Assuming the painful unilateral disengagement proceeds as scheduled, it is vital that a strategy for the day after be precisely formulated now. Oslo was flawed because the day after was based on a false premise – that unilateral concessions would induce Palestinian accommodation.
It is those expectations that sealed the disaster. Unless our leaders learn from that mistake, Israel is headed for another debacle.
Even now, prior to the implementation of disengagement, Israel has been making unilateral concessions without any commitment by the Palestinians that they have permanently turned their backs on terror.
Mahmoud Abbas differs from Yasser Arafat in many ways. He speaks quietly, seems rational, dresses like a gentleman and certainly projects a better image. But when he “arrests” those who carry out terror attacks while simultaneously praising “martyrs” and invites Hamas and the other killers to join his government, we are entitled to regard his “arrests” as mere rituals to placate Western leaders rather than a genuine attempt to curtail terror.
In a disarmingly frank manner Abbas even admonishes his constituents that it “harms the Palestinian cause” at a time when the PA is utilizing diplomacy to obtain concessions. But he assiduously avoids describing as morally repugnant the ghouls who blow themselves up in order to murder innocent civilians.
We should also be under no illusion that the present lull is necessarily a prelude to the end of terror. Only the dismantling of the terror infrastructure can assure that. Otherwise the “calming” will simply enable the terrorists (who were utterly desperate for a respite from the IDF) to regroup and renew attacks with refreshed vigor at a time of their choosing.
Our concerns are heightened by the continued incitement by the PA-controlled media, and in mosques, schools and even kindergartens. An official PA newspaper, for example, described the most recent Tel Aviv suicide bomber as a “shaheed” engaged in “a heroic martyrdom operation.”
HENCE IT is surely time for us to announce to the international community that we have reached the end of our tether and will neither extend further concessions nor agree to participate in final status negotiations unless the Palestinian Authority:
dismantles the terror infrastructure and arrests terrorists under its jurisdiction;
stops the cult of death and the incitement at mosques, schools, and in the media;
removes the “right of return” from the negotiating table;
commits not to alter the status quo on the Temple Mount.
These prerequisites reflect a broad Israeli consensus and represent red lines that no future Israeli government would concede. And if we now try to postpone facing up to such hard issues as boundaries, settlements and Jerusalem – we will simply be recycling a more dangerous version of the Oslo debacle.
Certain corollaries to this strategy should be self-evident.
After the urgent completion of the security fence, we must warn the Palestinians that if Kassam rockets continue to be launched against our civilian centers we will no longer sit with folded arms as our children are blown to pieces on our streets. Instead, we will behave like any responsible nation and, after serving Palestinian communities with notice to evacuate, destroy the areas from which the rockets were launched. We should maintain this course of action until the Palestinians recognize that the price they are paying in property damage obliges them to rein in the terrorists.
No additional Palestinian prisoners will be prematurely released until the terror machine is dismantled.
For the foreseeable future, the IDF must remain on the Philadelphi route. It is mind-boggling that the government could contemplate mortgaging Israeli security to Egyptian good will, after both the IDF and the Shin Bet had urged them against doing so.
We should announce that if the terrorists resume their activities, the IDF will automatically resume operations to eliminate those orchestrating the attacks.
At the same time we should stress our willingness to cooperate – including helping to usher in a new era of prosperity – with Mahmoud Abbas or any other designated Palestinian leader who proves a genuine partner for peace. We should reiterate again and again that we have no desire to rule over Palestinians. But until such time as our minimal security demands are met, we are determined to separate ourselves and leave the Palestinians to their own devices.
Over the past four years as a nation under duress, the people of Israel have displayed great tenacity and courage. Today, as we stand again at the crossroads, we should stress that we are not promoting a tough line. On the contrary, we are adopting a rational policy designed to achieve peace.
But we must adamantly refuse to ever again gamble our children’s lives on an agreement which provides the Palestinians with the option of reverting to terror whenever diplomacy fails to achieve their objectives.