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


29 Tevet 5760
January 7, 2000
Issue number 253


Yesha Withdrawal Begins

Six army bases are being handed over to the Palestinian Authority Wednesday, as part of the 5% of Judea, Binyamin, and Samaria being abandoned to the PA this week. The withdrawal involves 2.2% of Yesha in the Judean Desert and a further 0.8% in other areas; these will come under Palestinian administrative control. An additional 2% in the Bir Zeit region will come under total Palestinian control. Huberman reports that there will be no concrete effect on the lives of Jews in the area, "but after the next withdrawal, from an additional 6.1% of Yesha two weeks from now, the communities of Beit Haggai and Otniel south of Hevron will become enclaves surrounded by Palestinian territory." For the first time, there will be territorial contiguity between two Palestinian Authority cities, Huberman said: "A road paved to Har Eval only a year ago by the IDF was given over to the PA today. Arabs will now be able to travel around Mt. Eval directly from Shechem to Jenin over roads that are all under at least PA administrative control, if not full control."

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)

Opposition to Abandonment of the Golan

Opposition to a withdrawal from the Golan continues to spread to many elements not identified with the Israeli right wing. In a full-page ad in Wednesday's Ma'ariv newspaper, a heterogeneous group of some 35 writers, professors, and other intellectuals writes: "True peace is not electronic early warning stations, or ceremonies and signatures of diplomats... A true lasting peace with Syria requires mutual concessions, but before anything else, the Golan must be made a region of peace and partnership for both nations. It is permissible for a state to give up its sovereignty - but it is forbidden for a state to transfer its citizens unwillingly, whether they are Jews, Arabs or Druze... For the benefit of both nations, let us wait for Syria to establish a regime and society that is ready for a true peace." One of the statement's signatories, left-of-center writer Eyal Megged, told Arutz-7 that his problem is not with Israel's transferring Golan sovereignty to another country, "but with the nature of a peace that is based on transfers and the destruction of settlements. My concern is what such a process indicates about the Syrian intention to establish a real peace. I felt I had to raise my voice, to declare that we are not all a flock of naive or, worse, stupid people!" Megged contrasted the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's "ice-breaking visit" to Jerusalem with the “stone-faced Syrians who think that they are doing us a favor by agreeing to take the Golan. Here we are, already setting up for the referendum - we're basically telling the Syrians that the whole issue is closed, finalized, that they have nothing to worry about. This is stupid! Are we giving the Syrians the Golan just to pay off some of Barak's election debts? To satisfy the appetite of some sort of 'Molekh' god - a false messiah disguising itself as a true peace?" (arutzsheva.org Jan 5)

Prayers For Rain Are Answered

Heavy rains hit Israel this week. Some residents of flooded homes in Jaffa were evacuated, while others were trapped for hours; traffic lights in downtown Tel Aviv were knocked out of service, and miles of traffic jams developed on various highways. Snowstorms raged in the Golan - some two feet of snow piled up on the highest peak of Mt. Hermon - and snow fell in the Galilee. The Sea of Galilee rose by five centimeters. (A7 Jan 5) Arafat Drives Through A change in the status quo: Yasser Arafat drove today, in a convoy of cars, from Gaza to Bethlehem. HaKol MeHashetach news agency reports that this marks the second such trip in the past 24 hours. Although the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians do not prohibit Arafat from travelling from Gaza to Judea by land, Arafat has traversed Israel until now only by helicopter. Some 50 demonstrators stood at the Efrat junction attempting to "prevent the murderer from passing," in the words of one of them, Josh Adler. Other groups stood for the same purpose at other sites. Adler told Arutz-7 today, "Apparently the police understood what we are planning, and have diverted him to a different route. If he attempts to pass through here, we will prevent him with our bodies. We are willing to be arrested, but we will not allow the murderer of Jews to pass here in Eretz Yisrael." Arafat's convoy succeeded in evading the various protest sites, and made its way safely, although greatly delayed, to Bethlehem. (arutzsheva.org Jan 5)

Rabbis Forbid Ceding Golan

Led by former Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Avraham Shapira, representatives of a group of 1,200 rabbis of the organization called Ichud HaRabbanim - the Union of Rabbis for the People of Israel and the Land of Israel - published a halakhic [Jewish legal] ruling, forbidding the transfer of the Golan Heights to the Syrians and the uprooting of Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel. Attached to the ruling is a call for Jews to act "with self-sacrifice" - but within the law - to prevent the destruction of Golan communities. In addition to Rabbi Shapira, the signatories include Rabbis Dov Lior, Zalman Baruch Melamed, Tzefaniah Drori, Nachum Rabinowitz, Chaim Druckman, Eliezer Waldman, Meyer Fendel, Sholom Gold, Shabtai Zelikovitz, and others. A meeting of the organization's leaders took place at Rabbi Shapira's home in Jerusalem this morning. The ruling reads as follows:
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)

Billion-Dollar Deal for Intel

The Intel Company in Jerusalem will supply chips to the German company Busch for fuel injection systems and for ABS braking systems, in a five-year deal totaling one billion dollars. Intel CEO Amir Elstein says that as a result of the deal, almost all the leading car manufacturers in Europe will equip their cars with Intel chips, including Mercedes, Volvo, BMW, and Cadillac. (arutzsheva.org Jan 4)

Pollard "Abandoned" by Barak

Jonathan Pollard's legal counsel says that Prime Minister Ehud Barak has "no plan whatsoever to assist Pollard." Jerusalem Atty. Larry Dub says that Israeli diplomats in Washington have not been given any instructions on Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison for passing secrets to Israel. In a Dec. 28th letter to Barak, Dub said that Israel's new ambassador to Washington, David Ivri, said that he had not received an update from Barak or any other official regarding Pollard. On Sunday, Pollard's wife Esther echoed Dub's assertions. "We have our own high-level contacts in Washington," she said. "They assure us that there has been no initiative until now by Barak on behalf of Pollard, and none is anticipated." In Jerusalem, Pollard has submitted a petition to the Supreme Court, accusing the government - specifically, the Prime Minister - of not exerting sufficient efforts to win his release. (arutzsheva.org Jan 4)

Waqf Works Continue

The illegal excavations and construction works by the Moslem Waqf under the Temple Mount continue. The size of the work site is now 25 by 50 meters, and five ancient arches have been exposed. Ha'aretz reports that Prime Minister Barak has approved the opening of two of these arches, which will become a main entrance to the mosque, and not, as the Waqf had earlier requested, an emergency exit. Despite Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami's promise, no Israeli representatives - from the police or Antiquities Authority - are supervising the diggings, which have already resulted in tons of dirt and lost ancient artifacts being thrown out in city dumps. (arutzsheva.org Jan 3)

Freedom of Expression in Ma'alot?

Inspectors of the northern township of Ma'alot have begun a campaign to take down pro-Golan posters. As of last week, the private apartment balconies in two Ma'alot neighborhoods were covered with signs in favor of the Golan. Sunday, those who displayed the posters received phone calls in which they were told that their actions were illegal - unless they receive municipal approval for the signs. Despite the fact that they were given 24 hours in which to remove the signs, many of them were forcefully removed by city inspectors within five minutes after the calls were made. Other residents attempted, unsuccessfully, to receive permission from the municipality for the banners. (arutzsheva.org Jan 3)

Barak in Shepherdstown

Prime Minister Barak, his wife Nava, and a high-level delegation departed Sunday for the second round of talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk A-Shara in Shepherdstown, Virginia. The delegation includes Foreign Minister David Levy, Tourism Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shachak, and Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein. Barak canceled the Cabinet meeting planned for earlier Sunday, at which he was to have presented to the ministers his position in the talks. The Likud says that this is part of Barak's "failure of leadership... This is an attempt to hide even from his own ministers the true picture of the negotiations with Syria." The talks with the Syrians are expected to last anywhere between 7 and 12 days. Barak said again Sunday that he did not promise the entire Golan to the Syrians, but added that an agreement with Syria would require "very painful concessions." The Barak camp claims that it has a letter from Netanyahu promising to withdraw from "the Syrian territory captured in 1967." Netanyahu claims that his consent to give away Golan territory did not include a several-mile wide strip east of the Kinneret. Regarding the fact that Mrs. Barak is accompanying her husband, self-proclaimed left-wing radio personality Shelly Yechimovitch admitted Sunday: "It appears that for the same things that earned Sarah Netanyahu harsh criticism in the press, Nava Barak is now treated with kid gloves and very forgivingly." (arutzsheva.org Jan 2)

Forged Palestinian Land-Grab

`Haggai Huberman reported in HaTzofeh last Friday that the Palestinian Authority has apparently come up with another method of taking over Israeli land: forged documents. Huberman told Arutz-7 Sunday that the story began in October 1998, when an Arab of Bethlehem produced a document purporting to show that a daughter company of the Jewish National Fund - the Hemnuta Company - had sold him a piece of property in the Gush Etzion area. A routine check by Hemnuta quickly found that the document was forged - its Hebrew date was Yom Kippur, and the signing clerk had retired long before the date of the document - and warned the Civil Administration not to honor the document. A complaint was filed with the police, but the case was closed "for lack of public interest." About a month ago, Huberman said, the same Arab arrived at the Land Registrar in Bethlehem with the same forged document, and this time the Palestinian Authority clerk registered the property under his name. Although the Civil Administration announced that there is no legal validity to the false registration, "the problem is that the land registry books were handed over to the PA by Shimon Peres some years ago," Huberman said. The Civil Administration has found at least two more forged documents of state-owned lands - one within the town of Efrat, and another just south of Har Homa. A Hemnuta official said that the forgings are an official Palestinian Authority initiative. (arutzsheva.org Jan 2)

Arab Terrorists With Israeli Citizenship Freed

Seven imprisoned terrorists from eastern Jerusalem were freed last Thursday, following their pardon by the President. The 26 prisoners released included two who murdered Jews, one who sat in prison for 30 years, and one for 14 years. The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a petition against the pardons. The seven terrorists who were freed served less than half of their sentences as follows: One served nine of a 30-year sentence for an attempted terrorist attack; two served 10 of 17 years for laying and manufacturing explosives,respectively; one served 10 of 25 years for placing a bomb; one served 9 out of 20 for planting a bomb; one served 5 out of 18 for attempted murder;and a 17-year old was freed after serving one year of a 16-month sentence for stoning Israeli cars. (A7 Dec 30)

Arutz-7 Police Raid Boomerangs

Close to two million shekels were pledged during Arutz-7's two-day telethon. Thousands of the station's listeners and internet users phoned, faxed and e-mailed pledges to help overcome the costs of the damage caused by this week's police raid. Leading Israeli media personalities - even from the extreme left - have questioned the justification of the police behavior. Ha'aretz reporter Daniel Ben Simon is quoted by the paper saying that the State must provide the opportunity for any group that wishes to broadcast its views to do so - all the more so, he said, for a station that reflects the views of hundreds of thousands of Israelis. In an article published in last Friday's Makor Rishon newspaper, left-wing Voice of Israel broadcaster Shelley Yechemovitch remarks that the raid is baffling in light of last May's 40-30 Knesset vote granting Arutz-7 and other stations a formal license. According to Yechemovitch, "there is great substance" to MK Rabbi Yitzchak Levy's (NRP) claim of a connection between the raid and Arutz-7's firm opposition to a Golan giveaway. Anyone wishing to pledge should email jonathan@arutzsheva.org. (arutzsheva.org Dec 31)
Quotes for the Week...
"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)

Interview: IAF Col. (res.) Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto

IMRA interviewed Israel Air Force Col. (res.) Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, a former chief of air force planning and operations, in Hebrew, on Jan 5, 2000.

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)

Odd Ways to Say 'Peace'

By Moshe Zak

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)

Silence Not Your Opponents

By David Bar-Illan

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)

A 'Fair Deal' That's No Deal

Yossi Ben-Aharon

(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

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