Into the Fray: Earth to Bennett; Earth to Bennett…

It is difficult to know what is more disturbing: Whether Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett really believes the delusional drivel he wrote in his op-ed this week, or whether he doesn’t, but wrote it anyway.


bennett2Israel must allow Palestinians complete freedom of movement, which requires removing all roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank. In particular, Israel should dismantle the security barrier erected throughout the last decade to defend against Palestinian terror attacks…

– Naftali Bennett, “A New Plan for Peace in Palestine,”The Wall Street Journal, May 20 

The proposals from the Israeli right-wing, however inadequate… add a little bit to that hope [of bringing an end to Jewish Israel]… We should watch how this debate develops and engage and encourage it….

– Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the vehemently anti-Zionist “Electronic Intifada,” on Al Jazeera 

Full disclosure: I voted for Bennett’s party in the last elections, not because I really believed in the man or his political program, but because I saw them as the “least of all evils” on offer at the January 2013 polls.

Since then, however, I have had occasion for second thoughts and am approaching the conclusion that I may have been mistaken.

Getting it all wrong 

My gathering buyer’s remorse was greatly heightened by the op-ed in the Journal, in which he presented an “enhanced” version of his ill-conceived policy proposal, perversely dubbed the “Stability Plan.” In it he recommends doing virtually everything that should be avoided, and avoiding everything that should be done.

What is truly astounding is that anyone could get so much so wrong in such a short article of under 800 words.

As one whose vote contributed to getting Bennett into a senior post in the governing coalition, it is deeply disturbing to see him bandy about such reckless policy prescriptions, totally detached from reality, with such cavalier abandon.

It is difficult to know what is more troubling: Whether Bennett believes the delusional drivel he wrote in his op-ed, or whether he doesn’t but wrote it anyway.

Thus, while I agree with his repudiation of the two-state paradigm, and his rejection of negotiations with Hamas, Bennett’s proposal, if implemented, is likely to be even more disastrous for the Zionist ideal of a historically durable nation-state for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland.

I have pointed out in previous critiques of his plan, it will solve none of the major problems facing Israel today on the Palestinian issue.

Quite the opposite. In all likelihood it will exacerbate many.

Untenable geographically

At the heart of Bennett’s misguided program is the unilateral annexation of the “portion of the West Bank, known as Area C where 400,000 Israelis and 70,000 Palestinians live… The Palestinians… would be offered full Israeli citizenship.”

(Area C in which Israel maintains authority for both security and civil affairs comprises about 60 percent of Judea-Samaria, while Areas A and B, which include no Jewish communities and where about 90% of the Arab inhabitants live, comprise the remaining 40%.)

Truth be told, even if alternative estimates, which put the Arab population at double Bennett’s figure, are correct, the idea appears, prime facie, highly attractive.

Indeed, the formula seems seductively and superficially simple for Israel: Maximum territory, minimum Arabs.

What could possibly be the problem – especially as any accusations of “racism” could be countered by offering citizenship to a manageable number of Arab inhabitants? But, the very fact that it appears so plausible is perhaps the major reason Bennett’s plan is so hazardous.

For a country’s declaration of sovereignty over a given territory to have significance, it must be able to differentiate it from areas over which it does not exercise such sovereignty.

It must be able to demarcate the frontiers of that territory and secure them against infiltration or attack from without. If it cannot, any formal declaration of sovereignty is substantively meaningless.

Even a cursory glance at any map of Area C and adjacent Areas A and B will quickly dispel the plausibility of the idea of such partial annexation, and reveal how hopelessly impractical it would be for Israel.

For just like Areas A and B, Area C is a crazy-quilted patchwork of enclaves, corridors and access roads, with outer contours well in excess of 1,000 km., making any endeavor to demarcate and secure them unfeasible or prohibitively costly.

Untenable demographically

The inability to demarcate and secure frontiers has significance far beyond any theoretical/philosophical debate.

For if Israel does not demarcate/secure the boundaries of its sovereign territory, how would it prevent the influx of residents from Areas A and B into it – with all the attendant security and demographic ramifications – totally undermining the neat rationale for annexing Area C? Just how crucial this matter is, is underscored by Bennett’s alarming suggestion that “Israel must allow Palestinians complete freedom of movement, which requires removing all roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank…. [and] dismantle[ing] the security barrier erected throughout the last decade to defend against Palestinian terror attacks…” So in effect, Bennett is advocating forgoing any mechanism to check – even monitor – the influx of the Arab population of Areas A and B, not only into Area C but into pre-1967 Israel.

With a differential in GDP per capita of about 30:1 relative to Areas A and B, and no impediment of movement following the “remov[al of] all roadblocks and checkpoints” and “the dismant[ling of] the security barrier,” one needs little imagination to envisage the outcome: Inevitable pressures on the population in these relatively impoverished areas to move into areas under Israeli sovereignty.

Even if the result was only a large, undocumented and un-enfranchised minority, the resultant socioeconomic impact on the fabric of Israeli society is liable to be dramatic and detrimental.

Untenable diplomatically

Almost incredibly, Israel’s economy minister declares that “Annexing Area C would limit conflict by reducing the size of the territory in dispute, which would make it easier to one day reach a long-term peace agreement.”

Of course, the facetious response that immediately springs to mind on encountering such a mindless pronouncement is: “Really? So if we take such an argument to its ‘logical’ conclusion, we should annex all the territory – and then will be nothing in dispute.”

But of course, not only is it absurd to suggest that unilateral annexation of 60% of the “West Bank” will reduce any element of the conflict, it will raise insurmountable diplomatic obstacles and generate massive (and largely justifiable) international censure.

Israel would be placed in the unenviable – if not impossible – diplomatic predicament of having to explain the status of the remaining Areas A and B in which over 90% of the Palestinian population would reside, on less than 40% of the territory, spread over a myriad of disconnected enclaves.

What would be their long-term political fate? What would be Israel’s message to the world on this matter? It is clearly impossible to forge these scattered blotches of territory into any sustainable/manageable entity, making the accusations of ethnically delineated Bantustans (or rather Arabstans) far more difficult to repudiate.

Untenable administratively

Moreover, a political cul de sac seems inevitable. After all, who would regulate the lives of those living there, and how? Bennett attempts to contend with this conundrum by resurrecting the failed, unworkable notion of autonomy, stating, “Palestinians living in certain portions of the West Bank (known as Area A and B) should govern themselves.

They should hold their own elections, run their own schools, issue their own building permits and manage their own healthcare system. In short, they should run their own lives. Israel should not interfere in day-today governance.”

Clearly, it is unthinkable that the current Palestinian Authority leadership, or any conceivable alternative with the requisite authority, would accept responsibility for the administration of such an emasculated, fractured entity.

But even if the unthinkable were to come about and such a pliable Palestinian administrative body were to be found, is Bennett really proposing that Israel allow it to conduct totally unhindered elections? What if radical Islamists are elected? How would Israel respond to such an outcome? Or would it preempt its occurrence? And should Israel really refrain from intervention in the running of schools? What if the curricula include Judeophobic – even Judeocidal – incitement? Should Israel have no power to control what is and what isn’t taught? Issue their own building permits? Should Israel not be concerned with, and have the authority to determine, matters such as sewage disposal, the prevention of contamination – intentional or otherwise – of shared ground water resources, the disposal of domestic, industrial and agricultural waste that would impact life both in Area C and within the pre-1967 lines? Manage their own healthcare system? What about the issue of control of infectious diseases? Vaccinations? Rabies inoculation of domestic pets? Should none of these be of concern to Israel, blithely left to the Palestinian authorities – whoever they may be – to deal with?

Shades of a ‘New Middle East’

Several of the elements in Bennett’s so-called “Stablity Plan” are eerily reminiscent of, and equally risible as, Shimon Peres’s discredited vision of “A New Middle East.”

Although of far more modest dimensions, Bennett’s scheme is no less far-fetched, when he suggests extending the notion of Israel as the “Start-up Nation” to include the envisaged Palestinian-administered areas in a “Startup Region.”

Seemingly oblivious that (a) the Palestinian Authority is already arguably the world’s highest per capita recipient of foreign aid; (b) with his prescription that “Palestinians… should govern themselves. Israel should not interfere in day-to-day governance,” he blithely goes on to suggest that Israel achieve this goal by: (i) providing the Palestinians with more money and (ii) intervening in the running of their economy. Thus he states: “One idea is to encourage multinational corporations to invest in Palestinian areas by offering economic incentives such as insurance guarantees and tax breaks.”

This of course begs the questions of why, with all the political support and financial aid the Palestinians have already received, multinational corporations have refrained from investing in the those areas, why the Palestinians themselves have not offered such economic incentives and why establishing a fragmented, disconnected entity, embedded in a sovereign Israel, will induce such outcomes.

There is, however, a far more disturbing defect in Bennett’s ill-conceived initiative.

Endorsing the ‘root-cause-of-terror’ canard

Perhaps the gravest aspect is that he endorses (albeit implicitly) the detrimental canard of many of Israel’s most vehement critics and some of the most ardent apologists for Palestinian acts of terror: i.e. that terrorism is the result of economic deprivation, and enhancing economic conditions will reduce terror and improve security.

Thus he suggests that, after dismantling the security barrier, “Israel can stay reasonably secure. This will prove especially true if the Israeli government works with the international community to promote Palestinian economic development in Areas A and B.”

You have to read to believe.

I could go on to analyze virtually every sentence in Bennett’s unfortunate article and discuss the minutiae of the detrimental defects inherent in every one – but I must move onto the more general principle reflected in his ill-advised policy proposal.

Bennett’s poorly thought-through idea is merely another in the recent spate of distressingly myopic “alternatives” from “right-wing” pundits for the almost defunct two-state paradigm. One can almost hear the myriad of Judeophobes of the ilk of Ali Abunimah (see introductory excerpt) rubbing their hands in glee.

Political truth not political correctness

To arrive at a viable alternative to the two-state paradigm, Israel must abandon political correctness and embrace political truth. Its leaders must enlist the intellectual depth and ideological courage to drop the pretense that the Palestinians could, at some future time, become either potential peace partners, or potentially loyal Israeli residents – and relate to them as they really are: Implacable enemies.

Neither Israel, nor its economy minister, has any moral or democratic obligation to support or promote the enemy’s economy.

To the contrary, it could be argued, on entirely ethically grounds, that they has a duty to let it collapse, and to contend with accusations of precipitating a “humanitarian crisis” by providing individual Palestinians generous relocation grants to extricate themselves from the consequences of such collapse, inflicted on them by the incompetence of cruel, corrupt cliques who have led them astray for decades.

This to me seems the only truly viable and durable Zionist alternative to the two-state disaster.

Martin Sherman ( is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.


May 23, 2014 | 17 Comments »

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17 Comments / 17 Comments

  1. Get serious and briefly put, the Palestinians only want and will only accept the destruction of the Jewish State Of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish People, any other plan, policy, idea, proposal, or negotiating stance will always and has always failed. Get it through your thick skulls, the Palestinians want all of us Jews dead and gone period, and our Jewish State of Israel with us! Geez, what does it take with you people to see the truth!?

  2. There are many reasons why Sherman’s plan may be a pipedream.
    1. A small percentage of the Arabs will take up the offer (I note that in a poll a couple of years back, 40 said they were willing to leave.
    2. Contrary to my argument above, the project would not be able to be found
    3. Destinations would not be found.
    These reasons may not amount to impediments in practice. That’s why I argue that we should annex C and then make an offer to Arabs in B and possibly C, to emigrate. We will know soon enough if it can work. And there is no risk in doing this. If it doesn’t work we then negotiate autonomy for the next 20 years. If the Arabs disband the PA in the belief that anything Israel does to manage them will be seen as apartheid and thus will thwart Israel’s plans to avoid a bi-national state.. Now Oslo shields us somewhat from such an attack because the Arabs agreed to the terms of the relationship.

    If this is all too problematic and we end up giving citizenship to qualified Arabs, we must make the bar high. But first we should determine if we can refrain from offering citizenship at all. I believe there are precedents for offering only permanent residency.

    Having said all that we can simply ignore Sherman’s warnings and follow the Wise/Glick plan. But should we go to this Plan in the first instance or in the last resort.

  3. @ Bear Klein: It would be great if Netanyahu is truly exploring unilateralism, i.e. annexation of Area C. After what we’ve been through with the recent charade masquerading as “peace talks” and the reverent dedication to the TSS, it seems a little doubtful. But hope springs eternal.

    Do you know more about the recent movement among some members of the Knesset to enlarge Jerusalem’s borders to take in Ma’ale Adumim, Gutz Etzion, and other nearby communities? It think that is a wonderful idea and would amount to a mini-annexation of E1 and parts of Area C.

  4. We cannot pretend to erase a massive nonsense that has been built up over the past 20 years with a stroke of a pen, regardless of the vailidity of the various proposals being floated. This is my more modest suggestion:

    After more than twenty years, the failure of the ‘peace process’ – centered on the “two-state solution” – is too obvious to hide and should be recognized by all parties interested in achieving a genuine peace.

    This failure is largely attributable to a Palestinian narrative that is divorced from reality, that disfigures ancient and recent history, and that ignores the provisions of international law.

    In spite of its incongruities, the Palestinian cause has reached the status of a quasi-cult, with a wide array of unconditional supporters at the UN, in academia, among NGOs, in the media, and in many diplomatic circles.

    To counter the fallout which has negatively affected Israel for the past decades, we should not, at this stage, elaborate new “peace plans” but first focus our effort on demolishing the Palestinian propaganda, however entrenched it is. The basic idea is that nothing solid could ever be built on a foundation of falsehoods.

    The two suggested areas where a substantially funded and properly coordinated campaign should be directed are:
    Assert Israel’s legal rights, as they have been recognized in international law at San Remo, and tabled in the Levy Report. This action should be complemented by stressing the unique story of the liberation of the indigenous Jewish people from nearly two millennia of foreign occupation.
    Revisit UNGA Resolution 3236, together with all its building blocks, and actively seek its abrogation, as it was successfully done in 1991 with UNGA Resolution 3379.

    We can only hope that by restoring the truth – in a conflict where truth has been sorely missing throughout – a lasting peace will eventually emerge.

  5. @ mikewise:
    @ mikewise:

    I agree with you. I want to be bought out too. I have experience in these matters going back to Yamit negotiations where most us us opted for (Class action) negotiations with the government.

    FACT: Arabs are leaving in increasing numbers without compensation. Israel must make life for them as difficult as possible resulting in little to no hope for a future of their young.

    Most important is to get the passports and arrange for other countries to accept them in increasing numbers. There is no difference between Arabs with Israeli citizenship and those in the West Bank. Both must leave. Israeli Arabs are not Loyal to the JEWISH State and are no better than a Trojan Horse and fifth Column. They should be our first priority in depopulation. Get rid of them and most Arabs of the West Bank will follow quite willingly.

    Best way is to drive them out during armed insurrections or wars. Seems to me not a difficult situation to arrange.
    –Besides being the most cost effective means of depopulation.

  6. @ Ted Belman: Does anyone actually believe the money is the biggest issue in getting them (Arabs) to leave?

    How about they have the death penalty for selling land to Jews.

    How about others will not find good places to go to.

    How about many will not want to leave their extended families.

    The concept of paying them as individually should be tried to a specific town or village or two but my believe is that this will be horribly ineffective.

    Just imagine when you wanted to move someone with money and people wanting to hire you or not how difficult it is and time consuming.

    To imagine uprooting a whole population of 2 million or so people and finding them all places to go where they have jobs and homes plus uprooting their whole family sounds very theoretical at best.

    Where has a whole population ever moved voluntarily?

    Earth calling reality center…. Earth calling reality center……..

    And of course the money is easy to find just ask the IDF.

  7. what is the difference between the arabs of israel and the arabs of Y&S?
    the moslems of the world could counter and offer to pay all the jews to leave and go back to wherever!
    is it a forced proposal?
    a lottery?
    can jews also opt to be paid to live in berlin?
    it sounds outrageously silly to me. maybe someone can explain how it will work?
    same price for women and men?
    will the payment ber a function of age?
    is it refundable?
    can one sneak back in and collect multiple payments?
    why are our most precioous minds so talmudic and contortionisyic.
    just declare sovereignty over all of Y&S. preserve law and order.
    those who exhibit criminal behavior are sent to gaza not jail. no payments. what is wrong with us??

  8. @ mikewise:Sorry Mike but you are over doing it. Sherman isn’t talking about paying Israeli Arabs to leave. And he doesn’t need $100 Billion up front.

    $100 B is only 1/3 or our GDP. That’s doable. Israel’s Debt to GDP ratio is 69%. For other countries its as follows:
    U.S. 106%
    Germany 82
    U.K. 90
    France 90
    Ireland 117
    Italy 126
    Of those countries, Israel is by far the most resilient. Its growth is the highest and it has great energy revenues to expect. Assuming it is a 10 year project to get all the Arabs in J&S to leave that means that 3% or the GDP is required every year. Oil and gas revenues will cover part of it and the sales of land for housing in the J&S will also contribute a lot. Our economy will grow even faster and inflation will drop due to dropping housing costs.
    The money can be covered. It is the political will that is missing.

  9. Martin Harris, where are you? I have followed your comments with great interest and know that you have a good solution to this current urgency. You have advocated immediate annexation with the establishment of Arab centers with tribal leadership. Could you please weigh in with your ideas? Some of what has been posted is excellent, some not so good. There needs to be a solution that will work.

  10. sherman’s heart is in the right place. he just cannot find $100B to buy out the arabs living in the former west bank of the hashemite kingdom of transjordan.
    once his “humanitarian” group identifies the donors for the leveraged buyout, he will need another $200B to buyout the arabs living in israel and then another $400B to buy out the haredim living in meah shearim.
    when that is accomplished, he will need another $500B to underwrite the impoverished in israel and finally one trillion dollars to buyout all the supporters of shimon peres, olmert (he still has many loyal fans), tzipi livni, and of course ehud barak.
    unless sherman comes up with some real money, it is time to think constructively about how to begin the process of declaring sovereignty over as much if not all the land set aside for the jewish nation and to stop bashing those who are seeking alternatives to oslo!

    shabbat shalom to all.

  11. Martin, there comes a time when action is required. That time is now. When Bennett pushes for annexation of Area C everyone who cares about Israel should get behind him. Yes, there would be difficulties, but not to take this action would mean a Hamas terror state in the WB. And as Jews our rights to this land are ironclad. As far as removing checkpoints, that must wait until a future date. But annexation of area C is the right thing to do. Rather than curse the darkness you need to light a candle, kapish?

  12. Bennett after Bibi starts setting the table for people in the USA (Bloombergview interview) getting used to the idea of Israeli unilateral annexations.

    Bennett said, “We [Jewish Home] are pushing [for Israel] to implement the law in Gush Etzion, Ariel, the Jordan Valley, Maaleh Adumim… and everywhere Jews live”.

    This combined with an iron fist on terrorists
    is the right approach. We need to act including what both Bennett and Bibi are doing explaining (prepping) to the world that we intend annex much of Judah and Samaria. Yes there will be issues (e.g. too many Arabs). What we do not need is trying to just point out that our plans are not perfect so do not move forward. Hell Israel still does not have a constitution but it does have a country for 66 years. Those waiting for the perfect plan may hope they live as long as Methuselah.

    Hopefully the coalition will cobble together a wise plan that is flexible enough to make changes when some things do not work!

  13. Sherman nails it! These aren’t potential “peace partners” nor assimilable citizens of the Jewish State. They are “implacable enemies” as Sherman so aptly puts it and need to be treated as such. But before Sherman’s plan can be implemented, just as Benzimra states the Oslo fiction we promoted has to be demolished and Israel’s rights asserted. The truth must be told and the pali-poser “narrative” exposed.

  14. Netanyahu could be open to exploring annexation plans if talks fail

    “The idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right,” Netanyahu says in Bloomberg interview.

    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed the possibility of unilateral territorial withdrawals and appeared open to annexation plans for portions of the West Bank in the absence of a peace process, in an interview by Jeffrey Goldberg published Friday on BloombergView.

    Israel needs to annex Area C and combine this with the best security available.

    No magic pills exist and so need to formulate the best realistic plans which need strong security measures but human fair treatment of all residents and neighbors.

  15. The practical impossibility of implementing Bennett’s plan (as Sherman describes it) also casts the same doubts on Dr. Mordechai Kedar’s “Emirates Plan.”

    But again, why the rush in spawning new “plans” without first delving into restoring the truth which has been so maligned since Oslo?

    At the risk of repeating myself: 1) assert Israel’s legal rights; 2) demolish the forged Palestinian narrative which denies those rights.