Israel Resource Review 6th June, 2004


The Real Hot Issue of the Sharon Plan - Not the Settlements Near Gaza
David Bedein

The hot issue of dismantling Israeli settlements contiguous to Gaza provided a distraction for the even hotter issues that are inherent in the Sharon Plan that was voted on in the Israeli cabinet oN Sunday, June 6th, 2004.

What promises to be the most hotly debated issue when the Knesset parliament considers the Sharon Plan is the almost unnoticed Clause Five of the Sharon Plan, which mandates the provision of further military training for Palestinian armed forces, in conjunction with the US, the UK, Jordan and Egypt, while Clause One of the same Sharon Plan continues to declare that there is no Palestinian partner to peace".

In other words, the Sharon Plan, ratified by a sovereign Israeli government, offers to arm an entity recognized by Israel as hostile to the State of Israel.

Has this happened before?

Well, yes.

Back in 1993, with the genesis of the Olso Process, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres offered to provide military training for Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Army.

At the time, Rabin and Peres had come to the conclusion that the Palestinian armed forces would use their weapons in the context of a peace process.

Yet in September. 2000, Rabin and Peres were proven to be wrong, when the arms and military training that they had provided for the Palestinian armed forces then turned against the people of Israel, in a terror campaign has resulted in the premeditated cold murder of more than 1,000 men, women and children, and the maiming of more than 10,000 people

It is that same Palestinian armed force at war with Israel that the Sharon Plan proposes to arm once again.

In that context, Sharon's government has bestowed security responsibilities on Muhammad Dahlan as the warlord of Gaza, while Israeli intelligence warns that Dahlan is directly responsible for the current terror campaign against the Israeli population.

Indeed, it was Ehud Olmert, now Israel's deputy defence minister, who exposed Dahalan's security file, when Olmert authored an impassioned essay in the Wall Street Journal on June 2, 2002, when Olmert in which he called for Dahlan to be "eradicated" .

Two years later, senior officials who serve in Israeli intelligence say that there has been no change in Dahlan's "modus vivendi", and that Dahlan continues his direct involvement with the planning of lethal terror acts . Indeed, Dahlan is the head of the Palestinian organization known as the Popular Resistance Committees which took credit for the May 2nd 2004 killing of Tali Chantual, murdered in her 8th month of pregnancy, and the point blank shooting deaths of her four little girls.

Yet Olmert is now the prime proponent of the Sharon Plan, and he will not comment on why he suddenly places his trust in a terrorist whom he had called on Israel to get rid of - exactly two years ago.

Meanwhile, in what promises to develop into yet another hot security issue, the Sharon Plan calls for the Egyptians to move their armed forces into Gaza, while officials in Israeli intelligence gather daily documentation which shows that Egypt knowingly facilitates weapons tunnels to supply arms into Gaza from Egyptian territory.

In conclusion, the Sharon Plan, which many people have scrutinized in terms of how it would affect the lives of 7,500 Israeli farmers near Gaza, should be examined in terms of the security threat that is may pose to people who live anywhere in Israel.

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The Demands of Justice
Israel Can't Do Business With Terrorists: Violence Against Civilians Must be Forcibly Stopped, not Forgiven.
Ehud Olmert
Guest oped, Wall Street Journal

US State Department envoy William Burns's return to the Middle East promoting the American-backed regional peace summit tragically coincides with the resumption of the daily Palestinian suicide bombings. As Israeli civilians are being murdered in cities all across the Jewish State, the Palestinian leadership is once again damning these new peace initiatives to failure. Terrorism is still part of their tactical plan.

Despite all the tough talk, well-wishing and demand for reform, Arafat's entrenched Palestinian Authority regime is constitutionally unable and morally unwilling to abandon its violent struggle against Israel.

The majority of the Israeli public had naively accepted the basic premises of the Oslo Accords when they were signed in the fall of 1993 because we received a guarantee that the Palestinian police and security forces would put an end to terrorism and bring about a true peace. Yitzhak Rabin, then prime minister, assured us that Arafat would personally order the arrest of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders and eradicate their terrorist infrastructure. Instead of Israeli troops carrying out dangerous patrols in Ramallah, Jenin and Gaza, we were promised, the Palestinian forces would do it for us. In those innocent Oslo days, many truly believed that terrorism could be fought by proxy and we need merely give Arafat the weapons to do it.

Over the next few years, that optimism began to dissipate. If anyone in Israel still had faith in Arafat and his Palestinian security services by October 2000, the Arab violence that commenced that month put it to rest forever. The forces under Arafat's command became both the catalyst and vanguard of the terrorist attacks. Arafat's Fatah Tanzim and Force 17 units were transformed into full-fledged terrorist groups, with their members competing with Hamas to see how many Jews they could kill. As the violence accelerated, and as more and more Israeli families were being destroyed, the new line touted by both our allies and enemies was that Arafat could not actually assert any influence over the terrorist organizations. The 40,000 armed guerillas that were brought in from PLO bases in Tunis, Syria and south Lebanon were now operating without any restraints against Israel from the Palestinian territories.

The new American plan being presented calls for a reorganization of the Palestinian security forces with the intention of placing them under a unified command. The hope is that they will miraculously be transformed into a law-abiding legion that will root out terrorists. Once again we Israelis are being assured with a straight face that Arafat and his gunmen will fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad for us. Israeli troops are currently being restrained from entering Gaza, while Arafat's forces are supposedly being given yet another makeover.

Hundreds of members of the Palestinian police forces have engaged in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, including American citizens, during the last 21 months. Israeli security services and our military are actively hunting these criminals and our Justice Ministry is busy filing their indictments. Thousands of individuals with PA-authorized guns are active members of the Fatah Tanzim terrorist group. And barely a day goes by without another suicide bomber from the Tanzim destroying himself and innocent bystanders in a public center.

The terrorist leaders and their activists cannot suddenly be forgiven or pardoned just because a new political initiative is underway. Israel, like every other Western state, has an obligation to continue to arrest and prosecute those who sought to advance their unacceptable political goal by targeting civilians. Justice dictates that there be no clemency for these rogue police officials.

Many are placing their new hopes on Gaza preventive security service boss Mohammed Dahlan. Mr. Dahlan, a rising star on the Palestinian stage, is being presented as the man who can unify all of Arafat's security forces and bring order to the PA. Word has it that he just returned from a trip to Washington where he got high marks from the National Security Council. (Mr. Dahlan denies ever going.) Either way, Mr. Dahlan is the man who has presided over an ever-fortified terrorist network. Gaza, the home to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, became a base for some of the most heinous terrorist attacks unleashed against Israel.

On his watch, Mr. Dahlan permitted Gaza to become a safe haven for the hundreds of fugitive terrorists fleeing Israeli forces. Among those being sheltered is his childhood friend Mohammed Dief, a leading Hamas mastermind with the blood of scores of Israelis on his hands. In the meantime, Mr. Dahlan's district became the primary launching grounds for the hundreds of Kessem missiles fired at Israel.

Mr. Dahlan's involvement in terrorism has not been confined to mere nonfeasance but, rather, gross malfeasance as well. Mr. Dahlan, along with his assistant Rashid Abu-Shabak, are the primary suspects in the terror attack on an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom in November 2000. The bombing of the bus left half a dozen children maimed, and seriously injured an American citizen, Rachel Asaroff. In response to this brutal terror attack on Jewish school children, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak dispatched Israeli planes to strafe Mr. Dahlan's Gaza headquarters.

In Israel, we are frequently lectured that we must do business with the unsavory assortment of dictators, strongmen and criminals that surround us. This, we are told, is the nature of the neighborhood we live in. As mayor of Jerusalem, I have in my public duties the unfortunate experience of sitting down with many individuals I do not necessarily like. But the current thinking that Mr. Dahlan can bring reform and law enforcement to the Palestinians is totally misguided. No democratic state should ever allow itself to do business with those individuals who deliberately target a school bus.

While the State Department and envoy Burns are to be admired for their determination to forge a peace agreement on Israel's behalf, their zealousness is beginning to chafe. Seeking a "regional conference at all costs," and hanging hopes on a reorganized Palestinian security force under the sole leadership of one who has himself been involved in serious terrorist attacks sends an unacceptable message. Criminals such as Mr. Dahlan and Arafat can never be reformed; they must be eradicated by force.

This essay was published in the Wall Street Journal on June 3, 2002

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Background to UNRWA Conference in Geneva

Geneva Conference FAQ

What is the Geneva Conference?

It is a two-day meeting of 65-70 countries, inter-governmental organisations and international aid agencies to plan medium term development strategies for the 4.1 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA. From 7-8 June, the main discussions will cover:

  • the wellbeing of Palestine refugee children;

  • housing, infrastructure and the environment in Palestine refugee camps;

  • the socio-economic development of the refugees and

  • the management and mobilization of resources on behalf of the refugees.

Who is hosting the conference?

The conference is a joint initiative of UNRWA and the Swiss Government in the form of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Switzerland is the official host and its Foreign Minister is expected to open the meeting.

Why is it not being held at the Palais des Nations, the UN Headquarters in Europe, where must UN conferences take place?

This is not a normal UN conference. First of all, participation is by invitation of the organizers; so, not all UN member states are expected to come, only those already involved in the Agency's work or prepared to provide practical support in the near future. Normally UNRWA meets its major stakeholders twice a year in Jordan. This is an extraordinary event, which Switzerland is paying for. That is why the meeting will be in Geneva's International Conference Centre.

Why is the conference being held?

UNRWA is funded by voluntary contributions, which have not kept pace with growing needs. This has led to deteriorating infrastructure and slipping standards of shelter, healthcare and education for the refugees. UNRWA has developed a plan of activities (called the Medium Term Plan) to reverse the decline over the next five years. But the funding for that plan is not guaranteed. In preparing for Geneva, the host authorities, the international donor community and other UN agencies are working together to agree key objectives in line with the MTP, and recommend ways in which they can be achieved.

What does UNRWA wish to see come out of the conference?

Stronger support from major donors, to back the goals and financial requirements of the MTP - a plan which will add substantially to the amount of money that the Agency must raise each year. Secondly, a broadening of the existing donor support base, to engage those that share the Agency's goals but have only made a token contribution so far. This result will hopefully show itself in years to come following the implementation of concrete steps for improving the lives and human potential of the refugees.

Is it a pledging conference?

Not as such. Nevertheless, UNRWA would be pleased if donors were to announce fresh pledges at the Conference, based on their study of requirements spelt out in conference documents. More likely, we believe that by taking part in the process of developing plans for assisting the refugees, the donor community will be more inclined to provide the Agency with increased funding in order to implement those plans.

Who is invited?

Senior officials from aid agencies, Foreign Ministries and other multilateral development bodies from 67 countries have been invited. They represent countries that have given tangible support to the Agency, in large or small measure, over the past decade. About 15 UN partner organizations working in the region are also attending, as are representatives of the host authorities in the areas where UNRWA operates - Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory. Three umbrella NGO bodies based in Geneva will represent the wider NGO community. Altogether about 400 persons are expected to attend.

Is the conference part of the Peace Process? Is it linked to the Geneva Accords or the Road Map?

As a purely humanitarian organisation UNRWA has no direct part to play in the peace process and there are thus no political implications to the conference. Indirectly, the Middle East as a whole, and of course the refugees themselves, can only benefit from a refugee population whose needs are fully met. The location of the conference in Geneva is entirely unrelated to the so-called Geneva Accords.

Will the conference discuss the refugees' right of return?

No. The conference will not tackle political issues.

Is the conference intended to lead to the resettlement of the refugees and the dissolution of UNRWA?

No. In fact, quite the opposite. The conference is designed to guarantee the medium-term future of the Agency and to improve its services to the refugees.

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