Israel Resource Review 8th March, 2002


Manic Depression in Israel? The Eroded Spirit of Israeli Society
Guy Bechor
Senior Analyst, Yediot Aharonot

There is a sense among the public of depression, powerlessness, and even despair over the situation. Indeed, we are undergoing a monstrous wave of terror, unprecedented in its atrocity, but still this sense is unjustified.

The public, it appears, suffers from a sort of manic depression when it comes to events. In the Oslo years we held hedonistic festivities to mark the end of the era of war, and it was precisely then that there was cause for deep concern, because of the deception regarding our true relations with the Palestinians and Arabs. We so much wanted peace and stability in the region that we ignored all the signs that heralded trouble. Today the situation is the opposite: deep depression, personal and collective, when there are in fact signs that herald good.

Israel is one of the 25 richest nations on earth, with a GNP of USD 114 billion a year, the same as all the neighboring Arab states combined (the PA's annual GNP is USD 2.5 billion, of Jordan USD 9 billion, of Lebanon 18 billion and of Egypt 83 billion). Per capita, we have already passed Greece, Portugal, Spain, and we are not far from Italy, France and Britain. The Israeli economy is strong despite everything. True, there is unemployment and the economic situation is difficult but even in these days, there is no capital fleeing Israel, according to Governor of the Bank of Israel David Klein. The future is Israel's: except for the United States, Israel tops the world's nations when it comes to hi-tech innovation and Internet startups, a branch that is likely to again prosper soon.

If we fear an all-out war, there is no Arab regime in the entire Middle East that wants to go to war against Israel, not even Iraq. No Arab country can afford to fund such a war, because they are all sunk in great economic distress. Many in the region realize that the Palestinian disturbances are not just an Israeli problem, but rather of all them: there is no tourism, no work, no foreign investment. In contrast to the impression in the world media, the Islamic movements are in decline in the Arab world, because their message is viewed more and more as illusions for the masses.

The Palestinian Intifada has brought to Israel social solidarity that we have not had for years. Not that our differences have been solved, but there is deep sense of a shared fate that prevents further polarization. Not that we should not protest against a weak government that cannot find its way, but today it is clear to everyone which lines should not be crossed in social relations. Thus, if there those among the Arabs who hoped to disintegrate Israeli society, the results were the reverse.

The separation fence, which will ultimately be built, will safeguard Israel in the future from a demographic aspect and will maintain its identity as a strong Jewish state. It will prevent, unlike what occurred in the Oslo years, our being deluged by Palestinians, infiltrators from the Third Word into the First World, coming to work, to live and to become citizens.

And finally, experience teaches us that no Arab ruler has ever reached a serious agreement with Israel unless he had no other choice. So it was with Sadat when Egypt could not provide bread to the masses, with Arafat after the Gulf War, with Hussein after Oslo and with Bashir Jumayel in the Lebanese civil war. This is likely to happen now, too. The Oslo process did not get the sides to truly know each other. Perhaps this blood bath will in fact get the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis, to realize that they have no other choice but to recognize the other side's rights, on the way to rapprochement and quiet.

This article ran in the March 7th issue of Yediot Aharonot

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The Fatah Website: "A Strategy of Peace"

With thanks to IMRA for posting this.

[IMRA: Once again Yasser Arafat's Fatah makes clear - (even in English!) that they do not consider themselves obligated to honor the signed commitment that was a necessary condition for Oslo - that the Palestinians would not use violence. Abandon that commitment and Oslo is (as it has become) a farce. And, contrary to the narrative below, Palestinian violence began (continued) from day one of Oslo.

Note also the interesting wording: "The areas to be reoccupied are those where the confrontation should occur although it might be bloody for the Israeli side." = kill Israelis in the territories but there also "might be" killing Israelis inside the Green Line.]

The Declaration of Principles (D.O.P.), i.e. the Oslo Accord, signed in 1993, introduced a strategy of peace between the P.L.O. and the government of Israel. The agreement did not elicit the required consensus, but later it won the absolute majority. This gave it the momentum it needed to develop into the interim stage during which the PNA, its legislative council, and the President were elected and the negotiations were launched.

In the same year, however, the Israeli electorate rejected the Oslo peace approach when they refused the candidate of the Labor Party, Shimon Peres. Instead, Netenyahu was brought into office as the representative of a party, the Likud, that voted against the Oslo Accord.

The Palestinian strategy of peace was met with one of war from the Israeli side. In fact, one can think of the September 1996 uprising as a Palestinian reaction to Israeli attempts to abandon their commitments under the Oslo Accord. It was then President Clinton who forced Netenyahu's government to sign the Hebron Protocol. Although the Protocol had more votes in the Knesset than the Oslo Accord did, the Likud representatives remained faithful to their nature.

They showed their disregard for peace when their party launched a campaign to build a settlement on Abu Ghneim Mountain. The step was in line with the Likud's ideology that rejects the dismantling of settlements. It also denies all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people including the establishment of a Palestinian state, the return of Jerusalem, or the right of return for the Palestinian refugees - all the basic requirements of peace.

Despite Clinton's efforts that led to the signing of the Wye River Memo, the peace process deteriorated as a result of Netenyahu's government insistence on lowering the expectations of the Palestinian people through the use of force.

Netenyahu left the political scene to be replaced by a Laborite of Likud tendencies- Barak. He adopted his predecessor's policies in trying to lower our expectations. His proposals at Camp David II showed his true intentions after he refused for months to fulfill Israel's obligations under the agreements signed. These proposals were reflected in Clinton's that were originally phrased by the Zionist Denis Ross. They violated different aspects of UN resolutions. In fact, Barak later acknowledged that his proposal concerning Jerusalem was not real, and it was put forward just to know the PNA's position on the issue.

The war on the Palestinian people escalated in the aftermath of Sharon's obnoxious visit to al Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinians reacted in order to stress their desire for a true peace based on international legality. The Intifada has aimed to emphasize the Arab and Islamic character of al Aqsa and Jerusalem in addition to the other basic national principles.

Many observers think that Sharon does not have a political project to offer at the negotiating table. This is not fully true; Sharon has a complete political project that he wants to impose on the Palestinian people. He does not believe in negotiations since he assumes that there isn't an equal partner. But he will not succeed where his predecessor failed.

At Camp David II, President Arafat refused Clinton's proposals that apparently suggested an Israeli withdrawal from 95% of the area of the West Bank. As a matter of fact, Israel was supposed to move its troops out from only 69% of the West Bank area. 26% of the area was left out to be controlled by Israel, and this includes places like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, the demilitarized zone, and al Latroun. The 69% from which Israel was supposed to withdraw is made up of three cantons in addition to a fourth in Gaza.

It is clear that what was offered at Camp David II did not represent a golden opportunity. In comparison, Sharon's political project suggests a withdrawal from 42% of the West Bank area leaving final status issues to be negotiated in a prolonged interim period.

The Israeli military escalation against the peaceful functions of the Intifada elicited a Palestinian military response against the Israeli occupying army and the illegal settlers. This enabled Barak and, later, Sharon to picture the Intifada as part of a military confrontation between two parties. It should be noted here that the right to resist occupation is legitimate in areas internationally endorsed as occupied areas.

Israel has been using its military power in an unequal confrontation to impose Sharon's political project on the Palestinians. For this purpose, Israel turned the Palestinian territories into a battlefield. It controlled the roads and practiced all evil acts including the assassination of Intifada activists, the occupation of PNA-controlled areas, and besieging cities and villages.

All these practices failed to undermine the Palestinian steadfastness despite the support Sharon has received from the US Administration. He was allowed to 'tame' the Palestinians during the first hundred days of his government. In addition, the US envoys approved his demand of having seven days of quiet as a prelude for implementing the Mitchell report.

Sharon continued to invent methods for eliciting Palestinian reactions although President Arafat declared a cease-fire and more than seven days passed without any major incidents. He thought that the September 11th events could open the way for him to become a partner in the 'war against terror'.

The explosions in Haifa and Jerusalem could never have been better timed to serve Sharon's interests. The US peace envoy, Zeny, was in the area; Sharon was visiting Washington to meet George Bush; and the US was about to achieve an easy victory in Afghanistan without the need for an Arab support. Killing civilians, i.e. Israel settlers, as a result of a legitimate act of resistance was easily depicted as an act of terrorism whereas the state organized terror of Israel became legal. The Palestinian position became more awkward, especially after the US demanded the PNA to outlaw the military wings of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP.

The situation deteriorated rapidly after the US adopted the Israeli position concerning 'terrorism'. On his first visit to the area, general Zeny told President Arafat that his mission goes beyond implementing the cease-fire and it ultimately aims to establish a Palestinian state in line with the US' s vision. Zeny's second visit coincided with the Jerusalem-Haifa explosions that the US strongly condemned. The allegation that a Palestinian weapon shipment was on its way from Iran to the PNA complicated the situation although the PNA denied any connection to the ship.

The issue of the weapon shipment was seen as a violation of the peace agreements from the US and Israeli identical perspectives. However, if the fulfilling of obligations towards the peace agreements is the criterion upon which the US passes its judgement, what about the Israeli insistence on adopting a strategy of war and aggression against the Palestinian people? President Arafat declared on more than one occasion our adherence to the peace agreements signed with Israel. But this should not be read as a sign of weakness or surrender.

The Intifada is an integral part of the Palestinian peace strategy since it represents the only way of defending the rights that Sharon's government persists in denying. It will remain so as long as Israel uses its arsenal to impose its version of peace that has no relevance to the UN resolutions. As a matter of fact, the Israeli flagrant violation of the peace agreements makes it unethical for any party to accuse the PNA of harboring terrorism on the false pretext of ordering a weapon shipment.

If Sharon's government aims to destroy the possibility of future coexistence, it becomes a Palestinian responsibility to ensure that our peace strategy forbids the harming of Israeli civilians. This is in line with our Islamic heritage, and there is no justification for following the example of Sharon's heinous aggression. We have the right to obtain weapons that we can use against Israeli tanks and fighter planes but not against Israeli civilians.

Sharon and the US managed to invest the question of the weapon shipment and placed much of the responsibility on President Arafat personally. Sharon found a golden opportunity to settle old scores with Arafat after twenty years of the battle of Beirut when he was dismissed from the Israeli ministry of war.

In his last visit, general Zeny found that the Israeli National Security Council offered the political leadership two options that specify the military strategy to be followed:

  1. To deal with Arafat as a leader who cannot conclude an agreement, but not to harm him personally. The Council called for adopting a scenario of continued pressure on Arafat to force him out of the Territories as a first step of replacing him with a more realistic leader.
  2. To place pressure on Arafat in coordination with the US Administration, assuming that Arafat would not make a strategic decision to fight terrorism, but he would adopt tactical measures that would lead to relative quiet. Israel in this case will be able to impose an interim solution to be completed later with a new leadership. (Aluf Ben, Haaretz, 5th January, 2002)

It seems that Sharon has adopted the second option excluding the first option since he knows from his experience that Arafat's expulsion will only flare up the Intifada. The option he adopted is in line with the US current policy that wants neither to harm Arafat nor to destroy the PNA. However, the public support that Arafat has received made Sharon modify his plan that is based on the following:

  1. To keep Arafat within the range of the Israeli fire;
  2. To carry out demands that Arafat would not do to maintain the national unity that Sharon aims to harm;
  3. To reoccupy parts of the PNA-controlled areas, a step that no longer attracts the attention of the US Administration nor that of the leaders of the Arab neighboring countries;
  4. To control most of the PNA-controlled areas leaving an area of 5-10% from area (A) to prepare the grounds for implementing Sharon's plot.

This plot is based on the following points:

  1. To sign a new agreement that nullifies all previous ones, but it will have the same terms of reference;
  2. To declare the state of Palestine with its temporary borders in areas A&B (42% of the West Bank area plus the Gaza Strip);
  3. To put a time line for an interim period during which the final status issues would be negotiated;
  4. The US Administration will pledge that the final borders of the state of Palestine are those of 4/6/1967 and what can be agreed on through negotiations including Jerusalem;
  5. To cease all forms of violence and incitement.

Israel and the US assume that what the Palestinian people might reject now will become later acceptable in better conditions to be prepared by some of those who wish to succeed Arafat. Should we therefore allow the plot to proceed until the last castle is broken through? The answer is no. We should not allow the Israeli elephant, Sharon, to destroy our china shop nor that of the Israeli people. After all, the two peoples know the advantages of living in peace and harmony.

It is the responsibility of all the forces in the Palestinian society to turn the current state of emergency into one of confrontation. This requires an emergency central committee comprised of all forces not forgetting the desirable effect that the presence of foreign delegations would have on the international community. The areas to be reoccupied are those where the confrontation should occur although it might be bloody for the Israeli side. The Israeli society has to raise its voice against Sharon whose criminal acts bring hate and disasters.

To defend our national project, we have to maintain our right to resistance, strengthen our national unity, end political detention and release all prisoners who might be arrested by Israel.

Disillusioned are those who think that a positive response to the demands of Sharon and Zeny will end Sharon's greed. 'Hell' is the name of the Israeli army's current operation, and it is an indicative name since it echoes our understanding of hell on the judgement day when hell keeps on asking for more; it never gets satisfied- like Sharon.

Revolution until Victory.

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State Department Won't Name Palestinian Killers Of Americans
Patrick Goodenough Pacific Rim Bureau Chief

( - American Jewish activists accuse the U.S. State Department of having a double standard when it comes to publicly naming the Palestinians terrorists who have killed American citizens in Israel. The State Department has decided not to post the Palestinians' names on the Internet.

The activists, who long campaigned for the suspected killers' names to be posted on the State Department's "Rewards for Justice" website, called the decision "outrageous." They accuse the department of employing double standards so as not to embarrass Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat.

In shootings, suicide bombings and other attacks, at least 25 a.m.ericans have died at the hands of Palestinian terrorists in the Middle East since Israel and the PA signed the Oslo interim peace accords at the White House in September 1993.

Suspects who have been widely identified include confidants of members of the PA security forces, including Arafat's personal security contingent, according to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

The alleged killers have been conspicuously absent from the "Rewards for Justice" website, which offers rewards for information leading to the capture of those suspected of killing Americans.

Last December, after years of lobbying by the ZOA and victims' families, the State Department announced it would list on the website the names of Palestinian killers of Americans.

But the decision has now evidently been reversed. Instead of publishing names, details and pictures of the suspects, the department is advocating publishing information about the victims of the attacks.

The decision emerged in a State Department report sent late last month to the House committee on international relations, excerpts of which have been seen by .

The report said the department and other government agencies had been concerned over the past year that publicizing the terrorists' names would "be detrimental to ongoing efforts to capture these fugitives and could increase the danger to American citizens and facilities overseas, particularly for the thousands of Americans who live and travel in the Holy Land."

Nonetheless, because the level of PA cooperation in bringing the fugitives to justice had declined, it had now been decided "to publish the names of the victims of terrorism rather than the perpetrators."

"It was decided that publication focusing on the victims of terrorism, rather than the perpetrators, would be most prudent," the report said, adding that the department was now working on getting approval from the victims' families, pursuant to the Privacy Act.

The ZOA reacted strongly to the about-face. ZOA national president Morton Klein called the decision "the latest example of the State Department's appeasement policy of bending backwards to avoid embarrassing Yasser Arafat."

"Imagine if the FBI's Most Wanted List included only the names of the victims, yet failed to include the names or photographs of the suspects," Klein said. "It would make their capture nearly impossible."

In response to the ZOA statement, State Department spokesman Gregg Sullivan told The Jerusalem Post the decision was taken because officials had been concerned about "glorifying these people."

But the "Rewards for Justice" website currently offers carries detailed information about al Qaeda and other terrorists wanted for other crimes -- including names, biographical details, photographs, affiliations and information about their alleged misdeeds.

Responding to Sullivan's comment, Klein said: "It certainly seems peculiar that in every other instance, the State Department is willing to risk 'glorifying' terrorists by publicizing their names and photos, but for some reason when it comes to Palestinian Arab terrorists, the State Department's policy suddenly changes.

"Does the State Department really expect the American public to believe that publishing photos of Fatah and Hamas terrorists who kill Americans would 'glorify' them, while somehow the State Department's own publication of the photos of terrorists from al-Qaeda, Hizballah, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Libya does not glorify those terrorists?" he asked.

Links to Arafat

The ZOA charged that identifying the terrorists would discomfit Arafat because at least nine of those involved in attacks on Americans since 1993 are closely affiliated to his PA.

They include the second-in-command to the head of the PA's preventive security force in Gaza, three members of Arafat's presidential guard, Force 17, and five members of other PA security units.

Between them the nine have been accused of carrying out or masterminding shooting or bombing attacks which killed six Americans and wounded four others (apart from Israeli victims) between 1994 and 2000.

In previously signed agreements brokered by Washington, the PA committed itself to handing over wanted terror suspects. The Israeli government has officially requested the extradition of six suspects, but the PA has refused.

Apart from the 25 U.S. citizens murdered by Palestinians in Israel and the PA self-rule areas since 1993, at least 63 have been wounded in attacks.

Since the Palestinians launched their uprising in September 2000, at least 13 a.m.ericans have been killed and 38 wounded in attacks.

In one of the most recent ones, 15-year-old Karen Shatsky was killed in a February 16 suicide bombing of a pizzeria in a town north of Jerusalem. Another American wounded in the bombing, 16-year-old Rachel Thaler, died 11 days later. The two teens were originally from Brooklyn and Baltimore respectively. At least two other Americans were also hurt in that attack.

One day earlier, soldier Lee Nahman Akunis, 20 - a U.S. national - was shot dead by terrorists near Ramallah on February 15.

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