Set borders between Palestinians and ourselves

Finally, the hour has arrived for the state of Israel to position and clarify its borders. First and foremost, that involves the territorial boundary between Israel and the Palestinians; second, the time has also come to define the boundaries of Israeli nationalism.

The new borders would beget a more appropriate and genuine settlement between the Jewish religion and Israeli nationalism. From that point it should be possible, in the foreseeable future, to legislate a written constitution for Israel that would better put together the fabric of social and economic relations.

These dramatic and necessary steps are not a utopian vision. There is presently a clear majority, politically and ideologically, that would allow for the demarcation of these boundaries. And if Israel, in its 55th year, initiates this process, this negligible, non-round-number year is likely to be remembered as a key year.

Since the Six-Day War, Israel has excelled in ability to continue a policy of non-determination of essential issues. High and piercing talk referred the public to the future, but in the present, everyone comforts one another by dragging on with this indeterminate status.

But in the last few years, some of the repressed questions burst through the surface in a dangerous and frightening way, and they endanger not only security but the sociopolitical fabric of the society that has been sustained here through years of hard work. Therefore, the hour has come to simply make the determination.

Today, in Israel there are clear political forces capable of implementing the determinations without fear from anyone. There is a right-wing government, headed by a powerful prime minister who had been considered part of the extreme right and today clearly admits that Israel cannot rule over another people forever — and that in the end, a Palestinian state will be established. A prime minister like this has a clear majority for new policy.

Accordingly, the first deed that has to be done this year is to define a clear political boundary between us and the Palestinians, whether by mutual agreement, which still seems virtually impossible, or by unilateral Israeli withdrawal.

Zionism means borders. This fundamentally changes the classic Jewish situation of perpetually living without borders and constantly crossing borders.

Following 2-1/2 years of a bloody, murderous intifada, both sides implore for separation, exhausted by empty words about possible coexistence.

The physical, territorial border will also better facilitate the cohesion of a national Israeli identity, and the creation of a more appropriate and healthy relationship between the Jewish majority and the other minorities.

The fact that a distinctly moderate, secular party, Shinui — with separation of religion and state engraved on its banner — won so many votes in the last elections not only allowed it to be a distinguished partner in the current government; it also enabled Shinui to say it wouldn't be part of the government if the fervently religious parties were included.

That opens a new and fascinating possibility for Israel to work out a more ethical balance of relations that traverses the span of religious and secular members of the society. No more parasitism of entire religious sectors on the back of the secular public, but rather relations of equality that will demarcate clearer boundaries between religion and politics, between legitimate cultural activity that relies on the traditions of the Jewish people and perpetual economic parasitism.

These dramatic reforms are not a dream, but rather a possible reality. For the first time, there is a clear political majority in the Knesset that can not only bring about the realization of these changes, but also well understands that if these new borders are not put in place, the deteriorating security will continue to accelerate economic decline. If that happens, poverty, unemployment and terrorism will result in the disintegration of the new Israeli nationalism, created from the hard work of the founding fathers.