Israel News

A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto

 

20 Sivan 5760
June 23, 2000
Issue number 278

News...

Shas Remains in the Coalition

The four Shas party ministers who had submitted their letters of resignation, retracted their letters on Thursday, about twenty minutes before the resignations were to go into effect. After the three ministers of the Meretz party submitted their resignations on Wednesday night, it cleared the way for Shas' return, thereby saving the prime minister's coalition. The Meretz members promised to support the government "from the outside". One of major points of the new coalition agreement between Shas and One Israel stipulates that even if he does return to the government, Meretz Minister of Education Yossi Sarid will not be responsible for the Shas-affiliated El Hama'ayan educational network. The party's educational system will remain in the control of Shas Deputy Minister Meshulam Nahari. Among the promises made by Shas in return for funding and other promises from the prime minister, is its commitment to vote to throw out an opposition bill calling for the dissolving of the Knesset. A Knesset majority supported the bill during its preliminary reading, including Shas, on Wednesday, June 7. With Shas back on board, Prime Minister Ehud Barak may rest assured that the opposition will not topple the government, at least with the current bill. (IsraelWire June 22)

Beilin Agrees to PA Control of Temple Mount

Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, a leading figure in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, told the security cabinet Monday, "I would agree to a Palestinian flag waving atop the Temple Mount if that is the price for a permanent agreement with the Palestinian Authority." Minister Sarid agreed, and Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh also spoke of concessions in Jerusalem. NRP Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy spoke against the "mad dash to make concessions," and said that the agreement being formulated will not lead to the end of the conflict but is only another interim agreement. (arutzsheva.org June 21)

Clash With PA Expected

The IDF's operative assumption is that an armed clash with the Palestinians is very likely in the coming months. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the army is supplying arms to the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and is reinforcing its own units in the region. "The army no longer has any doubts," said Huberman Tuesday, "that we will see an ongoing escalation of tension and violence from now through September 13, the scheduled date for the declaration of the Palestinian state. Both sides are preparing for a real showdown in September. Arafat is no longer interested in preserving quiet; he sees the enthusiasm of his people over the events in Lebanon and on Nakba Day [when Palestinian forces opened fire on Israeli soldiers]." Huberman said that one scenario for which the IDF is preparing is that of Palestinian citizens marching en-masse upon Jewish settlements: "The IDF has solutions for a civilian takeover of this nature. They involve the Hagmar ["haganah merhavit" - regional defense] soldiers who live in the settlements themselves, thus that it all comes down to the communities defending themselves within the framework of, and with reinforcements from, the army. A more extreme scenario is a genuine armed clash, with tanks and helicopters and the like. The PLO is afraid of this, as it knows that it cannot hope to compete with the IDF in this area. During the recent clashes, it was this Israeli advantage that forced Arafat to give the order to cease fire." Huberman added that little by little, the PA is turning its para-military police force into a real army, albeit without heavy weapons. A resident of Netzarim was injured when a terrorist-planted explosive went off near a convoy of cars last night. An official of Netzarim told Arutz-7 Tuesday, "In the last two months, there have been three grave incidents of this nature, but there have also been many other incidents that have gone unnoticed. There was a shooting on a resident this week, a shooting into Kfar Darom before that, and the like, but no one is paying attention." Prime Minister Barak has made an official proposal for a Clinton-Barak-Arafat summit in Washington two weeks from now, despite American and Palestinian evaluations that the "ground is not yet ready for such a summit." Foreign Minister David Levy is also not optimistic, saying yesterday, "Summits are not convened merely for the sake of convening them." (arutzsheva.org June 21)

Senior Minister: Hebron to Be Evacuated in Final Settlement

According to a Yediot Ahronot report quoting an unnamed senior minister and member of the Security Cabinet, in any final settlement agreement between Israel and the PA, the Jewish community of Hebron will be uprooted. The minister was quoted as saying that although the details have not yet been formally approved on the government level, it is understood that all of the 550 members of the Jewish community or the overwhelming majority of them, would be uprooted from their homes in a deal with the PA. "The Hebron Jewish community is a ticking time bomb that could explode any minute and destroy the entire peace process," added the unnamed senior minister. The minister stated that despite this, in any deal, Israel would remain insistent that Jews retain access to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (IsraelWire June 19)

Arabs Attack Hadassah Organization

The PLO, Lebanon, Syria and Libya have intensified attacks on the Hadassah organization of America at the UN this week, calling it "not humanitarian." The accusations by the UN delegations come on the heels of Hadassah's recent application for consultative status on the UN Social and Economic Council. Among the demands made by the Syrians and Palestinians was for Hadassah to provide the names and treatment times of every Palestinian Arab treated in its hospitals since 1967. U.S. National President of Hadassah Bonnie Lipton responded to the attacks by noting, "Any Israeli who has been in our hospitals knows the absurdity of the accusation that a 'Zionist' organization wouldn't treat any patient who walked in without regard to race, nationality or religion... We're proud of our humanitarian work and will defend our Israeli institutions' record before the world." The Palestinian representative also declared that "all of Jerusalem is occupied territory," and labeled the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital a "settlement." (arutzsheva.org June 21)

Temple Mount Under Siege; Waqf Blocks MKs

Photographs taken last week on the eastern section of the Temple Mount show that the Moslem Waqf is building a new mosque on the actual location of the Holy Temple. Bulldozers and trucks have already cleared dozens of piles of dirt from the area, and have brought in their place large quantities of building materials. It should be noted that several months ago, the government decided that the only works to be carried out on the Mount were emergency doors for the existing mosque there. Archaeological student Tzachi Tzveig emotionally shared his concerns with Arutz-7: "This is the fourth mosque on the Mount, and this one is in the actual spot of the Beit HaMikdash. The government is well aware of what's going on, yet the ministers do little more than speak about it here and there... Public Security Minister Ben-Ami announced several weeks ago that no trucks with construction materials would be allowed into the area - but it was just words. The trucks come and go, and I saw a video from a week ago showing that the work is continuing apace. Until I saw those pictures [which can be seen at www.miac.com/bait, I didn't realize the extent of the damage... Nadav Shragai wrote in Ha'aretz Sunday that there are "plans" for a fourth mosque - but the fact is that these are way beyond just plans... two structures are in quite advanced stages..."

An unlikely assemblage of Knesset members from the Likud, Meretz and Arab parties toured the Temple Mount Tuesday with the intention of examining the extensive damages caused by the illegal Arab construction on the Mount. Arutz-7 correspondent Effie Meir reports that Moslem Waqf officials prevented the MKs from entering those areas in which its building projects are underway, and did not permit the politicians to take any pictures. Members of the Committee to Preserve Israel's Archeological Sites, who accompanied the MKs, plan to submit a letter to Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben Ami tomorrow, insisting both that journalists be permitted into the area of the building site and that the traffic of trucks to and from the holy site be halted. Correspondent Meir adds that Arab MK Muhammed Kena'an claimed that the Waqf activities were perfectly legal "since the Temple Mount is not under Israeli sovereignty." (arutzsheva.org June 18,20)

New IDF Code of Conduct

The IDF is gearing up for a possible outbreak of Arab-initiated violence in Yesha in mid-September following the possible unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the army is relating to the Palestinian Authority threat to conquer settlements "very seriously." Huberman adds that, to this end, a new guideline, dubbed, "The Red Line" has been instituted by the IDF. According to the new rule, the crossing of a Yesha community fence by Palestinian intruders - be they men, women or children - legally entitles a soldier to open fire "with the intention to harm." According to the new regulation, a soldier is no longer required to first fire in the air or shoot at an attacker's feet. The IDF is also considering supplying special army units in Yesha towns with rubber bullets and tear gas. Foreign Minister David Levy responded today to a statement by PA Justice Minister Fraih Abu Meddain concerning the readiness of the PA "to sacrifice thousands of people in the case of a military confrontation with Israel." Levy said that a person who says that he is ready to sacrifice thousands of people shows disregard for human life. "One must not say such things. It is the duty of leaders to prevent the loss of life," Levy stated. "Israel will not succumb in the face of such threats and declarations. We do not want confrontation. In the event of a confrontation, we will take the necessary steps." (arutzsheva.org June 20)

Crisis of Democracy in Egypt

"Arab regimes use the Arab-Israeli conflict to justify their authoritarian tendencies. The growth of fundamentalist Islam is preventing Egypt from modernizing." So says Egyptian author and publisher Amin Al-Mahdi in a new book, "The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Crisis of Democracy and Peace." Al-Mahdi's views are reviewed in depth in a study released today by the Middle East Media Research Institute (http://www.memri.org) Following are excerpts from a recent interview in Ma'ariv newspaper and Al-Mahdi's book:

* The Egyptian government, states Al-Mahdi, encourages the Egyptian press to be hostile towards Israel: "This is schizophrenia. An editor who wants to have a pro-peace line finds it impossible. He is pressured by demagogic... officials. This pressure may culminate in 'civil' murder. I have friends who support my opinions, but they work for the government press and their hands are tied..."

* "Our media directs the public opinion against Israel in order to divert it from the real problems... After all, our economic situation is bad; we have Islamic extremism; our freedom is incomplete."

* "Arab regimes, including the Egyptian [regime], did not want to copy the Israeli democracy because they feared it would lead to their downfall. .The conflict with Israel served Arab regimes as a justification for their dictatorial policy. The policy of intimidation prevented a dialogue and the possibility of getting to know the enemy..."

* "The Egyptian mentality regarding peaceful relations with Israel is pathetic. We have a fascist regime. Such a regime needs wars in order to justify its centralization. It needs an external danger..." (arutzsheva.org June 20)

"Dialogue" Between Barak and Yesha

Prime Minister Ehud Barak decided Tuesday to open a continuous dialogue with the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza - but it's not clear that he will have a partner in this enterprise. Barak directed his government ministers to visit and meet with residents in Yesha towns over the coming days, and has even instructed senior officials involved in the Palestinian talks to take part in the visits. A government announcement stated that Barak "believes that dialogue with the residents must be deepened especially as the time for crucial decisions in the diplomatic process draws nearer." The Yesha Council, which has waged a high-profile protest campaign over the past few weeks against Barak's plans to give away 92% of Yesha and abandon over 50,000 residents, rejected Barak's overtures. "Pleasant parlor meetings with government ministers are not held with the threat of abandonment of one's home hanging over one's head," Council representatives stated. "Barak's initiative is merely for show. We prefer to continue our dialogue with the Prime Minister via the protest rallies that we have been holding." The Council held 23 protest vigils Tuesday night - one outside the home of each of the 23 government ministers. Council spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yosef later told IMRA, "If a minister wishes, at his own initiative, to visit someplace in Yesha. he will be received - but there is no guarantee that it will be a quiet meeting." (A7 June 21)

Clinton, Citing "Nat'l Security," Waives Embassy Relocation

U.S. President Clinton has once again delayed the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995 requires that the embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but it also gives the President the option to waive the move for six-month periods. Clinton has invoked this option several times. A Presidential Determination issued after the decision stated that the delay is "necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States." (arutzsheva.org June 21)

Commentary...

See Change

By Martin Peretz

We are ending our three-and-a-half-month stay in Israel, and it is only now that I have the confidence to admit that I think the Oslo agreements were a mistake. Looking out from my rooftop apartment, I see the Mediterranean immediately to the west and the hills of Samaria not at all so remotely to the east. Tel Aviv, at its farthest, is 15 visible miles from the old frontier with the West Bank, and it is somewhere near this old border that the new one with nascent Palestine will be set. Some day soon, I fear and I expect, mortar and missiles will target old Israel from new Palestine, from those hills to here.

Only an idiot can believe that Israel has strategic depth anywhere but on its frontier with Egypt--and that exception owes to the unique vastness of the Sinai.

The fatal flaw of the Oslo process is process. Israel committed itself to an extended sequence of negotiation and concession, whereby it would make a series of permanent and palpable sacrifices, while what was expected of the Palestinians was mostly that they show up and mutter the empty formulas of reassurance. If they didn't like what and how much Israel was prepared to relinquish, the Palestinian Authority would simply leave the table and go home. Then, to get Arafat's men back to the table and to accommodate pressure from the United States, the Israelis would give away something more--all without even knowing what the outcome of all these leavings and takings would look like.

What is being expected of Israel is magnanimity in the dark. Surely the friendship of the United States cannot make up for the blindfold that it is asking Israel to wear on the road to peace.

Now we learn that the Israeli government is prepared to relinquish even the Jordan Valley, which until yesterday was considered off-limits by all but the most reckless peace processors. This must send shivers down the spines not only of many Israelis but also of the moderate, friendly (and pro-American) royals in Amman, who know that without an Israeli presence there, the river Jordan will blow chilly and cold, and the Palestinians may begin to feel their old craving for the Hashemite kingdom. Iraq and Syria, too, have ambitions toward Jordan; and Israel can defend the Hashemites (and, of course, itself) only if its forces are strategically positioned to move directly and without interference from Arafat's legions.

The father of this "what's yours is yours and what's mine is yours" process is Shimon Peres, the French intellectual who long ago bought into the great contemporary cliché that territory is no longer iportant in warfare. The preposterousness of this idea (which has its devotees in Washington, too) has been demonstrated in every modern war, from Vietnam to Iraq to the Balkans. The only certain consequence of the dependence upon air power has been disillusionment with the dependence upon air power. Neither bombs nor missiles will dislodge or disarm the adversary if his forces hold land. Early in June I heard Peres pronounce on just about everything important to Israel in a muddle of an after-dinner talk in Jerusalem. We will turn bullets into ballots. We will turn terrorists into tourists. Frontiers are of no importance. Science knows no borders. Science knows no language. The science of knowledge and the knowledge of science. One thing we do know is that Peres himself knows no science. If he did, he would know that science by itself makes neither people nor government virtuous.

Science is neutral. In wicked hands, it is wicked. But the pundits now discern an inclination toward peace in Bashar al-Assad because he is an ophthalmologist.

Edward Said may have fabricated his life as a Palestinian refugee, but he was telling God's honest truth when he asserted in a recent column (reprinted in The Jerusalem Post!) that there is no "new peace between old enemies." The opposite proposition, he writes, "has been disproved by the examples of Egypt, Jordan and the PLO, whose leaders have gone all the way toward Israel without persuading their populations to follow suit.... Resistance to its presence is still strenuously displayed ... the conventional wisdom about peacemaking in the Middle East has essentially been disproved." Said knows whereof he speaks: he is the most prestigious of all tenured rejectionists. But Israelis, mostly eager for peace, have begun to grasp that their neighbors do not reciprocate the eagerness. Whatever happens to Ehud Barak's government, the popular enthusiasm for the Oslo process is fast unraveling. Indeed, it was a stroke of luck for Barak that Hafez -Assad stiffed Bill Clinton in Geneva: had the bloody tyrant (now widely treated as a prudent statesman by, among others, the American president and secretary of state) agreed to take back the Golan Heights, leaving only a few symbolic yards on the eastern bank of the Sea of Galilee in Israel's hands, the Israeli electorate would almost certainly have rejected the deal.

Syrian participation in the negotiations over the Golan is not part of the Oslo drama, but it shares with Oslo two salient characteristics. The first is Syria's maximalist presumptions. Neither the Palestinians nor the Syrians are contemplating real compromise: they want nothing less than everything they lost in 1967. The second is the American role. In the negotiations over the Golan there was hardly even a pretense that the parties in conflict were talking to each other. (In Shepherdstown, remember, the Syrian foreign minister refused to shake the Israeli prime minister's hand.) But the legacy-addled American president was frantic for an agreement; and so the only real negotiating was between Washington and Jerusalem. To be sure, teams of Palestinians and Israelis talk to each other endlessly; but the real bargaining took place between the United States and Israel, with the United States always pushing Israel to give more and more and more.

Maybe there will be an agreement with the Palestinians. But it won't cover Jerusalem, and it won't cover the Palestinian refugees (by the third and fourth generation, are they still refugees?). Still, Israel will have turned over to the emerging Palestinian state some 80 to 90 percent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Then what? Every question left unresolved will become yet another cause for violence. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the imperfections of the deal will justify riot or terror or both. And what happens when an illegal missile is illegally launched from Palestine? I once asked a dovish Israeli friend what would happen if a post-peace Syria suddenly diverted the waters of the Golan from the Jordan to its own uses. He said that Israel would urgently seek a meeting of the Security Council.

Urgently! From my sun-drenched roof I behold the Israeli miracle along the coast and I think: It was not the Security Council that secured this; it was self-reliance. Even people who are not friendless must establish their safety and their felicity for themselves. (The New Republic June 26)


Nobody Nags India about the Right of Return

By Amnon Rubinstein

A delegation of Liberal Democrat parliamentarians from the United Kingdom recently toured Israel on a study visit. Within a very short while, the discussion between the members of the delegation and their Israeli hosts focused on an issue that is often raised in such meetings: The argument that Israel's refusal to recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees of 1948 is a human rights violation and that Israel is making its offense all the more serious by granting citizenship to Jews from the former Soviet Union who were not born in Israel and who knew nothing about this country before arriving here.I tried to explain to these guests from Great Britain both the meaning of our Law of Return and Israel's character as a Jewish and democratic state. I also pointed out to them that, of the tens of millions of refugees on the face of the earth in the late 1940s and early 1950s, only the Palestinian refugees were not fully integrated into the societies in which they found themselves, the reason being that the Arab host countries preferred to confine them to refugee camps.

As I offered these explanations and tried to deal with the usual list of accusations hurled at Israel, one of the parliamentarians, who was of Indian origin, burst out, attacking my attackers. He asked his colleagues whether any of them could possibly imagine India ever agreeing to repatriate and grant citizenship to the millions of Muslims who sought refuge in Pakistan during the civil war of 1947-48. Surely none of them would ask India to commit suicide. Thus, if they would not demand that India accept these Muslims, why, he questioned them passionately, were they demanding that Israel open its gates to Palestinian refugees?

His words, which effectively ended the debate on this issue, led me to examine the Indian constitution. I learnt what, in fact, befell those millions of Muslims who fled from the Indian section of the Indian subcontinent to seek asylum in the Muslim section, namely, in Pakistan (including the area that eventually became Bangladesh).

I was surprised to discover that section 7 of the Indian constitution explicitly denies these Muslim refugees the right to hold Indian citizenship. All persons, even if they had Indian citizenship at the time, who, after March 1, 1947, emigrated from the territory of India to the territory that is today Pakistan are not regarded as citizens of India. Not only does the Indian constitution deny the right of return to Muslim refugees; it even cancels their previous citizenship, if they were Indian citizens when they left India.

Let us consider for a moment the difference between the Palestinian refugees of 1948 who are demanding the right to return to Israel and the Muslim refugees who fled India at about the same time and who have been deprived of two things by the Indian authorities: the right to return to India and their Indian citizenship (if they had it when they fled). Pakistan did not declare war on India and did accept the principle of the partition of the Indian subcontinent. India and Pakistan did not go to war against one another in the 1940s, and the mass waves of refugees between the two countries began in the wake of bloody riots that broke out at the time. In contrast, the Arab states and the Palestinian leadership of the late 1940s refused to accept the principle of the partition of Palestine into two states - one Jewish, the other Arab - and instead initiated hostile actions against the Jews living in what was then British Mandatory Palestine even before the State of Israel was declared.

Why is this comparison of any relevance? The reason is that Israel is coming under vicious attack from a number of anti-Zionist members of the academic community - usually specialists in the discipline known as "critical sociology." These critics, who have mounted a major campaign of mud-slinging, are accusing Israel of violating international law. Thus, they refer to Israel's Law of Return as a racist piece of legislation that runs counter to the very principles of international law. Similarly, they regard as racist Israel's refusal to recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Actually, the picture they paint is almost completely distorted, because Israel, and Israel alone, is being asked to implement principles that other democracies - and India is undeniably a thoroughly democratic country - have chosen to ignore.

In the vast majority of instances, the attacks on Israel stem from a basic refusal to regard it as a legitimate state whose existence expresses the right of the Jewish people to self-determination - a right that entails a concomitant obligation to observe democratic and universal values. No one is demanding that the Czech Republic welcome back the German refugees from the Sudetenland, who were so cruelly banished from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Interestingly enough, advocates of the repatriation of these refugees are instantly accused of being warmongers.

However, the critical sociologists have decided that a special law applies to Israel and that the same laws that apply to all the other democracies of the world do not apply to Israel. Anyone who attacks the critical sociologists with this line of reasoning is immediately branded as an anti-liberal who has no regard for human rights. (Ha'aretz June 20)


Getting Syria Wrong By Daniel Pipes and Zachary Rentz

With the Hafez Assad round of Syrian-Israeli negotiations now permanently defunct, it's time for a little retrospective. During the final burst of diplomacy, lasting from December 1999 until March 2000, Western academics, journalists, and politicians made a lot of wrong-headed predictions that are worth scrutiny, for they contain some useful lessons.

Informed opinion in Israel and the West agreed that the Syrian regime had decided on peace with Israel; only the details remained to be worked out. "Peace is vital for Assad," wrote Hirsh Goodman, a former columnist for this paper, and almost everyone agreed.

Reuters helpfully listed the three most commonly cited reasons why Assad needed to end the conflict with Israel: his ill-health and the need to pave the way for son Bashar, the Syrian economy's extreme weakness, and the humiliation of seeing the Golan Heights remain in Israeli hands. President Clinton looking for a legacy was also sometimes cited.

The start of negotiations in December inspired an orgy of optimistic prognostications. Peace is "within our grasp," Clinton averred. Itamar Rabinovich, perhaps Israel's foremost authority on Syria, deemed the renewal of talks "the most auspicious moment yet for reaching an Israeli-Syrian accommodation." Israel's ambassador in Washington declared himself "an optimist" that the talks would resolve the Syrian-Israeli dispute. Minister Haim Ramon boldly announced that the government was "embarking on negotiations that will bring total peace" with the Arabs and "the complete acceptance by the entire Arab world that Israel can exist in the region in peace and security." Israeli businessmen spoke of opening factories in Syria and chamber-of-commerce types anticipated a big post-treaty spike in economic growth.

This good cheer persisted even after the talks broke down in early January. Undeterred, Clinton confidently announced that Assad and Prime Minister Ehud Barak both "want a peace that meets each other's needs." Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine of France more cautiously told of being "reasonably optimistic." Some venturous souls specified just when an agreement would be reached.

Rabinovich predicted in December that Assad "must have calculated that peace must be made within the next few months." "A matter of months,"echoed Barak.

Osama al-Baz, a high Egyptian official involved with Arab-Israeli diplomacy since 1974, longer than anyone else, was a bit more vague, predicting "several months and perhaps a year before reaching a peace accord." Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk, another veteran observer, weighed in similarly: "Both sides are committed to achieving a comprehensive peace this year." "This year definitely," King Abdullah II of Jordan concurred.

It's striking to note that these embarrassing predictions are part of a well-established pattern. Back in August 1994, for instance, Fawaz Gerges of Princeton University prophesied that "a breakthrough in the Syrian-Israeli peace talks is imminent." The Arabic press was even more specific, reporting that Damascus and Jerusalem would achieve "palpable progress" by the end of 1994. In 1995, France's President Jacques Chirac publicly predicted that an Israel-Syria agreement would be signed by the end of 1995, as did his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak. The same faulty predictions have been repeated almost every year since, up until the moment of Assad's death.

In short, almost without exception for six years, authoritative voices ignored evident signs of Syrian recalcitrance and persisted in predicting that the Syrian-Israeli talks would culminate in a signed peace agreement.

When nearly everyone in the know gets it wrong, and does so year after year, what conclusions should one draw?

First, beware the herd mentality. Just because almost everyone agrees what's about to happen, that's no reason that it will. Don't be afraid to speak your mind, especially about the future, even when in a tiny minority.

Second, hold political analysts accountable for their forecasts. When a company's earnings fail to match expectations, heads roll. But in politics, wretched predictions hardly count. To fix this, the media should keep track of who says what, tote up the score every so often, and (as with mutual fund managers) listen to those with a track record of getting it right.

Third, listen with due skepticism when politicians and others make prophecies. For instance, Barak has asserted that if the talks with Syria failed, there would be "no way out of another round of confrontation with the Arab world." Well, maybe. And maybe Israel's holding the Golan decreases the chances for war.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and author of three books on Syria. Zachary Rentz is an intern at the Forum. (Jerusalem Post June 21)


The Barak Plan: A Lethal Danger to the State of Israel

By Col. Moshe Hagar

The following article is derived from my military experience, from information available to me, and from my national responsibility. Unfortunately the deterioration is continuing and intensifying. I cannot discern any red lines defined by the government. Therefore I am filled with a sense of obligation to warn about the current steps being taken.

Many of the state's citizens are fooling themselves that Barak's program only endangers residents living in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gazza). However, as opposed to the accepted opinion, the program encompasses a real and serious danger to the existence of the State of Israel. This article will analyze the dangers and their significance, with the aim of attempting to prevent them and save Am Yisrael. This is still possible, with G-d's help, if we take the proper action.

The proposed withdrawal will include 92% of the land in Judea and Samaria, and will, for all intensive purposes, return us to the 1967 borders. The significance of this withdrawal spells disaster, G-d forbid.

The Danger to The State of Israel

First and foremost, danger is masked in transferring territory from the most important area, the Jordan Valley, which is our defense line against the eastern front during a general war. Accessibility to the Jordan Valley will be involve warfare; the Palestinian army will delay or prevent access to this key territory. During exercises conducted lately, it took the IDF a full day to reach this key territory, as a result of Palestinian roadblocks; this is prior to a full withdrawal. In addition, our emergency warehouses are located in their areas in Judea and Samaria, around Jerusalem, in order to protect Jerusalem. The accessibility to these will be exceedingly difficult. The Israeli army is based primarily upon reserve soldiers, making the time schedule extremely significant. Every minute is liable to be critical. For example, in order to access emergency war reserve-warehouses between Jericho and Jerusalem, we must pass through Anatot and Hizma, both in Palestinian territory. Every person with any intelligence realizes the significance of such happenings during a state of emergency.

As a result, for the first time since the founding of the state, the next all-out war will face the Israeli army from front and back, with Jordanian and Iraqi forces from the east and with Palestinian forces from behind.

In addition, within the framework of a withdrawal, the IDF will be forced to abandon emergency warning stations, situated high in the mountains, above Hatzur and Mt. Aival. As opposed to those casting illusions, despite the technology, topographic height was, and still remains the most significant factor when war approaches.

These early warning stations are of vital importance, providing critical data and warning. In place of this data we are offered data via an American satellite. However, experience has taught us that the Americans supply us with minimal data, and at times intentionally block us out, as happened during the Gulf War.

Terrorists will easily be able to smuggle weapons into Yesha via Jordan, for the security strip will be 2 - 3 kilometers wide. As a result of the opening of the Gazza port to Palestinian ships, weapons will flow freely, including missiles against tanks and missiles against airplanes, which we will be faced with during the next armed uprising. Judea and Samaria are liable to become a second Lebanon, with all that implies.

Concession of the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians has additional implications: the very real possibility that the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan will collapse. The majority of the Jordanian population is Palestinian. This will create an eastern front from Teheran and Baghdad, leading to the outskirts of Kfar Saba and Netanya.

The greatest danger will be to Jerusalem, being adjacent to an enemy Arab population of 250,000 people. This population will have access to the center of Jerusalem, and will derive strength from the Palestinian State in Abu Dis. Jerusalem will be threatened by the possibility of a Palestinian take-over: Barak plans on giving the PLO municipal autonomy within the city, as he has with Abu Dis, and will make possible transfer, later on, of the area's security.

An agreement is usually expected to prevent war. However, unfortunately the opposite is true. These agreements create a situation whereby it is worthwhile for the enemy to fight us, because he will have the ablity to easily be victorious. The Palestinians are today speaking of adopting the same tactics used by Hizbullah in Lebanon, and they will be able to reach the fences of our communities. Will the State of Israel be able to deal with the slaughter of a community, G-d forbid? The withdrawal from Lebanon was defined as an Israeli weakness and the collapse our military capability. This created a stimulus for declaring war. All additional concessions will create a situation whereby Israel will be defeated without a battle. Security regulations prevent me from revealing further details. But it is clear that Israel will stand before mortal danger.

The Dangers to Residents of Yesha

· Removal of the IDF from military bases and from a majority of the communities, thereby abandoning 100,000 settlers.

· Total control by the terrorists of all the of the lifelines - water, electricity, food, evacuation of women about to give birth, people injured, etc. Children being transported daily to and from school, mothers and fathers traveling to and from work, shopping, will be a matter of life and death.

· In the event of an all-out war, the primary IDF forces will be engaged in stopping the enemy on the borders. Yesha will be abandoned and there will not be anyone to prevent thousands of armed terrorists from attacking communities. In the event of an attack on one of the communities, or on several at one time, the IDF will not be able to come to their aid and save them, especially if this will cause an all-out conflict with the Palestinian Authority.

· In addition: According to the present orders concerning use of firearms, it is forbidden to shoot at anyone not carrying weapons. Thousands of Arabs are liable to attack, using their bodies as weapons against IDF outposts or communities, without being fired on. The distance between major Palestinian population centers and Jewish communities is very short. This is liable to lead to a general slaughter of people, G-d forbid. During the battles following "Nakba Day" - The Day of Catastrophe, a few weeks ago, the real cause that ended the violence were two helicopters flown above the rioters. The P.A. was threatened with the bombing of their headquarters. However, during a war, these helicopters will be at the front and will not be able to deal with Palestinian threats, which will ignite the territories. This is liable to be a one-on-one battle, with a clear advantage to the Palestinians, against Jewish communities facing surprise attack, isolated and exposed.

Therefore, I have decided that with such a situation at hand, I cannot hide behind my army rank and sit quietly. I sense that I must warn that the expected dangers as a result of the current process are very real and very terrible. I turn to every Jew to act now, doing everything possible to save our people and our state.

In summary, I add three points:

1. I am not dealing with the ethical values of transfer of Eretz Yisrael, and not with the subject of water. Both of these are of supreme importance and should be dealt with separately. I am dealing with security and saving of life.

2. The idea that peace and economic interests may prevent war may be correct. However these considerations are limited by time. We are obligated to our children and the following generations.

3. Even if theoretically Judea and Samaria were to be an arms-free zone (which today they are not), Palestinian control of the border with Egypt and Jordan will allow the flow of two million Palestinians into their state. They will undoubtedly want to improve their standard of living, for which the Palestinian Authority will be unable to help them. The distance from here to Arafat's total loss of control is minimal. Escalation, even against his will, is guaranteed. The pressure will overflow into our borders, with clear significance: Israel will be overrun with Palestinian refugees, with "tourists," and unwanted and illegal Arab immigrants, (which has already begun and includes tens of thousands), violence, theft, etc.

The writer served as a full colonel in the IDF and is presently in the reserves. (Jewish Community of Hebron June 20)
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