Thursday, December 3, 2009

Painting Israel into a corner.


by Moshe Dann


Appeasement, concessions at expense of integrity ravages our national ethos


Israel is being duped into a classic negotiating trap – and, it seems, quite willingly.


Forcing Israel to negotiate over Jerusalem neighborhoods, like Gilo, and dithering about threats from Iran, sets up Israel for strategic concessions. Moreover, temporarily freezing Jewish building in Judea and Samaria accomplishes nothing.

This bartering is calculated to divert Israel's attention away from the dangers of a second Arab Palestinian state and the obstacles that prevent that from happening.


By making it seem that Israel is getting something, e.g. reducing pressure against building in Jerusalem, the US is leveraging against Israeli interests elsewhere.


PM Netanyahu knows this game well, but is faced with a difficult choice: alienating an openly hostile American president, or turning against his own constituency. Tying to achieve some balance, he wants to appear that he is gaining something, and, that he is the victim of American pressure. In the end, he satisfies no one.


Agreeing to freeze Jewish building in Judea and Samaria, even temporarily, simply to get the PA to resume negotiations sets a dangerous precedent, one that will make it harder to withstand opposition to resume building after the time has elapsed.


Meanwhile, hilltops north of Ramallah are covered by new Arab housing projects, funded by the Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC), a US government agency, and the Middle East Investment Initiative (MEII), a project of the Aspen Institute, which has put up half the money (about a half billion dollars), and the Palestinian Authority's Investment Fund, International Finance Corp (World Bank) and local banks putting up the rest.


The Aspen Institute, World Bank, and other forums bring together political and economic elites at the highest levels, pursuing policies behind the scenes, for example, the two-state delusion. They were the active elements (along with Peres, Beilin, etc. on a local level) behind the Oslo Accords, the withdrawal from Gaza, etc.



National humiliation

According to Howard Schneider, writing for the Washington Post, US "Peace Envoy" George Mitchell was the chairman of DLA Piper, the law firm representing the Aspen Institute; others include former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, partners at DLA Piper and lawyers at the Aspen Institute.


These and other projects are intended to build the infrastructure of a "Palestinian State" within a few years. So the race is on. Israel's "building freeze" will give the PA an important advantage in developing land in Areas A and B (of Judea and Samaria) under their control, and apply pressure against Israeli settlements in the rest of the territory.


Restricting Jewish building in Area C, under Israeli military control, in which about 300,000 Jews and relatively few Arabs live, is the testing ground for what will emerge.


If PA leaders declare some form of statehood and sovereignty, including all of Area C and eastern Jerusalem, based on the Armistice lines of 1949, they may likely be recognized by the UN, but rebuffed not only by Western countries and Israel, but by radical Islamists, like Hamas, who oppose any recognition of Israel and are engaged in a power struggle in the PA with Fatah.


This will also complicate the current status of the PLO (not the PA) as the "sole Palestinian representative" in all international organizations.


Declaring Palestinian sovereignty over only the West Bank and Gaza will also prompt a clash among Arab Palestinians over what they consider "the occupation of 1948," the Nakba – the establishment of Israel.

Such a move, because it also implies the abandonment of the "Palestinian right of return" to Israel, would ignite a violent response against any regime seen as "collaborators," spilling over into Lebanon, Gaza and Jordan, at first, and extending to surrounding Arab countries.


The problem is that PM Netanyahu's strategy has no clear policy lines and therefore no way of identifying what constitute Israel's national interests – not only those of security, but, equally important, Israel's historical, legal and legitimate rights in Judea and Samaria.


Restricting Jewish rights, moreover, is reminiscent of anti-Jewish policies during the British Mandate, and anti-Semitic laws in other countries. That an Israeli government should promote such restrictions, especially in Eretz Yisrael, and unilaterally, is a sign of weakness and national humiliation.


Appeasement and concessions at the expense of integrity ravages our national ethos; it may keep one's body alive a little longer, but destroys the reason to live.


Since a limited "building freeze" has been rejected as inadequate and unacceptable by the PA, what purpose, therefore, does it serve?



Moshe Dann is a writer and journalist living in Israel

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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