Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Suggestion for the Israel-Palestinian Impasse

by Joseph Puder

The Israeli daily Maariv reported on May 30, 2012 Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s warning that “Unless the Palestinians come back to the negotiating table Israel may have no choice but to take unilateral actions to protect its own interests.” Should Israel decide on unilateral action it must consider annexing the combined elements of the Allon Plan and Area C of the Oslo Interim Agreement.

A comparison between the map generated by Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon on July 26, 1967, presented to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol for a settlement with the Palestinians, and the map showing area control under the Oslo Interim Agreement of September 28, 1995, reveals significant similarities. There is, however, a difference. The Allon Plan, promulgated after the Six-Day War, was unilateral, inasmuch as Israel did not have a partner for peace – albeit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was the intended party to the negotiations. The Oslo Interim Agreement on the other hand was negotiated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

The thrust of the Allon Plan was to provide security for Israel. At the time there were no Israeli settlements to be considered and Allon was bent on securing for Israel what military strategists called the “back of the mountain,” and control of the Jordan Valley. Israeli military strategists agreed that this was needed in order to control the West Bank militarily. Moreover, this area was mostly desert and virtually no Palestinians were living there. Under the plan, Israel would control Palestinian access to Jordan.

Allon designated the Jordan River as Israel’s eastern border, thus enabling Israeli forces to prevent the armies of Iraq, Jordan and Syria from coming in from the East, crossing into the West Bank and attacking Israel’s main population centers. He also proposed the annexation of areas in the Jerusalem corridor in order to secure the approaches to the city. During the 1948 War of Independence the Arabs controlled the approaches to the city and were in command of the Jerusalem corridor resulting in the besieging of the city and the near starvation of the city’s Jews.

According to the Allon Plan, the Palestinians would be given control over three densely populated enclaves: A northern enclave that included Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, and Ramallah; a southern enclave that took in Hebron and Bethlehem; and, a special enclave designated for the Jericho area, which also included a crossing into Jordan. These enclaves would be connected by specially constructed access roads.

The principle that guided the late Yigal Allon was “maximum strategic territories, minimum control over Palestinian population.” Area C of the Oslo Interim Agreement similarly provides Israel with the same guiding principle. It takes in approximately 50,000 Palestinians, who will be given Israeli citizenship should the Israeli government resolve to annex the area on which Israel has currently both military/security responsibility as well as civilian control.

Area C consists primarily of sparsely populated desert regions including the Jordan Valley in the east, and the area southeast of Hebron, as well as Jewish settlement blocs, Israeli military bases, and access roads. Area C is the largest of the three areas specified under the Oslo Interim Agreement.

The Oslo Interim Agreement, much like the Allon Plan, provides for areas A and B – encompassing the main Palestinian urban centers (Jenin, Tulkarem, Nablus, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho) and the surrounding villages — to be administered by the Palestinians. In area A, Palestinians control both the civil and security administration, and in area B (Palestinian villages) Palestinians control the civil administration while Israel controls security.

Since area B includes the strategic high ground, and mountain ridges, Israel might be compelled to add portions of area B into Israel.

In a number of ways, the situation on the ground today has not changed much since Yigal Allon devised his plan in 1967. There is still no consensus among the Palestinians about the kind of state they hope for. The only thing that unites the Palestinians is their hate for Israel, and their wish to eliminate it. In the meantime two Palestinian regimes exist in mutual distrust and deep animus towards one another. Hamas in Gaza is Islamist in orientation and it has declared unambiguously that it will never recognize the Jewish State. Fatah, the leading party within the PLO that dominates the West Bank, is largely distrusted by the population in the West Bank, and if open, fair and democratic elections were to be held in the two areas, Hamas would probably win a majority because it is less tainted with corruption and incompetence.

With Gaza depending on Egypt as it did before the Six-Day War of 1967 for electricity and supplies, and the Palestinian Authority counting on the European Union to pay salaries to 84,500 Palestinian public service providers and pensioners, a functioning Palestinian State is not a reality presently or in the near future.

General Aaron Yariv, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, coined the term “territories for peace,” yet found himself more and more isolated, when he failed to discern any Palestinian Arab entity that was ready to trade a real peace in exchange for Israeli territorial withdrawal.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have gone nowhere. At the end of January 2012, Israeli negotiators met in Jordan with Palestinian Authority officials and discussed border arrangements. According to a report by Ben Kaspit in the Israeli daily Maariv, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal emissary, declared at the meeting that “Israel does not demand sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and will be content with strict security arrangements.” In response, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Israeli idea unacceptable, and said that it “exposes Israel’s intention to make the occupation endless.”

The British daily newspaper, The Telegraph, reported on August 2, 2011 that Prime Minister “Netanyahu could countenance, with certain exceptions, an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 ceasefire lines.” Netanyahu however decried the fact that the Palestinian leadership has not prepared its people for peace with Israel.

Saeb Erekat’s familiar response was: “When I hear this from Netanyahu’s lips, that he will accept an Israeli state along 1967 borders, I will believe it, but what I have read so far is a masterpiece of PR and linguistics. The Israelis do this very well.”

In the meantime, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority Chairman has gone to the UN to ask for statehood as a way to avoid negotiations with the Netanyahu government. Reacting to Netanyahu’s enlarged coalition government (that now includes Kadima), Abbas called on it “to expedite a peace accord.” Yet Abbas continues to demand that Israel accept the indefensible pre-1967 border lines as the future border for a Palestinian state and release all Arab security prisoners from Israeli jails, as well as halt construction in Judea and Samaria for the second time.

Negotiations with the Palestinians have been ongoing in one form or another since before the Oslo Accords of 1993. Israel has gradually released its control, withdrawing troops from Palestinian cities and towns, and withdrawing, as it did, from all of Gaza and forcibly evacuated 9000 Jewish residents from the area. The Palestinians, for their part have continued their policy of combining diplomacy and armed struggle (Fatah doing diplomacy while Hamas is true to the armed struggle). Anti-Israel incitement continues to permeate Palestinian society directed by Hamas, Abbas and related groups, reaching worshippers in the mosques, youngsters in school, as well as the consumers of the Arabic media.

Twenty years of negotiations with the P.L.O. following the Oslo Accords have changed nothing since 1967, when the Arab leaders met at a summit in Khartoum and declared “No to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, and no to negotiations with Israel.” And while the Palestinians may “negotiate,” they still object to the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, and making real peace with the country and its people. Under such circumstances Israel might want to revisit the Allon Plan formula which was predicated on achieving Israel’s security: maximum strategic territory with minimum of Arab-Palestinians. Annexing Area C and parts of Area B to Israel would be the realization of this plan.

Joseph Puder

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/06/12/a-suggestion-for-the-israel-palestinian-impasse/

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

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