Israelis Have Been Had, Again
Ted Belman - Israel National News - Opinion Page - August 9, 2004
Israel National News reports in an article entitled "New Decree: No Expansion Allowed in Judea and Samaria":
"...Yesha Council head Bentzy Lieberman understood the dangers. On April 18, he said that Israel was supposed to be submitting to the Americans up-to-date aerial maps specifying the precise construction boundaries of each and every Jewish community in Judea and Samaria. 'What this means is that not only are we giving up Gaza,' Lieberman warned, 'but the entire future of the remainder of the settlements is in doubt. As usual, the Prime Minister is hiding certain parts of the agreement, and is in fact deceiving us - and the ministers are ignoring this. Contrary to the impression that he has safeguarded the future of the settlement blocs, they are actually in grave danger.'"
Notwithstanding, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon assured us that by retreating from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, Israel would ensure its ability to keep the settlement blocks. It now appears that we have been had. But it is not the first time.
When Israel was agreeing to the Oslo Accords, it negotiated for many commitments from the Arabs, which made the Accords more palatable to the Israelis. Unfortunately, that's all they were for, for they were never enforced. For instance, to this date, the PLO has not amended their Charter as agreed.
When Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the Wye Accords, Bill Clinton was supposed to release Jonathan Pollard. Never happened.
When Ehud Barak decided to withdraw from Lebanon, America promised considerable additional financial aid. Never happened.
Although the Israeli public has always been against relinquishing the Golan Heights, Yitzchak Rabin, Barak and Netanyahu, who all stressed their support, negotiated the release of virtually all of it.
When Israel agreed to the outrageous Roadmap, in which it agreed to freeze settlement growth, the main consideration was that the "Palestinians" would be required to become democratic and to disarm. Never happened. But Israel is being forced to adhere to its commitments, though the Palestinians are in fundamental breach of theirs.
When the Cabinet endorsed the Roadmap, it was subject to fourteen red lines. They have never been heard from since, even from the Cabinet members who demanded such red lines. Once again, Israelis were had.
When the last election was being contested, then-Labor party candidate Amram Mitzna argued for unilateral disengagement from Gaza and Ariel Sharon vehemently opposed it. The Likud was elected. It didn't take long for Sharon to gravitate to the Labor's position on disengagement, in disregard of his own mandate.
When the Cabinet approved the "Disengagement Plan", they insisted that there would be no evacuation without another vote. This was also a con job, because the disengagement train left the station immediately thereafter. Once again, the Israeli public was had.
And the piece de resistance, George Bush is now enforcing the commitments in the Roadmap as though the exchange of letters changed nothing.
The High Court of Israel betrayed Israel by putting the rights of its enemy ahead of its own rights. But at the same time, it validated the building of the fence for defensive purposes only and required a different route for the fence. It was concerned that some Arabs were being separated from their land. Many in the IDF have charged that the new proposed route leaves Israel defenseless.
Rather than go back to the Court with this evidence, Sharon totally capitulates and takes the path of least resistance to assuage the High Court, the State Department and world public opinion. He is ready to move the proposed route further to the west, to Israel's security disadvantage security- and land-wise. In fact, the High Court was only against separating some Arabs from their land; they left it open to move the fence to the east to include these lands. After all, it's for defensive purposes only, isn't it? But Sharon preferred not to push the envelope.
When was the last time you heard from Israel's leaders that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are disputed lands and that Israel has a claim on them? Instead, from the beginning of the Oslo era, Israelis were assured by Bush and Israeli prime ministers that they would never jeopardize its security, but there was never any talk about Israel's claim on the land. Now it appears that Israel's only claim to keep the major settlement blocks is because they exist. Bush goes so far as to describe them as bargaining chips. Sharon goes so far as to refer to Judea, Samaria and Gaza as occupied land. In fact, the High Court noted in its decision that Israel has agreed that the lands are held in belligerent occupation and that the Geneva Convention applies. This formed the basis of its decision on the fence.
Barak was willing to offer some of Israel's land in exchange for some of the "territories", thereby accepting the notion that the territories are Palestinian lands. The Saudi Peace Plan that was behind the Roadmap also talks about an exchange of land. Sharon himself is also pursuing such an exchange and leaking ideas like ceding some of the Negev or even some of the Galilee with its Israeli Arabs in exchange. The US has for the longest time taken the position that the settlements were illegal. More recently, it has taken the position that if not illegal, they are an "obstacle to peace". Either position is premised on the notion that the territories are Palestinian lands and Israel must offer something in return.
In so doing, they are ignoring United Nations Resolution 242, which provided, according to everyone's understanding at the time, for Israeli withdrawal from some of the occupied territories to secure and recognized borders. I might add that this resolution never contemplated a new state being created, but rather contemplated that the existing border states, namely Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, would divide up the territories in some fashion between them. Because these lands did not belong to another state, the Geneva Convention did not apply and the land could be settled by Israel.
Both Oslo and the Roadmap reference this resolution, but ignore its context and meaning. And each of them represented a diminution of Israel's interests, including the right to settle the land, with nothing but death and destruction in return. And what's worse, Israel agreed to them.
Israelis have no one to trust. They are constantly being betrayed and misled, even by their own leaders. What ever happened to responsible government? Whatever happened to accountability, honesty, transparency and fair dealing?