Nov. 30, 2020

To: Members of Knesset, Cabinet
Fm: Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Matan Vilnai
Re:  73 Years since U.N. Partition Resolution – the future of the Zionist enterprise

Yesterday marked 73 years since November 29, 1947, the day the UN General Assembly resolved to terminate the British mandate in Palestine, divide the territory and establish a Jewish state alongside an Arab one.  In an act of historic responsibility and practical decision making, the leadership of the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community) agreed to partition, knowing that it held out the promise of a Jewish majority in the State of Israel.

Rejectionism on the part of local Arab leaders and those of the surrounding Arab states led to a series of wars, separated by repeated rounds of violence.

Since the heroic victory of the fledgling Jewish community in the War of Independence, Israel has overcome daunting challenges from within and without to become a regional power, stronger than all of its adversaries. This power – military, technological, economic and, despite seemingly interminable discord, social power as well – has been and continues to be the key factor in the remarkable, regional transformation in how Israel is perceived, a transformation which continues to unfold, at a dizzying pace, before our eyes.

Nations we fought on the battlefield have signed peace treaties with us. Others, who incited against us, condemned us and supported our adversaries, have normalized relations or are in the process of doing so. Not only is it wrong to suggest that “the world is against us”, but even the claim that “the Arab World will never accept Israel in its midst” has proven false. The ever expanding recognition of the State of Israel, homeland of the Jewish People, is further testimony to the success of the Zionist enterprise.

Israel’s power and the dramatic regional changes we are witnessing have not changed, and cannot possibly change, the reality of almost three million Palestinians living next to us, on the West Bank, and another two million in the Gaza Strip.  They are not going anywhere.  Extremist ideas and wide eyed fantasies will not make them disappear.

73 years after that fateful United Nations resolution, Israel confronts another fateful decision:  will we merge with those millions of Palestinians, or will we separate from them?

The main threat to the Zionist enterprise does not come from any distant enemy. It derives from the risk of losing a solid Jewish majority in our own land. The choice is ours. We can prevent this from happening or bring it about, either swiftly (through legislation) or gradually (creeping annexation).

Separation from the Palestinians is a Zionist imperative and an Israeli priority. It is the only way to guarantee a solid and sustainable Jewish majority in our democracy for generations to come.

Separation is neither easy nor simple, but it is eminently possible, and carefully implementing it will enhance Israel’s security.  Whether those who argue that circumstances do not currently allow for a two state solution are right, or whether they are wrong, one thing is certain: we must halt the slide towards a one state for two peoples reality.  In fact, we must reverse direction, and – by means of prudent and well-considered measures – bring about civilian separation while maintaining security control over the territories until a final status agreement is reached.

On behalf of the hundreds of members of CIS, I call upon you to adopt separation as a cardinal principle of Israeli policy.  We further call upon you to take proactive measures to effectuate separation, while halting the dangerous process of creeping annexation. This is essential in order to guarantee the continued existence of our Jewish and democratic state that lives up to the principles of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Of the two options:  separating from the Palestinians and merging with them – only the first is a Jewish and Zionist choice.

Maj. Gen (Ret.) Matan Vilnai
Commanders for Israel’s Security