If there is no way to guarantee Israeli citizens’ safety without zero achievements for Palestinians, our leaders must say it clearly and fearlessly.
The events of the past few weeks in Judea and Samaria, and especially in Jerusalem, emphasize the political echelon’s statements on the possibility of an agreement with the Palestinians.
The top consideration for guaranteeing the security of the State of Israel and its citizens is dictating more than ever a policy of “zero risk” to human life, and therefore full security control over the entire territory – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently presented his doctrine on the Palestinian issue, saying that he sees no other option but to leave the Israeli shekel as the official currency in Judea and Samaria in any future agreement, as the Israeli and Palestinian economies are intertwined.
According to reports, Ya’alon said that the Palestinians could enjoy a sort of municipal autonomy. This means they would not be able to enact primary legislation, and would likely only be able to institute regulations which would be valid in accordance with the primary legislation in the Knesset.
The defense minister, who is known for his integrity and earnestness, expressed the actual policy – as opposed to the government’s declared policy – on the overall Palestinian issue. Guaranteeing the security of Israel’s citizens requires a hermetic closure of the Palestinian entity – militarily, economically and constitutionally – in order to prevent any possibility of a future deterioration of Israel.
But a “zero risk” policy requires a “zero achievement” policy for the Palestinians. This approach was demonstrated very well at the end of Operation Protective Edge, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Hamas had not achieved a thing – neither a seaport nor an airport for the Gaza Strip – while Israel had demanded and received an agreement that the entire restoration process of the destruction from the war in Gaza would be sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, which acts today and will hopefully continue to act in the future as a sort of municipal system as part of the sovereign State of Israel.
On this background, Israel’s demand that the Gaza Strip would be demilitarized as an imperative condition for the full naturalization of the Strip is highly important. Gaza’s residents are required to get accustomed to a permanent situation in which the Palestinian Authority’s security units, which are manned with residents of Judea and Samaria only, will control their borders in the first stage and their streets in the second stage, ignoring the eternal animosity between the Gazans and the people of Nablus and Ramallah.
Is this the way to implement the “zero risk” perception on the Gazan front? The Palestinians translate this Israeli policy as “zero chances” for them. It’s possible that they do not deserve a different approach, it’s possible that they are not ready for it, it’s possible that there is no option of securing Israel without a “zero chance” approach for Mahmoud Abbas and his group. If that is the case, it’s time to say it clearly and fearlessly.
Adopting doubletalk, which allegedly sides with the “two state” policy while in fact undermining it, will not serve any constructive cause, and will strengthen the claims of those who doubt the government’s credibility, both towards the world and towards its citizens.
When Israel sought American support for its disengagement from Gaza, Washington conditioned its support on including part of the northern Samaria in the move. The names of the places we pulled out of have been forgotten in the public discourse.
On the eve of the Jewish New Year, 450 people got up in the middle of the night and joined the students of the renewed Homesh Yeshiva for the traditional Selichot prayers. Following this event, Minister Uri Ariel said: “I will continue working for the Jewish people’s return to Homesh, and as a first step in resuming continuous activity of the yeshiva and the voice of Torah in the place.”
“Homesh today and Gaza tomorrow?” will ask the average Gazan, who is invited to disarm and have faith in Israel’s goodwill and in the protection of the brothers in the West Bank.
Under these circumstances, there is no point in attempts to resume negotiations between those who support zero risks and those who see zero chances. It’s time for Israel to decide on its vision, on the goals derived from this vision and on how it should prepare to implement them.
This discussion should be led by the state’s leadership within the state. If this move is not taken, no one will take us seriously, and the Israeli public will stop believing its leaders.
Efraim Halevy is a former head of the Mossad.