Israel’s choice, either occupy Gaza or embrace Arab “peace” plan

By Ted Belman

In What Price Gaza I concluded

    Ultimately the decision must reflect what augers better for peace, the two state solution or a Jewish state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.

Yossi Beilin, as might be expected, argues against an invasion which he calls a 3rd gift for Hamas. He prefers a ceasefire even in Judea and Samaria and

    This is a rare opportunity to work vis-a-vis the world, the Arab League, and pragmatic Palestinians in an attempt to reach understandings despite Hamas resistance to them. We must press for a comprehensive ceasefire, launch negotiations with the PLO in the framework of the Arab Initiative, praise the increasing American involvement, and isolate the radicals.

Forbes published an AP report which summarized the dilemma for Israel

Legislator Yuval Steinitz of the hardline Likud Party is one of the few proponents of retaking Gaza, at least temporarily, saying a similar offensive in the West Bank in 2002 sharply reduced attacks on Israel.

“I think it’s a must for Israel to go into Gaza … to dismantle the terror network and destroy the rocket industry and then to pull out again,” said Steinitz, a member of parliament’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Shin Bet told the committee that more than 20,000 guns, about 1,000 anti-tank rockets and launchers, about 100 tons of explosives and several longer-range Katyusha rockets and anti-aircraft missiles were smuggled into Gaza in the past year, Steinitz said.

However, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet chief, said an invasion is the last choice. “Believe me, we were in the Gaza Strip for many years,” Dichter said. “There is no gold, no oil there and no diamonds.”

Retired Israeli general Shlomo Brom said nothing short of an extended takeover of Gaza would suppress rocket fire. Previous short-term incursions also led to more rocket fire.

The price for reoccupying Gaza is high, wiping out the gains of the Gaza pullout and possibly triggering the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, Brom warned in a paper published by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies

Israel, as an occupying power, would then become fully responsible for the welfare of more than 3 million Palestinians, in Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel must “not succumb to illusions that there is a comprehensive solution to the Gaza Strip problem,” he wrote. Instead, it should “adopt more limited objectives at a lower cost.”

Regardless of whether you favour negotiations or the annexation of Judea and Samaria, you cannot ignore the arms build up which a ceasefire enables.

Yet, if Israel doesn’t take dramatic action, large amounts of weapons will likely continue to reach Hamas through smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border. And an uninterrupted arms flow means Hamas can strike even harder – with longer-range rockets – in the next round of cross-border fighting.

The stronger we allow Hamas to become, the weaker will our position be in negotiation. While there are many good reasons for not invading Gaza they do not or weigh the necessity for stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza.

Steinitz recommends “retaking Gaza at least temporary”. That’s not good enough. Israel must have plans for the morning after. What is Israel’s ultimate plans for Gaza? I for one am against annexing it. And I am against remaining in occupation forever. I don’t see Gaza becoming peaceful. Therefore, only transfer will suffice to permanently solve the conflict but Israel won’t be party to forced transfer. Nor will the world stand for it.

Thus Israel’s choice is to allow Hamas to get stronger, while negotiating Israel’s surrender to the Arabs or suffer the pains of invasion and occupation. I take the latter.

May 29, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. this foolish talk of not wanting gaza or should we transfer arabs by force or not, to invade or not to invade, and if we invade what next? Do we stay or leave? If we retake gaza I can guarantee : within two years 100,000 jews living in gaza. I would pay any arab full value for his prpperty holding plus bonus of up to 100,000 dollars if he leaves the middle east or at least not to bordering countries. I know a large number will take the offer. In the beginning there will be a clandenstin trickle which will gain momentum once a certain number is reached we must be there in full force not only to protect our own but especially those who wish to leave with our help. gas and oil revenues from our off shore feilds in gaza will pay for most if not all of the costs. emphasis must be refugee camps first but not exclusivly.I srael should use what ever power it has to make conditions as uncomfortable as possible to fortify this operation. All so called militants should be shot on sight with no press no media coverage or as little as possible.anyone with a weapon should be shot dead periode. We must select those units who members agree with our policy to avoid internal conflict so reorganization along idiological lines must be precurser for this proposal to be implemented. It must be made clear that the arabs in gaza have nothing positive to look forward too and we will show them the humane and profitable way out. without 1.2 million arabs in Gaza this tiny strip on Med Sea will have a bright future. Then we wont have to talk about land bridges or cutting the country in half to accomodate them. Gaza is not as tough a nut to crack as leftists and their media and army flunkies would have us beleive. Having most of militants confined to small accessable areas works to advantage of smart modern army. Israel must be ruthless in this task with sole aim of eliminating enemy not stopping for diplomacy which is euphamism for status quo anti. Our political leaders should know what they want and be prepared to withstand the onslaught both external and internal. There is no better short term way to send the world the messege we have had enough, and intend to solve the situation once and for all and if we show our determination and dont botch it we will have regained deterent we have lost since Oslo. If I could pick and choose my enemy to regain Israels deterent I certainly would choose Hamas. We will regain some respect in the world and at home, place on the world table the renewed idea that jews should not be messed with as they can bite if pushed to hard. This might also bring economic rewards as I can see greater potential for real peace down the long road if Israel projects strength, implies threat to world stability if we are oposed in force or by force. It is so much better to be feared and respected than loved and dead.In the end it is our decesion two doors left or right which do we pick?

  2. Realistically speaking, I can imagine a full invasion of Gaza in which there wold be heavy casualties on both sides, the Hamas weapons would be destroyed and Israel would withdraw within a mattter of weeks, somewhat like the operation in Judea/Samaria in 2002. Of course the Arabs will exaggerate civilian deaths and damage and the European press will go crazy but in the end, as long as Israel withdraws nothing significant will happen. What would be accomplished is the disarming of the Gaza district and the destruction of key Hamas people.

    On the other hand, if such an invasion were to be followed by forced expulsion of Arabs, to where I don’t know, the western world, including the US would bring enormous pressure on Israel to stop and reverse the transfers. Would Israel be in a position to refuse? I think not.

    So I think the best we can expect is a large scale aerial bombardment and land operation in Gaza which will set back Hamas a few years. Hopefully many Hamas leaders will be killed, although they are crafty enough to hide out in Lebanon. Many IDF people will be killed or wounded and in a few years we get to do it again. We are on the horns of a dilemma and forced transfers are not the answer, at least for now.

  3. Bill you are right to point out my inconsistency. My title suggests the choice facing israel. Its very simple. In other words if you don’t want the arab peace plan, you must invade. Thus I agree with you and Jerry. Furthermore I note how difficult if not impossible it would be to force Arabs out. Look what Bush announced today about Darfur and Sudan. If Israel forced the Arabs out, the same and worse could happen to Israel. Thus Israel must invade and stay there. Israel must abandon the peace process and take the position that the Arabs must be resettled.

    At least if we are going to be there longtime, we must redefine the conditions from a peace process or the two state solution to a one state solution with ultimate removal of Arabs.

    In the meantime it should expell all Hamas members.

    I can’t envisage the kind of war needed to cause the Arabs to flee.

  4. Ted, in your following closing comment you are being somewhat contradictory and you do not come out definitively on what you are for and how you believe that can be accomplished in spite of roadblocks and pitfalls along the way:

    I for one am against annexing it (ie. Gaza). And I am against remaining in occupation forever. I don’t see Gaza becoming peaceful. Therefore, only transfer will suffice to permanently solve the conflict but Israel won’t be party to forced transfer. Nor will the world stand for it.

    If you are for forced transfer of Palestinians from Gaza, why not then be for annexing Gaza? You seem to be suggesting in the same breath that Israel should re-occupy Gaza, but not forever and that Palestinians should be forced from the area.

    Are you suggesting therefore that Gaza should be an uninhabited land?

    Since you say only transfer of the Palestinians from Gaza will solve the conflict, but recognize that there is no will in Israel for such step and the world will not let that happen, the necessary inference from your words is that the conflict between the Palestinians of Gaza and Israel will therefore be eternal.

    I know that is not acceptable to anyone including you.

    I did state the following in my reaction to Jerry Gordon’s article Sderot raises Israel’s consciousness-sort of posted today:

    It seems that the best way to find a solution to protecting Sederot and indeed all of Israel from the Jew hating Palestinians in Gaza is to being that analysis without any preconceived notions such as Israel’s desire not to re-enter and occupy Gaza.

    If that analysis means that the only way to protect Israel from the Palestinians in Gaza is to launch an attack, re-enter, re-occupy, force Palestinians out, annex Gaza and have Israelis once again set down roots there, this time with roots being set down in Israeli sovereign territory, so be it. If the analysis does find a way to eliminate the threat without having to re-take Gaza, then let that be too.

    It just makes a whole lot more sense and common sense at that, that if we have a problem that demands a solution, that we do not start looking for that solution by first immediately dismissing one solution which may, in the final analysis be the only solution.

    That in my view is the common sense approach Israel should be using to find a solution not only to stopping the Palestinian rocket attacks on and protecting Sderot hereafter, but protecting all of Israel.

    Essentially what I have said is that if analysis proves that the only solution to protect Israel from Palestinians hell bent on destroying Israel is to re-take Gaza, force Palestinians out, annex and re-populate Gaza with Israelis, then the next problem to be solved is how to make that happen. If you are right however that such solution, even if the best and only solution, cannot be implemented what 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best solution is there that the world would allow Israel to pursue?

    I am wondering whether you concur with my view of the best approach to Israel’s efforts at problem solving as it relates to the issue and choices Israel has, which you identify in your article Israel’s choice, either occupy Gaza or embrace Arab “peace” plan.

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