Ya’alon: Land for peace concept failed

Etgar Lefkovits, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 4, 2007

The concept of land for peace is a proven failure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any future withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank will create a ‘Hamastan’ there too, former Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya’alon said Wednesday.

The former military chief said that Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip and the creation of “the first Jihadist Arab entity” on Israel’s doorstep last month was “the last nail on the coffin” in a string of faulty conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which have been the earmark of Israeli and Western policy for decades.

“The strengthening of Hamas after the Israeli pullout from Gaza and the Hamas takeover of Gaza necessitate a renewed examination of Israeli and international conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which, to my mind, are no longer relevant,” Ya’alon said in an address organized by the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem research institute, on the ramifications of
the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

In a succinct address which tore at the most basic premises of Middle East peacemaking, Ya’alon said that the faulty conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict included the notions that the Palestinians wanted – or were able – to establish an independent state on the 1967 borders, that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the creation of two states on the 1967 borders, that land for peace should be the basis for any peace agreement, that peace would bring security, and that the key to stability in the Middle East was the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He argued that the violent Palestinian rejection of the peace offer put forward to them at Camp David seven years ago, which would have awarded them with a Palestinian state on upwards of 95 percent of the West Bank, and the refusal of both Hamas and the more moderate Fatah to recognize the existence of a Jewish state, negated the very essence of Israeli and international
policymaking on the conflict – that the Palestinians want an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel on the 1967 borders.

“We are talking about [a Palestinian Authority which is] a gang authority and not a political authority,” he said.

Ya’alon said that stabilization in the region did not hinge on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as many Western leaders argue, but on the defeat of Islamic Jihadism, led by the Iranian regime.

“Not only will an Israeli concession not reduce the threat- it will increase it,” he said.

“Israeli concessions today will impede not only Israel’s interests and those of the West, but of moderate Arab regimes in the region,” he added.

The former military chief, who is expected to be a future top contender in the political arena, said that Israel must treat the Hamas-run Gaza Strip as an “enemy entity,” and should “disengage” from being the provider of water, electricity, and goods to the volatile coastal strip where 1.4 million Palestinians live.

At the same time, he opined that Israel should give the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority in the West Bank a chance to establish autonomy, while Israel would be in charge of security in the area.

Ya’alon said that any IDF pullout from the West Bank would lead to the creation of a Hamastan there, which, he said, would threaten both Israel and Jordan. He added that he opposed the stationing of Jordanian – or any foreign – troops in the West Bank, calling it a fruitless idea that has been ineffective in the past.

Ya’alon’s tenure as Israel’s top military officer from 2002-2005 was marked by both a successful military crackdown on Palestinian terrorism, and his very overt falling out with then prime minister Ariel Sharon over his opposition to the premier’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

In a separate address, former National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland said that Israel was missing out on an opportunity following the sudden Hamas takeover of Gaza last month.

Eiland argued that Israel had not used the Hamas conquest of Gaza to pressure the Islamist group to stop Kassam attacks on Israel and return Cpl. Gilad Schalit now that it was in control of the coastal strip. Instead, he said, Hamas was serving Palestinian interests by releasing Palestinian prisoners and easing border crossings in the West Bank.

He argued that neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders were interested in reaching a peace agreement since such an accord would not be practical given political realities, and would only lead to a future escalation of violence.

July 4, 2007 | Comments Off on Ya’alon: Land for peace concept failed

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