Tag: Judea, Samaria

THE EIGHT STATE SOLUTION by Mordechai Kedar

 

Palestinian territorial contiguity is dangerous for Israeli national security. For security and demographic reason, Israel must retain as much land as possible in the West Bank. Evacuation of these areas will create a dangerous situation for Israeli security and eventually will necessitate reconquering extensive parts of the West Bank. There is no reason to dismantle and destroy the existing settlements, rather we propose the creation of seven independent and separate city-states within the West Bank, in addition to Gaza.

 

Premise:

 

There is no reason to assume that a Palestinian state will not become another failing Arab state, due to the fragmented society in the West Bank and Gaza, tribalism and the lack of awareness of nationhood as demonstrated by the failing performance of the Palestinian Authority since its establishment in 1994.

 

Since nobody in the world can assure that a Palestinian state will never turn – like Gaza – into an Islamic terror state, any solution for the Palestinians must minimize its potential threats on Israel, on the region and on the world.

 

Social stability is the key for political stability. Many existing Arab states are models only of ineffectual governance; the only successful model for an Arab state is the one which is based on a single consolidated traditional group such as each of the individual Arab Gulf Emirates. The standard Arab states – Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, which are conglomerates of tribes, religions, sects and ethnic groups – present the opposite picture. It is our belief that the successful Emirate model can be implemented in the Palestinian case more easily and successfully than the failing Arab model.

 

Problems with Territorial Contiguity:

 

Over the years, many Israelis and others have adopted the Arab-Palestinian narrative that views territorial contiguity as a condition for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. As a result of this narrative and its pervasiveness worldwide, efforts are made to insure that the West Bank Palestinians will have an integral territory from Mount Gilboa in the north to the outskirts of Beersheba in the south. Thus, the large Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank become thin “fingers,” with no ability to expand, and their inhabitants, easy targets.

 

Meanwhile, the central strategic goal of the state of Israel should be to permanently remain in Judea and Samaria and to prevent Palestinian territorial contiguity. There are dangers of maintaining territorial contiguity in the West Bank. While it will facilitate the Palestinians’ movement and allow them a better life, the repercussions are impractical for Israel. Territorial contiguity will compromise Israel’s security for the following reasons:

 

Rockets. Territorial contiguity will enable weapons smuggled from Gaza to easily reach all parts of the West Bank and to be used against the surrounding major Israeli landmarks and cities. For example, Israel’s only international airport, nuclear reactor, and towns such as Petah Tikva, Kfar Saba, and Afula in addition to Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv will fall within rocket range.

 

Non-viability of Palestinian governments. Experience has shown that Palestinian governments do not resolutely and consistently act against terrorists. Political and media messages since 1994 have proven that neither the PLO nor Hamas have prevented terrorism and the proliferation of weapons. There also is no evidence that any Palestinian government will prevent terrorism, even if Israel withdraws all the way to the Green Line. A further danger is the possibility of a Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria and the creation of a terror state like the one in the Gaza Strip.

 

Tunnels. After the completion of the security fence in the West Bank, the Palestinians are likely to dig tunnels along the perimeter, as they have done along the Gaza-Egyptian border. These tunnels can be used to smuggle explosives and terrorists in and out of Israel. Palestinian territorial contiguity will make it easier for terrorists to bring explosives into Israel via the tunnels.

 

Territory. Transferring land to the Palestinians will remove the IDF presence from Palestinian towns. Two problems arise with this scenario. First, every strategic location Israel evacuates is at risk of becoming an arms depot and a haven for launching missiles into Israel. Second, any IDF operation against terror in these towns will require movement through hostile territory. This eliminates the element of surprise, essential for an operation’s success and forces the IDF to cope with explosives, mines and ambushes on the way to the target. By remaining in the rural areas of the West Bank, the IDF will more easily have the capacity to collect intelligence and to perform military operations against terrorists, if needed.

 

Water. Most of Israel’s water comes from an aquifer located under the Judea and Samaria. Palestinian sovereignty over the aquifer will create a grave water problem, compounded by the presence of tens of thousands of Israelis who will need to be evacuated from the settlements of Judea and Samaria.

 

Arab neighbors to the East. Palestinian territorial contiguity will cut off the strategically vital Jordan Valley from Israel, exposing it to dangers from the east – Jordan, Iraq and Iran. The threat posed by Iraq and Iran is thus greatly magnified by the loss of this territory.

 

Settlements. Retaining the rural areas in Judea and Samaria will significantly reduce the number of settlements to be dismantled, increase the chances that evacuation of settlements will be accomplished by agreement, decrease the expenditures for compensation and rebuilding, and limit the destructive repercussions on Israeli society. At present, there are serious social disruptions resulting from the events of Gush Katif, northern Samaria, and Amona. There is also a growing distrust and the resultant alienation from the political establishment and the democratic system by religious Zionists and settlers. Efforts should be made so that further withdrawals will be conducted in cooperation with the settlers and not in opposition to them.

 

Solution: Palestinian City-States

 

For all the reasons mentioned above, Israel must strive to block the territorial contiguity of the West Bank while maintaining the Israeli presence in the area between Ramallah and Nablus, including the settlements of Ofra, Shilo, Eli, Yizhar, Itamar, and the region of Ma’ale Efraim.

 

Therefore, the proposed plan is the creation of eight independent and separate city-states within the West Bank, having a limited rural periphery, that will enable future expansion and the establishment of industrial zones. The towns that will receive independence are under this plan are Hebron (the Arab part), Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Tul-karem and Qalqilya. Bethlehem will require further consideration. At the same time, Israel must create a situation of de facto annexation of the majority of the rural areas, while granting Israeli citizenship to those Arab residents of the villages who want it.

 

Such a de facto division, sustained over time, will foster the development of local rule and facilitate the establishment of political entities based on each separate city-state.

 

In its public relations outreach, Israel will put forth and explicate the concept that size alone does not determine the success or failure of a state. For example, Monaco, Lichtenstein, San Marino and Luxembourg are small states with a high quality of life, while Algeria, Libya, and Sudan are large states with poor quality of life. Thus, it is demonstrable that size is less important than effective government. So far, the Palestinians have shown their inability to manage an orderly, peaceful political system that has renounced terror. Until this happens, Israel must retain as much territory as possible to defend its citizens.

 

Hurdles

 

There are three major hurdles for Israel regarding the question of territorial contiguity. The first deals with the differences in social characteristics between Gaza and the West Bank. In Gaza, there is a high percentage of refugees and Bedouins, while by contrast, their concentrations in the West Bank are smaller. The levels of education and income are also unequal, and even the spoken language differs. As a result, it appears that the political separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will continue. Considering that the prevailing historical competition and tensions between Nablus and Hebron have created friction within the Palestinian Authority, it can be reasonably assumed that their separation into two states will be tacitly accepted.

 

A second hurdle that Israel must overcome is the Supreme Court. Currently, the Supreme Court has taken on the role of demarcating the country’s borders. To undo this role, the Knesset must pass a basic law, by which the government declares that the setting of borders is a political rather than a judicial act. Indeed, defining a state’s borders has political (not legal) significance, and it is inappropriate for the Supreme Court to continue managing Israel’s relations with its enemies.

 

The third and highest hurdle is Israeli public opinion, which has adopted the terms “Palestinian territories” and “occupied territories.” This terminology is taken from the Arab-Palestinian narrative that Europe has so enthusiastically adopted and espoused. These terms are problematic because there still is no Palestinian state and, therefore, no “Palestinian territory.” The region of Judea and Samaria is a territory without sovereignty, and the ability to claim sovereignty over it exists for any state that borders it, including Israel. The existence of Israeli settlements over dozens of years is sufficient for claiming sovereignty. Moreover, the residents of the territory are Israeli citizens. The settlements do not infringe on the sovereignty of any existing state. Since these territories are vital to Israel’s security, the government needs to construct and propagate a new and different narrative. They should use these arguments to inform and so, combat, negative public opinion.

 

From the standpoint of demography, the rural areas in the West Bank constitute a small burden relative to the size of the territory that will be added to the state through annexation. Hence, there is almost no need to relinquish these areas out of demographic considerations. Israel will provide these residents a choice between citizenship and residency, the same choice possessed by the Arab residents of East Jerusalem.

 

Taking into consideration Israel’s security requirements, it is imperative to block the territorial contiguity of any future Palestinian entity. Israel should encourage and assist the establishment of eight “city-states” in the towns of Judea and Samaria, which will be independent and separate. Technical problems arising from the separation between them can be solved if their residents maintain good neighborly relations with Israel.

 

Israel must retain as much rural land in the West Bank as possible, particularly the area between Ramallah and Nablus, for security and demographic reasons. Evacuation of these areas will create a dangerous situation for Israeli security and will necessitate reconquering extensive parts of the West Bank. According to this scenario, there is no reason to dismantle and destroy most of the existing settlements.

 

It would be a dangerous folly to relinquish these areas of the West Bank and would result in undermining Israel’s security and economy. Such ideas stem from the adoption of Arab-Palestinian, anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli rhetoric would must be strongly refuted. It is imperative that Israel do everything possible to thwart such an outcome.


 

Mordechai Kedar, PhD, the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation); a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; a lecturer at the Department of Arabic,  Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.   Mordechai.kedar@biu.ac.il

THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL POLITICS & THE LEVY REPORT: TOWARDS A TWO PARTY STATE? A TWO STATE SOLUTION?

Dear Readers:

 

   Today marks a major moment in the life of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.  Our talented current Publications Editor, Charles Bybelezer, is leaving for Israel. He has been responsible for the unerringly on-topic, wide-ranging, and clearly focused Daily Isranet Briefings you have received in recent years (as well as for our ISRAFAX quarterly print journal and annual Commemorative Book).

 

   Charles is taking up a new position as an editorial staff writer with the Jerusalem Post. This is a wonderful and richly deserved opportunity for Charles, an immensely promising and eloquent young writer. Widely-read, analytically incisive, and Jewishly learned, he is, as a committed Zionist, an ardent supporter of our democratic, Jewish state.

 

   All of us at CIJR are delighted for him, and know he is going to be a major resource at the Jerusalem Post and an outstanding figure in the centrally important field of intelligent, informed and hard-hitting Israel advocacy.

 

   And, even as Charles leaves, we are also delighted to welcome our new Publications Editor, Ber Lazarus. Trained as a sociologist, with a creative career in social work, and an accomplished artist as well, he is also an able websight designer and blogger.

 

   Ber is an untiring Israel advocate, and an effective pro-Israel writer in his own right.  Not least, he is also an activist, most recently in support of the brave St. Denis Street merchants in Montreal fighting a vicious boycott campaign against Israeli-made products.

 

   As a proudly pro-Israel academic research center now in its twenty-fifth year, CIJR early recognized that one of its key functions should be the training of able, informed and highly motivated staff. We are proud to have helped shape Israel advocates who can think, write, and speak clearly and forcefully. 

 

   The war being waged today in the media, on campuses, and in   international institutions seeks to delegitimate Israel. This is a key front in the ongoing campaign against the Jewish state, a war of ideas which,  given the approaching Iranian nuclear weapon, we must win.

 

   We know that Charles, in Israel, and Ber, in Canada, will be making solid contributions to this crucially important goal.  CIJR wishes all the best to Charles, with whom we shall remain in close touch, and welcomes Ber, whom we know will also be a major asset to CIJR and to the Jewish people  

 

 

Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director
Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,

Editor, Daily Isranet Briefing

THE REGION: THE FUTURE OF ISRAELI POLITICS

Barry Rubin
Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2012

 

“Can’t anybody here play this game?”—Casey Stengel, New York Mets’ manager.

Stengel’s complaint is the precise description of Israeli politics nowadays. To a remarkable extent—and this has nothing to do with his views or policies—Binyamin Netanyahu is the only functioning politician in Israel today. No wonder he is prime minister, will finish his current term, and almost certainly be reelected in 2013.

 

Consider the alternatives.

 

The number one such option is Shaul Mofaz who is head of Kadima. Mofaz was a competent general but is a dreadful politician. He may be the least charismatic man I’ve ever met. Tzipi Livni, his predecessor, was a disaster as leader of the self-described centrist party.…

 

• Although her party had one seat more than Netanyahu’s in the 2009 election, Livni bungled the chance for some kind of coalition or rotation agreement. True, Netanyahu held the upper hand and had no incentive to give up much but that was all the more reason for her to offer him a good enough deal so she wouldn’t be totally thrown into fruitless opposition.

 

• As leader of the opposition, Livni was a total failure, never providing a good counter to Netanyahu’s positions and showing signs of personal panic that shocked people. Even the anti-Netanyahu media couldn’t rally behind her.…

 

Mofaz’s record is quite bad, too. In fact, as one Israeli joke puts it, in terms of damage, Mofaz accomplished in three months what it took Livni 18 months to do. He said he would never leave Likud for Kadima, and then did so a few hours later. He said he wouldn’t join Netanyahu’s coalition, then he did, and then he announced he was leaving not too much later over the issue of drafting yeshiva students.…

 

Then there’s the Left.

 

The Labor Party has split, with the smaller, more national security-oriented faction led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak sticking with Netanyahu’s coalition. That group should also disappear in the next election.

 

 

The remaining party has veered to the Left and put the priority on domestic social issues. That might well revive the party—especially with the defection of lots of Kadima voters—but it won’t win them an election. The party is now led by Shelly Yechimovich, whose career experience consists of having been a radio journalist and has never been a cabinet member.

 

Of course there were social protests in Israel last year about high prices for some consumer goods and for apartments. These are genuine problems. But these are the result of economic policies that also brought Israel one of the best records of any developed country in the world during the international recession.

 

And the fallout from the Arab Spring puts national security issues front and center once again.

 

Along with this has been the collapse of the social protests. Last year the movement could mobilize hundreds of thousands—though the media exaggerated its size—and had broad public sympathy across the political spectrum.

 

Now it is reduced to a few thousand at most. Why? Because the loony leftists ousted the moderate leadership which had some realistic proposed solutions.…

 

There are three key factors necessary to understand contemporary Israeli politics.

 

First, Netanyahu is not seen by the electorate generally as being right-wing and hawkish but as being centrist. He has successfully been developing this posture now for about 15 years without much of the Western media appearing to notice.

 

Second, Israelis don’t really see the likelihood that different policies are going to make lots of Arabs and Muslims love Israel, or bring peace with the Palestinians or end the vilification of Israel in the Left. All of those things were attempted by means of Israel taking high risks and making big concessions during the 1992-2000 period. Israelis remember—even if others don’t—that this strategy doesn’t work.

 

Third, there are no other politicians who are attractive as potential prime ministers.

 

We now know that US President Barack Obama’s administration thought that he was going to overturn Netanyahu and bring Livni to power on a platform of giving up a lot more to the Palestinians on the hope that this would bring peace. The editorial pages of American newspapers and alleged experts still advocate this basic strategy.

 

They couldn’t possibly be less connected to reality.

 

TWO-PARTY POLITICS

Editorial|
Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2012

 

The latest in a series of political crises afflicting Kadima has made the problems of being a centrist party in our political system abundantly clear.

 

The two veteran parties, the Likud and Labor, to a large extent like the Republicans and the Democrats in the US represent the two mainstream positions on cardinal issues such as security and socioeconomics.

 

The ideological room between them is simply too narrow and insubstantial to allow for a third party.

 

Disingenuous attempts have been made—particularly by Yair Lapid, head of the next up-and-coming superfluous centrist party, Yesh Atid—to paint Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich as a radical socialist who is opposed to free market enterprise, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been portrayed as a heartless neoconservative.

 

But in reality the differences between Yechimovich’s social-democratic platform and Netanyahu’s more conservative stance are not so marked, and are similar to the differences that split Democrats and Republicans. Kadima has never fully articulated a distinct socioeconomic platform, while the nuances distinguishing Lapid’s socioeconomic platform from Yechimovich’s do not justify the creation of a separate party.

 

On security issues, Kadima has not brought to the political discourse any new ideas either. Kadima supporters such as Ariel Sharon’s confidant and adviser Dov Weissglas, claim that Sharon created the party because he felt shackled by the Likud’s ideological constraints. After implementation of the pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria in 2005, Sharon was fast losing support within the Likud, though his popularity soared among the general public. This was only natural since the sort of unilateral dismantling of Jewish settlements—without receiving any Palestinian commitments—was diametrically opposed to the Likud’s ideology.

 

Indeed, it was Labor’s Amram Mitzna—not Sharon—who led his party into the 2003 national elections on a platform of unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. If implementation of the disengagement was so important to Sharon, he could have returned to Labor, where he began his political career.

 

To this day Kadima’s stance on security is indistinguishable from Labor’s. Chairman Shaul Mofaz’s peace proposal—which calls for the immediate establishment of an independent, unarmed Palestinian state in part of the West Bank and Gaza and entering negotiations with Hamas, if the terrorist organization wins another Palestinian election—could easily be adopted by Labor.

 

Centrist parties, such as David Ben-Gurion’s Rafi, Yigael Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change, Avigdor Kahalani’s Third Way, and Yitzhak Mordechai and Amnon Lipkin Shahak’s Center Party, never represented substantial political or ideological positions not given expression in either the Likud or Labor.…History has shown that centrist parties are not only superfluous, they are detrimental to political stability.

 

Over the past few decades the size of the two largest political parties has steadily decreased from around 40 MKs on average to fewer than 30, in large part due to the creation of various short-lived centrist parties. Election reforms such as the raising of the 2-percent threshold for entry to the Knesset and the institution of regional elections for some Knesset seats would go a long way toward improving political stability.

 

But so would a good dose of humility. And it might even be in politicians’ best interests to cooperate. A recent survey found that a Center-Left party (Labor) led by Yechimovich, Lapid and Tzipi Livni would garner 40 Knesset seats.

 

A Knesset resting on two strong political parties—one Center-Left and one Center-Right—would foster a more stable political environment while at the same time give expression to two clear political agendas. With talk of early elections in the air, serious thought should be given to taking the steps necessary to make a quasi-two-party system a reality.

 

BAKER DEFENDS LEVY REPORT IN LETTER TO US JEWS
Tovah Lazaroff

Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2012

 

Attorney Alan Baker has defended the government-initiated report he co-authored that calls to authorize West Bank outposts.

 

In a letter to the Israel Policy Forum [see “Link” below—Ed.] last week, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Baker said the so-called Levy report does not close the door to a Palestinian state, and offers Israelis and Palestinians pragmatic solutions to land dispute issues.

Related:

 

Earlier this month, the New York-based forum sent a letter [see “Link” below—Ed.] to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, urging him to reject the report on the outposts penned by a three-member legal panel led by former Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy. The other two panel members were Baker and former Tel Aviv District Court deputy president Tehiya Shapira.

 

More than 40 US Jewish leaders signed the letter, stating they were “deeply concerned” by the report, which said that under international law Israel did not occupy the West Bank and had a legal right to build settlements there. The US Jewish leaders said they were concerned that government approval of the report would “place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.”…

 

In his letter to the Israel Policy Forum, Baker said he did not believe the US Jewish leaders had read his report. Had they done so, he said, they would not have warned that authorization of the document imperiled a two-state solution.

 

The report’s affirmation of Israel’s legal and historic rights to the West Bank “is not different from Israel’s policy statements over the years, including speeches by all of Israel’s leaders and ambassadors in the UN, as well as in official policy documents issued over the years by Israel’s Foreign Ministry,” Baker wrote. There is nothing in the report that imperils the two-state solution, he said, and added, “The opposite is in fact the case.”

 

The report stated that despite Israel’s legal and historic claim to sovereignty over the area, consecutive Israeli governments have preferred to negotiate with the Palestinians to find a solution to sovereignty issues in the West Bank. “This is completely compatible with the address by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the US Congress last May,” Baker wrote.

 

Lastly, he noted that the document, released earlier this month, offers pragmatic solutions to issues of outpost authorization and land disputes with Palestinians. It suggests the creation of a civilian court to adjudicate such disputes. “The report stresses the need to ensure that genuine land-ownership rights of the local Palestinian population are respected by all related authorities and individuals,” Baker said.

 

“Without in any way doubting the deep commitment of all the signatories to Israel’s well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, it is to be regretted that they have permitted themselves to be drawn so hastily into criticizing the Levy report, without justification,” Baker said….