By Vic Rosenthal
Although details are sketchy, it seems that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is moving ahead with American support (or under American pressure, depending on one’s point of view) with negotiations with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
The plan seems to be to skip the initial stage of the roadmap which requires the Palestinians to end terrorism against Israelis anywhere and to undertake “sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.”
Instead, Israel will negotiate the second stage of the roadmap – the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state, with provisional borders – with Abbas. Then, after the parameters of the deal are set (or something), ‘moderate’ Arab leaders will be asked to support it. Next, new Palestinian elections will be held, Abbas – with a state in hand – will win, and take effective action against terrorism. Finally, the full roadmap will be implemented, the settlers will be evacuated, the final borders established, and, as Israelis say, “shalom al Yisrael”.
I am (almost) struck dumb by everything about this plan.
First of all, the plan validates the position that the Palestinians can achieve their goals by means of murder and terrorism. Since they are allowed to continue killing Jews while negotiating, whenever the going gets tough there can be an unfortunate incident which will show how important it is to reach agreement. Of course these incidents will always be the fault of some terrorist faction not under Abbas’ control. And we can’t allow ‘extremists’ to ‘derail the peace process’.
Second, the plan assumes that it somehow can be made to make sense that a Palestinian state will be established within ‘provisional borders’, whatever they are, and then – if, for example, Abbas loses the election or does not end terrorism – undone. But if it can’t be undone, then how does making it ‘provisional’ protect Israel’s security? And if it can be undone, then what have the Palestinians gained by declaring it?
Third, even if the corrupt, despised Abbas, who is now seen by most Palestinians as an American puppet, does win the election, what will he do about Hamas? He’s already stated over and over again that he would not disarm it and prefers that all factions ‘turn their guns on the oppressors’. And if the US does convince him to seriously try to disarm Hamas, what would happen? Would it be a civil war like today’s Iraq? And could Abbas win?
Fourth, no Palestinian or Arab leader, no matter how ‘moderate’ and even under the most optimistic assumptions, will agree to less than a complete return to pre-1967 borders (perhaps with the tiniest of adjustments). But this implies that Israel will have to relocate more than 267,000 residents! Even if the five largest settlements were excluded, the total would still be over 120,000. Compare this to the Gaza withdrawal, in which 8,000 people were moved. Even if enough money could be found to finance it, an attempt to dismantle settlements on this scale would simply tear Israel apart. There would be no need to make peace with the Palestinians because there would be no Israel.
Fifth, even if there could be an agreement, why should we think that there would be an end to the conflict? Fatah and Hamas have never changed their platforms calling for the elimination of Israel. Shouldn’t we demand (as the roadmap does) an “unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security” first, before making concessions that damage Israel’s security? And even if Abbas agrees, what will happen to Hamas? Will it fade away? Or start an insurgency?
Sixth, what about the ‘refugees’? No Palestinian or Arab leader has ever conceded their right to return to Israel proper. How will the plan change this?
All the above assumes that the plan is what it says it is. But it’s hard to believe that Livni, Abbas, and Condoleeza Rice are all that dumb. So I think there’s something else behind it.
I speculate that the US has said to Abbas: “take out Hamas and you will be dictator of ‘Palestine’. We’ll give you the weapons and money that you need. In return we’ll force Israel to give you a state similar to what was offered in 2000. We’ll get the Saudis and Mubarak to go along”.
There are plenty of problems with this plan, including the difficulty of getting more than 100,000 Jews out of the West Bank, defeating Hamas, and the assumption that the Hezbollah/Iran/Syria alliance will just stand by and watch it happen.
With its potential to bring about civil war among both Israelis and Palestinians (the Palestinian civil war may have already started) and to invite outside intervention, the Livni plan looks like a recipe for another Iraq.