The Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs (JCPA) has a new book about Israel's security needs. You can download it, or view various other materials, films, maps and so on, here. Or you can read Lee Smith's summary, as published at Tablet Magazine, here.
I recommend spending some time looking at their materials. By and large they are right about Israel's security needs, and the more people understand this, the better.
They are also wrong. Their conditions for peace are so far from anything the Palestinians will ever accept as to be effectively non-starters; indeed, they don't seem particularly interested in how their positions will impact a future Palestinian state. This is the reason Ehud Barak departed from the positions of his predecessors exactly ten years ago, in July 2000 at Camp David. He thought he was approaching the end of the negotiations, he expected to reach an agreement with the Palestinians to end the conflict, to partition the joint homeland, and to live in peace. This peace, he felt, would override many of the security imperatives which had informed Israel's positions until that moment.
There was an important precedent for Barak's gamble, his willingness to abandon long-held security considerations in the hope that this would enable a peace that would nullify them: The abandonment of the eastern part of the Sinai in the late 1970s. Israel went to war twice over the Tiran Straights, at the southern tip of Sinai, in 1956 and in 1967; a broad consensus of Israelis agreed that in any future peace agreement Egypt would have to accept Israel's presence at Tiran. Then, in 1978, Begin broke the mold and we've had peace with Egypt ever since. Not European-style peace, but a total lack of killing, which isn't bad. Begin accepted that peace would happen only when both sides felt they were getting an acceptable deal; the JCPA papers don't offer that to the Palestinians, so they aren't truly conditions for peace.
Yet Begin's precedent, as emulated by Ehud Barak and in 2008 by Ehud Olmert, is no longer relevant. Look at the picture used by the JCPA: a simple, stark image, which says far better than any potential set of 1000-words why there can't be peace:
That's Tel Aviv, as seen from the West Bank. Would you risk putting enemy guns on the hill the picture was taken from? And if you would, can you at least comprehend why we're not going to take your opinion very seriously, even if you're the president of the United States?
Since 1993 Israel has performed a series of concrete actions on the ground, changes in the reality, which have weakened its control over the Palestinians. Not one of them resulted in any advantage durable enough to survive two days of violence in September 2000, when the Palestinians launched the 2nd Intifada. Since 2000 the pendulum has swung both ways, with Israel reconquering the West Bank in 2002, and slowly lifting its hand since 2004; with Israel fully evacuating Gaza in 2005, then reconquering less than a third of it in 2009 and again relinquishing direct control and now, slowly, also indirect control. The wary recognition of having an independent Palestine next door, which was the expression of Rabin's position, has been replaced by a Likud prime minister publicly accepting the goal of a sovereign Palestine.
And in all that time, I dare you to find one single concrete step taken by the Palestinians to assure us they, too, are ready for partition. Not words, which can be uttered in English today and denied in Arabic today. Actions. Find me one. Because I could easily write a 10,000-word article about all the things they've done which prove the opposite; actually, I expect I could limit myself to the first half of 2010.
This is of crucial importance. Reaching peace with the Palestinians will mean Israel gives up all those essential security measures spelled out by the JCPA. It will require a gamble with our lives, in the immediate meaning that people we know will die if it goes wrong, if not we ourselves. There's nothing theoretical or hypothetical about this: it will be real people, really dead, just as it already has been. For this to happen the Palestinians need to convince us they can be trusted with our lives. At the moment, nothing comes to mind - nothing - to indicate they can be trusted.