Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
When all else fails, lean on Israel. In today’s political environment, this means that Israel should act unilaterally. Now that Secretary of State Kerry has come to Israel and gone back home with little to show for his efforts as far as resuscitating negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, we have been inundated with expectations to initiate some kind of unilateral act. We are being told by many of the so-called experts who go from one interview to another that the current situation is unacceptable and that unilateralism is the only game in town.
Never mind that just across the border, over 90,000 Syrians have been slaughtered by their own government. Egypt’s a mess, Lebanon is controlled by an Iranian terror organization, Turkey is dealing with mass demonstrations and her own “Arab Spring,” and Jordan could fall any day to fundamentalist Islamic groups. What preoccupies those responsible for this mess in the Middle East is forcing Israel to make unilateral withdrawals in the name of peace.
In today’s global hypocrisy and “double-speak,” in which truth is a lie and a lie is truth, unilateralism can be defined as making peace without a partner to negotiate with. As David Weinberg wrote in a recent article on unilateralism, it also means that Israel must “signal” to the world that she is serious about peace and that Israel is willing to “compromise,” and that by taking unilateral action Israel is “showing” to the world that she is interested in peace. Isn’t life just grand?
After the fiasco of the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, which resulted in the second Lebanon War in which all of Northern Israel was hit by thousands of missiles and rockets, leaving 133 dead and thousands wounded or maimed emotionally; followed by the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the Gaza War in which all of Southern Israel was hit by thousands of missiles and rockets till this very day, common sense would dictate that we wouldn’t be expected to repeat these fiascos and further endanger of the people of Israel.
As usual, in the forefront of this disaster-in-the-making are our brethren from America, Tom Friedman of the New York Times and Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, who was quoted recently stating: “Netanyahu can have an honest conversation with the Israeli people about the consequences—military, moral, and demographic—of the settlements. And he can contemplate a notion advanced by a growing number of the country’s security experts: a unilateral pullout of some settlers from the most distant reaches of the West Bank. It would show Israelis that their government is interested in finally winning the Six Day War.” Both Friedman and Goldberg are leading proponents of “saving Israel from itself.” They claim at every opportunity that the status quo is unsustainable, and have been advancing a unilateral two-state solution, an idea that has been proven over and over again to be unattainable and inherently opposed by the Arabs.
Sadly, the proponents of a unilateral withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria are selling Israel and her supporters a false bill of goods. They have learned nothing and forgotten everything from Israel’s past unilateral withdrawals. Now they want to repeat those failed experiments even closer to Israel’s main population centers and expose all of Israel to a daily reality that exists in Southern Israel of indiscriminate missile and rocket attacks. Rather than having confidence in the justice of Israel’s cause, they look for short-terms solutions that only make the Arabs even more intransigent, since they are given no reason whatsoever to negotiate. They can simply hold out for more unilateral withdrawals. Israel cannot force the Arabs to make peace with it. What is no less true is that Israel cannot transform the very fact of Arab hostility by implementing unilateralism. Only a fool would believe this to be true.
So maybe the best response to our brethren and all those who would shove unilateralism down Israel’s throat is to remind them that unilateralism works both ways. Rather than forfeiting and withdrawing from territory, unilateralism can be focused towards annexation and extending Israeli sovereignty on territories that have till now been in dispute. Unilateralism can also be used to Israel’s advantage in regard to international and Security Council resolutions.
Two simple possibilities are just begging to be implemented. Take the most obvious example: The security barrier was created in response to the suicide bombers that infiltrated into central Israel packed with deadly vest bombs and created havoc, including thousands of dead and wounded. Once completed, the security barrier will leave 8% of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) on the Israeli side, meaning that under no circumstances will this land mass west of the security barrier be forfeited and will remain forever under Israeli control and sovereignty. So why not unilaterally annex this land, as clearly it will remain part of Israel forever.
A second example of possible Israeli unilateralism can focus on United Nations Security Council resolution 242. Israel can demand from the Security Council that Israel’s full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, pulling out both its military and civilian population and ceding control of Gaza’s border with Egypt, should be seen as full compliance with Security Council Resolution 242, which states “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories.” Since Israel is not obligated to withdraw from all of the territories but “territories,” then why not claim unilaterally that Israel has complied fully with resolution 242? Meaning, of course, that Security Council resolution 242 is no longer applicable or relevant to any future negotiations on the final status of Judea and Samaria.
As the idea of unilateralism gains steam in the coming hot months of summer and the Arab world looks for a distraction from the chaos and suffering of the Arab masses throughout the Islamic world, it just might be a good idea to adopt unilateralism, after all. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic advisor to the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.