A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
4 Tamuz 5760
July 7, 2000
Issue number 280
US Announces Trilateral Summit to Be Held Next Week
United States President Bill Clinton on Wednesday made an official announcement confirming a trilateral summit would be held in the Camp David presidential retreat next week. The summit will include Prime Minister Ehud Barak, PLO Authority (PA) Chairman Yassir Arafat and President Clinton. (IsraelWire July 5)
Clinton announced that the summit meeting seeks to reach a framework agreement rather than a final agreement. A Gallup Israel poll of a representative sample of 503 adult Israeli Jews on 26 June found the overwhelming majority objected to withdrawals without a final agreement.The survey found only 13.7% believe Israel should carry out an additional immediate withdrawal in excess of 1% of the West Bank. 69.2% oppose additional withdrawals until there is a final agreement with the Palestinians and 12.1% oppose additional withdrawals under
any circumstances. Among those who voted for Barak in 1999, 22.4% support a withdrawal in excess of 1%, 67.8% oppose additional withdrawals until there is a final agreement with the Palestinians and 3.4% oppose additional withdrawals under any circumstances. The survey has a sampling error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. The question asked was "Within the framework of the third further redeployment Israel is supposed to withdraw only an additional one percent from the West Bank. The Palestinians demand an immediate additional withdrawal. In your opinion, the Government of Israel should:
Total sample: 13.7% Agree to an additional withdrawal, beyond the 1% in the framework of the interim agreement; 69.2% No withdrawal beyond the 1% until there is a final agreement with the Palestinians; 12.1% No withdrawals under any circumstances; 05.0% Do not know, refuse reply
Voted for Barak in 1999: 22.4% Agree to an additional withdrawal, beyond the 1% in the framework of the interim agreement; 67.8% No withdrawal beyond the 1% until there is a final agreement with the Palestinians; 03.4% No withdrawals under any circumstances; 06.5% Do not know, refuse reply (IMRA July 5)
Barak Threatens to Go it Alone
After a meeting in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Barak declared, "Even if only nine ministers remain in my government, and only a quarter of the Knesset members support it, I will continue with the diplomatic process." The Yesha Council responded by saying that the Prime Minister's words prove that he is "obsessed with signing an agreement at any price." The Likud's response was offered by MK Danny Naveh: "Barak does not understand that he is the Prime Minister of a country in which decisions are made in a Knesset democratically chosen by the nation."Foreign Minister David Levy objected to Barak's European junket, saying that Barak appears to be "begging Arafat" to agree to attend the summit. (arutzsheva.org July 5)
PLO to Declare State Sept. 13; Barak Threatens Annexation
The PLO Central Council decided Monday to declare a Palestinian state on Sept. 13. Prime Minister Barak said Monday that if the Palestinian Authority unilaterally declares a state, Israel will annex the areas in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha) planned for the settlement blocs. A senior PA official has called on the Islamic Jihad and Hamas to join forces with the PA in anticipation of what he called "the final battle with Israel." Imad Falouji, PA Minister of Communications, told reporters Monday that the battle will develop after Arafat's declaration of a state. He said that there will be a war over Jerusalem, and predicted that "no settler will be able to return to his home." (arutzsheva.org July 4)
FM Levy Calls for Unity Gov't
Foreign Minister David Levy Tuesday issued a public call for a national unity government. After attending a session of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today, Levy told reporters that no Israeli government can accept the Palestinians' demands. "It could be that from the perspective of the Palestinians, the entire Peace process may just have been a tactic aimed at extracting concessions from Israel," he added. Minister Levy met Tuesday in his office with officials from the Jordan Valley Regional Council to discuss the Barak government's plans to hand over the Jordan Valley and its communities to Palestinian control. During the talk, Levy said that he would represent the interests of residents there in his future discussions with Ehud Barak. Levy told the Jordan Valley delegation that "the gaps between the positions of Israel and the Palestinians are still very wide." Another coalition figure who has called for a unity government is Yisrael B'Aliyah leader and Interior Minister Natan Sharansky. In response to Sharansky's appeal, coalition whip Ofer Pines-Paz told reporters Tuesday that he has agreed to convene a special session of the One Israel/Labor Knesset faction to discuss the option. Minister Sharansky will participate. Former Industry and Trade Minister Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that a national unity government would lead to the complete collapse of the diplomatic process. (arutzsheva.org July 4)
PA Forces Preparing for War
The Palestinian forces are equipped with dozens of machine guns, hand grenades, mines, RPG launchers, and Lau missiles. So states a security memorandum that was submitted to government leaders. Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports, "The PA has a fighting military force numbering thousands of soldiers armed with light weapons, anti-tank weapons," and more, according to the memorandum. The report also discusses the internal strife among the Palestinian forces, the PA's lack of territorial contiguity, and the clear military advantage that Israel enjoys over the Palestinians. (arutzsheva.org July 5)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat signed an order late last week restricting the departures of top PA officials as of next month. Starting August 3, top PA officials will not be allowed to leave PA territories unless Arafat himself personally approves special departure requests. Several PA officials have thus been compelled to decline invitations to take part in conferences and other overseas events in August and afterward. Arafat's no-travel order attests to stepped-up preparations in the PA, as the September 13 target date nears. Anticipating that a unilateral statehood declaration in September will precipitate violent clashes and perhaps punitive Israeli measures, Arafat wants his top officials to stay close by. During the September 1996 clashes resulting from the Western Wall tunnel controversy, some Palestinians charged that top PA officials and their family members hastily left the country. Among other things, Arafat's no-travel order is meant to forestall such occurrences. (IMRA/Ha'aretz July)
According to a senior PA official, the Palestinian security apparatus stopped cooperating with Israel's security establishment nearly a month ago. The representative explained that the decision came in the wake of "the poor relationship" between the IDF and PA forces at Israeli-Palestinian border crossings. (arutzsheva.org July 2)
A summer camp for Palestinian youngsters has opened - on the Temple Mount. Some 2,100 Arab children are participating. The theme of the camp, as well as that of another one in Kalkilye, is "the struggle against the settlements." (arutzsheva.org July 2)
IDF Elite Tries to Calm Yesha Rep's
Leaders of the Yesha Council met Tuesday in Jerusalem with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, O.C. Central Command Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, and O.C. Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yom Tov Samiyeh. On the agenda was IDF readiness for a possible military clash between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the coming months. One issue raised in the session was the Palestinian threat of a massive Arab march towards Yesha settlements - in a manner similar to that of Hizbullah-backed Lebanese villagers in May. Lt.-Gen. Mofaz called it "inadvisable to draw comparisons between what occurred in southern Lebanon and scenarios apt to develop in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. We are committed to the safety of the civilian population, and we'll do everything in our power to ensure its security...The last few years have shown that the IDF is an army of the people," he said. Maj.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon agreed at the end of the meeting to write a "letter of reassurance" to Yesha residents. Arutz-7 correspondent Effie Meir reports that the meeting was initiated by the Yesha Council, after rumors began to circulate in Yesha that the army may evacuate some of its bases in Yesha. At one point during the discussion, Yesha Council leaders asked what the army would do if dozens of Palestinian trucks and vehicles deliberately blocked entrances to army bases at the outbreak of a clash. The IDF officials responded that the army would bring heavy equipment, such as tractors, to remove such trucks - but did not explain what the IDF would do until that machinery arrived. (A7 July 4)
Soldiers Escape Ambush; PA Forces Tear down Security Fence
A detachment of IDF soldiers was attacked Monday near the Israel-Egypt border in Gaza. No injuries were reported. A roadside bomb was detonated within meters of an IDF convoy at the border, near Rafah. Simultaneous with the explosion, Palestinian terrorists opened fire on the soldiers from within the PA autonomous area in Gaza. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the army - which later combed the area for the attackers - considers the episode a premeditated ambush by PA terrorists.
In the northern Gaza Strip community of Elei Sinai, PA forces Monday tore down the newly-erected security fence surrounding the township's industrial park. Gaza area commander Brig.-Gen.Ya'ir Naveh dispatched IDF forces to the area and said that the fence will be rebuilt even at the expense of a clash with the Palestinians. Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that Sunday, while the fence was being erected, some 30 PA paramilitary policemen attempted to forcefully disrupt the work."There is a strong feeling in the IDF Southern Command that the Palestinians are working hard at heating up the atmosphere in Gaza of late," reports Huberman. "The PA press has recently published many incitement-ridden articles aimed specifically at the Gaza Jewish communities. The violence on the Neve Dekalim beach last Wednesday, and the explosion-ambush early this morning on the Israel-Egypt border are signs of this new trend." (A7 July 3)
Chaim Yaakov Hendrick Goes to Palestinian Authority
An Australian businessman experienced a taste of Palestinian "hospitality" last week. Chaim Yaakov Hendrick recounted his story to Arutz-7, beginning with his tour in the area of Shechem, where he was stopped at a roadblock by Palestinian para-military policemen as he headed for Joseph's Tomb last Thursday evening. He told the PLO officers where he was headed, and was allowed to continue on his way - but not for long. Within several minutes, Hendrick found his car sandwiched between two Arab-driven vehicles intent on blocking his path. A large group of Arabs then surrounded his car, and after some moments of tension and fear, one of them offered to lead Hendrick to his destination. Instead of being brought to Joseph's Tomb, however, Hendrick was ushered into a side-street military-style compound, where he was questioned for nearly two hours, watched by armed guards. "The guy questioning me kept his finger on the trigger of his gun the whole time," Hendrick related, "and even ordered me to remove my kippah [skullcap]. I felt like I was being interrogated by an Gestapo officer. I feared for my life, and so I made a point of telling him that I had talked to my office [abroad] on my cellular phone in the car. I felt that if he believed people knew where I was, he would think twice before killing me." After two hours, Hendrick was finally released, but - faced with only Arabic-language road signs - again got lost on the road, and was again stopped. While yet another PLO officer studied his passport, Hendrick heard the firing of many rounds of ammunition in what he sensed were nearby military training exercises. "When the PLO soldier realized that I noted the shots, he made a quick telephone call, and the gunfire suddenly stopped..." Back on the road, Hendrick once again found himself at the mercy of an Arab mob: "I pulled into a gas station in a village. All of a sudden, swarms of Arabs gathered in the parking lot. Only when I showed the gas station owner my passport, and told him that I was an Australian tourist, did he shout something at them and they dispersed." Chaim Yaakov Hendrick concluded his harrowing five-hour experience by driving up to an IDF outpost near Jenin, north of Shechem, where he provided army officials with a detailed account of his adventures. IDF officials suggested that he not contact the Israeli government about the episode, but should rather register his complaints with the Australian embassy. (A7 July 5)
Gov't-Yesha Dialogue Begins
The official "dialogue" between government ministers and residents of Jewish townships in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha) formally began Monday, with the arrival of Communications Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer at the Binyamin community of Psagot. In the course of the dialogue, Psagot residents asked Minister Ben-Eliezer why the Barak government is leaning towards the abandonment of nearly 50,000 Israelis to foreign rule. He responded, "We have no better alternative for striking a peace deal with the Palestinians." (A7 July 3)
Mulling over a Return of Netanyahu
The possible return of Binyamin Netanyahu to the Israeli political scene has become a subject of controversy of late. A poll last Friday indicated that the former Prime Minister would defeat Ehud Barak by 8% if elections were held at this time. Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane asked two right-wing personalities Wednesday whether the return of Netanyahu would be good or bad for the nationalist camp. Journalist Amnon Lord said, "I've come to the conclusion that yes, it would be good. With all his drawbacks, he is head and shoulders above other politicians in Israel. Given the great threat facing Israel, a man like Netanyahu is needed to lead an informational and diplomatic campaign to present Israel's positions to the rest of the world... Netanyahu is the right man who can lead us to... a peace without constant threats. The problem that he faced was that there were people in influential positions who negated him on a personal level... and he also had a problem with the Defense Minister and other top security officials who didn't cooperate with him..." Former Yesha Council head Yisrael Harel strongly took the opposite view: "Netanyahu is not worthy of being Prime Minister of Israel, and certainly not the candidate of the right-wing. He has a mouth, and can explain himself well, but he has no character: Why didn't he fire the security officials who didn't cooperate with him? Why did he publicly embrace Arafat and call him 'my friend and partner' after he [Arafat] ordered the Hasmonean tunnel riots in which 18 Israeli soldiers were killed by PA forces? Why did he go to Wye when no one forced him to? ... In addition, during a war which is apparently foreseen, it is better to have someone who can gather a consensus around him - Netanyahu is not the man to do this." (arutzsheva.org July 3,5)
Arab rock-throwing at IDF soldiers and farmers continues at Israel's northern border with Lebanon. A senior army officer stationed in the region told Itim reporter Shlomo Hadad that the situation deteriorates daily, and "the time has come for it to end." Sunday, hundreds of Lebanese villagers gathered at the Fatma Gate and hurled blocks and rocks at IDF forces. No injuries were reported. In light of the situation, the army has temporarily prevented hikers and tourists from entering various areas adjacent to the border. A spokesman for IDF Northern Command told reporters that the "off-limit" areas will be reopened once the new security fence there is complete. (A7 July 3)
Heavy Sentences Meted Out to Iranian Jews
Strong reactions from the United States and other Western countries have been sounded against the stern sentences handed down Saturday by an Iranian court against ten Jews. Two of the Jews, convicted by the court of espionage, were sentenced to 13 years in prison, and eight others were sentenced to between 4 and 12 years. Three Jews were found innocent, as were two Moslems; two other Moslems were convicted. The Associated Press reports that aside from the jail terms, the 10 convicted Jews will face fines and even lashes. (arutzsheva.org July 2)
Yesha Is Different
Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein said last Friday that UN Resolution 242, which calls on Israel to withdraw from territories it conquered in 1967, does not apply to Judea and Samaria. He explained that at the time the resolution was passed, the Palestinian Authority was not in existence. (arutzsheva.org June 30)
The Importance of the Jordan Valley
A Yediot Acharonot poll shows that 49% of the public would support an agreement to give away 90% of Judea and Samaria. This support would climb to 80% if the Jordan Valley is left under Israel sovereignty. Former senior intelligence officer Brig.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Levran explained to IMRA last week the strategic importance of the Jordan Valley: "The best defense positions, from a strategic defense standpoint, are the slopes of the mountain ridge by the Jordan Valley [roughly, the Shechem-Shilo-Ofrah line]. They have a commanding presence over the entire area. But with this insane government, no one is even talking about Israel holding onto these vital positions. This leaves us with, as a second best position, the flat area of the Jordan Valley... within which it is possible, from a military standpoint, to separate between Israel and Jordan." When asked about the opinion of Prof. Shai Feldman of the Jaffe Center - that in the case of war, Israeli forces would simply return to the Jordan Valley - Levran responded, "This is ridiculous. You have to have a fortified defense line, with all the systems, camps and infrastructure prepared in advance - as we have today. You can't just walk up to the border. The IDF would also have to cross through the mountain passes that would be under Palestinian control. The Palestinians can be expected to preposition explosive charges that can block these passes off at various tight choke points. [Regarding a preemptive strike within Jordan against Iraq], let us not fool ourselves. If Iraq moves into Jordan does anyone seriously expect Israel to immediately jump into Jordan? Consider all the times in our recent history that we decline to react to various threats. Instead of a preemptive strike we would be counseled to show restraint to avoid disturbing the peace. Instead of Israel holding a defense line that it has fortified and prepared, and with which it is intimately familiar, we have this reckless proposal that in the event of war the IDF somehow makes its way to open territory. Complete insanity." (arutzsheva.org June 30)
Protesting Barak's Temple Mount Decision
The Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Temple Mount Artifacts sharply protests last week's decision by Prime Minister Barak not to stop the illegal Moslem construction on the Mount. The committee, which is comprised of archaeologists and public figures from across the political spectrum, rejects the premise that the construction is related to emergency exits in Solomon's Stables. It calls for the opening of the site to public scrutiny. (A7 June 30)
This weekend, US President Bill Clinton will reportedly decide on whether to risk a Camp David-style summit to wrap up an Israeli-Palestinian final-status agreement. Prime Minister Ehud Barak seems ready, evidently believing that he can make an offer generous enough so that, if refused, Israel will not be blamed for the failure to reach agreement. Given that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is still publicly making maximalist demands, Barak's confidence that he will not be branded an obstacle to peace might be justified. Barak's confidence aside, Israel itself has what to do to prepare for a fateful summit.
First, the time to convince a broad spectrum of Israelis, or at least their representatives, that Israel's offer is neither insufficient or too generous is now, not after an agreement is reached. The reasons for this are as practical as they are democratic. An agreement that Barak makes alone, he will have to defend alone, without the support of much of the coalition, let alone the opposition. Though Barak may be banking on the fact that the alternative to an agreement is highly unpalatable, he seems ready to ask the public to cross multiple red lines, each of which will generate considerable opposition.
Opposition, of course, is to be expected, so Barak is right not to allow the existence of opposition to deter him from pursuing an agreement.
His problem, however, is that he has correctly set a standard of an achieving an agreement that does not pass by a knife's edge but with broad support.
When a deal with Syria seemed imminent, Barak described his objective as either an agreement that a broad majority of Israelis would support, or in case of stalemate, a widely held sense that Israel had made every reasonable effort to achieve peace. This same two-part objective is at least as necessary on the Palestinian track, where the need for Israeli unity in the face of either scenario is critical.
With the collapse of the Clinton-Assad summit in Geneva, Barak's non-agreement scenario has successfully played out, for now sparing him the full process of building public support for an agreement.
On the Palestinian track, an agreement may or may not be imminent, but the process of crafting a stance on a base broader than Barak's personal judgment can no longer be delayed. Recent meetings with leaders of the coalition parties are a start, but they are not enough.
Before a summit with Clinton and Arafat, what is urgently needed is a summit of political leaders representing a broad spectrum of Israelis.
Until now Barak has relied upon his own reputation as hawk within a dovish party, and as a non-ideological moderate heading a broad government, to act as if he could single-handedly represent most of the Israeli political spectrum. Now, however, it not clear that he fully represents even his own foreign minister, who complained that Israel is making maximalist offers and receiving nothing in return.
Barak should convene such an internal Israeli summit if only to demand that both sides put up or shut up at this critical hour. From the right, he can demand practical proposals on how to achieve a stable peace agreement that will finally establish Israel's permanent borders, including full international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. From the left, he can demand support for a refusal to make drastic concessions in exchange for anything less the renouncing of all Palestinian claims against Israel and full peace.
This last point is so critical that Barak should make clear now that it is the overarching principle guiding him at a summit. Yitzhak Rabin did this when he stated, regarding Syria, that the depth of Israel's withdrawal would depend on the depth of the peace Israel received in return.
In the Palestinian case, it the breadth of peace that is more important than the depth - that is, that all major outstanding issues are closed, not that normalization between the peoples be maximized. Since Palestinians and Israelis are, in some respects, already in more regularized contact than with Egyptians and Jordanians, normalization is not as urgent a priority.
If a peace is not broad enough, however, the result could be something that is not peace at all. Just as locking 75 percent of the doors of a car does not mean the car is 75 percent locked, a peace that leaves only one or two issues - such as Jerusalem and refugees - open could be worth as little as a peace that closes nothing at all. Linking Israel's generosity to the breadth of peace is not only a strategic imperative, but a foundation on which the necessary consensus behind the negotiations can be built. (Jerusalem Post June 30)
Israel's security and existence are facing threats and challenges that are not much different from those of 1969.
One day in February 1969, I accompanied then-ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and his deputy Shlomo Argov to a meeting with secretary of state William Rogers, his assistant Joseph Sisco and other aides. Rogers gave Rabin a top secret "oral statement" which said, in effect, the US intended to discuss with the USSR a settlement of the Israel-Arab dispute on the basis of the pre-June 1967 lines, barring "minor rectifications" in those lines.
Rabin went into shock and Argov responded furiously. We returned to the embassy and drafted a public statement which attacked the Nixon-Kissinger administration for presuming to decide Israel's future borders in talks with the Soviets, instead of enabling Israel to negotiate its peace borders with its Arab neighbors.
The State Department's reasoning was that the Middle East problem could not be resolved unless the two superpowers reached an overall strategic understanding, which would encompass regional conflicts as well.
In 1973 and again in 1979, the Arab oil-producing states drove up the price of oil, ostensibly as a means of pressuring the West to support the Arab position on the Arab-Israel issue. American dependence on Arab oil was then cited as another reason for US pressure on Israel to accommodate the Arabs' demand for withdrawal to the pre-June '67 lines. Since then, both pretexts have evaporated. The Soviet Union has disappeared and plenty of oil has since been discovered outside of the Middle East.
In recent years and until today, we have witnessed the evolution of an American policy that has remained basically glued to the infamous "oral statement" of 1969. American decision-makers now cite the achievement of peace as a national interest that justifies the high-powered, high-pressure involvement in promoting and hastening Israel-Arab negotiations and settlements. This singularly narrow focus betrays a total disregard of 30 years experience and the present state of Arab-Israel relations.
One would have expected the US to recognize the fact that despite three agreements with its neighbors since 1978, the Arab world continues to reject Israel's legitimacy and right to exist. Arab terrorist organizations, supported by Arab governments, have continued to fight Israel, even though they change names and ideologies. The Arab media and education systems, even in those states that have concluded peace agreements with Israel, continue to spout hatred. The Oslo agreements with the Palestinians have produced anything but peace, to the extent that the IDF is bracing for a major outburst of violence in the coming months.
In short, Israel's security and existence are facing threats and challenges that are not much different from those of 1969.
The US administration cannot be oblivious to this dismal reality. CIA representatives, especially inside the Palestinian territories, must have conveyed the true picture to Washington. Then why has the Clinton Administration clung to a policy that sees in Israeli territorial concessions the panacea to Arab-Israel disputes?
Why has Clinton espoused the cause of democracy in all corners of the world except in the Arab Middle East? Why has his administration refrained from uttering a word against the perpetuation of Syrian occupation of Lebanon, even after the withdrawal of the IDF? Why has the American presidency, which is held in high regard in this country, consistently courted Arab dictators and supporters of terrorism such as Hafez Assad and Yasser Arafat?
The most basic lesson which the US administration should have learned is the total bankruptcy of the "territory for peace" equation. Successive Israeli governments have delivered territories in the hope of satisfying Arab demands, but to no avail.
The Barak government is now approaching the moment of truth, facing the futility of further territorial concessions. Instead of recognizing the terrible dilemma Israel is now confronting, the Clinton administration is sending its top officials to Jerusalem with the mission of pressing for more "agonizing decisions" by Israel.
Apparently, the president is anxious to celebrate one more Arab-Israel settlement on the White House lawn before the end of his term.
But this time, it may be the last straw that could precipitate an outburst of violence, the likes of which we have not witnessed here for some years.
The writer was director-general of the Prime Minister's Office during Yitzhak Shamir's term. (Jerusalem Post July 4)
''You want it bad, you'll get it bad." This adage certainly applies to the deal President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak are determined to forge with the Palestinians in the next few months.
Toward this end, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be in the region this week, trying to secure from Israel the concessions Yasser Arafat is demanding before he agrees to participate in a three-way summit with Messrs. Clinton and Barak - an event where it is expected he will get the rest of his demands satisfied. Unfortunately, the "peace agreement" that may emerge from such transactions is unlikely either to be worthy of the name or conducive to a genuine, durable peace.
The extent of the Israeli concessions it will entail has become clear in recent days. According to the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, they include the following: Palestinian control over Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem comparable to that the Palestinian Authority (PA) now exercises over much of the West Bank; the surrender of the entire strategic Jordan River valley to the PA; an "opaque formula that would satisfy the Arabs" on the return of refugees (which the U.S. official who leaked these details nonetheless claimed had "no practical meaning"); and $130 billion to $150 billion in aid from the United States and other countries over the next 20 years "with about 100 billion going to improve the plight of the millions of Palestinian refugees."
If this formula is, in fact, the position of the Israeli and U.S. governments - and accepted by Mr. Arafat - it will constitute not only the beginning of a new and dangerous Palestinian state. It will also be the beginning of the end for a secure and self-reliant Israel. For this reason, it would almost certainly be rejected by the people of Israel. Provided, that is, the Jewish State's democratic character is respected and its institutions and processes properly utilized.
Unfortunately, it is now increasingly clear Ehud Barak has no intention of conducting his peace diplomacy in such a manner. For the second time in a month, his interior minister - the courageous former Russian dissident Natan Sharansky - has written the prime minister warning against the deal now taking shape.
In a letter dated June 23, Mr. Sharansky decried the concessions Mr. Barak is poised to make and warned against the "clever strategy" the prime minister is apparently pursuing in order to "ensure the agreement's acceptance by the Israeli people." According to the former "refusenik," the strategy is designed to present a fait accompli to Mr. Barak's coalition partners (like Mr. Sharansky's party of Russian immigrants) who would oppose, for example, surrendering control over part of Jerusalem and the whole of the Jordan River valley to the Palestinians.
The clever strategy would work like this: First, coalition partners such as Mr. Sharansky would be induced to join Mr. Barak at the summit, assured that no deal had yet been done and that "any difference of opinion that will be found among us at the time of the summit will be addressed there." In practice, however, "under the glare of the cameras," there will be no opportunity to resolve fundamental differences that have riven Israelis for years (especially lately as the fruits of the "peace process" have proved increasingly elusive).
Mr. Sharansky observes that, once a deal is done, "the option to reject an agreement is unrealistic." It would "result in Israel finding herself in her most isolated international position since the founding of the State. The fear of this possibility will silence many of the agreement's opponents from voicing their opposition - which perhaps is precisely what advocates of your current strategy are counting on."
Indeed, they are. And the Israeli government is almost certainly being urged to pursue this stratagem by the Clinton-Gore administration, which has repeatedly utilized such a gambit to commit the United States to international undertakings it knew were opposed by the Congress. (Examples include the Kyoto global warming treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and new agreements limiting anti-missile defenses; several more are in the works now, notably a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention and a START III Treaty making severe and ill-advised reductions in U.S. nuclear forces.)
As Minister Sharansky observes, "This is indeed a clever strategy. But it is not the way to deal with either coalition partners or with an Israeli electorate that has chosen you to lead them - particularly not with an issue that may determine the fate of this country and the fate of the Jewish people in this generation and for many generations to come."
Just how real this dire prognosis is can be gleaned from several recent developments.. Last month, Mr. Arafat calculatedly unleashed his rabble and police in attacks on Israeli forces, citizens and property. This resort to violence is now widely understood to be a tool the Palestinian leader employs to extract more concessions from Israel and/or the United States. What makes anyone think he will refrain from doing so again if the "final status" agreement is anything less than everything he wants - namely, the "liberation" of all of "Palestine," including pre-1967 Israel?
. According to press reports, Israel is preparing to construct a fence that will seal off the Palestinian state Mr. Arafat on June 25 declared he could proclaim "within weeks." A fence is unlikely to prevent terrorist and other attacks from the territory Israel is relinquishing, but it does suggest how little confidence the Barak government has in the Palestinians as reliable "partners for peace."
Mr. Arafat's latest pronouncement - and the response to it from Israel's most important Arab "partner for peace," Egypt - can only intensify such concerns. As the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz noted in reporting on it: "In practical terms, a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence would pose huge problems for both sides and likely spark widespread violence. Nonetheless, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed his country's support for any future such declaration. 'If a Palestinian state is declared, we will recognize it irrespective of circumstances,' he said."
. Israel relies upon the aquifers of the West Bank and the Golan Heights to provide it with roughly 70 percent of its water. The prospective surrender of these territories is all the more alarming in light of the fact that the Jewish State is facing, according to the BBC "one of its worst ever water shortages, with officials warning that urgent measures are needed to prevent an unprecedented crisis."
Natan Sharansky closed his most recent letter to Prime Minister Barak with the following eloquent appeal: "I call on you once again to stop your race toward a summit that is based on a 'clever strategy' for dealing with your coalition partners and with the Israeli public, and instead to go to a summit when you will enjoy the support of the people of Israel and when the vast majority of their representatives will be partners to the process. If you do this, I will be happy to work at your side to forge consensus and agreement within the nation. Unfortunately, if you continue on your present course, it will mean the end of the partnership between us."
Unfortunately, it may also mean the beginning of the end of the Jewish State, itself. (The Washington Times June 27)
The writer is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.
In its short history, Israel has dealt with its enemies along the lines of two very different doctrines. From 1948 until about 1993, it discouraged opponents from taking hostile steps by threatening painful retaliation.
This doctrine has a well-known name: deterrence.
Deterrence worked well for Israel, winning it the grudging acceptance of its enemies over a 45-year period. But deterrence also had many drawbacks, being slow-moving, expensive, and passive. It was also harsh and internationally unpopular.
Around 1993, Israelis tired of deterrence in favor of a doctrine that had the attractions of being faster, cheaper, more activist, gentler, and more acceptable around the world. Rather than threaten foes, this new policy has three main elements, which are basically the same whether Labor or Likud is in charge.
First, it bestows on the Arabs what Israel deems they legitimately can claim. In this spirit, the Lebanese were handed a complete evacuation of Israeli forces from their territory; the Palestinians already have autonomy and look forward to a state of their own; Syrians need only say "yes" to find the whole Golan Heights under their control.
Second, although Israel formally requires its negotiating partners to sign agreements, it barely insists on their fulfillment. It has taken no serious steps to enforce the ban on jihad rhetoric, to have terrorists handed over, or to restrict the size of the Palestinian arsenal.
Third, there must be an indication that no more violence will be tolerated. A subtle logic underlies this doctrine: Israel's generous - indeed, nearly unilateral - fulfillment of Arab wishes, plus the ignoring of provocative acts and aggressive statements, is done with an eye to establishing economic growth and a friendlier atmosphere, thereby inculcating Arabs with a less radical and more settled outlook, leading, in turn, to improved relations with Israel.
The old doctrine was called deterrence; does the new one have a name? Well, yes, it does. It is called appeasement. Lest this characterization seem unfair, here - from the authoritative Encyclopedia of US Foreign Relations - is an objective description of appeasement as the term was used before the mid-1930s. Until then, we learn, it "primarily referred to timely concessions to disgruntled nations whose grievances had some legitimacy, in the hope of defusing difficulties and promoting peace and goodwill. Acting from a position of strength, the appeasing power was motivated not by fear or weakness but by a sense of statesmanship and a perception that limited concessions would not endanger its vital national interests."
Sound familiar? The doctrine describes Israel precisely - the sense of strength, the one-way transfer of assets, the perceived non-vital nature of the concessions.
But wait, there's more. The encyclopedia goes on to explain what happened in the 1930s. The leaders of Great Britain and France, faced with aggressive regimes in Germany, Italy, and Japan, and haunted by terrifying memories of World War I, "sought to reduce tension by a new type of appeasement that included overlooking blatant violations of the peace settlement." That too describes Israel to a tee.
And more yet: Concessions by Britain and France "invariably resulted in increased demands, heightened tensions, and threats of war." Israel knows about that too - think of Hizbullah's blood-curdling threats in recent weeks, subsequently echoed by Hamas.
Some of the specifics from the 1930s are also uncannily close. Here are three: Britain's prime minister Ramsay MacDonald declared that security must be sought, "not by military but by moral means." Shimon Peres, father of the Oslo process, couldn't have said it better.
A later British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, seeing Hitler's insistence on a part of Czechoslovakia as "the Führer's last demand," agreed to his taking over that valuable piece of territory. Shades of Israeli policy toward Syria and the Golan Heights.
Chamberlain tried, writes the eminent historian Donald Kagan, "to win German good will and good behavior by offering economic incentives." That pretty much describes Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.
And the future? According to the same encyclopedia, "As successive failures strengthened the determination of the appeasers to succeed through intensification of their efforts, a policy that was conceived with honorable objectives degenerated into one of intrigues and machinations, and, at length, humiliating surrender."
Fortunately, Israel is far from a humiliating surrender and at any time can improve its prospects by abandoning the doomed doctrine of appeasement and reverting to that old standby, deterrence. To be sure, the latter is slow, harsh, and unpopular. But it does work.
The writer is director of the Middle East Forum. (Jerusalem Post July 5)