by Meir Indor
Obama and Kerry want to convince the Israeli public that the agreement they’re promoting is a really great one. To keep people from worrying about the terrorism that will come in its wake (remember what followed the Oslo Accords and the Disengagement), they’ve added an American security envelope to the package.
The plan is supposed to be one that was prepared by about a hundred workers who tag along with General John Allen, one of the U.S. Army’s “good old boys”—i.e. an officer whose promotion was put on ice due to suspicion of sexual harassment—who left Afghanistan to contend with the many problems and the confusion in the military that resulted when Obama forced a retreat from there. Now General Allen will seek to prove himself in the Israeli–Palestinian arena.
If you take a look at the plan, you’ll see plenty of military concepts and jargon taken from cyberspace and high tech, but very little security. The harsh reality is that this plan was in fact authored by organizations of the Israeli left, and only then packaged in American wrapping paper. Contributors include IDF officers who have long been pushing for a retreat from Judea and Samaria and for the establishment of a Palestinian state. People like Brig.-Gen. (res.) Gadi Zohar, head of the Council for Peace and Security, who earned his reputation as an enemy of the settlement enterprise when he headed the Civil Administration. As far as he’s concerned, there is no need for a military presence in the Jordan Valley, let alone Jewish communities.
In a word, the major influences on the American plan are Geneva Initiative activists and their gargantuan budgets. General Allen and his colleagues essentially copied and pasted the Geneva Initiative’s security provisions:
“A Multinational Force (MF) shall be established to provide security guarantees to the Parties, act as a deterrent, and oversee the implementation of the relevant provisions of this Agreement …. Israel shall complete its withdrawal from the territory of the state of Palestine within 30 months of the entry into force of this Agreement, and in accordance with this Agreement. Israel will maintain a small military presence in the Jordan Valley under the authority of the MF and subject to the MF SOFA [status of forces agreement] … for an additional 36 months …. Israel may maintain two EWS [early warning systems] in the northern and central West Bank …. The EWS shall be staffed by the minimal required number of Israeli personnel and shall occupy the minimal amount of land necessary for their operation …. Access to the EWS will be guaranteed and escorted by the MF.”
There is little difference between this and the proposal sponsored by General Allen: an agglomeration of security solutions that are dependent in part on gadgets and mostly on a multinational force and cooperation with Jordan.
Prior to this week, there were rumors circulating that the IDF didn’t oppose the plan, and even that the IDF Planning Directorate was working with General Allen and his staff. The media made clear that Netanyahu would have a hard time saying no to General Allen since the relevant parts of the IDF already agreed to a plan with similarly far-reaching concessions back in the Olmert era.
This week, though, we received confirmation that the IDF is collaborating with the American general. The leaders of the Yesha Council met with Nitzan Allon, the general heading Central Command, in the middle of the week, and a recording of what he had to say was subsequently leaked.
“We’ve been involved in this since before it hit the headlines,” said Allon. “We knew these issues would come up and that they would ask the IDF. We already dealt with this in the Olmert era, in 2007. Our argument is that the Jordan Valley is Israel’s strategic buffer zone. There’s a need to develop strategic relations with the Jordanians, to develop an additional layer of protection, but our position on the Jordan Valley is clear.”
Allon then explicitly acknowledged that the IDF is meeting with General Allen.
“It’s unusual that we have such an opportunity to have an influence, including on the American professionals with whom we’ve worked. They’ll make our voices heard.”
Allon’s personal level of confidence in the political process, he added, “is not high.”
First, the IDF is working with the Americans on a comprehensive retreat plan. They already started talking about it in Olmert’s time. The IDF insists on Israeli control of the Jordan Valley, extending to the Allon Road and beyond, while the Americans want the IDF to control a smaller space.
What about the mountains? Silence on this point, despite discussion of arrangements for the Jordan Valley, makes clear that the IDF is not insisting on control of the mountains.
MK Moti Yogev, a colonel in the reserves, takes exception to the IDF’s position.
“If the army isn’t fighting for military control of the mountains, that means they’re conceding the IDF’s ability to enter Areas A and B, and they’re leaving the Jewish communities at the mercy of the Palestinians. If we can’t go in there, the level of intelligence will go down—the same way it did in Gaza.”
Rabbi Moshe Hager, who served as a senior commander in Operation Defensive Shield and has a rich background in counterterrorism, says it won’t be possible to defend the Judean foothills without a presence in those areas.
Lawyer Elyakim Haetzni, one of the ideologues of Judea and Samaria, wonders, “The Europeans, as Christians, don’t want us in control of Jerusalem either. Are we going to abandon it too? The argument that we have to make allowances for international pressure always sets the stage for the next round of pressure. And as for the argument that our situation will improve if we do what the world pressures us to do—so far our situation has only gotten worse with every retreat.”
The settler elder, who came to Israel from Germany after Kristallnacht, fought and was wounded in the War of Liberation, was a leading Mapai youth volunteer, and today lives in Hevron, looks around at those who would trade away our land, and understands that at the end of the day, the international pressure brought to bear on us is a blue-and-white product manufactured by Israeli Jews.
Originally published in Makor Rishon, 20 December 2013
Translated from Hebrew by David B. Greenberg