|Israel Resource Review
||25th March, 2005
The Unilateral Withdrawal:
A Security Error of Historical Magnitude
Volume 7, No. 3, December 2004
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University
The Aims of the Disengagement Plan
On April 18, 2004, the Israeli government issued a general outline of
its proposed unilateral disengagement plan from Palestinian territories.
The government announcement correctly played down any advantages to be
expected from the plan.
It was claimed that "a better security situation, at least in
the long term" will be achieved - a meaningless, vague statement.
The announcement did not mention the promises made by the former head of
the prime minister's office regarding a freeze of the situation in Judea
and Samaria following the execution of the plan. On the contrary, the
announcement claimed that the plan was created because "the stalemate
dictated by the current situation is harmful. In order to break out of
this stalemate, Israel is required to initiate moves not dependent on
Furthermore, "the relocation from the Gaza Strip and from Northern Samaria . . . will reduce friction with the Palestinian population,
and carries with it the potential for improvement in the Palestinian
economy and living conditions."
It is true that dismantling settlements and removing army units will
reduce friction with the Palestinian population, an achievement that has great potential. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that friction with the
Palestinians would be mitigated in numerous areas between the
Mediterranean and the Jordan River if Jews were evacuated from those sites. However, virtually all the experts agree that an expectation of improvement in the quality of Palestinian life is totally unfounded, since disengagement will prove disastrous to the Palestinian economy.
Furthermore, the claim that "the process of disengagement will serve to
dispel claims regarding Israel's responsibility for the Palestinians in
the Gaza Strip" is unfounded from both the legal and diplomatic aspects.
Clearly, as long as Israel guards the external perimeter of the Gaza
Strip, and no one is permitted to enter or leave without inspection and
approval, it will continue to be regarded as responsible for the fate of the residents there.
In addition, the pressure to open entry and exit doors for the
Palestinians will be substantial, and it is reasonable to assume that
Israel will compromise security needs in order to ease the pressure. It
therefore seems that the Israeli government has not succeeded in producing a single serious argument that can refute objections and justify the grave step that it is taking.
At times when a diplomatic plan is proposed, it is difficult to
estimate where it will lead from the security aspect, and even after some time has elapsed, the actual result may remain in dispute. There are also people who defend certain moves although reality differs entirely from what they envisioned. The correct approach to be adopted when analyzing
diplomatic proposals, as in the case of the disengagement plan, is the analytical one that asks: What are the chances of improving the security situation after the disengagement, and what is the risk that this situation will deteriorate? This is not the place to present alternatives to the plan under discussion, but it is fitting to estimate the possible developments if the status quo were preserved, without execution of the plan.
Supporters of the unilateral withdrawal from the left of the political
map assess the positive features along the lines of, "the disengagement
plan offers an opportunity for the creation of a positive dynamic in
Israeli-Palestinian relations." In other words, the disengagement plan
may well be "the first stage of resolving the conflict with the
Palestinians; the partner will be created if the Palestinians seize the opportunity and demonstrate a serious attitude to the first stage of the roadmap that must lead to the reduction of violence."
Although the roadmap demands more vigorous and clear steps than simple
"reduction of violence," even those who are prepared to accept this
minor gesture are called on to explain how it will be possible to persuade
the Palestinians to reduce the violence after withdrawal from Gaza. Even
after Arafat's departure from the stage, is there any realistic chance that his successors will agree to fight against Hamas? Will they take any active steps to prevent its operations, and how will they dismantle the
terrorist infrastructure or prevent its reinforcement?
Arafat demonstrated that he did not wish to take the required steps in
order to weaken Palestinian terrorism capabilities, although the Israeli
leadership demanded and expected this from him in 1994, when he and his
cohorts arrived on the scene. Why should the Palestinian leadership act
differently when Israel is withdrawing under the pressure of the very
same terror, now that the Palestinians have made no pledge of any kind to
Israel, in contrast to their commitment after the Oslo Accords?
Obviously many of the Palestinian residents of Gaza desire quiet that
will permit them to live normal lives. Yet will a withdrawal from Gaza that is perceived as running away in fact strengthen their position in
For a while it appeared there was a chance the Egyptians would enter
the picture. However, this apparently was a false impression that resulted
from lack of familiarity with Egyptian policy. It seems rather that Egypt
would at most slightly increase its efforts, meager until now, to prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza, and that it would aid in training the
Palestinian security forces. Nor does the absence of the Egyptians from
the picture permit an analogy with Lebanon. Syria is currently preserving
the fragile equilibrium in southern Lebanon and preventing escalation on
the part of Hizbollah - which some of us predicted would follow the IDF
withdrawal - because it fears the price of a war in the north. Without
Egypt, the Gaza theater does not appear to include a force that on the
one hand would fear an Israeli threat, and on the other would be capable of forcing the Palestinians to halt the terror.
Consequently it is far from clear on what the supporters of the
disengagement plan base their optimistic assumptions regarding the future.
The Operational and Tactical Significance
Given this likely vacuum, an estimate must be made of what is liable to
happen in the Gaza Strip itself, and what is the significance of
transferring responsibility for the defense of the residents of Sderot,
Ashkelon, and the western Negev to the Palestinians. At present, and as
opposed to the stipulations of the Oslo Accords, no one on the
Palestinian side has made any commitment to combat terror.
Contrary to the argument sometimes aired in the Israeli press that
Hamas prefers that Israel remain in Gaza, the aim of the organization is in fact to liberate the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria from any Israeli
presence, and subsequently continue the long, hard struggle on the other side of the Green Line. Consequently it may be estimated that:
The departure of IDF forces from Gaza may be disastrous at the tactical
level. It may bring today's Qassam rockets to the heart of Ashkelon,
whose fate will become that of Sderot. If the range of the rockets increases, other towns will become additional targets.
It is impossible to predict the ramifications of evacuating northern
Samaria and whether a threat of rocket attacks against the center of the State of Israel will result. This will depend on the extent of the freedom of action given to the IDF in the region.
The disengagement will cause a significant reduction in Israel's
ability to respond locally - both in Gaza and northern Samaria - to developments such as rocket attacks.
This reduction will inevitably result from the expected deterioration of the level of intelligence and even more from the restricted freedom of action of the operational forces. The IDF will lose its capability of combating the chain of production and firing of the Qaasam
It will be more difficult to defend the line of the Gaza fence when on
the other side there is no Israeli force capable of creating a real buffer
If over the course of time Israeli control of the Philadelphi route
becomes more tenuous, or if a sea port is constructed in Gaza
or the Gaza airport becomes operational again, as promised in the Oslo
agreements, then rockets that can reach Kiryat Gat and the southern
outskirts of Ashdod can be smuggled in. Furthermore, surface-to-air
missiles will also likely be smuggled in, curtailing the Israeli Air Force's freedom of action above Gaza or even in Israeli skies near the fence.
Thus, Israel is about to establish a state in Gaza, a state in which
Hamas will have freedom of action and be joined by the umbilical cord to
Hizbollah. When Israel no longer has the capability of closely
supervising the sea and air borders of the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese model of the northern border recurs in the southwest, whereby rockets that boast a range of dozens of kilometers are perched on the dividing line and threaten Israeli towns. Israel will lose its capability of retaliating against terror originating in Gaza, just as it currently does not fight against terror coming from Lebanon: 80 percent of the terrorist attacks originating in Judea and Samaria are perpetrated by organizations receiving Hizbollah aid and financing, and Israel is doing nothing because of its fear of retaliatory rockets by Hizbollah.
It is impossible to know if the situation will deteriorate immediately
and we will see the results in Ashkelon in a few days, or if the threat
will be realized at a later date, after international pressure has been applied to Israel to present the next program for withdrawal. It is reasonable to assume that Palestinian offensive capability will be built up under the umbrella of its control in the field, and the threat will be displayed in accordance with Palestinian needs. Israel will lack the capability of preventing or influencing the realization of this threat.
The escalation of terror since 1994, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza
Strip, until the present gives a clear indication of what is likely to
happen in the future, when the Strip will be an area off limits to
critical Israel activity. Indeed, those who think that it will be possible to act on intelligence in the Gaza Strip with the same ease that the IDF enjoys today ignore the political constraints. After the withdrawal the IDF will be unable to operate in Gaza. Only if murderous terrorist activities originate from there over a long period of time will Israel slowly, and after paying a bloody price, acquire the legitimacy to act again in the Gaza Strip.
The terror that will be encountered by Israel in the future, if the
Palestinians decide to employ it, will be far more sophisticated and less
The War against Terror and Disengagement
The critical situation described above is all but certain, yet does not
represent the gravest damage to be sustained. Even more serious is the
likely possibility that the unilateral withdrawal will harm the
deterrent concept that Israel (and the democratic world) is laboring to build in the face of the waves of global terror. By its action Israel will declare publicly that terror is a winning formula, and will thus spur the
continuation of terror both at home and abroad.
The Palestinian war of terror erupted four years ago, at a time when
Israel and the US president were prepared to hand over to the Palestinians the entire Gaza Strip including the Philadelphi route, the Temple Mount and most of the Old City of Jerusalem, and more than 90 percent of Judea and Samaria.
Yossi Beilin's personal proposal was also on the agenda, in which
Israel would absorb a significant number of refugees as part of an overall
settlement. At no stage were the Palestinians prepared to avow that the
agreement would form the end of the conflict and that they would not
raise further demands.
Partly in an analogy with the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon several
months earlier, the Palestinians assumed they could overcome Israel by means of terror. Arafat was prepared to go to war even though in the
negotiations with Ehud Barak he had scored tremendous achievements. The Palestinian state was about to be established with the blessing of the US and with the agreement of Israel; its capital would be East Jerusalem with its center in Haram al-Sharif - the Temple Mount. However, Arafat refused to accept the proposal, apparently since he was not ready to be the leader who ended the conflict, and he therefore did not agree to make a commitment that the Palestinians would have no additional demands in the future. In his view, as with many of his supporters who had seen the "salami technique" in action,the agreement was to be merely another stage in the struggle to destroy the State of Israel. It is therefore also clear why he could not consent to the generous quota of refugees that Beilin suggested would be allowed to return to Israel. Arafat contended that no restrictions should be placed on the number of refugees eligible to return, just as in effect no restrictions should be placed on the efforts to destroy Israel at a later stage.
(Ironically, Abu Mazen declared recently that in the Camp David talks
of 2000 Arafat was prepared to make greater concessions than he himself
The tool employed to subdue Israel and force it to accept greater
Palestinian demands was terror, which after the years of drawn-out
fighting in Lebanon seemed an unbeatable tactic. Palestinians saw the IDF as having fled from the Lebanese battlefield in disgrace, and Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah urged the Palestinians to emulate his successes. Technical examination of the data reveals that the concept of Hizbollah success was unfounded. In the last seventeen months of its presence in Lebanon the IDF suffered twenty-one fatalities, all of them military personnel. From the perspective of a war against terrorist and guerilla organizations, the number is not "intolerable." For its own part, Hizbollah did not chalk up great achievements during that period. However, Israeli public opinion did not withstand the mounting domestic pressure to withdraw, and some regional leaders saw therein the beginning of a broader rift in Israeli society that would, under the same logic, play into the hands of the Palestinians.
Although the withdrawal from Lebanon seems to be an Israeli success
judged by the relative quiet in the north, the long term strategic message
that emerged from the withdrawal caused great damage to Israel, especially
in the Palestinian context.
When the intifada broke out while negotiations were continuing, the IDF
and Israeli leaders failed to understand that Israel was facing a long
confrontation. The prevailing theory was that Arafat resorted to
violence in order to enable himself to display flexibility a short period
According to this approach, the war was a symbolic move to allow Arafat
to point at independence achieved by force.
In contrast to the political misinterpretation, the preparations at the
tactical level proved adequate, and at the beginning of the intifada
the IDF succeeded in foiling the Palestinian hopes of achieving victory by the masses over the "army of occupation." Yet when the fighting, which had
seemed at first to be a more violent version of the previous intifada,
evolved into a long, hard war, the situation became far more complex.
Apparently Arafat was not seeking a better diplomatic agreement or a
pretext for concessions, but was rather attempting to defeat Israel. Every
civilian target was legitimate for terrorism purposes, and the terrorist
infrastructure blossomed in the regions in which the IDF had lost
control following the Oslo Accords.
As the terror evolved and escalated, the slogan "let the IDF win"
emerged, even though there were those who argued that since there was no real terrorist infrastructure it was impossible to fight it using regular
military forces. In fact, over the first eighteen months of the
intifada, until April 2002, the IDF's hands were tied. The army learned the hard way that it could not fight against terror without controlling the area.
Commanders began to realize that from the outside it was impossible to
prevent terror without sparking serious friction with a civilian
population that spawned, nurtured, and launched the terror.
Following the 2002 Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya,
Operation Defensive Shield was launched, driven by the principle that the IDF was returning to the heart of the populated areas in Judea and Samaria in order to regain military control of them. This complicated move did not bear immediate fruits. On the contrary, for a considerable time many people criticized the army for failing to produce results, since in practice the terror continued and the IDF seemed far from achieving a victory of any kind. Ultimately, however, the difficult lesson became clear, namely, that a war against terror is not for the impatient, and positive results emerge only after prolonged fighting - in the case of the intifada, over the course of about two years. This period saw construction of the separation fence,which proved of considerable benefit in the areas where it was erected.
At the same time, it is clear that this alone is not a comprehensive
solution, and even regions without a fence experienced a decrease in terror. IDF presence and the extensive use of targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders and activists led to a reduction in the number of attempted attacks.
There was also a significant drop in the number of suicide bombings
perpetrated inside the Green Line, with the General Security Services
(GSS) and IDF proving quite successful in thwarting such attacks. The
powerful combination of fewer attempts to execute terrorist attacks and the increased success in foiling such attempts created a new situation in which the scope of the terror declined significantly.
Israel was on the verge of an historic achievement. For the first time
after many years a democratic country succeeded in demonstrating clearly that it was possible to combat terror, without systematic decimation of the population of the kind perpetrated in Assad's 1982 massacre of the
Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and that it was possible to repel and defeat
determined and cruel Islamic organizations that target civilians. In a
world in which so many countries are engaged, albeit generally
unsuccessfully, in a war against terror, Israel represented a leading, professional, and moral example. The IDF proved that when it was given the essential conditions, mainly to gain control of the area and eliminate the terrorist leadership, with the aid of excellent GSS intelligence it knew how to damage the terrorist capabilities greatly. It was again possible to show that there was no basis to the myth that emerged after World War II that an army cannot defeat terrorist and guerilla movements.
Israel was very close to victory. A military force can never eliminate
the cause of a conflict between nations or societies, nor destroy the will
of the opposing side. However, it was demonstrated that military action
may drastically reduce the capability of a terrorist organization to
execute its plans. At the heart of terrorist infrastructures are the leaders, the commanders in the field, the operatives, and the laboratories, and they can be attacked. Israel successfully adopted the method of targeted assassinations to destroy the core infrastructure of the terror, i.e., terrorists having the greatest operational experience. Two years elapsed from the beginning of the Defensive Shield campaign until its results became apparent, because control is acquired over time when the area is occupied, and not by magic solutions. The army can only gain real control by a long, sometimes arduous process, while displaying determination and persistence.
The option of regaining control also applied to the Gaza Strip, but was
rejected on the assumption that such an operation would be very
difficult and would involve numerous casualties, both among IDF soldiers and among the local population. As long as firing continued at Sderot and its surroundings only, many people thought that the operations of Judea and Samaria should not be implemented in Gaza, even though on the eve of Defensive Shield there was considerable opposition to it in Judea and Samaria for the same reasons.
Yet what will be the response when the firing from Gaza reaches
additional cities in Israel? The difference is now apparent between areas in which the IDF regained control after fighting (Judea and Samaria), and those in which it remained outside and did not regain control (the Gaza Strip).
Sderot, located near an area beyond IDF control since the implementation of the Oslo agreements but in which there is a fence, has become a border town suffering Qassam rocket attacks and paying for the lack of control with its blood.
In contrast, in Judea and Samaria, with or without the fence, there is no
high trajectory fire, and the other forms of terror are also slowly being
eliminated by the IDF. Their potency is far less than in the past, and
will decrease further after completion of the fence.
The IDF has reached a success rate of 80 percent in thwarting terrorist
attacks originating in Judea and Samaria, and the terrorist leaders
replacing those who have been arrested or killed are inexperienced
youngsters who spend more time protecting their own lives than in
perpetrating terrorist attacks. Of its own volition, Israel is about to
surrender all these achievements and receive nothing in return.
The Significance for the Future
After the unilateral withdrawal, which will be heralded by the
Palestinians as flight (even if Israel proclaims that the decision was not caused by terror but by other reasons), it will be difficult to persuade anyone in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular that terrorism did not defeat the State of Israel. The victory of terror will become a myth that will influence the future, even if Palestinian diplomatic or tactical considerations dictate a lull in the terror after the IDF withdrawal.
There will perhaps be a large internal struggle among the Palestinians for
domination and booty, but it will be clear who fled and who left the
Today, even before the withdrawal is implemented, three quarters of the
Palestinians in the territories believe that the decision regarding
unilateral withdrawal reflects the victory of the terror imposed by the
Palestinians. Hizbollah's Nasrallah will justifiably declare that after
four years of warfare the Palestinians succeeded in realizing half of their dream, and there is no reason to think that in the coming years they
won't achieve the other half, on condition that they continue to wage a
protracted terrorist war against Israel. The Palestinian strategy will be clear: the creation of a threat against Israel's home front, while waging a terrorist and guerilla war under the protection of their umbrella that prevents Israel from retaliation.
Rather than standing at the threshold of a significant strategic
achievement, where it is clear to the Arab side that Israel makes no
diplomatic concessions to terror but continues to combat it
successfully to the bitter end, the unilateral withdrawal will place us on the verge of a protracted confrontation, under far worse conditions, facing an enemy gaining momentum and strength because of its success. This is the nature of the missed historic opportunity. It was interesting to listen to American officials who explained that the US was opposed in principle to the unilateral withdrawal because it contradicts its strategic concept not to surrender to terror. In the end Jerusalem succeeded in persuading Washington to support the move in return for adding northern Samaria to the withdrawal and restricting construction in the settlements.
After giving up its achievements in the battle against terror and
displaying its fear of international pressure, Israel has lost its status. The US was the first to realize this and it has increased the package of
concessions to the Palestinians that Israel will have to pay as part of the plan. Even the Republican administration has made it clear that Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria is only the first stage in the process. The explanations of the former head of the prime minister's office that attempt to justify the withdrawal from a Rightist stance, as if by virtue of the withdrawal future pressure on Israel will be averted, are totally unfounded.
The day after completion of the unilateral withdrawal the international
pressure for continuation of withdrawal will begin, but this time the
pressure will be even greater, because there will be a precedent of the
evacuation of settlements and areas without receiving anything in
return from the Palestinians. That which Israel volunteered to do in Gaza will form the basis for a demand to do the same in Judea and Samaria. US
Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Europeans have said this explicitly.
On the other side we find the Left, which in the face of the unilateral
concession justifiably fears the possible results. Those who for years
conducted negotiations and still believe that there is a partner for
talks with Israel are opposed to the government's decision. It is clear to
them that the chances that someone on the Palestinian side will agree to
negotiate with Israel are now rapidly declining. If the Palestinians
receive their demands by the force of terror without giving anything in return, not even a declaration, why should they agree to negotiations in which they will be expected to make concessions? Even if today there is no serious partner on the Palestinian side, the unilateral move is likely to delay the creation of one for many years.
However, the Israeli Left can claim one more victory for itself in its
efforts to return Israel to the 1967 borders and dismantle the
settlements in Judea and Samaria. For the first time in the history of Zionism the Israeli government has shattered a taboo and is uprooting settlements without external pressure and without receiving anything in return. The dam has been burst by the Right, and the Left will certainly widen the hole.
Without doubt this precedent will serve Israel's enemies and
"friends" in the future, whenever they will wish to extract
concessions of this kind without demanding flexibility on the
part of the other side. If the prime minister thought that his
concessions would prevent pressure in the future, he is
mistaken. On the contrary, an Israeli withdrawal without
receiving anything in exchange will form the desired modus
operandi for the Palestinians and their supporters in the
Western world, and from now on their task will be far easier.
The proposed unilateral withdrawal contains a strategic, diplomatic,
and military risk that has been described concisely by senior defense
officials as "backing for terror." This expression has not merely a literal meaning, i.e., rockets being fired against Ashkelon, but also a broader, deeper one, of historic surrender to the wave of Islamic terror and words of encouragement to the terrorists in the vein of "continue on your successful path." Spain fled from Iraq because of terror in Madrid, and the Israelis will be regarded as fleeing from Gaza for the same reason.
That which we found easy to analyze and condemn regarding Spain, we
prefer not to understand in the Palestinian context. Flight from terror, even if it is called "unilateral withdrawal," remains flight, and its results will be disastrous. Israel must remain where it is and make difficult, courageous decisions regarding regaining control of additional areas in the Gaza Strip in order to remove the capability of firing at Sderot. This is part of the IDF mandate.
If and when there will be someone to talk to on the other side, removal
of settlements and the IDF presence can form bargaining chips in
The Israeli government, however, has played its cards without receiving
anything in return, and therefore can only expect to experience more
This was explained better than anyone else by Prime Minister Sharon
years ago when as an ordinary Knesset member he appeared at the Likud Central Committee and said, "Labor wants to hand over the Gaza Strip, and even among us there are people who voice similar opinions . . . The Jews have apparently forgotten why we liberated it twice, in 1956 and 1967, from the Egyptian occupier (which followed a previous attempt to do so at the end of the War of Independence that nearly succeeded). Why did we pay the price three times? Because the Gaza Strip threatened us when it was not in our hands. What is proposed is to abandon the security of Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Sderot, Netivot, and dozens of kibbutzim and cooperative communities."
At the time Sharon made an excellent analysis of the tactical danger
resulting from the disengagement. The current strategic danger is even
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Abbas Expected to Push for
Direct US Aid Following Congressional Setback
Correspondent, The Jerusalem Post
[The US essentially stopped all direct US AID grants to the Palestinian Authority since July 1st, 1997. In forthcoming issues of ISRAEL RESOURCE REVIEW, we will publish investigations of the way in which US AID ignores
possible terrorist affiliations of its grantees in the PA - DB]
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, on his upcoming visit to Washington, is likely to raise with congressional leaders the recent US foreign aid package that forbade direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
The legislation, which was part of an $81.4 billion measure the House passed to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, approved $200 million in aid to the Palestinians, but stipulated that it not be given directly, rather channeled to direct projects outside the PA's control. The spending bill easily passed the House last week and now must go to the Senate where it is also expected to easily pass.
Abbas is expected to visit Washington soon after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets US President George W. Bush at Bush's farm in Crawford, Texas, on April 11.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was one of the prime movers behind stipulating that the money to the PA should not be in the form of direct aid, as a way of ensuring that US money is not used to indirectly fund terror or those involved in terrorist activities.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice indicated at congressional hearings last month that she would like to see aid funneled directly to the PA, which is seen as a way to prop up Abbas. But as a result of this legislation, the US funds will continue to be channeled through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Israeli sources in Washington said that Israel supports and encourages assistance to the PA contingent upon transparency and accountability, and doesn't take a stand on the particulars of specific legislation.
Israel's position as traditionally articulated in the capital is that it supports assistance to the PA within the context of encouraging Palestinian reform and the fight against terror. At the same time, Jerusalem is always very careful about not getting in the middle of disagreements between Congress and the Administration on issues related to Israel, lest it alienate either side.
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Israel Can't Use US Law
Enforcement Equipment to Violate Human Rights
This week, at
Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, in southern Israel, the Israel
Defence Forces will conduct an exercise to conduct a "dry run"
to practice bringing dead and wounded Jewish Israeli residents
to the hospital, following the summer plans of the Israeli
government to forcibly remove all 8,000 Jewish men, women and
children from their 21 farming communities in the Jewish
communities of the Katif district in Gaza and another 2000 Jews
from 4 communities in Northern Samaria.
A senior official in Israeli intelligence estimates that at least 100 Jewish residents will be killed in the expulsion process, since these residents have no intention of leaving their homes and farms voluntarily, and since the IDF has every intention of using live ammunition to facilitate the expulsion of Jews from Katif and the Northern Samaria, while razing their houses, farms and synagogues.
In late February, at the closing press conference of the annual Israel convention of the Conference of Major Jewish Organizations from North America, a journalist asked Conference Chairman James Tisch how Jewish Americans will react if the Israel Defence Forces use American-supplied law enforcement equipment to kill Jewish Israelis. The journalist also asked Tisch if it was legal to use US made law enforcement equipment in that process.
Tisch, who had just read out a statement of support from more than 50 Jewish American organizations in support of the current policies of the Israeli government, was stunned by the question and said he would look into the matter.
I do not know if Mr. Tisch looked into the matter. I did.
While walking the halls of the US Congress last week, I asked for and received a copy of the US Foreign Assistance Act.
A congressional human rights policy specialist pointed to the relevant section of the law, which restricts nations receiving foreign aid from the US from using that aid to subjugate human rights and civil liberties.
That official pointed to Sect. 502B, which is the "Human Rights" amendment, which was added to the US Foreign Assistance Act in 1979, to ensure that any and all US foreign aid would not abrogate the fundamentals of human rights and civil liberties.
She explained that this would mean that any equipment supplied by the US to an aid recipient would come under the scrutiny of this "human rights" amendment to US Foreign Assistance law.
Clause (a)(1) of the Human Rights amendment to the US Foreign Assistance Act clearly states that " a principal goal of the foreign policy of the United States shall be to promote the increased observance of internationally recognized human rights by all countries ?no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights?Assistance may not be provided? to a country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights"
The law goes on to state that "The President is directed to formulate and conduct international security assistance programs of the United States in a manner which will promote and advance human rights and avoid identification of the United States, through such programs, with governments which deny to their people internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, in violation of international law or in contravention of the policy of the United States".
This law also mandates that "United States has taken to promote respect for and observance of human rights in that country and discourage any practices which are inimical to internationally recognized human rights, and publicly or privately call attention to, and disassociate United States and any security assistance provided for such country from, such practices". This US law defines ''gross violations of internationally recognized human rights'' includes ?flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons."
Prof. Eliav Schochetman, Hebrew Professor of Law Emeritus and Dean of the Shaari Mishpat Law College, testified last month at the Israeli Knesset Parlimentary Law Committee that the decision of the state of Israel to demolish the homes and villages of 10,000 citizens, represents the kind of human rights infraction that is described in the human rights amendment to US Foreign Assistance Act.
It would violate the constraints of Israel's own "Basic Human Rights Law" which oversees Israeli democratic institutions in matters of human rights and civil liberties, in the same way that the US Bill of Rights ensures that the US government can never trample on the human rights and civil liberties of American citizens.
In his testimony, Schochetman noted that this Israeli government decision represents a violation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which all democratic governments are adherents. Schochetmen added that Israel's decision to expel Jews from their homes, would represent a wanton violation of basic human rights and civil liberties that are protected under Israeli and international human rights law.
Prof. Schochetman cited clause 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which mandates that it is illegal for sovereign governments to expel their citizens and ethnic minorities from their homes, from their private properties or from their farms.
Since the only group that Israel has slated for expulsion would be Jews, it may be recalled that the government of Serbia was recently held liable for international prosecution at the International High Court of Justice in the Hague, under the charge of "ethnic cleansing", after leaders of Serbia expelled an ethnic minority, solely because of their religion.
Schochetman also mentioned the clauses in the San Remo Treaty that was ratified by the League of Nations and then by the United Nations which provide international protection for Jews to purchase and dwell in the "Jewish Homeland", defined as any land which lies anywhere east of the Jordan River.
After Schochetman's testimony at the Knesset, Knesset Law Committee chairman Michael Eitan could not find any other law professor who would contradict Schochetman's assessment of the Israeli government's proposal to destroy and exile 25 Jewish communities would indeed represents a mass human rights violation.
Since the Israeli government intends to use US supplied law enforcement equipment in its proposed expulsion, the question remains: Will the US Congress and will the American people allow for the use of US supplied law enforcement equipment in such a process?
This has now become an American issue. After all, there is a difference between destroying the home of a terrorist and the intention to demolish 25 communities of law abiding citizens.
Now it is the turn of the American citizen to communicate with their elected representatives in the US Congress.
A Congressional human rights specialist was asked if the human
rights amendment to the US Foreign Assistance Act would apply to
Israel's demolition of the homes of terrorists. Her answer: US
human rights officials have determined that this would not apply
to such acts, since terrorists would be viewed as combatants.
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The Myth of
the "Settlement Bloc Assurance"
An Israel Resource News Agency Policy Statement
This week, the
Israeli public has come to learn that President George W. Bush
never promised Ariel Sharon that the US government would support
the retention of settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.
Sharon was counting on one thing: That the Israeli public would not read the letter that Bush sent to Sharon on April 14th. 2004, where Bush made no such commitment.
That letter, released in the wee hours in the morning in Israel, eight hours AFTER Sharon's meeting with Bush, gave Sharon time to "spin" Bush's anticipated letter, so as to misinform the Israeli people that he had made a horse-trade with Bush: Demolition of 5 Jewish communities in Northern Samaria and 21 Jewish communities in the Katif District in Gaza and the dismantling of vital Israeli intelligence positions in those areas in exchange for strengthening of other areas settled but not yet annexed by Israel.
When our news agency reviewed the actual text of the Bush Letter to Sharon, we were stunned to see that the text of the letter from Bush did not match the headlines in all of the Israeli media the next morning.
Indeed, Sharon's designated spokesman, Zalman Shuval, appeared on morning talk shows on the morning following the Bush-Sharon meeting to herald the deal that Sharon had made in achieving Bush's agreement to recognize settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.
When our news agency asked Shuval if he had read the letter, he responded in the negative.
Yet Shuval never changed his line.
Neither has the Prime Minister's media office.
For almost a year, this has been the line, that Bush promised recognition of settlement blocs, culminating in Sharon's February 16th address to his annual meeting with the foreign press in Israel in which Sharon once again stated that Bush had promised Sharon that the US would indeed recognize settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.
Following that address, our news agency dispatched a letter to the US embassy and asked if it was indeed the case that President Bush had assured PM Sharon the US would recognize settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria.
The spokesman of the US embassy responded: "no". Simple.
No spin machine from the office of the Prime Minister of Israel was be able to cope with this one word, two-letter response from the US embassy.
Recent assurances from the US ambassador to Israel that the US does not demand that Israel will be forced to return to the 1967 lines cannot be interpreted as a US recognition of settlement blocs in Judea, Samaria or even Jerusalem.
Not returning to the 1967 lines could mean that the US will not demand that Israel dismantle the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, constructed in 1978, which traverses Latrun, which was held by Jordan from 1949 until 1967.
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Talking Points on PM Sharon's
Sharon's 10 premises for his
withdrawal plan should be questioned
Israel Resource News Agency Backgrounder
1. "The successful withdrawal from Southern Lebanon is a precedent for everything that will take place in Gaza and Northern Samaria after the withdrawal from these areas".
Deputy prime minister, Minister Ehud Olmert, said in an address he made to the Conference of Presidents to Major Jewish Organizations from North America, on February 18th, 2005, that "No missiles have been fired from on the Northern border against Israel since Israel's retreat from Lebanon in May 2000." Olmert also repeated this statement at a press conference one week later and refused to even glance at the official I.D.F. report which was shown to him which documented over 100 missile attacks took place on the Northern border since Israel's withdrawal attacks that resulted in the deaths of at least 28 Israeli citizens.
2. "There is less incitement from the Palestine Authority since Abu Mazen's entry into his position as president".
The reality is that the governmental committee that was supposed to report on Palestinian incitement against Israel is not operating at all. General (Res.) Yaakov Amidror, who was assigned to coordinate the incitement committee, says that he is not receiving much information from intelligence sources in the Defense Ministry, and therefore he cannot operate. There is not incitement because no one is reporting the incitement. This is a repeat scenario from the past when Gen. Yoash Tzidon was appointed to coordinate the follow up committee on incitement, in October 1998. In an interview with Tzidon, he told me at the time that he received a position without an office, without any budget and without a mandate from the then Foreign Minister, Ariel Sharon. Ultimately, Tzidon resigned from his position for lack of any mandate to function.
3. "Abu Mazen is a peace seeking leader".
Despite the PLO chairman's statements in the PA media, in which he states strongly that he does not intend to dismantle the terror organizations from their arms, not one Israeli governmental office or military source has come forth to present this "incriminating" evidence against Abu Mazen to the Israeli public or to the International Community.
Abu Mazen's statements to the PA media since entering his position as PA chairman: These statements do not represent any willingness for peace or co-existence with the people of Israel and Abu Mazen feels confident to go on making such pronouncements, so long as he has the collaboration of the Israeli government who willingly turns a blind eye to such blatant anti-peace behavior.
4. "Aid given to the PA education is a positive development".
The Israeli government is assisting in this aid despite reports from the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, www.edume.org, which show that the PA's educational system is based on continuing the war against the "Zionist State". In March, Belgium's foreign minister visited Israel. Belgium funds the PA inciting school books. Israel's foreign minister spokesman and the spokesman for the prime minister's office refused to answer the question whether the government of Israel will request Belgium to reconsider transferring funds to the PA educational system due to the incitement nature of the school books or at least to stipulate the transfer of funds with removing the blatant anti Israeli texts. Official Belgian representatives told me that the State of Israel has never made such a request and couldn't really figure out why I would raise such a question when the government of Israel clearly has no interest in it.
5. "The United States promised to recognize settlement blocs".
Israel's prime minister claims repeatedly that this promise has been made to him as part of the agreements reached in his meeting with Bush on April 13th, 2004. The only problem is that the American Embassy informed me that the American Foreign Ministry completely denies any such promise of recognition of settlements.
6. According to the office of Israel's prime minister, "As part of the United States' gestures of good will to Israel for the Gaza and Northern Samaria withdrawal, the US will aid in the buying of the property belonging to the residents of the settlements".
The Ma'ariv newspaper even published a detailed article, telling of a budget of $56 million dollars to be given by US Aid. After checking with the directors of the US Aid, I was informed that the Fund was never even approached and would never consider funding such an endeavor.
7. According to reports in the Israeli papers this past month, "Israel is expecting the United stated to automatically provide additional funding for the high cost of dismantling and pulling out of the settlements".
There is no indication of such on Capitol Hill. What the government of Israel apparently does not know is that there are some strict laws in connection to the Foreign Assistance Act of the U.S., which forbid the use of US equipment for anything that could be construed as suppressing human rights and civil liberties, which would include the bulldozing entire communities and the killing of civilians. Since almost all law enforcement equipment in the hands of the IDF and the Israeli police are supplied by the US, the US Congress will have a say in the matter.
8. "Jerusalem is not up for negotiations".
Sharon fervently denied former prime minister Ehud Barak's claim that Jerusalem is on the political table and that Israel's hold on East Jerusalem is negotiable. However, one must pay close attention to US Secretary of State, Condeleeza Rice, who clearly states that the US opposes any settlement activity beyond the '67 borders. When I asked the US Embassy spokesman whether reconstruction of the famous "Hurva" synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of Old City of Jerusalem and destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948, was considered to be "illegal settlement activity", the answer was, "yes".
9. "Improvement of Security".
One of the most frequent claims given by Sharon for Israel's retreat from Gaza and Northern Samaria is that the pull out will improve the feeling of security amongst Israel's residents. Anyone visiting the Elei Sinai community in the most northern most part of Katif in Gaza will quickly see that the distance between the front porches of that community and the major power station in Ashkelon is within shooting range. Is it not quite evident that after Israel's pullout from such an important strategic region that Ashkelon's power station will not be threatened by PA security forces and all the terror organizations who populate the Gaza Strip?
10. "The Western Negev will be strengthened".
Sharon repeatedly claims that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip will lead to the blossoming of the Negev. Most recently, guides from the Jewish Agency reported that they had received guidelines not to encourage organized groups to sleep over in the facilities of the Western Negev region, because of security concerns from Gaza. A sign of things to come?
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