With all I have already written on the subject of the Six Day War and Israel’s rights (previous posting), I would like to return to the subject just briefly here:
The accusation is made by Palestinians and other Arabs (and those who sympathize with them) that the current situation is Israel’s fault because of "the occupation." Setting aside the point I made previously, viz. that we are not occupiers, there is still this: If our "occupation" of Judea and Samaria were the problem, things would have been quiet when we were only within the Green Line. On the face of it, this was not so — for there would not have been a Six Day War, had it been so. We have been contending with threats to our existence and terrorism since our founding as a modern state. For all the pretense, the issue is not that we are in control of Judea and Samaria. The issue is that we continue to exist. Do not be fooled.
As Resolution 242 makes imminently clear , Israel has a right to secure borders. Were we to (G-d forbid!) return to the pre-’67 lines, we would have boundaries that are not defensible. This has to do with two major factors. Geographic width, first. Within the Green Line, Israel was only nine miles wide at its narrowest. Do you realize how quickly forces coming from the east — from the Palestinian Authority, or Jordan, or even Iraq — could move across that width in order to reach population centers on the Mediterranean coast? We need strategic depth. And then, height. High places represent an obvious strategic asset, as well. There is critical height in the Golan, and in the Judean Hills to the east near Jordan. We must retain these places; were our enemies to acquire them, they would utilize them for shelling us and launching rockets and missiles.
Because of these factors alone — and Israel’s RIGHT to live in security — returning to the pre-’67 situation is not to be contemplated. And yet much of the world seems to have adopted this notion as a given. People get bent all out of shape expressing heart-felt concern about what’s "fair" to the Palestinians, but give not a moment’s thought to what is fair to Israel. That’s because the Palestinians have been so successful in framing themselves as helpless victims and us as the aggressor.
All of the discussion regarding Israel’s right to live in security doesn’t even touch on Israel’s other rights:
How about our right to access our holy places? Guaranteed, our access to the Kotel would be denied if it were under Arab control; this was made clear during the 19 years of Jordanian occupation.
Or our right to preserve our archeological ruins , which are systematically destroyed in Arab hands.
Or our right to retain areas that are part of our heritage going back 2,000 to 3,000 years: in Hebron, Shilo, Beit El, etc.
Israel has rights!
Ismail Haniyeh, member of Hamas and PA prime minister, wrote a piece on the Six Day War for The Guardian in London. This is what he said:
"…in the 1967 war, Israel conquered the land of Palestine but it did not conquer the people. And in its attempt to debase and dehumanize my people, Israel has debased and degraded itself before the family of nations.
"…If Israel is serious about peace, it has to recognize these basic rights of our people [the establishment of an independent state on all the Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967, the dismantling of all the settlements in the West Bank, the release of all 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the recognition of the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes].
"The 1967 war remains an unfinished chapter. Nothing will stop our struggle for freedom and to have all our children reunited in a fully sovereign state of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital."
Reminder: There has never been a sovereign state of Palestine, and most certainly not one with Jerusalem as its capital.
Another reminder: When Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria and Egypt controlled Gaza, no one spoke of a Palestinian state. In fact, the PLO, which was founded in 1964 — to "liberate" Israel within the Green Line, you should note, specifically put a clause into its constitution saying there were no demands on Jordan or Egypt. They only decided they wanted a state in these areas after Israel had them.
Haniyeh spoke in his Guardian article about establishing a state on all land occupied by Israel in 1967. But that is not what the Hamas website says. Yesterday this went up:
"…accepting [a] state on the borders of ’67 does not mean forfeiting any inch of our occupied territories."
Hamas will "liberate" the Land of Israel and isolate "the Zionist occupation in order to establish the independent state on the entire Palestinian soil…. [Hamas will] keep the flame burning…until the Palestinian flag flies again over the walls of Jerusalem and on the shores of Haifa and Jaffa."
Last Friday Egypt criticized the Quartet for statements it had made. In particular, a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said that the call for "the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit" was "unbalanced" and "unrealistic" and did not help Egypt’s mediation efforts, which involve seeking release of Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit.
This from the nation that has a peace treaty with us.
Noting the anniversary of the Six Day War , PA president Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday, "Regarding our internal situation, what concerns us all is the chaos, and more specifically, being on the verge of civil war…what is equal to or even worse than occupation is internal fighting."
That’s more honesty than one usually gets from the Palestinians. It’s a step towards acknowledging that they are responsible for their own misery.
Abbas was supposed to meet Olmert in Jericho tomorrow, but has requested that the meeting be cancelled. My guess is that this is because he knew that what he would seek — a truce in both Gaza and Judea and Samaria — would be refused.
And if Abbas was refused, it would not go down well with Hamas. They need time to regroup and strengthen.
This is what Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin had to say about the situation yesterday at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:
"Hamas in Gaza, is interested in a cease-fire because right now Hamas is losing. Half its military force has been hurt in the last two and half weeks. Hamas is demanding open passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip because it is interested in exporting the knowledge it has gained in Gaza to the West Bank.
"Hamas is turning from a terrorist organization into a semi-military force, modeled after Hezbollah, which is organized into units and battalions and intends to fight guerilla warfare in residential areas."
It was only a matter of time. A growing number of EU parliamentarians are pushing for withdrawal of sanctions on Hamas, saying this causes unrest and just makes the situation worse.
Transportation Minister and former defense minister Shaul Mofaz is in the States for strategic meetings with the US. High on the agenda is Iran. There will also be a request that limits be placed on US sales of state-of-the-art military
equipment to Saudi Arabia.
The schizoid situation with regard to Syria continues , with reports that we may be at war with Syria by the summer and reports that we may start talks with Syria vying for space in the news. Apparently a growing number of gov’t officials are in favor of discretely talking to Syria. Aside from the fact that — because I absolutely don’t trust Assad — it makes me uneasy altogether, I have the sense that at least some of these officials are opting for talks out of fear that Assad is likely to resort to violence if spurned. That is not a reason to enter negotiations. Head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, remains adamant that Assad’s intention is to take pressure off, not to genuinely seek peace, and that we should stay away.
We don’t need a "peace treaty" with Syria , certainly not now. There is de facto peace, in that there is quiet on that border. And even if we signed a treaty, you can be sure that Assad would foment trouble via Hezbollah if it were in his interest to do so. To expect otherwise is to expect him to change his stripes.
If there were a signed peace treaty , it would mean relinquishing all of the Golan Heights, and I’d be very hard put to imagine a scenario in which this would be a wise move.
See Uzi Arad on this: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3409431,00.html
The Security Cabinet discussed this situation at length today, and Olmert decided to appoint a forum to investigate the situation and Assad’s intentions.
Peretz has thrown his weight behind Ayalon , who is currently running a bit ahead in the polls, with the run-off election for head of the Labor Party next week. Barak is spitting mad and has come out fighting.