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On June 6th, 2004, the Israeli cabinet voted to dismantle Israeli settlements in Gaza in accord with the Sharon Plan. When the Knesset considers the rest of the Sharon Plan, the issue that promises to be the most hotly debated is the almost unnoticed Clause Five -- mandating military training of Palestinian armed forces to secure the region. This training is to be done in conjunction with the U.S., the UK, Jordan and Egypt, despite the fact that Clause One of the Sharon Plan declares, “there is no Palestinian partner to peace."
In other words, the Sharon Plan, ratified by a sovereign Israeli government, is offering to arm an entity declared by Israel to be hostile to the State of Israel.
Has this happened before?
Back in 1993, with the genesis of the Olso Process, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres offered to provide military training for Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Army.
At the time, Rabin and Peres had come to the conclusion that the Palestinian armed forces would use their weapons in the context of a peace process by controlling terrorism.
Yet in September, 2000, Rabin and Peres were proven wrong when the arms and military training they had provided for the Palestinian armed forces was turned against the people of Israel. A new terror campaign resulted in the premeditated cold murder of more than 1,000 men, women and children, and the maiming of more than 10,000 Israelis and foreign guests in Israel, including some Americans.
It is that same Palestinian armed force at war with Israel the Sharon Plan now proposes to arm once again.
To that end, Sharon's government has bestowed security responsibilities on Muhammad Dahlan. Dahlan is thought of as the warlord of Gaza and thus the one to control things. Meanwhile, Israeli intelligence warns that Dahlan is directly responsible for the current terror campaign against the Israeli population.
Indeed, it was Ehud Olmert, now Israel's deputy defense minister, who exposed Dahlan's security file during an an impassioned essay in the Wall Street Journal on June 3, 2002 where Olmert called for Dahlan to be "eradicated."
Two years later, senior officials who serve in Israeli intelligence say there has been no change in Dahlan's "modus vivendi", and that Dahlan continues his direct involvement with the planning of lethal terror acts. Indeed, Dahlan is the head of the Palestinian organization known as the Popular Resistance Committees, which took credit for the May 2, 2004, killing of expectant mother Tali Hatuel, who was murdered in her 8th month of pregnancy, along with the point blank shooting deaths of her four little girls. One week later two Palestinian terrorists opened fire at several hundred mourners gathered at the site where Tali and her four daughters were gunned down. The exchange of fire between IDF troops and the gunmen lasted for half an hour, during which the settlers remained on the ground and hid behind vehicles and mounds of earth.
Yet Olmert is now the prime proponent of the Sharon Plan and will not comment on why he suddenly places his trust in a terrorist whom he had called on Israel to eliminate just two years ago.
Meanwhile, in what promises to develop into yet another hot security issue, the Sharon Plan calls for the Egyptians to move their armed forces into Gaza, while officials in Israeli intelligence gather daily documentation showing that Egypt knowingly facilitates weapons tunnels to smuggle arms into Gaza from Egyptian territory.
Many people have scrutinized the Sharon Plan only in terms of how it would affect the lives of 7,500 Israeli farmers near Gaza. However, it is absolutely critical should be examined in terms of the security threat it must pose to people who live anywhere in Israel.
2. KEEP WINNINGJerusalem Post Editorial - June 15, 2004
Zakariya Zubeidi, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades chieftain in Jenin, yesterday offered to order a halt to attacks on Israel in exchange for an end to Israeli incursions into that city and a withdrawal from surrounding settlements. This is excellent news. The government should meet it by stepping up its military offensive in Jenin and throughout the territories.
Zubeidi's offer is not an olive branch. It is not evidence of pragmatism, moderation, or good will. It is an admission of impending defeat. The Martyrs Brigades and other terrorist Palestinian factions have been devastated by repeated IDF/Shin Bet raids on their rank-and-file, and there are now over 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody, three times as many as at the height of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. Successive generations of terrorist leadership have either been killed by the IDF or forced into hiding for fear of their lives, thereby disrupting planning and operational capabilities. Their ability to reach Israeli targets has been dramatically curtailed by the construction of the security fence. The killing of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi did not, in fact, lead to the threatened rivers of blood, but to the longest (relative) peace Israel has known in nearly four years. If the intifada seems over, as some people now dare to whisper, it is because the IDF is winning.
It wasn't supposed to be thus. We have spent the last several years listening to sanctimonious lectures about how
(1) there is no military solution to the conflict;All this turns out to be demonstrably false. Israeli military escalation has led, unfailingly, to Palestinian de-escalation. Israeli pressure has been followed, unfailingly, by Palestinian reasonableness. The security fence is working as planned everywhere it has been erected. Israeli concessions – giving the Palestinians hope – has merely created openings for violence.
More broadly, the longer Israel prevents the Palestinians from scoring a tactical success, the more Palestinians despair of scoring one. The more they despair, the less they try. The less they try, the easier it is to interdict. And so on. It's what economists call a virtuous cycle.
Winning, of course, is not the same as won. The danger now is that the appearance of success will lead to a relaxation of effort, possibly encouraged by international pressure to show good will in the face of gestures like Zubeidi's. This would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The main thing now is both to maintain the operational tempo and broaden the operational scope. Why, for instance, does Arafat continue to get a pass from Israel and the West when Zubeidi himself tells Israel Radio that "if Ramallah decides that we should stop, we will stop."
It cannot be repeated enough that Yasser Arafat continues to be the primary terror master in this region and must be seen, and treated, accordingly.We have written many times before that the key to any future negotiation with the Palestinian leadership is to expose them, as fully as possible, to the consequences of their conceits. If this intifada has seemed almost interminable, it is because Israel failed to do this early on, choosing instead to escalate gradually. As it is, the results have been worse for the Palestinians than they have for us. But it's never too late to rectify mistakes.
It is encouraging that the IDF's more aggressive posture coincides with the cabinet's momentous decision to remove settlements in Gaza. The great danger of disengagement is not the loss of territory, which can sometimes be an asset and sometimes a liability, but the loss of credibility. As we come closer to the moment of pulling up stakes, it will be necessary to take the anti-terror campaign to a new level of intensity. No Palestinian living in a future Palestinian state should be in any doubt as to Israel's will and ability to defend itself and its citizens against opportunistic aggression. It should go without saying that that is something no Israeli ought to be in doubt of, either.
From a diplomatic, military, and economic viewpoint, Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan appears to very sensible. Israel will be relieved of the cumbersome burden of having to administer to the needs of 1.3 million hostile Arabs. Removing the settlers will relieve the IDF of the difficult and dangerous task of protection 7,000 scattered settlers in a sea of hostility. The move will placate the diplomats at the UN and EU who demand that Israel make concessions to advance the peace process. The U.S. will be pleased that progress will be made along the "roadmap" plan and provide Israel with increased economic assistance. In the meantime, the Arabs will have to demonstrate that they can establish an effective, stable government while curbing terrorism.
While all this is happening, Israel will strengthen its hold on Judea and Samaria, which are the important territories. Sounds sensible, yes? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The State of Israel is sending the wrong message to the international community, which will cause the whole plan to backfire.
By dismantling the settlements, Israel is sending a message that says, "We acknowledge that we have been occupying Arab lands for over 30 years. We acknowledge that we allowed illegal settlements to be built in Gaza. Jews have no right to build settlements and live in Arab lands. The Arabs have a right to insist that Jews should not live in Arab lands, while Arabs have a right to purchase land and homes in Jewish areas." This statement fails to address the following questions:
1. Why shouldn't 2000 peaceful Jewish families be allowed to live in Gaza, a short drive from major Israeli cities and industries?By removing Jewish settlements, Sharon is setting a dangerous precedent. He is acknowledging that Jews should not live in areas that have been traditionally Arab and are still Arab dominated. Then, in a few years, the international community will demand that the same logic be extended to Judea and Samaria.
If Jews have no right to live in Gaza, then they have no right to live in Judea and Samaria which is also under "illegal Israeli occupation." There will be pressure from the international community to relocate 250,000 Jews, even if they have to be compensated for their homes. What's a few billion dollars to the UN, EU, and the oil rich Arab states?
The result will be that from all the ethnic groups in the world, only Jews will be barred from living within a few kilometers from their holy sites. Jews will be unable to live near sites that are rich with Jewish history, culture, and religious significance. What justice is there in doing that? Any diplomatic, military, and economic benefits from the disengagement plan will be overshadowed by the injustice of removing families from their homes and setting a precedent for the establishment of Jewish-free zones.
The Gaza disengagement plan should not be allowed to progress. All people in favor of freedom, democracy, and equality, should be speaking out against it.
While no one was looking, something historic has happened in the Middle East. The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost.
For Israel, the victory is bitter. The last four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. The intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees and thus force it to withdraw and surrender to Palestinian demands, just as Israel withdrew in defeat from southern Lebanon in May 2000.
That did not happen. Israel's economy was certainly wounded, but it is growing again. Tourism had dwindled to almost nothing at the height of the intifada, but tourists are returning. And the Israelis were never demoralized. They kept living their lives, the young people in particular returning to cafes and discos and buses just hours after a horrific bombing. Israelis turned out to be a lot tougher and braver than the Palestinians had imagined.
The end of the intifada does not mean the end of terrorism. There was terrorism before the intifada and there will be terrorism to come. What has happened, however, is an end to systematic, regular, debilitating, unstoppable terror -- terror as a reliable weapon. At the height of the intifada, there were 9 suicide attacks in Israel killing 85 Israelis in just one month (March 2002). In the last three months, there have been none.
The overall level of violence has been reduced by more than 70 percent. How did Israel do it? By ignoring its critics and launching a two-pronged campaign of self-defense.
First, Israel targeted terrorist leaders -- attacks so hypocritically denounced by Westerners who, at the same time, cheer the hunt for, and demand the head of, Osama bin Laden. The top echelon of Hamas and other terror groups has been either arrested, killed, or driven underground. The others are now so afraid of Israeli precision and intelligence -- the last Hamas operative to be killed by missile was riding a motorcycle -- that they are forced to devote much of their time and energy to self-protection and concealment.
Second, the fence. Only about a quarter of the separation fence has been built, but its effect is unmistakable. The northern part is already complete, and attacks into northern Israel have dwindled to almost nothing.
This success does not just save innocent lives. It changes the strategic equation of the whole conflict.
Yasser Arafat started the intifada in September 2000, just weeks after he had rejected at Camp David Israel's offer of withdrawal, settlement evacuation, sharing of Jerusalem and establishment of a Palestinian state. Arafat wanted all that, of course, but without having to make peace and recognize a Jewish state. Hence the terror campaign -- to force Israel to give it all up unilaterally.
Arafat failed, spectacularly. The violence did not bring Israel to its knees. Instead, it created chaos, lawlessness and economic disaster in the Palestinian areas. The Palestinians know the ruin that Arafat has brought and they are beginning to protest it. He promised them blood and victory; he delivered on the blood.
Even more important, they have lost their place at the table. Israel is now defining a new equilibrium that will reign for years to come -- the separation fence is unilaterally drawing the line that separates Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians were offered the chance to negotiate that frontier at Camp David, and chose war instead. Now they are paying the price.
It stands to reason. It is the height of absurdity to launch a terror war against Israel, then demand the right to determine the nature and route of the barrier built to prevent that very terror.
These new strategic realities are not just creating a new equilibrium, they are creating the first hope for peace since Arafat officially tore up the Oslo accords four years ago. Once Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and has completed the fence, terror as a strategic option will be effectively dead.
The only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood and dignity, and to determine the contours of their own state, will be to negotiate a final peace based on genuine coexistence with a Jewish state.
It could be a year, five years or a generation until the Palestinians come to that realization. The pity is that so many, Arab and Israeli, will have had to die before then.
"But thank God I have lived to see the birth of Israel. It is one of the greatest historical events of the last 2,000 years and thank God I have been privileged to assist in a small way this great event which, I am convinced, will bring benefit to mankind".- Col. Richard Meinertzhagen - March 3, 1878 - June 17, 1967 (see Highlight Article)
"The idea of an Israeli-style democracy led by Arafat reminded me of the fundamental law of organic chemistry: if you mix one pound of strawberry jam with one pound of feces, the result will be two pounds of feces."Yashiko Sagamori, Poll Questions and Answers
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