As Palestine's bid for statehood at the UN looms closer, the world is waiting for Israel’s next move. Former Israeli intelligence head Ami Ayalon believes the solution to peace in the region is creating a new reality – of two states.
Ami Ayalon believes that the recognition of Palestine in the UN would not necessarily be a “step forward on the road to state solution,” but definitely will change perception of the situation by the international community, which may lead to some economic and diplomatic sanctions.
“It will change the perception of people in the region, Palestinians and Muslim Arabs in our neighboring countries,” he said. “We have to understand that the day later we will be totally different. I have no idea [how Israel will react a day later]. Most Israelis will see it as a new threat. We will have to see what the Palestinian reaction will be.”
He says that most people do not understand how drastically keeping peace with Palestine differs from any peace agreement that Israel ever had.
“With the Palestinians it is a kind of existential conflict,” he said. “In order to sign an agreement with the Palestinians we have to touch the most sensitive nerves of our existence.”
But he also thinks that most Israelis do not understand the conflict they are involved in.
“I think that we are acting or behaving as if we are fighting a conventional war,” he said. “We do not understand that we are fighting [an] asymmetric war which is totally different. And what we are doing – we are winning every battle and we are losing the war.”
Ami Ayalon said that the main challenge for Israel, in order to achieve peace with Palestine, is to create a “reality of two states.”
“I think that we have to jump ahead and to try to describe the idea of two states,” he said. “Practically, in order to create this reality of two states in the future, we shall have to bring most of the settlers back to Israel.”
Israel once created this reality, unintentionally, by building a separation barrier, Ayalon believes.
“The route of the fence is not a route of [the] agreed future border, but this is something that we can use,” he said. “And I think that Israel could do more.”
“We can pass within a week the law of compensating those settlers who are living on the Eastern side of the fence and wish to return,” he explained. “We have to agree on 1967 borders with equal swap based on parameters of demography, security, and contiguity. We have to draw a very, very clear red line.”
Ayalon believes that Israel, so concentrated on its internal problems, completely fell out from the “new reality in the Middle East that was born during the last 12 months.”
“For example we do not understand the role of Turkey in this new Middle East,” he said. “We do not understand that the collapse of Egypt as a regional player created a situation in which Turkey is a regional player and probably the cornerstone of the American strategy and diplomacy in the Middle East. It is a major interest of America to empower Turkey.”