Even those wary of a Muslim Brotherhood win, must acknowledge that history has been made in this openly competitive contest. President-elect Morsi will now occupy the seat once held by Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak — but with a difference. If this is to work, there can be no new Pharaoh, nor will the Generals be able to exercise unfettered control — by themselves, or through a surrogate. Morsi now has a mandate to govern. But he would be wise to proceed with caution.

There are two essential components to making a democracy work — both involving a recognition of the reality of divisions in society. The losing side, despite their bitter disappointment, must accept the legitimacy of the outcome, and the winning side must accept the reality and legitimate rights of the losing side.

These are the hard tests of democracy and real challenges lay ahead. If we look closely at this election, and indeed everything that has transpired since February of 2011, we can see that Egypt’s nascent democracy is still a work in progress. There are clearly two poles in the contest for power–and an emergent third pole in the making.

The demographic prediction has come true. The Palestinian Arab populations of the West Bank and Israel are now projected to outnumber Jews by 2016; if Gaza is included, Arabs already outnumber Jews. Shimon Peres was warning of the threat of civil war in Israel in 1995, in the aftermath of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Added to these threats is the spread of lethal weaponry that can easily reach Israel’s cities possessed by non-state actors as well as states, a trend that will increase.

Significantly, Harkabi quoted Rabin, then (1987) defense minister in the Likud government led by Yitzhak Shamir, as declaring during the first intifada that the settlements were “a burden.” In fall 1995 Rabin, following the second Oslo Accord, would declare that the settlers were a greater danger to Israel’s security than the Palestinians, to which Benjamin Netanyahu riposted that “no Jew had hitherto ever longed to give up slices of the homeland.” Rabin was assassinated shortly thereafter and, with Netanyahu’s election as prime minister in June 1996 the settlement project resumed in the midst of futile efforts by the Clinton administration to implement clauses of the Oslo II Accord, overseen by Dennis Ross.

Israel’s fateful hour is approaching. The chances of Israel existing by mid-century are no more than twenty percent if its governments continue to pursue the settlement project. While attention in the United States has focused on arguments relating to Peter Beinart’sThe Crisis of Zionism and the weakening of Israel as a democracy, various Israelis, including current defense minister Ehud Barak, have begun to raise the prospect of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank as necessary to save Israel. Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet, has recently toured the U.S. calling for such unilateralism, to be taken in stages and only if approved by the Knesset, a doubtful prospect at the moment. In conference settings he has expanded upon arguments made in op-eds in the Times and elsewhere; in the former he has also called for acceptance of the Arab peace initiative of 2002, studiously ignored by Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu. On the other hand, current unilateral proposals envision initial withdrawals only from lands east of the security barrier whose path deliberately intrudes deep into the West Bank on occasion. While domestic political realities in Israel may oppose any withdrawals, significant retention of lands east of the 1967 borders will never bring Israel peace and will further its path toward Harkabi’s prophecy of national suicide.readmore


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