A collection of the week's news from Israel
29 Tevet 5760 News...
January 7, 2000
Issue number 253
When asked what made the Palestinians finally and suddenly agree to accept the current withdrawal, Huberman explained: "Barak has apparently made a great concession for the next pullback two weeks from now, which is the last stage of what is known as the second withdrawal. The third withdrawal - until now said to be only 1% - is still to be determined. Originally the extent and the locations of the withdrawals were to be unilaterally decided by Israel; Netanyahu gave in on allowing the Palestinians a say in determining the amount of area to be handed over, and now Barak has apparently given in and allowed them a say in determining the exact locations to be handed over. This means that Israel will show them the maps as they are being formulated, and will adjust them in consideration of Palestinian demands. Another concession made by Barak for the next withdrawal is that the PA will receive the control of land close to Jerusalem, such as A-Ram in the north and possibly Abu Dis in the south-east. Even Beit Hanina, which is officially part of Jerusalem, will come under PA control, and the Palestinians will have a share in running the Atarot airport [in northern Jerusalem]." Huberman's report was affirmed by journalist Nadav Shragai in Ha'aretz Wednesday. Shragai wrote that Israel has agreed to a form of Palestinian administrative control over almost all aspects of day-to-day life in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina.
The Israeli delegation to the talks has reportedly adopted the conception of "two Jerusalems," one Israeli - including the post-1967 Jewish neighborhoods - and one Arab. Residents of the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, which borders on the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina, have begun to organize in an effort to thwart the plans. The hareidi Ramat Shlomo lies between French Hill and Ramot. (arutzsheva.org Jan 5)
a. The Golan is part of the Land of Israel that was granted to the Tribes of Israel by the A-lmighty, as recorded in our holy Torah. The Golan was settled by Jews in the 1st and 2nd Temple periods, as our Sages tell us (and as confirmed by Josephus). According to Jewish Law, it is forbidden to uproot Jewish settlements in Eretz Yisrael.
b. The abandonment of the Golan involves a mortal danger for the entire country. Withdrawing from the Golan will not bring peace, but the opposite.
c. It is unethical to remove Jews from their homes that they have built with self-sacrifice and at the behest of the state.
d. Tens of thousands of Jews will stand against those who uproot us from our land and who wheel and deal with our security. Every Jew must take part in the legal public activities and act with self-sacrifice to prevent the destruction of the Golan communities.
e. We call upon the government of Israel not to tear away this precious part of our Land, and not to cause a split in the nation. (arutzsheva.org Jan 4)
"There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel. Peace settlements will not change reality, which is that Israel is the enemy and that it will never be a neighbor or a nation...Peace will not wipe out the memory of the massacres it has committed .. And on this last day of the century, I promise Israel that it will see more suicide attacks for we will write our history with blood."- Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah speaking at a rally, held outside Hizbollah's headquarters in Beirut's southern suburbs. (Reuters 12/31)
IMRA: To what extent do you think the presence of heavy investments in a Syrian held Golan would discourage Syria from attacking?
Tsiddon: The experience with dictators û take for example Saddam Hussein û is that they don’t give a damn about the punishment inflicted on their people and nations as a result of their actions. By the way, this also should be taken into account when one considers the assertion by the idiots who consider cruise missiles a panacea for the security exposure Israel would face if it left the Golan. The damage those missiles could cause simply would not defeat an invading Syrian army. The infrastructure of the Nazis was subjected to massive destruction but this did not stop the Germans û the tanks entering Berlin did.IMRA: What do you think of the proposal that Syria be armed by America in order to tie them to the US?
Tsiddon: The fact is that we are very concerned about the use of American weapons systems by Arab states because America makes the best equipment in the world. When Arab states, in this case Syria, have the same equipment as Israel then they gain a greater appreciation of its advantages and limitations. That is why when the IAF made it recent purchase of F-16's it had it loaded with Israeli weapons systems to give us a technological edge over the American systems the Arabs get. If the choice is between arming the Syrians with American weapons or French or Russian weapons I would prefer that they do not have American weapons.IMRA: What is the value of early warning systems?
Tsiddon: They are nice, but you have to keep in mind that the Syrians have scuds. If one fine morning Assad, or his son, should decide to pull a “Saddam Hussein” they could shoot 40 scuds a day into Israel for a month. This would cause a serious delay in the call up of reserve forces. During this period the Syrians would be readily able to cross whatever demilitarized zone there is. Under those circumstances what value would the warning be? Would it enable you to make the call-up any faster?IMRA: How does 1967 compare to 2000?
Tsiddon: In 1967 I was responsible for planning and we based our campaign on using preemption by surprise. Today this cannot be done because the air defense systems are so dense than you need two to three days to destroy it before you can go on. So there is no surprise anymore.IMRA: How long would it take the Syrians to cross a 40 kilometer demilitarized area?
Tsiddon: At most a day and a half. And when you consider that during this time they could prevent our reserve forces from reaching the area via missile attacks the time is not relevant.(IMRA Jan 5)
The three-way talks between Israel, the US, and Syria in Shepherdstown have been accompanied by ragged cliches and ambiguous phrases full of internal contradictions. Here is a lexicon:
Painful decisions - Israel's territorial concessions to Syria. For some reason, the American and Israeli negotiators have relieved Syria of any painful decisions and have assigned pain exclusively to Israel. They have given up the principle of territorial compromise, which president Bush proclaimed at the opening session of the Madrid conference.
Painful peace - a peace imposed by a conqueror. But Israel has not been defeated nor is it demanding a territorial settlement that will express the full weight of its victory. To achieve true peace the government and the people should make wise decisions, not painful ones.
These tired phrases don't bring peace any nearer. They harden the Syrians' stance and give them the impression that they've finally won the long conflict with Israel.
Land for peace - a pathetic expression implying that in return for a total peace Israel must withdraw totally from all the territories, without defining in advance what "all the territories" means. Does it mean only the territories occupied in the Six Day War or any territories beyond what was allocated to the Jewish state in the UN partition plan?
Before the Madrid conference US president George Bush promised the Israeli government not to mention the "land for peace" formula in his speech. Afterwards, in conversation with Yitzhak Shamir, Bush said, "I did as you asked and didn't use a formula that you don't accept." Now that formula has been revived by US President Clinton, and we are repeating it without examining its implications.
A historic summit - a misnomer on two counts. It's not a summit, because Hafez Assad is not there, unlike Anwar Sadat who was at Camp David. And it isn't historic, because Ehud Barak has already met a senior Syrian figure, Gen. Hikmat Shihabi, then chief of staff and closer to Assad than Farouk Shara, the Syrian representative at Shepherdstown. Fifty years ago Syrian leader Hosni Zaim expressed interest in a meeting with Ben-Gurion to reach a peace settlement that would include sharing the Kinneret. Ben-Gurion rejected the proposal. He preferred the waters of the Kinneret to a "historic meeting."
Normalization - used during the negotiations with Egypt. Despite disappointments, it has taken such deep root with us that it has returned to the agenda now. An Israeli team has been set up for the Shepherdstown talks on normalization, even though Gen. (res.) Uri Saguy, the head of the negotiating teams, has already explained why it is unacceptable to the Syrians. Anyone dreaming of humous in Damascus would do well to read Saguy's comments:
"Imagine a totalitarian ruler like Assad looking out of his window every Saturday and seeing the market in Damascus full of 5,000 tourists from Tiberias. They would be a problem for Syrian society, which is unable to accommodate so rapidly a too-fast and too-comprehensive openness to another culture. And even if it could, Assad wouldn't want it to."After the Syrians read this, will Saguy be able to go on demanding normalization in return for IDF withdrawal from the Golan?
Uri Savir, who headed the delegation to talks with the Syrians four years ago, says his Syrian counterpart claimed that the Israeli demand for normalization has no parallel in Syria's international relations. Savir submitted drafts for 18 agreements as part of normalization, but the Syrians rejected them all. Still Israelis cling to the slogan that conceals the withdrawal from the Golan and obscures the real issues.
Withdrawal from occupied territories - a principle applied only to Israel, but should also be applied to Syria, which in 1948 invaded Israel and occupied territories beyond the international border. Must Israel recognize Syria's occupation, since it was marked on the map as "cease-fire lines" and existed until June 4, 1967?
The international border - never recognized by Syria. When Israel informed the Americans at the end of the Six Day War that it was willing to conduct negotiations with Syria on the basis of the international border, it didn't agree to an automatic withdrawal to that line, but to negotiations on a border yet to be fixed. So the cliche that Israel has already given Syria an undertaking to withdraw to the international border doesn't stand up to examination. In the run-up to the referendum on an agreement that has not yet been reached, we are ignoring the real issues and letting ourselves be carried away by cliches. (Jerusalem Post Jan 5)
Those who view with equanimity the silencing of 'outsiders' legitimise their own ultimate suppression.
Unlike his mentor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister Ehud Barak seems to understand that political polarization does not serve the national purpose. While Rabin relished antagonizing and irritating the half of the nation that disagreed with him, Barak displays empathy at every opportunity. He may use rhetorical barbs but not humiliating invective, he meets with representatives of the Judea/Samaria residents, and he seems to understand that the evacuation of 18,000 Israelis from the Golan involves personal tragedies.
Nor has Barak failed to match deed to word. Realizing that only a broad coalition can ensure popular support for bold moves, he strives to satisfy its various components. This means not only money for Shas, but building in Judea and Samaria to meet the requirements of the population's natural growth. He obviously believes that investing in creating a consensus will pay dividends when "painful concessions" have to be made.
It is in this context that some recent government actions seem particularly puzzling. Perhaps the most glaring was the recent raid on the Arutz 7 studios in Bet El. It was executed even as a hearing was held in court on a demand by the State Attorney's Office to close the station. This, despite the law passed by the Knesset in February, which legitimized the station. (The law has been frozen pending an appeal by the state to reverse it.)
It is impossible to believe that the timing of the raid was a mere coincidence. The 280 raiding policemen were a force more fitting for a major assault on a heroin factory in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley than on an established radio station operating openly for years. What they expected to find was proof that the transmission was done from Bet El rather than from the Arutz 7 ship.
Even if such proof were found, it would have been a relatively minor offence punishable by a fine. But there was no reason to suspect that such transmission was taking place. Arutz 7's studios are indeed in Bet El, but the station transmits from a ship anchored outside Israel's territorial water. A similar radio station on the other side of the political spectrum, the Voice of Peace, did precisely that for 22 years without ever eliciting police attention.
Nor was the raid, in which the police managed to crack a boy's arm and vandalize computers, an isolated incident. The harassment of Arutz 7, entailing complicated court procedures involving 140 witnesses, has cost the taxpayer an estimated NIS 40 million. In the course of these exercises, 13 Arutz 7 operators have been indicted for allegedly broadcasting from within Israel's territorial waters and forced to spend time and money to defend themselves.
THE purpose of all this is all too plain. It is to silence the settlement movement's voice, which some elements in the law-enforcement establishment seem to find irritating.
What makes this incident even more worrisome is that information from police sources falsely implied that the station's broadcasts interfered with communications between airliners and the Ben-Gurion Airport tower. The charge, which the police have never ventured to make formally, is baseless. The station has been using the same wavelength throughout the 11 years of its existence. Nor is the attempt to gag Arutz 7 exceptional. On Monday, a leader of the Golan antiwithdrawal movement, Yehuda Harel - an avowed Barak supporter in the May election - pleaded on television for fair play by the police and the General Security Service, an agency directly responsible to the prime minister.
No one can object to law-enforcement agencies trying to forestall illegal activity. But it is unacceptable in a democratic society for such agencies to perpetrate provocations in order to discredit and silence a legitimate popular movement with an impeccable record of law abiding. Such tactics recall the activities of GSS agent provocateur Avishai Raviv in Judea and Samaria and the influence he allegedly wielded on Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir. That Raviv's trial has suddenly been postponed again, probably until after the referendum on the Golan, is hardly reassuring. It may mean the GSS would rather not risk exposing methods used by its planted agents while trying to penetrate the Golan movement.
Many Israelis, apparently indifferent to these assaults on the freedom of speech, seem unable to understand that those who view with equanimity the silencing of "outsiders" legitimize their own ultimate suppression. It would be nothing short of tragic if Israel's prime minister is counted among them. (Jerusalem Post Jan 5)
(January 4) - The root of much of the evil that has haunted Israel for the past three decades lies in the "territory for peace" equation. After our great victory in 1967, both the public and our leaders were overcome by gross naivete. We believed that some, or most, of the land we had taken in that defensive war could be traded for an end to the Arabs' hostility and rejection of Israel.
Since 1979 we have been transferring large slices of territory, first to Egypt, then to the PLO, and some to Jordan. Now our government isabout to give back all the northern territories to Lebanon and Syria. Reducing Israel to the pre-June 1967 ("Auschwitz") lines is no longer a distant, impossible nightmare. It is a growing probability.
There are perfectly normal people among us who honestly believe this massive land transfer will bring us real peace. And our own government, right up to the prime minister himself, tells us that once the deal is concluded we'll be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of peace.
The contours of the "peace map" will look something like this: In the south, the Sinai Peninsula is demilitarized. A small American team monitors compliance with the security provisions of the treaty with Egypt. More than 50 memoranda designed to normalize relations between Egypt and Israel become dead letters. The Egyptian media wage a continuous war of words, some even anti-Jewish, against Israel. And Egypt leads a sustained diplomatic campaign against Israel.
In the east, the Oslo agreements and their progeny have created a hostile Palestinian state-in-the-making. The agreements are monitored by international inspectors in Hebron, the CIA, and UN observers, but none of these prevent continuous violations and unabating hostility to Israel by the PA, its media, its educational system, and its clerics.
In the north, a totalitarian state that has a long record of violating international agreements and obligations will once again be stationed along the eastern shores of the Kinneret. The Golan Heights will be populated by Syrian soldiers posing as civilians or policemen. The UN and the US will maintain monitoring outposts on the Hermon and along the borders. And peace in that sector will, at best, be at least as cold as the one we have with Egypt.
In the northeast, Lebanon will finally lose what slim chance it has of regaining its sovereignty and independence. Syria's stranglehold will be legitimized by Israel and the US. The Syrian army will be deployed not far from Galilee, between Rosh Hanikra and Hamat Gader.
Under Syrian pressure, the Hizbullah might damp its operations, but soon enough the 300,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon will clamor for the right to fight for their "right of return" to Palestine, meaning Israel. Damascus will plead innocence and wink to Habash, Jibril, and the Islamic Jihad to keep up the "legitimate" struggle to regain their "rights." Of course, there will be an international force along the border, headed by a commission that will be convened whenever there's trouble and that will mete out censures to the violators.
Is there a state anywhere surrounded by so many measures - demilitarization, monitoring, observers, "peace" forces, and international guarantees - and whose leaders have the temerity to define its relationship with its neighbors as peace? And if this is peace, how is it different from the situation prior to 1967, when we had a UN force in Gaza and Sinai, a UN Truce Supervision Organization in the east, Mixed Armistice Commissions with all our neighbors, and UN and international guarantees of our borders?
The inevitable conclusion is simple: "Territory for peace" is the wrong equation for this part of the world. It took our neighbors a few years to realize that this ostensibly fair deal could be turned to their favor.
Territory is tangible, and once it is transferred to another sovereignty, it is irretrievable, except by war. Peace, on the other hand, is a piece of paper, and the signatories are free to choose when, how much, or if at all, to translate undertakings in that paper into tangible action toward normalization and people-to-people peace relations.
Egypt and the PA have chosen not to inject peace into their undertakings. Why should Syria and Lebanon choose otherwise?
The writer is a former director-general of the Prime Minister's Office.
© Jerusalem Post