Open letter To PM Benyamin Netanyahu FM A. Lieberman
An open letter To: Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu; Foreign Minister A. Lieberman – Deputy Foreign Minister D. Ayalon
By Yoram Getzler
Co-Host of Israelseen
Several times in the past month both PM Netanyahu and FM Lieberman have been quoted as calling for new ideas in recognition of the need for improved relations between Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world and our continued positive relations with the United States
I would like to suggest a relatively new operational policy plan as a possible contribution to that call.
I believe that the Israeli public really wants to disengage from the endless morass of our control over more than a million angry, unhappy Palestinian Arabs. The main force preventing this from becoming a reality is the justified fear, after the withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza that giving up the more territory will contribute nothing. Will in fact bring more, not less violence into our cities and homes. And at this time is there anyone who can deny the practical basis of these concerns?
During the terms of past Prime Ministers, (Barak and Sharon [and almost] Olmert) Israel experienced three models for withdrawals from Arab populated land controlled by Israel.
First; was from Lebanon; as our presence was limited to a military one, the only withdrawal we could make was of the IDF in its entirety. The Result; a disaster we do not need to dwell on, but do need to reevaluate objectively.
Second was the withdrawal from Gaza; there both the civilian and military presence was completely ended. Here too the disastrous results are apparent to all, here the call for an honest objective reevaluation of this action is even more critical.
Third, also during the Sharon government, but with far less publicity or noise; was the withdrawal of all civilians from a small area of Samaria. In this case it was only the civilians who were withdrawn. The results there seemed to be and continue to be, essentially, nondescript, except that we may observe that this withdrawal did not endanger the state of Israel or its citizens in any way. There are no rockets falling on our coastal plain even though there are no Israeli civilians present and no Jewish communities in that area. What Israeli presence is there? The IDF!
We can conclude on the basis of this evidence that it is not the Israeli civilians who provide a security factor to the state but rather the IDF, as it should be.
It does not seem to make a difference to the Palestinians or the world community how much or how little of an Israeli presence we maintain or withdraw from any territory. Their criticism defies our actions. We should understand that what ever we do might as well be unilateral and determined solely by our own perceived interests. In any event we will be attacked, we will be vilified, and we will be blamed. Our painful concessions will be misconstrued no matter our reality.
My proposal is that we engage in a policy of removing the Israeli civilian presence in Judea and Samaria. The IDF should remain for the sake of reassuring our citizens of their security from rocket of other attacks thereby attaining popular support for this policy. It might even be seen by some Palestinians as a statement as to our rethinking and rejection of what they perceive as a land grab process. It could even be stated; that we will consider military withdrawal over time if/when our citizens see that it can be done safely. I think this would be a policy most Israelis would support!
This is also the safest way for Israel to advance a positive process with our neighbors. This is a necessity considering the potential developing policy demands of the new American government as well as the EU.
This could have the potential of raising the percentage of Palestinians already reconciled to and willing to live in true peace with us, to a sufficiently significant “tipping point” to make a positive political difference within their society.
NOTE: in the newly published book Army of Shadows by Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; the author purports that 20% of the Palestinians pre-1948 supported living together with Israel according to the UN plan and rejected the violence that was fostered upon them. Daniel Pipes writing in the Jerusalem Post (March ’09) postulates that a similar percentage of the Palestinians living in the PA today hold the same moderate accommodating positions, but their weakness in the population cancels their influence.
“Polling research finds that a substantial minority of Palestinians, about 20 percent, is ready to live side-by-side with a sovereign Jewish state”
If by our actions, described above, this percentage can be enhanced, there might be a realistic hope of reconciliation and a more hopeful future.
Needless to say, such a policy as detailed above could also mitigate the pressure anticipated on us by the new American administration.
Nothing could be more harmful than a course of action imposed on us by the US. The weakness it would demonstrate to our people and our neighbors would be devastating.
It would be far wiser for us to initiate actions that are also to our advantage than to count on a continuing status quo that is subject to American intervention.
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