Israel Report

May 2003         

Not Harmless Posturing

by Steven Plaut - May 27, 2003
For the past decade, Israel has been fundamentally anti-democratic in one crucial sense. Every single government except for that of Ehud Barak was headed by people who ran on one political platform and then did the exact opposite. Only Barak did what he stated he would do.

Yitzhak Rabin ran on a strict No-Deal-With-the-PLO platform, and insisted he would have no contacts at all with the PLO. Benyamin Netanyahu was elected because he was seen as a single issue candidate, and that single issue was stopping Oslo. In the end, he out-Osloed Shimon Peres. Ariel Sharon's landslide victories were because the electorate believed that, at long last, a leader had arisen who would stop and reverse Oslo.

That same Ariel Sharon this week bullied his cabinet into signing off on the "Road Map", promising the Palestinians their own state. The current explanation for this behavior and for approval of this abomination is that Israel has added so many caveats and conditions to the Road Map that it cannot do Israel any real harm. After all, the PLO can be relied upon to mess it up and cause the Map to be abandoned. The Map requires the PLO to end all terror before any of the rest of it is implemented. So, Israel has succeeded in tricking the PLO, maneuvering the PLO into a corner, while extracting good will and PR blessings for Israel. No long-term harm will result, because the PLO will get the blame for the failure of the Map, right?


Sharon and his people are wrong. The approval of the Road Map will not result in the PLO taking the heat for its failure. Israel will get no good will. The Road Map is not harmless.

First, the idea that the PLO will really be required to refrain from terror is absurd. Every previous Oslo accord had similar stipulations and similar language and conditionality. The PLO will continue its campaign of Nazi atrocities, with no breaks, in spite of any Road Map. After a while, the US will indicate that oral statements about how terror is a no-no by Abu Mazen or his cronies is more than enough to show that the Palestinians are exercising sincere efforts to stop the terror, so Israel should get on with the implementation of the Road Map. George Bush will demand 100% Palestinian effort, and 100% effort will consist of a duplicitous verbal affirmation that violence is bad.

The PLO will not take any heat for any collapse or failure of the Road Map. The entire world knows the drill. The violence is all because of Israel's occupation and its racism and obstinacy, so it is all Israel's fault. Everything is always the Jews' fault. Sun spots are the Jews' fault.

Every single redeployment by Israel of its troops will result in escalated PLO atrocities. Every single reprisal by Israel will be denounced as new aggression and proof that Israel is trying to torpedo peace. The demonstration of Israeli weakness and destructibility will embolden Israel’s own Arabs, leading to further radicalization and terrorism from them. What little is left of Israel's deterrent power will be frittered away further.

Moreover, every single indication by Israel that it agrees to certain things on condition that the PLO do certain things will morph instantly into unilateral Israeli capitulation and unconditional agreement by Israel to carry out its obligations. For a decade, Israel has proven over and over that it is not serious about conditionality regarding Palestinian behavior, that it pays lip service to quid pro quo. But once the bombs start going off, it is perfectly willing to make unilateral appeasements over and over and over and over. Since I do not believe for an instant that Sharon's government will really dig in its heels and get tough over any violation of anything by the PLO, why on earth should any Arab think otherwise?

If Sharon and his people insist the Road Map is based on conditionality and mutual compliance, then let us have some real conditionality and mutuality:

Starting this morning, Israel will indeed freeze all settlement activity and building for as long as the PLO is in full compliance. But for every single incident in which Palestinians violate all present and past accords between the PLO and Israel, including all murders, shootings, bombings, and rock-throwings, Israel will respond to the violation by building a new settlement.

The "Road Map" is supposed to be conditioned on the PLO renouncing its so-called "Right of Return" up front, in unambigous language. This "right" is that of Palestinians to move to and destroy Israel even after the Palestinians get their own state in the West Bank and Gaza. So, later this morning, Israel must announce that as long as the PLO has not unequivocally renounced its "Right of Return", then Israel is now formulating and insisting on the exercise of the Jewish Right of Return to Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and Gaza.

Oslo was never a process of mutual concessions and compromise. It was a process for dismembering and destroying Israel. By agreeing, even symbolically, to play along with it now, even if Sharon thinks it is all posturing to get Israel some good press, is little more than national suicide. It is not a coincidence that the "ceasefire" to which the PLO is now being asked to agree in order to jump start this "Road Map" is being called a "hudna", Arabic for a short strategic pause in fighting begged for by non-Moslems, allowing the Moslems to re-group and re-arm for the real showdown with the infidels.

Significantly, it is being called "hudna" also in Hebrew, by the very people cheering on the approval of the Road Map.

Steven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of The Scout (available from Gefen Publishing House: More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog.
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