A Voice from Hebron

Peace and Security is Fine;
But What About Sovereignty?

By Gary M. Cooperberg

Peace with security was the campaign pitch which brought Binyamin Netanyahu to power. It was a purely logical position which was designed to be acceptable to friend and foe alike. After all who can argue that even the great goal of peace can be a worthy prize if our people continue to be murdered?

So far the concept has won acceptance by the President of the United States and even many Arab leaders. As a first step, this policy has succeeded in buying time for the new Prime Minister. He has taken a dangerous gamble by promising to abide by treasonous agreements signed by the former government on condition that Arafat lives up to his side. Netanyahu is convinced that Arafat cannot keep those agreements which would thus let him off the hook and allow him to blame Arafat for non-compliance.

While this clever ploy might just work, it could just as well backfire. Until now Mr. Netanyahu has succeeded in putting off making substantive decisions. The longer he can get away with it the better. But the day will come when he will have to bite the bullet. It is a pity that he has put his money on Arafat. If Arafat fails to live up to his signed obligations, it will be relatively easy for Netanyahu to feign remorse and blame Arafat for his inability to honor commitments of the previous government. But what if Arafat is craftier than expected and does deliver?

What then? The fact is that I would not be willing to accept PLO jurisdiction in any part of Hebron, even if the terrorist police become the nicest people in the world. What is being ignored here is the fact that it is not "security" or the cessation of "terrorism" which should determine our decision about maintaining our sovereignty over all of our homeland. It is merely the fact that it is our homeland that should determine that decision.

The government of Germany was instrumental in negotiating a deal which saw the return to Israel of the remains of two of our soldiers. Netanyahu expressed his appreciation to the German government for its humanitarian efforts. Should the German government now request permission to acquire a section of Tel Aviv as a physical expression of that appreciation could we deny such a request? After all, the German government did not send terrorists to murder women and children; and they even asked nicely, rather than belligerently demand as did Arafat. Certainly their request would seem more legitimate and reasonable then that of the terrorist.

What is consistently ignored in the blind quest for an intangible concept called "peace", is the clear fact that, one cannot purchase "peace" for money or land. No one barters away his property, certainly not his birthright, to purchase love, friendship or peace. The very fact that our enemies refuse to consider negotiating real and lasting peace unless we agree to dismantle our homeland, is, by definition, a declaration of war. Only in this instance, we are being called upon to do battle for our enemies and self-destruct, thus avoiding the distasteful concept of combat. The threat is that, if we choose not to self-destruct, then our enemies will have no choice but to do the dirty work for us.

The so called "peace process" has been an irrational effort on the part of Israeli governments to "only partially" self-destruct in the futile hope that our enemies will be satisfied with some kind of compromise. Of course Arafat and the Arab world were delighted to be given Gaza and Jericho. They were all too happy to gush words of praise for Israel as Jewish troops pulled out of Ramallah, Shechem, Tulkarem and Bethlehem. Should we agree to leave Israel altogether I am sure that they would compose poems of love to the former Jewish nation.

Nabel Shaath, the PLO negotiator, did not mince his words. He was undaunted by the fact that the Jewish State had capitulated to so many of the terrorist demands, nor by the fact that the IDF is still more than capable of crushing the PLO. He made no attempt to as much as vale his threat when he announced that, as long as Israel continues to give away its land to the PLO the terrorists will honor the "peace agreements". But once it becomes clear that Israel refuses to hand over Hebron or parts of Jerusalem, the intifada will return, only this time with over 30,000 PLO troops deployed inside Israel.

Can anyone define such a position as a "peaceful" one? Are we capable of convincing ourselves that we are truly engaged in a "peace" process in the face of such blatant threats? Prime Minister Netanyahu inherited a mess. Perhaps he felt that it was too big of a mess to simply clean up with a shovel and be done with. He has taken a broom and begun to sweep away the little pieces while trying to figure out how to dispose of the more cumbersome chunks of junk which the broom won't handle. There is no nice and easy way to clean up a big mess. If you ignore it, it will only get bigger.

It is essential that the main challenge be faced head on. Israel cannot compromise on her territorial integrity. On the contrary. Even that which was handed over to Arafat must be clearly defined as still Jewish lands under Israeli sovereignty. It was only the right to rule over themselves, not over Jewish sovereign land, which was given to the PLO. The longer this concept is left to interpretation, the more difficult future negotiations will become. Just as our Prime Minister considered the financial future of his country and made difficult and unpopular decisions to make drastic budget cuts; much more so he must make immediate and far reaching decisions about his country's territorial integrity and the extention and continuation of Jewish sovereignty over all of the Land of Israel. There is no more fundamental concept than that of sovereignty over one's homeland.

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