By Ariel Sharon

I believe it is possible to reach an agreement with a united and undivided Jerusalem, but in a different wayThey tell us we have reached the moment of truth, so it is time to say it loudly and clearly: All Israel seeks peace. But our commitment is to real and lasting peace that will provide security for generations.

The end to the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a clear and unequivocal agreement on the termination of the state of war with all the countries in the region (including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other peripheral states).

An agreement that terminates the conflict must include a clear and unambiguous recognition on the part of the Arab world and Arab governments, of the legitimate historical rights of the Jewish people to a Jewish state in their one and only homeland - Israel

Without these principles and their implementation, and in the absence of real education for peace among our Arab neighbors, we might get an agreement that has, perhaps, a formal recognition of Israel's existence, but without the clear and long-term commitment on the part of the Arabs, to a process of true reconciliation - the cornerstone for any lasting peace.

It is necessary to arrive at a permanent and mutually obligating peace agreement that will terminate the conflict. If as a result of constraints all that we can possibly achieve is a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians - Israel must continue to hold on to most of its strategic assets.

Arafat and his people are threatening an outbreak of violence if their demands are not met. Barak's close circles are insinuating and spreading this same message; the response to these threats, in my view, should be only one sentence, saying very clearly: Beware - Israel is strong! That is how a state with self-respect should behave, and acting in this manner perhaps we could prevent the violence threatening us.

However, if in spite of this there will be an outbreak of hostilities instigated by the Palestinians, Israel must prepare and plan in advance its domestic, political, diplomatic and security countermeasures. It is clear now that Prime Minister Barak has committed himself to hand over to Arafat historical and strategic assets, way beyond what Israel can afford to give away, thus endangering Israel's future.

The picture is this: Barak will leave the summit, probably, with no real concessions from Arafat. But he will leave with drafts of Israeli commitments for far-reaching concessions. Barak leaves in Arafat's hands a down payment of sorts, which he already offered to pay in full. Arafat, in return gives nothing, not even a promise to renounce violence.

Pay attention to how the Barak propaganda machine is already working full steam: Barak's close circle of advisors are spreading around a "tranquilizer": Israel will "receive" Givat Ze'ev, Ma'aleh Adumim and the Gush Etzion settlements. Thus Israel is in fact "receiving" what it already has and what Barak promised will remain in Israel's hands forever. Israel is giving Arafat what was never in his hands -against Barak's pre-election promises that he will never concede parts of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. Barak is simply violating and reneging on the campaign promises on which he got elected.

I BELIEVE it is possible to reach an agreement with a united and undivided Jerusalem, but in a different way. In my view, we must concentrate all our efforts to arrive at a broad national consensus based on clear unequivocal "red lines." I propose six red lines which can serve as a basis for broad national consensus, strengthen Israel's position, and enable us to reach a better and more secure agreement:

1. Greater Jerusalem, united and undivided, must be the eternal capital of Israel and under full Israeli sovereignty. The question of Jerusalem should not remain open, as it may become the time bomb for the next conflict.

2. Israel will retain under its full control sufficiently wide security zones - in both the East and the West. The Jordan Valley, in its broadest sense, as defined by the Allon Plan, will be the eastern security zone of Israel. This includes the steep eastern slopes of the hill ridge of Judea and Samaria (west of the Allon Road) overlooking the valley. Israel will maintain contiguous presence and control of the entire valley up to the Jordan River, including the border passes. The western security zone will include the line of hills commanding the coastal plain and controlling Israel's vital underground water sources. Strategic routes will be retained under Israel's control.

3. Jewish towns, villages and communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as access roads leading to them, including sufficient security margins along them, will remain under full Israeli control.

4. The solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees from 1948-1967 will be based on their resettlement and rehabilitation in the places where they live today (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, etc.) Israel does not accept under any circumstances the Palestinian demand for the right of return. Israel bears no moral or economic responsibility for the refugees' predicament.

5. As a vital existential need, Israel must continue to control the underground fresh water aquifers in western Samaria, which provide a major portion of Israel's water. The Palestinians are obligated to prevent contamination of Israel's water resources.

6. Security arrangements: All the territories under control of the Palestinian Authority will be demilitarized. The Palestinians will not have an army; only a police force. Israel will maintain complete control of the whole air space over Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

I believe that any government in Israel that will adopt and implement these principles will strengthen Israel's deterrence and could reach a better, more secure peace, one that will ensure Israel's long-term national strategic interests.

(c) 2000 The Jerusalem Post

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