The Day After

The fight against Daesh reminds the world of the principle Israel has been trying to articulate for years: The only way to defeat terror is to create a stable alternative on the ground.

The lesson was sharpened after Iraq's trauma - a war to which America went with all the right maps, except for the one which showed the way out. That's where the West learnt that it isn't enough to defeat the enemy; you also need to decide what will come in its place the day after.

That lesson is clearer still in Iraq and Syria today. So long as the Islamic State isn't replaced by a moderate Sunni state (Sunni-Stan), which is both stable and pro-western, the forces of Daesh will continue to behave like a hydra on steroids - every time they cut off one head, they grow two more.

In Israel the dilemma intensifies as the Palestinian Authority plays a double game: On the one hand it is the governmental actor standing in the way of the rise of an Islamist terror state (in this case of Hamas), but on the other it names schools and roads after murderers, cooperates with their public relations campaign and openly supports the knife terrorism of the past months.

Israel will fight this wave of terrorism with determination and force - and we will defeat it - but we also need to build a completion strategy for the day after. I recently presented the people of Israel with a plan. The aim is separation from the Palestinians through a regional summit which will serve as opening salvo for a comprehensive regional agreement. The advantage of this initiative is that it doesn't look to reach an agreement only with the Palestinians, but full and normal relations - diplomatic and economic - with the whole Arab world. The details may be complex but the question behind them is simple: Does Israel want to continue to live with 3.5 million Palestinians, or is it time to separate and guarantee our status as a Jewish and democratic state.

The answer is separation. As quickly and decisively as possible. The perceived wisdom today is that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not possible. Some believe the point of no return has passed, others are waiting for a change in circumstance or a change in leadership. The underlying assumption might make sense, but this passive approach to our destiny is misguided and dangerous.

The goal of all of our efforts must remain the same - two states for two peoples - but the targets have shifted. We must move away from talk of peace and coexistence to talk of separation and security. No-one will win a Nobel prize for this language of pragmatism but genuine security for both sides, even if unaesthetic and unpleasing to the liberal eye, is preferable to ongoing conflict.

The search for peace is at the center of Jewish identity, and peace may come one day for our children, based upon a generation of true security. Separation will allow the wounds to heal, and trust to grow, and only then can we allow ourselves to believe in a better world.

Until then, we need to make a distinction between civilian level and the military one: on the civilian level separation must be sharp and clear. On the military level we cannot simply get up and leave because there is a strong possibility that Hamas will rise to power and build its own private Islamic terror state on our eastern border.

Official Palestinian spokespeople deny this possibility (halfheartedly), but there is no person in the region who doesn't know that it is a realistic scenario, predominantly because it happened once before: In the summer of 2005 Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip. Immediately after Israel withdrew from the territory a series of clashes broke out between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas which ended, in June 2007, when Hamas threw the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza, murdered dozens of officials and transformed Gaza into a base of terror and death from which they've fired over 20,000 rockets at Israel.

That cannot happen again, not a mile away from Jerusalem. The solution is that the security coordination which exists today - which allows the IDF to act across the West Bank - must continue even after separation. The Palestinian Authority will shout and claim that this is a breach of their sovereignty, but they know it is in their own interest. Hamas has widespread support in the West Bank and without freedom of action for the IDF (not as a permanent presence on the territory but as an operational framework) the Palestinian Authority will quickly fall and its leadership will be murdered or exiled. It seems unlikely that they would be in favor of such a scenario.

We need to separate from the Palestinians. Not for them, for us. But that separation needs to be based on strict security measures and take into account the worst case scenarios.

In the Middle East you can never be too careful. Not if you want to live to see the day after.