If this were possible, Israel would have done so long ago.

Moreover, Israel’s coordination with the United States seeks to establish an Israeli political and economic hegemony in the region, making Israel a key component of the Middle East. Thus, it is wrong for many Palestinians and Arabs to assume that Israel has buried its dream of establishing a Greater Israel. The dream of establishing a Jewish state from the Nile in Egypt to the Euphrates in Iraq has been prevalent among the Jewish people since the First Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland in 1897, in which Theodore Herzl promised the Jews that they would have their own state within 50 years. His promise was only delayed by one year.

Israel has stated that it does not, and will not, accept the establishment of a two-state solution and that it also refuses to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on any part of Palestinian lands. Israel does not plan on granting the Palestinians autonomy over issues that relate to Palestinian life, populations, sea and land crossings nor does it plan to stop settlement expansion because it views this as a “right to build on their own land”. If one were to truly look at what this means then they would see that it makes perfect sense seeing as how the Separation Wall makes it virtually impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state.

Additionally, Israel is absolute and firm in its decision to establish a state that is exclusively Jewish for the Jewish people. This also rules out the possibility to establish a secular democratic state, a national state or even state for all citizens.

The Palestinian people and Arabs at large are required to learn more about the nature of its Zionist enemy’s plans that is, they must truly understand Zionist dreams, expansionist visions and the current variables affecting the Israeli street. They must understand that they cannot focus exclusively on the variables that exist within Israeli society, for there is no homogenous Israeli society.

For its part, the United States has never been nor will it ever be an honest intermediary or broker when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict because it will continue to promote the Israeli interests and proposals that are supposedly based on Israeli political egalitarianism.

Keeping all of this in mind, is it even possible that Israel has any inclination towards peace?

Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 1 May, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.