Only a few weeks ago our erratic prime minister was still assuring the nation that for the time being no further unilateral withdrawals were under consideration.
Yet a recent report in Haaretz outlined a comprehensive new “peace” formula virtually indistinguishable from the 2002 Saudi plan, incorporating wide ranging concessions to the Palestinians which President Shimon Peres had submitted to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immediately upon assuming office.
Of course, in line with standard procedures related to such trial balloons, the Prime Minister’s office ritualistically denied that any such plan had ever been considered. However Beit Hanassi reportedly confirmed the existence of the plan and even expressed confidence that it would be endorsed by the Americans and Europeans.
Peres was the principal architect of the disastrous Oslo Accords, but his new proposal extends far beyond his original failed plan. It recommends that Israel forego the Israeli interpretation of UN Resolution 242 and accept the bitterly contested Arab-Soviet-French interpretation which demanded Israel’s total withdrawal from all the territories beyond the Green Line, effectively ceding to the Palestinians 100 percent of the territories captured in 1967.
The major settlement blocs amounting up to 5% of the area would be retained in “exchange” for equivalent territory agreed to by the Palestinians. Jerusalem would be divided with its holy sites being administered by all three faiths. The Peres plan also proposed that the Palestinian flag should fly over the Temple Mount. The formula includes the standard mantras relating to security requirements and a need to formulate a “creative” declaration relating to the Arab refugee “right of return.”
By basically accepting a return to the 1967 lines, supposedly described by the late Abba Eban as the “Auschwitz borders,” the Peres plan forfeits the April 2004 assurances provided by President George W. Bush to former premier Ariel Sharon and conclusively jettisons any meaningful concept of “defensible borders.”
The repercussions of previous unilateral territorial concessions were obviously ignored. They include the outbreak of the first wave of suicide bombings in the wake of Oslo; the failed Clinton-Barak negotiations with Arafat which led to the second intifada; the catastrophic Gaza unilateral disengagement which transformed Israeli citizens in Gush Katif into refugees in their own land and facilitated the subsequent Hamas takeover in Gaza, and the ongoing bombardment of Sderot.
In a nutshell, the evidence clearly demonstrates that, without exception, every Israeli retreat under fire has emboldened jihadists into intensifying the violence.
It is simply mind boggling that at a time when utter chaos prevails among the Palestinians, such a bizarre proposal could even be contemplated. But it is even more disconcerting that a newly elected president, whose prime obligation is to remove himself from the political arena and act as a unifying rod for the nation, reportedly considers it appropriate to launch such a controversial and highly divisive proposal as his first initiative in office. It surely augers ill for the future of the already battered image of the Presidency if it is now to be crassly exploited as a launching pad for promoting an incumbent’s personal political agenda.
Olmert’s Jericho meeting with Abbas indicates that contrary to statements from his spokesmen, he is indeed proceeding in the direction of the Peres recommendations, and clearly determined come what may to move speedily toward awarding Palestinian statehood to the corrupt Fatah leaders.
To expedite this, Olmert capitulated on the one crucial Road Map clause which even the Quartet had hitherto refused to concede to the duplicitous Palestinian leaders. He dispensed with the requirement that the PA uproot the terrorist infrastructure as a prerequisite to further Israeli concessions.
Instead he facilitated transfers of arms to Fatah which will invariably ultimately be employed against Israelis and undertook to release more terrorists. He also took pride in having granted amnesties to the IDF’s most wanted murderers who brazenly announced in advance, that far from retiring, they were being promoted to leadership positions in the so-called Palestinian security structure.
To top it off, Olmert undertook to consider endorsing the return to the West Bank of the bloody terrorists expelled from the region after the 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity. No concern was expressed that Hamas would almost certainly take control of Judea and Samaria once the IDF withdraws from the area. And in what sounded like black humor, Olmert’s spokesman stated that Abbas “promised” that despite ongoing pressure from the Arab League, the PA would not contemplate joining forces again with Hamas. Yet within 24 hours, Fatah and Hamas functionaries were reportedly conducting secret talks designed to overcome their differences.
It was also disclosed that of the NIS 400 million recently provided by Israel to Fatah “due to a computer error” a substantial proportion was transferred to Hamas to pay the salaries of their “security forces” and provide cars for their legislators.
Clearly, the Americans are desperate to create a united Sunni bloc to neutralize the growing Iranian led Shi’ite threat and believe this can be facilitated by displaying progress on the Israel- Palestinian front. But one could surely have expected responsible Israeli leaders to resist implementing such concessions without considering the implications on their own security.
Moreover, how can a nation possibly contemplate such dramatic policy changes with potential existential implications, without undergoing a thorough internal debate to ascertain the views and obtain approval of the people? Why are such crucial initiatives leaked via favored media outlets instead of being formally initiated and debated in the Cabinet and the Knesset?
This is surely not how a genuine democracy functions.
To make matters worse, since the Second Lebanon War, the Knesset no longer represents the views of the nation. The current government is an amalgam of the shattered Kadima ruling party with no coherent political stance, a discredited Labor Party, Shas, an opportunistic hawkish inclined religious party, and a purportedly extreme right wing Yisrael Beiteinu party.
But worst of all, who would be leading such a grotesque replay of the Oslo Accords? None other than an unholy trinity of the greatest failures in Israeli political life! Shimon Peres the architect of Oslo; Labor leader Ehud Barak, whose unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon paved the way for the disastrous Lebanese war and whose impulsive overnight concessions to Arafat led to the intifada; and finally, our failed former right-wing Prime Minister Olmert, zig zagging and lurching in different directions in a desperate effort to retain power and become the darling of Peace Now.
Are the people of Israel going to stand idly by and allow this failed trio to lead them into yet another, probably more devastating unilateral withdrawal? It is surely time for Kadima, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset members still retaining any semblance of decency and integrity to stand up and revolt. They are fully aware that the majority of their constituents are strongly opposed to any further destructive unilateral initiatives. Before the die is cast, they must declare to Olmert enough is enough, withdraw support from this government, and demand immediate elections.
The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is a veteran international Jewish leader. [email protected]
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