ANNEX YESHA NOW!
By Boris Shusteff
"We agree with Mr. Sharansky's May 30, 2000 letter to you in which he stated 'A dangerous reality is being created according to which Israel relinquishes all of its assets.'" (An open letter of 30 American Jews to Ehud Barak. June 19, 2000).
Every day more and more people begin to understand the mortal threat that the Oslo agreement holds for Israel. Just two examples of the mood change among people who can in no way be associated to the "right" camp are an open letter to Barak, signed by 30 prominent American Jews, among others by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) executive director Neal Sher, who was always a staunch supporter of the peace process, and a recent article by the New Republic's chief editor Martin Peretz, in the June 26 issue of the magazine, in which he wrote that "it is only now that I have the confidence to admit that I think the Oslo agreements were a mistake."
However, neither Neal Sher nor Martin Peretz can change Israel's reality. This can be done only by the Israelis themselves. They are the only ones who can stop the countdown towards the proclamation of another Palestinian state. Unfortunately, the latest news from Israel show that the Israeli political and military leaders are stubbornly
trying to continue the completely lost endgame. They resemble a bad chess-player who keeps playing in an obviously losing position, naively hoping that his opponent does not know how to achieve a victory.
The Israeli leaders are so mesmerized with the "peace process" that they are ready to continue it just for the sake of the process itself, incapable of foreseeing its consequences. The Israeli daily Ha'aretz wrote on June 20 that in a meeting of the security cabinet on June 18, the IDF General Staff "proposed an interim 1.5-2 year pact with the Palestinian state without defining borders or settling other major issues but giving them more land now." The top Israeli military brass recommended that Israel "recognize a Palestinian state," to continue "conducting negotiations with it on demarcating the final borders," and to give the Arabs "another slice of the West Bank as part of the IDF's third redeployment." The agreement "will have a duration of a year and a half or two years and will not be defined as an 'interim settlement,' but rather a transitional arrangement designed to define relations in the phase leading from autonomy to statehood."
The most shocking aspect of this proposal is that it completely coincides with Arab desires. On June 22 "The Jerusalem Post" quoted Palestinian authority (PA) Planning Minister Nabil Shaath who said:
"The declaration of statehood does not mean a declaration of war...it will give us additional international support... Following the declaration, the conflict would become a border dispute between two states, and as a state, the Palestinians could ask the UN to define the borders between Israel and the Palestinians, as they did in the case of Lebanon."
While the Arab plans are extremely clear, since they have no doubt that the international community, including the European Union, will recognize a Palestinian state once it is declared, Israel's behavior is based on a total misconception. Anyone who has monitored the Oslo process from the very beginning can see two distinct tendencies: a constant Israeli retreat accompanied by the release of Arab terrorists and desperate Israeli attempts to acquire "international legitimacy" by pledging allegiance to the UN's resolutions.
It is interesting to note that since the beginning of the so-called "peace process" Israeli leaders have been constantly repeating the word "peace" without ever trying to define it. In reality the "peace process" is simply a synonym to the term "surrender of lands," and anyone who dares to protest the squandering of the Jewish patrimony is immediately defined as an enemy of the "peace process."
It is simply assumed that as soon as a "sufficient amount" of the primordial Jewish land is given to the Arabs, something called "peace" will descend on the Middle East. This "something" has different names, including the "new Middle East," economical cooperation, creation of industrial zones, and so on. However, the only important prerequisite of a real peace - the acceptance of Israel by the Arab world - is conspicuously missing. The Israeli leaders conveniently prefer not to see the brewing Arab hatred towards the Jews and Israel. Non-stop anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli propaganda in the Arab press, textbooks from kindergarten through high school levels full of anti-Israeli venom, and incessant hatred towards the Jewish state seeded by the Arab countries all over the world in international organizations and forums cannot possibly serve as a sign that the Arabs are ready to accept Israel's existence. And they are not!
Edward Said, one of the most prominent Palestinian Arabs summed up the attitude of the Arab world towards Israel in Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram on June 14:
"With only a tiny and insignificant number of exceptions, no cultural or political figure of independent national stature, no popular, syndicate or really autonomous non-governmental organization among those Arabs whose leaders have made peace with Israel has in any serious way accepted the peace. Israel has remained "unnormalized," and basically isolated at the only level that counts in the long run. Resistance to its presence is still strenuously, not to say vociferously displayed."
While the Israeli leaders are busy trying to sell to the general public the idea that the Arabs are ready for "peace," the Arabs at the people-to-people level, "the only level that counts in the long run," categorically reject the Jewish state. Even if one were to assume, G-d forbid, that, as reported on June 23 by Ha'aretz, Israel will "withdraw from 90 percent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in return for a permanent agreement that will declare the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ended," in reality the conflict will be ended only on the paper.
How was it determined that Arafat and his cronies will honor this paper? Just recall that the PLO Charter is still legally unchanged after countless promises by Arafat to change it. The Israeli leaders simply became tired of the issue and swept it under the carpet. The precedent was established and the Arabs know that on the other issues the Israelis will finally give up as well.
The assumption that Arabs will be "tied" by international legitimacy is ridiculous. If America, the leader of the democratic world, feels comfortable violating international agreements when she considers it "important for her security," why then should Arabs behave differently? America violated both the UN and the NATO Charters by attacking Yugoslavia, a sovereign state, and member of the UN, and established another precedent that the Arabs will be only too glad to follow under the pretense that Israel does not treat the Israeli Arabs as it should.
Moreover, after leaving Lebanon Israel declared that it has "internationally recognized borders" since it fulfilled UN Resolution 425. The Arabs immediately jumped on the band wagon of Israel's worshipping of UN Resolutions, demanding from Israel the "return of all Arab land occupied in 1967" as "required" by UN Resolutions 242 and 338. The international community, like the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens, has no idea whatsoever that these Resolutions were written based on Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, and thus they are NOT ENFORCEABLE and should be considered only as a RECOMMENDATION (as opposed to Resolutions based on Chapter 7, which are indeed enforceable).
Almost immediately after the Six Day War Professor Yoram Dinshtein, one of the foremost Israeli specialists in international law, published an article where he proved that resolution 242 does not oblige Israel to do anything!! The Oslo agreement was based on Resolutions 242 and 338 and it means that Israel gives the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (collectively known as Yesha) to the Arabs on a strictly voluntary basis. Speaking strictly from the standpoint of international law, Israel, as was proven by Professors Yoram Dinsthtein, Louis Beres, prominent Israeli lawyer Elon Yarden and many others, has all the rights to annex the lands of Yesha. The only reason that Israel does not do that is her lack of desire. The Jewish state simply does not want to annex Yesha.
When in 1967 the Jews conquered the lands of Yesha, Jordanian sovereignty over this land was not internationally recognized by the UN (Great Britain and Pakistan were the only two countries in the world that considered it to belong to Jordan). According to international law this was the only territory in the world over which sovereignty was not allocated to any country. Then, in July 1988, Jordan abandoned its self-proclaimed sovereignty over the lands of Yesha. From that moment onward, Israel gained the opportunity to annex this land outright, since there were no other sovereign states who had claims to it.
However, it is extremely important to understand that if Israel allows the creation of a Palestinian state on the lands of Yesha the situation with the land will become IRREVERSIBLE. While today, it is still a DISPUTED LAND, as soon as the Palestinian state is established and recognized by the UN the status of the land will change. The land will become the property of a sovereign state. The only way for Israel to get it back would be by the means of war. By allowing the creation of a second Palestinian state Israel will voluntarily abandon the Jewish rights to Yesha for ever.
The argument that annexation of Yesha is not good for Israel since it will not allow her to remain a Jewish state should be dismissed. There is no contradiction in Israel being a Jewish state and simultaneously annexing territories with a large Arab population. It is not a problem at all as long as one condition is met. As proposed by the Yamin Israel party anyone who lives on the annexed territory and wants to become an Israeli citizen must pledge allegiance to the Jewish state. Otherwise he or she will become a resident of the Jewish state with curtailed political rights.
The annexation of Yesha will be healthy for the Jewish state for many other reasons as well. It will bring an increase of aliyah, since the lands of Yesha will become available for settlement encouraged by the government. One can just compare Israel in its pre-Six Day War "Auschwitz borders" with Israel that includes the Golan and Yesha, in order to understand which one will be more attractive to potential immigrants. Only the insane can prefer the former with the 80% of its fresh water resources located in the territory of her hostile neighbors and without any strategic depth for military defense.
From the end of the Six Day War Israel has tried in vain many different ways to deal with the lands of Yesha stubbornly rejecting the most simple one - annexation. There are three months remaining till the planned establishment by Arafat of the second Palestinian state. Israel still has time to do the right thing. It is now or never. [06/25/00]
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.