Official declarations and many
reports in the Israeli media indicate that the
Israeli military and political leadership are aiming,
eventually, at a total destruction of the Palestinian authority,
and, with it, the process of Oslo, which is now
dominantly considered by them a 'historical
mistake'. What can they be after? - Let us trace
some of the background for this development.
Ever since the 1967 occupation, the military
and political elites (which have been always
closely intertwined in Israel) deliberated over
the question of how to keep maximum land with minimum Palestinian
population. The leaders of the '1948 generation' - Alon, Sharon,
Dayan, Rabin and Peres - were raised on the myth
of redemption of land. But a simple solution of
annexation of the occupied territories would
have turned the occupied Palestinians into Israeli citizens, and this
would have caused what has been labeled the "demographic problem"
- the fear that the Jewish majority could not be preserved.
Therefore, two basic conceptions were developed.
The Alon plan consisted of annexation of
35-40% of the territories to Israel, and
self-rule or partnership in a confederation of the
rest, the land on which the Palestinians actually live. In the eyes
of its proponents, this plan represented a necessary compromise,
because they believed it is impossible to repeat the 1948
'solution' of mass expulsion, either for moral
considerations, or because world public opinion
would not allow this to happen again.
The second conception, whose primary spokesman
was Sharon, assumed that it is possible to find
more acceptable and sophisticated ways to
achieve a 1948 style 'solution' - it is only necessary to find
another state for the Palestinians. -"Jordan is Palestine" - was
the phrase that Sharon coined. So future
arrangements should guarantee that as many as
possible of the Palestinians in the occupied
territories will move there. For Sharon, this was part of a more global
world view, by which Israel can establish "new orders" in the
region - a view which he experimented with in
the Lebanon war of 1982.
In Oslo, the Alon plan route
triumphed, where gradually it became apparent
that it is even possible to extend the "Arab-free" areas.
In practice, the Palestinians have already been dispossessed of
half of their lands, which are now state lands,
security zones and "land reserves for the
settlements". However, it appeared that Israel will
be satisfied with that, and will allow the PA to run the enclaves
in which the Palestinians still reside, in some form of self-rule
which may even be called a Palestinian 'state'.
The security establishment expressed full
confidence in the ability of the Palestinian
security forces - which were created and trained in
cooperation with the Israeli ones - to control the frustration of
the Palestinians and protect the security of the settlers and the
Israeli home front.
But the victory of the Alon
plan wasn't complete. Even the little that the
Palestinians did get, seemed too much to some in the military
circles, whose most vocal spokesman in the early years of Oslo was
then chief of staff, Ehud Barak. Another consistent voice which has
emerged is that of Brigadier Moshe (Bugi) Ya'alon, who is also
known for his connections with the settlers. As
head of the military intelligence -Ama"n-
(1995-1998), Ya'alon confronted the subsequent
chief of staff, Amnon Shahak, an Oslo supporter, and has consolidated
the anti-Oslo line which now dominates the military intelligence
view. Contradicting the position of the security
services' ('Shin Bet') and the many media
reports which praised the security cooperation
between Israel and the Palestinian authority, Ya'alon claimed in a
cabinet meeting in September 1997, and later, that "Arafat is
giving a green light to terror".
The objection to the Oslo
conception in the military circles was based on
the view that it will be impossible to maintain such an arrangement
in the long term. If the Palestinians have a political
infrastructure and armed forces, they will
eventually try to rebel. Therefore, the only way
is to overthrow the Palestinian authority, and the whole
Oslo conception. The first step on this route is to convince the
public that Arafat is still a terrorist and is
personally responsible for the acts of all
groups from the Islamic Jihad to Hizbollah.
During Barak's days in office,
Ya'alon became one of his closets confidants in
the restricted military team which Barak has assembled
to work with (Amir Oren, Ha'aretz, Nov 17, 2000). The same team was
prepared already at the beginning of the Intifada for a total
attack on the Palestinian authority, on both the
military and the propaganda levels. On the
latter, this included the "White book" on the crimes
of Arafat and the PA. This is the same team which is now briefing
the political level, as well as US representatives, and is
responsible for the dominance of the call for
toppling the PA.
But what can they have in mind
as a replacement of the Oslo arrangements?
One wave of rumors (reported e.g. in March 9 in
'yediot') is that the IDF plans to reinstall the
Israeli military rule. But this does not make
any sense as a long term plan. The Oslo
agreements were conceived precisely because that
system could no longer work. The burden of
policing the territories was much too heavy on the army,
the reserves and the Israeli society, and the IDF's success in
preventing terror was, in fact, much lower than that of the PA in
later years. After the Lebanon experience, and after the seven
years of Oslo, during which the Israeli society
got used to the idea that the occupation comes
for free, with the PA taking care of the settlers'
security, it is hard to imagine that anyone believes a pre-Oslo
arrangement can be reinstalled.
It is hard to avoid the
conclusion that after 30 years of occupation,
the two options competing in the Israeli power system are precisely
the same as those set by the generation of 1948: Apartheid (the
Alon - Oslo) plan), or
transfer - mass evacuation of the Palestinian
residents, as happened in 1948 (the Sharon plan). Those pushing for
the destruction of the Oslo infra-structure may still believe that
under the appropriate conditions of regional escalation, the
transfer plan would become feasible.
In modern times, wars aren't
openly started over land and water. In order to
attack, you first need to prove that the enemy isn't willing
to live in peace and is threatening our mere existence. Barak
managed to do that. Now conditions are ripe for
executing Sharon's plan, or as Ya'alon put it in
November 2000, for "the second half of 1948".
Before we reach that dark
line, there is one option which was never tried
before: Get out of the occupied territories immediately.
A shorter version of this
article was published on June 10 in Hebrew in 'Yediot