At the Herzliya Conference, Israeli President Shimon Peres—86 years old, he is the last of the original Labor Zionist founders of the state of Israel—called Prime Minister Salam Fayyad “the Palestinians’ first Ben-Gurionist.” David Ben-Gurion, of course, was Israel’s first prime minister, the crucial participant in its immediate political creation, and Peres’s mentor; to call Fayyad a Ben-Gurionist, then, is to recognize the legitimacy of Fayyad’s desire for a Palestinian state. Peres specifically praised Fayyad’s focus on building in the Palestinian territories the infrastructure and institutions that any sovereign, competent state needs to have.
Peres also spoke against the so-called one-state solution, in which a single bi-national country encompassing all the land between the river and the sea would be formed: “There is no country which can hold two nations,” Peres argued, “because then there will be a conflict between people, which brings about terror, which will make life impossible. There is no choice but to settle our relations, in order to prevent terror from determining our sons’ fate.”
Peres’s “Ben-Gurionist” comment feels a little like an anointment (it feels like when Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama). Hopefully the characterization will prove apt.
Meanwhile, do check in on Judith Miller’s dispatches from Herzliya for Tablet Magazine.