Friday, February 08, 2008

Moshe Ya’alon’s Herzliya Conference Address

Prevailing wisdom has it that the "solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute" is the "two state" one – meaning two countries within the borders of the Land of Israel (between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River) living side by side in peace: the State of Israel and alongside it an Arab-Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, more or less in the pre-1967 borders. This notion is the dominant one in international politics as well as in political circles and public discourse in Israel. It is the notion that formed the basis of the political process that began with the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 – a process that failed.

The failure of the Oslo Accords and an examination of the history of the relationship between Zionism and the State of Israel on the one hand and between the National Arab Movement (the PLO) and the Palestinian Authority on the other, demands a reassessment of this paradigm and the formulation of a new one.

Why did the Oslo paradigm fail?
A large number of books and articles have been written on the failure of the Oslo Accords. Most of them deal with the chain of political and security events from the signing of the Accords to the present day, and most of them fall into the trap of the "chicken and egg" syndrome, by denoting some event or other as a reason for the failure. Viewed this way, it is easy to fall into the trap of mutual accusations in which the Israeli "self-flagellation syndrome" is predominant.

The State of Israel is responsible for mistakes in implementing the Accords as well as for the actions of its citizens, the most notorious of these being the massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rabin's assassination. Be that as it may – these acts and others as well as failures in statecraft that hampered the political process – are not the fundamental reason for its failure.
The correct approach to an examination of the failure must be the more fundamental one of examining the political objectives and the basic conduct of both sides.

Such an approach elicits the following five diagnoses:
1 In the Oslo Accords, the Israeli government recognized the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and the PLO as the representatives of the Palestinian National Movement, and enabled the setting up of the Palestinian Authority on the way to establishing a Palestinian state. For their part, the Palestinians did not recognize Zionism as the Jewish National Movement nor did they recognize the right of the Jews to a Jewish national home – an independent Jewish state. The de facto recognition of Israel (which many of them believe should be resisted) is not symmetrically equivalent to Israel's recognition of them. Israel's insistence upon Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as a Jewish state was rejected by the Palestinians. Rabin was forced to drop this demand in the Oslo Accords and content himself with Arafat's commitment to change the Palestinian Covenant so that recognition would be implied. Despite this commitment, the Palestinian Covenant was not changed.
2 This lack of recognition reflects a Palestinian resolve to ignore the State of Israel as an independent Jewish state, or in other words, the Palestinian objective is not a country outside the '67 borders (Gaza, Judea and Samaria), but a Palestinian state on the ruins of the State of Israel ("from the river to the sea"). In support of this argument, suffice it to note that the Palestinian irridenta did not begin in the aftermath of the Six Day War but with the dawn of Zionism.
If this assessment is accepted, it is then easy to understand why Arafat declared war in September 2000, when the Palestinians were closest to achieving a state in the '67 borders. As I understand it, Arafat did so in order to avoid the "two state solution" and de facto recognition of the State of Israel as an independent Jewish state.
Moreover, the war of terror instigated by Arafat in September 2000 follows a similar pattern to the response of the Palestinian leadership to previous proposals to partition the country: 1937 – The Peel Commission and "the great Arab revolt" ("the events"); 1947 – The UN's partition proposal and the subsequent War of Independence.
3 The leadership of the PLO, in recent years- the most supported national movement in the world, politically and economically- demonstrated that it has no interest in establishing a Palestinian state within the '67 borders.
Some would argue that the PLO leadership wanted but was unable to achieve the establishment of a state in the context of '67 borders. I maintain that the problem was not one of ability but of will. Arafat deliberately created a gangster-style entity with no accountability, so as to be able to preserve the irridenta in all situations by employing or giving free rein to "lieutenants", like the Tanzim (later to become the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades), Hamas, PIJ, and others. Abu Mazen is charting a similar course when he uses his weakness to deny accountability. This is a weakness of choice. He may not be strong, but he chooses weakness as a tactic.
4 The "disengagement" from Gaza in 2005 was an opportunity for the Palestinians to prove to themselves, to Israel and to the rest of the world that the ending of the Israeli "occupation" in Gaza had at last enabled them to effect a change across the board: security (the cessation of terror), internal law and order, economic growth, and political stability.
The forcible takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas, their internal governance, and the continuation of daily rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns are evidence that the problem was not the "occupation" as defined in the west (the territories conquered by the State of Israel in the Six Day War of 1967), but that the ""occupation", as viewed by many Palestinians, and relating to the entire Land of Israel ("from the river to the sea").
5 When Jihadic Islam hijacked the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, discussion of territorial concessions became irrelevant, because:
a. According to the Islamists, they have no authority to negotiate on the Land of Israel (because it is holy – "Waqf").
b. We have seen that attempts by the State of Israel to counter or pull the rug out from under their claims of "occupation" with a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon (2000) and from the Gaza Strip (2005) only served to entrench Jihadic Islam (Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Iranian regime) and to encourage them to pursue their ultimate objectives.

Historical Summary to this Point:
1 From the dawn of Zionism, no Palestinian leadership has been prepared to recognize the right of the Jewish people to an independent Jewish state.
2 From the dawn of Zionism no Palestinian leadership has been prepared to settle for a Palestinian state in the '67 borders in an agreement signaling "the end of the conflict".
Under these circumstances, there is no likelihood of stabilizing the situation with regard to peace and security on the basis of the "two state solution".

An Examination of Future Prospects in Light of Past Experience
In view of Palestinian conduct over the years, particularly since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the question arises whether it is possible to trust any Palestinian leadership to establish an accountable political entity in the foreseeable future that will engender stability and not a continuation of hostilities and the undermining of other regimes.
1 The Palestinian leadership has brought destruction to every country that has provided them with a base (Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel).
2 The Palestinian leadership has not shown itself capable of honoring agreements and commitments (in Jordan, in Lebanon and with Israel).
3 The Palestinian leadership has not shown that it has any interest in economic growth.
a. The aid heaped on the Palestinian Authority (far greater per capita than the Marshall Plan) was not used to develop an economic infrastructure.
b. The Palestinians sabotaged the industrial areas and crossings that were an economic "lifeline".
c. The Authority's policy (corruption and lack of security) – has driven away investors.

1. I see no possibility of establishing a viable entity in Judea and Samaria and/or in the Gaza Strip with an independent economy. The gap between the State of Israel as a "first-world country" and the Palestinian entity of the "third-world" is an additional recipe for instability.
2. I see no possibility of establishing a viable entity in Judea and Samaria and/or in the Gaza Strip that will stabilize the security situation. The probability that a hostile entity will be created (as is happening in Gaza) is extremely high.
3. Under these circumstances, I see no possibility of political and economic stability between a secure Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and an independent Palestinian entity.
The Oslo process aggravated and perpetuated the asymmetry in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in favor of the Palestinians.
1. The Palestinian demand for the right to the entire land of Israel against the Israeli demand for security in only a part of that area
2. The consensus that the Arabs have the right to live in any part of the Land of Israel and that Jews have no similar right.
3. The view that the Palestinian national problem is solely a result of the creation of the State of Israel, and resolving it can only be at the expense of that State without any contribution or quid pro quo from any other country in the region.
4. The reality that the commitments of the government of Israel and the positions it takes in negotiations with the Palestinians are "carved in stone" whereas Palestinian commitments are "carved in ice".

A proposal for an alternative strategy
To clear a path for new thinking, we must first disabuse ourselves of the failed paradigm and its flawed premises. One of the most important of them, which I have not yet referred to, is the obsession with the need to find a "solution" (and "now"!). (This paper will not be about "nowism" but about a "solution".)
In my opinion, we should not be seeking a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in terms of a "solution" in the foreseeable future, but in terms of "conflict management". It is therefore best to propose a strategy for managing the conflict and to prepare the ground for stabilizing the situation in the near future. By abandoning the search for a "solution" and disabusing ourselves of the failed paradigm we can clear the way for and stimulate new thinking and different directions.
The Oslo paradigm presumed, among other things, that a political solution and economic development would lead to peace, and peace would bring security. One might describe this as a top-down approach to the problem. It is still the dominant paradigm today, as evidenced by the Annapolis and Paris conferences. Beyond the mootness of discussing the final arrangement with a party that does not recognize the right to exist of an independent Jewish state, the mootness arises of negotiating with a party that has not proved any willingness and/or ability to govern and impose its authority in a responsible way.
Any new strategy must therefore be implemented from the bottom-up so that the Palestinians establish that they have the will and the capacity to govern in a responsible fashion according to the principle of "one authority, one law, one gun". In the strategy I propose, I make the assumption that it is not in Israel's interest to govern the Palestinians and manage their lives, and therefore it is right to buttress the political separation between us and them – a separation that has existed since the implementation of the Oslo Accords.
As things stand at present, there is Palestinian autonomy in Judea and Samaria, dependent on and interacting closely with the Israeli economy and infrastructure. Israel has de facto responsibility for its security (since operation "Defensive Shield") and it is important that it should continue to have that responsibility in the foreseeable future.
There is almost complete Palestinian autonomy in the Gaza Strip, heavily dependent on Israeli infrastructure (water and electricity), and dependent on Israel for the movement of merchandise in and out. The State of Israel must work towards a total, albeit gradual (to prevent a humanitarian crisis), disengagement from Gaza. As long as the situation there continues unchanged and the threat remains – the Gaza strip will be considered a "hostile entity".

The reforms necessary
The Palestinian Authority needs to carry out five reforms to develop and demonstrate its capacity to govern and to promote any chance there could be of an arrangement and a stable and secure political, social, and economic ethos.
a Educational
b Law and order
c Security
d Economic
e Political
In view of the situation in the Gaza Strip at the present time, this process can only be implemented in Judea and Samaria.
1. Educational
This reform is predicated on acknowledging that there is no possibility of arriving at any kind of stable arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as long as the Palestinian education system teaches non-recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, denies any linkage between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and refers to Zionism as a colonizing movement, to every town in Israel as an illegal colonized settlement, and to every Israeli as an illegitimate colonialist.
There is also no possibility of reaching a stable agreement so long as the Palestinian education system teaches Jihad (holy war) against Israel and martyrdom (committing suicide while killing Israelis) as a means of waging this war.
Reform must include a change in the curriculum and an end to incitement in public-political discourse disseminated by the media and the mosques.
2. Law and order
The objective here must be "one authority, one law, one gun".
This means a police presence and an effective law enforcement system that does not tolerate warlords, armed gangs and organizations of any kind.
This reform demands a rehabilitation of the Palestinian law enforcement system and all its components: police, prosecution office, and legal system.
Law and order must be imposed in Palestinian towns and villages (Areas A and B) and there must be less dependence on Israel (like coordinating the movements of armed police or the IDF's security activities in Areas A to prevent armed clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian policemen).
3. Security
As part of this reform, it is imperative that the Authority honor its previous commitments:
a Unification of the security apparatus
b Resolute and all-embracing action to thwart terrorism :
1) Intelligence
2) Operational – Preventative
3) The courts
The proliferation of security apparatuses (13 in all) during the period of implementation of the Oslo Accords (1994-2000) allowed the leadership of the Palestinian Authority to manipulate and sanction active terror organizations and even to create a Fatah terror organization (Tanzim) – "The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade".
The failure of law enforcement and the courts to deal with terrorism since implementation of the Oslo Accords began and until now has reinforced the message that terror is legitimate. A policy that avoided charging murderers of Israelis with murder, but for the most part with "disturbing the public order" or "damaging the Palestinian interest", together with the "revolving door policy", was a clear message that it was legitimate to use terror against Israel.
It is therefore essential to set up a security system to deal with terror from the intelligence stage through prosecution and punishment.
4. Economic
The objective of economic reform must be to kick start the Palestinian economy and to keep it strong by empowering small and medium businessmen in order to boost the status of the Palestinian middle class.
The billions of dollars of economic support given to the Palestinian Authority proved to be a lesson in futility. I believe that the main reasons were:
a Systems that led to the misappropriation of funds either to enrich the leadership and those close to them (including a huge apparatus to dispense sinecures) or to finance terror;
b A leadership that prefers terror to economic development;
c Terror organizations that prefer poverty and distress that drives the masses to enlist in a war against Israel to economic well being. (This explains why these organizations have sabotaged sources of income like industrial areas and the crossings into Israel).
This is why economic reform has to be directed at eradicating corruption and sponsoring the economic initiatives of businessmen who will form the backbone of the Palestinian middle class which is the basis of civil society.
Foreign economic aid must be invested in:
a Infrastructure that promotes economic development;
b Loans and grants for the development of commercial initiatives of businessmen from the middle class.
The process must be supervised by external experts and inculcate a commercial culture of transparency, honesty and competitiveness.
5. Political
This reform must lead to the regime moving from dictatorship to democracy.
It must be instructed and augmented by the educational reform which will lead to the inculcation of democratic values and must include the media to reinforce these values.
The reform must be about supporting and empowering Palestinians prepared to promote the sanctity of human life and not the sanctity of death; freedom and not oppression; human rights and not repression; democracy and not dictatorship.
Reform must include the establishment of institutions to provide a firm basis for a democratic regime, support for the setting up of NGOs that strengthen the elements of civil society, and the instilling and exercise of democratic values, like freedom of expression, a free press, and human rights.
We have learned that, in general, Western leaders prefer strong dictators to a political and educational process that leads to the adoption and implementation of democratic procedures. The American blunder of giving Hamas the opportunity to participate in elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council without first laying down its arms and without accepting basic preconditions as a condition of participation stands alongside the still-repeated one of viewing true democratic activists as "opponents of the regime", causing Western countries to be reluctant to support them. By now it should be clear to all that elections are the last phase of democratic development – not the first.

Israel's role in implementing the reforms
The State of Israel can do much to help the Palestinians to carry out these reforms. There are many in Israel with vast experience of inculcating the values of democracy, a free-market economy, law and order, security, etc. The complex and sensitive system of relationships between the parties may well lead the Palestinians to prefer the assistance of others and not of Israel. The State of Israel must make this possible.
A task that in any event will fall upon the Israeli side is that of facilitating free movement so as to enable the reforms to be carried out. Since the security situation will dictate the constraints in this area, Israel must enable special arrangements to be made for the transfer of people and goods (subject to rigorous scrutiny) and ease freedom of movement for each improvement by the Palestinians in the area of security.

A humanitarian solution to the Palestinian refugees
The problem of Palestinian refugees has been accorded attention and status unprecedented anywhere in the world. Many, mainly Arabs, have an interest in preserving it and nurturing it as a weapon against Israel's legitimacy and against its very existence as a Jewish state, by insisting on the "right of return".
The Israeli interest, as well as the private interest of almost all Palestinians, is to provide a humanitarian answer for each individual refugee as soon as possible. The Israeli interest is not to forget the hundreds thousands of Jewish refugees of Arab countries.
Without going into detail, it is essential to deal with this problem as part of any new strategy.

The success of this process depends, first and foremost on a Palestinian leadership that demonstrates the interest, will and determination to set up an accountable political entity.
In order to encourage the leadership of the Palestinian Authority to carry out such reforms, the international community must use "carrots and sticks" and Israel must help in this process as much as it can.
The reforms must be put into effect simultaneously!
Economic reform and its success are dependent on law and order. Without law and order, it is impossible to lead a normal economic and commercial life.
The existence of armed militias will lead to businessmen being extorted, and in effect to the financing of terror.
None of these reforms are possible if the Palestinian youth continues to receive an education that incites it to terror and suicide and not to compromise and acceptance of Israel.
Therefore, Western attempts to create a solution based only on political horizons and economic development are highly unlikely to succeed. By ignoring the fundamental Palestinian view that the State of Israel has no right to exist as an independent Jewish State they are, in effect, reverting to the recipe of the failed Oslo process. Western thinking that "economic growth will lead to peace and that peace will bring security" has proved to be wrong and dangerous.
Such a process has no chance so long as the Palestinians see any possibility of defeating Israel. To put it another way, the chances that such a process could occur depends on what Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky understood and Dr. Moshe Beilinson expressed so well in an article published in "Davar" on June 23, 1936 at the beginning of the "events" in response to a question that has been raised again and again until today: "How long?" (Meaning "how long will we have to fight?" or "Shall the sword devour for ever?" [2 Samuel 2:26]). In answer to this question Moshe Beilinson wrote, "Until the most zealous and courageous in the enemy's camp - in all the enemies' camps, wherever they are - knows that nothing can break the strength of Israel in its land; that with it they must live, that its existence is a fact, and that there is no other path but acceptance. This is what we are fighting for."
This challenge becomes all the greater in the wake of the Annapolis and Paris conferences, because they reflect the West's mistake in diagnosing the problem and implementing a strategy that endangers the State of Israel, and which will certainly not lead to stability and peace. The American historian, Dr. Daniel Pipes expressed it well in an article he recently published, in which he argues succinctly that Palestinian violence and extremism is not a product of despair (of their condition) as standard thinking in the west has it, but actually of hope – the hope that the State of Israel will disappear.
As long as the Palestinians believe that Israel can be defeated the chances of carrying out these reforms are remote, but it is it is nevertheless vital to demand that they implement them and to help make it possible for them to do so without endangering Israel's interests. Even entertaining a final arrangement that entails additional Israeli concessions feeds the hope that Israel can be defeated and can not serve the idea of peace, but only the extreme Islamic Jihadists and the war.
If the hope that Israel can be defeated and will disappear can be extinguished, new ideas will emerge that will include regional cooperation to resolve the matter, principally with Jordan and Egypt.
Israel must therefore make all discussion of the final arrangement with the Palestinians conditional on:
a Palestinian recognition of the right of the Jewish people to self determination (i.e. the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state).
b The Palestinian leadership demonstrating its will and ability to govern and to carry out the above reforms.
The State of Israel must initiate the necessary reforms discussed above. The government of Israel must prepare the ground for such change, must coordinate it with its friends in the region and enlist their support for it. The government of Israel should begin to do this as soon as possible, since the present strategy has no chance of success
Long-term Israeli strategy is also important domestically. Attempts to create instant solutions by design, to create hope (in the words of Prime Minister Olmert at the 2008 Herzliya Conference), is causing us to direct internal energies towards failed attempts, instead of investing internal energies in more productive directions.

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