The Palestinian claims continue:
They’re preparing their state for unilateral independence. Abbas has already spoken to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. PA leaders have already approached the EU and they plan to take the issue to the Security Council. Etc. etc.
But now we’re starting to see our government’s response to these threats. At yesterday morning’s Cabinet meeting there was a stiffening of positions.
Silvan Shalom (Likud), Deputy Prime Minister, who’s been singing a less conciliatory song of late, said:
“I think the Palestinians need to know that unilateral moves will not yield the results they hope for. Every action will receive an appropriate Israeli response.”
While Minister of Infrastructure Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beitenu) declared:
“The unilateral Palestinian move is a hostile initiative. I think it is brazen. The initiative is meant to torpedo any chance for negotiations. It must be made clear that any unilateral declaration on their part that is meant to deteriorate the chances for negotiations needs to be accompanied from our side with annexation of territories in Judea and Samaria.”
Broadly, what he was referring to were the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria — not all of Judea and Samaria, which would include areas that are heavily Arab-populated. Within Jewish-populated Judea and Samaria are some major community blocs, a few cities, a scattering of smaller villages, and that small part of Hevron that we control, with Kiryat Arba immediately adjacent.
Caroline Glick, in her column last Friday, made a similar suggestion. She said that — in response to the various pressures and attempts to diminish us that we currently endure — it’s time to incorporate into Israel all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, plus the Jordan Valley, which is crucial for our security.
Technically, the process would not be one of annexation, for these areas are part of unclaimed Mandate land. All we need to do is claim them, by extending Israel’s civil law to these regions — just as we extended civil law to eastern Jerusalem and the Golan. (Communities in Judea and Samaria today are administered under Israeli military law.)
While ALL of the land is ours from the river to the sea, extending Israeli civil law to areas such as Ramallah would be a “tad” difficult now. This could have, and should have, been done in 1967.
But how marvelous it would be if we made it clear to the world that Gush Etzion, and Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, and Shilo, and Beit El, and Jewish Hevron (see below) and Kiryat Arba, etc. etc. are all fully under Israeli sovereignty. That there could be no expectation, ever, of our returning to pre-67 lines. And how wonderful for the residents of these areas, finally and at long last, to be governed under the same laws that govern residents of Tel Aviv.
What Landau was suggesting was something that would be done only in response to a unilateral Palestinian action.
But to have this mentioned in a Cabinet meeting… a move in the right (double entendre intended) direction.
That Prime Minister Netanyahu was thinking roughly along the same lines was made clear later in the day yesterday.
For the past two days a major Forum has been held here in Jerusalem, run by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (which is part of the Brookings Institute in Washington DC and is directed by Martin Indyk).
Last night Netanyahu addressed the Forum. His talk included this:
“There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and any unilateral attempts outside that framework will unravel the existing agreements between us and could entail unilateral steps by Israel.”
Today, Landau, in cooperation with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, has carried this one step further, proposing legislation with regard to extending our sovereignty. The full content of that proposed legislation has not been spelled out (if indeed it is even worked out), but what seems clear is that it is conceptualized as a response to a Palestinian unilateral move.
But now Landau was a bit more specific, and a great deal more expansive, in terms of what areas he is talking about: “Israeli sovereignty over all of area C.” (Citation from to the Post.)
This refers to the division of Judea and Samaria agreed upon with the Oslo Accords: Area A = full PA control, Area B = PA civic control and Israeli military control, and Area C = full Israeli control. This encompasses an area far greater than that of all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria combined — which comprise less than 5% of the whole.
Designed as it would be to counter Palestinian unilateral action, it would render a Palestinian state an impossibility.
I hasten to caution, however, that unless we’re pushed a whole lot harder, something like this is not likely to go very far in the Knesset. In fact, it’s most likely to go nowhere. More’s the pity.
But I like it that this is entering the political discourse.
I would like here, in this context, to recommend an article by Timna Katz, “Love of the Land: The Testing Ground of Shdema”:
“The lesson of Oslo is tragic but profound. Oslo turned the ‘peace process’ into the country’s supreme value and goal. To keep this process going, the Israeli leadership was prepared to sacrifice almost every Jewish and Zionist truth. It exchanged the old values and ideals for a realpolitik that served the enemy’s narrative and goals. Even when the results of Oslo proved to be the polar opposites of its intended goals — war instead of peace, increased Arab rejectionism instead of increased Arab acceptance, international isolation instead of international normalization – Israel continued down the same disastrous path. The one and only justification against total capitulation to Arab demands that Israel mustered was the ‘security’ card: Israel can’t immediately relinquish all of Yesha because she has no choice but to defend herself against ‘terrorism’.
“While the damage of the above approach has been great, its bankruptcy has become so evident that even current leaders who continue to dance to the Oslo tune have started to pay lip service to the old values and truths: that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People and Jews cannot be ‘occupiers’ in the Biblical heartland and cradle of their civilization.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has predicted that the chances that a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state would receive Security Council sanction are very low. In addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today, he said:
“…the Americans also understand that unilateralism buries any chance for peace. They will be very uncomfortable with such a move.” And indeed, US senators visiting here today expressed displeasure with PA intimations of unilateralism and the expectation that the US would veto this.
Leiberman then reiterated the government position:
“Any unilateral move will be met with a unilateral move on our part. We have a lot to do in response.”
And he made a very significant point:
“Unilaterally declaring a state is a violation of the agreements [the PLO] signed with Israel, and Israel will also be freed of its obligations.”
What irks me the most is the way in which the PA continues its eternal role as victim — in this instance painting itself as the negotiating partner ever-eager for peace that has had to confront an intransigent Israel.
Consider this statement today by Ahmed Qurei, member of the PLO Executive Committee and former PA prime minister:
“So far we have made negotiations our top priority, but this has led nowhere apart from additional settlements, creating facts on the ground and reinforcing the process of Judaizing Jerusalem.”
“…as people living under occupation, we are committed to looking into other options. Diplomacy is an option, turning to the UN is an option, the popular struggle is an option. All options are available and we have many possibilities.”
I will remind one and all that:
 The PLO is still committed to Israel’s destruction, having never amended its charter.
 The PA during the entire period of Oslo has supported terrorism in one guise or another.
 The PA textbooks are still rife with incitement.
 The PA idea of negotiations is to make intractable demands without conceding anything. They are still seeking return to pre-67 lines (including in Jerusalem) and return of “refugees.”
 The PA was twice offered a state in negotiations and twice turned it down.
 Since the formation of the PA via Oslo over 15 years ago, this authority has neither built proper infrastructure nor established the civic underpinnings for a responsible and self-sufficient state.
Note: The PLO is the over-arching umbrella organization that ostensibly speaks for all Palestinians; it negotiated the Oslo Accords. The PA is the (theoretically interim) administrative entity established by Oslo. In reality the two are broadly overlapping.
Former president Bill Clinton also spoke at the Saban Forum. He talked turkey to the Palestinians, telling them, “Take where we are and the reformulation of the settlement issue and find a way [to move forward],” by which he meant it was time for them to stop making a federal case about the fact that Obama had insisted on a settlement freeze and then backed off on that.
But he also threw statements at us — in an attempt to push us along — that were either inaccurate or unreasonable. First, he used the demographic card, telling us that because Palestinians are having children at a faster rate, our Jewish state is at risk. But this argument has been disproved by statistics in recent years.
And then he said that it was only a matter of time before Hamas would be able to put a GPS system on its rockets launched into Israel. “The trajectory of technology is not your friend, … you need to get this done and you do have partners.”
This facile warning, this attempt to frighten us into an agreement, on the face of it is nonsense, because we’re currently supposed to be negotiating with the PA in Judea and Samaria, and Hamas in Gaza is outside the loop in any event.
Why do ostensible leaders (or former leaders) persist in ignoring this elephant in the room?
“The Good News Corner”
This past Shabbat we read “Chaye Sarah” as our Torah portion. It tells of the death of Sarah and the purchase by Avraham of a field, which held a cave, for Sarah’s burial. This was in Hevron, and Avraham paid Ephron the Hittite 400 silver shekels for it. (Bresheit 23:16) All of our patriarchs and matriarchs, with the exception of Rachel, are buried there, in the Ma’arat HaMachpela. (The original double cave is hidden way beneath the current structure.)
It is customary in recent years to visit Hevron during the Shabbat of this reading. But this year was incredible: 20,000 people came. They were hosted by families in Hevron and in adjacent Kiryat Arba. They slept in yeshiva buildings and in tents.
Surely this is something akin to a miracle, and echoes the theme of the awakening of our people that is emerging slowly now.
For more about the Machpela: http://www.machpela.com/. Enter the site, take the tours.