THE GYPSY AND HIS HORSE
by Boris Shusteff
Once upon a time there was a gypsy whose only real treasure was his horse. The gypsy was poor and each new day presented him with the challenge of finding food for the animal. One day a brilliant idea came to him. He decided to gradually decrease the daily amount of food that he gave to the horse. He reasoned that the horse would become used to smaller and smaller rations, and eventually there would be no need to feed it at all. The experiment proceeded remarkably well. Each day his horse accepted the smaller amount of food he gave it. Everything seemed to be working great, and the gypsy was almost ready to celebrate his success, when just one day before he planned not to feed the horse at all, it unexpectedly died.
Nowadays the parable about this gypsy and his horse is being reenacted in Israel. A year ago a "brilliant" idea came to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who decided to gradually relinquish the primordial Jewish lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to the Palestinian Arabs. He reasoned that the Jews would become used to the disappearance of lands that the Jewish state gained in the 1967 War, and Israel would be quietly squeezed into the "Auschwitz borders," as Abba Eban termed the 1949 armistice lines. Since that is the real destination of the Quartet's Road Map, the world community will happily encourage this policy, the Arabs will applaud it too, and Israel will thereby achieve peace. The only problem with the plan is that the kind of peace that Israel will achieve with this approach is the peace of the graves. Like the horse, Israel will perish after the abandonment of these lands is complete.
If anyone thinks Sharon's "Gaza first" plan will not become a policy of "the rest of Judea, and Samaria too," they are bitterly mistaken. This will happen not only because Ehud Olmert clearly explained in his interview with The Jerusalem Post on December 30, that after abandoning Gaza "Israel will continue to progress, by carrying out unilateral moves, including the possibility of further withdrawals that are in the interest of the state." And not because Olmert was the first Israeli minister who alluded to the currently planned "disengagement" and two weeks later Sharon came out publicly with his "transfer the Jews" plan. And not because Shimon Peres, even before Olmert, told The Sunday Times on December 12, that he feels that Sharon "will eventually be prepared to withdraw from more West Bank land than the small amount designated in his disengagement plan." It will happen first and foremost because the fence that Sharon is building along the 1949 armistice lines will become nothing else but Israel's new border.
Those who disagree and say that the fence can be moved even after it is built are absolutely correct. It will be moved to coincide with the 1949 armistice lines, at locations where it is currently to the east of them. You would have to be na´ve to believe that today Israel is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into building the fence, just so it can be dismantled tomorrow.
Adir Zik, a talk-show host on the Arutz Sheva radio station, wrote in the B'Sheva newspaper in mid-December 2004, "The fence is not a security barrier, it is meant to be an international border between Israel and Palestine. Gaza is just the first step." He explained that "facts on the ground" are created daily,
"If you travel today along the Jordan Valley road, where it meets the green line [near the Beit She'an Valley on Israel's eastern flank, adjacent to Jordan], you can see the actual border crossing [between Israel and the future Palestinian state] which has been built there, ready for use. Bus service from Kiryat Shmona to Jerusalem through the Jordan Valley has already been cancelled. Buses serving Jordan Valley communities now come only once every two hours. Development funds for the Jordan Valley have been frozen completely. All of Judea and Samaria is being prepared for expulsion in the next phase. While Gush Etzion may be inside the fence for the time-being, everyone outside the fence is slated for uprooting and expulsion."
In his Fifth Herzlia Conference speech on December 15, 2004 former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak matter-of-factly noted that everything that will not be encircled by the fence will be lost for Israel. He explained that time is of the essence for the construction of the fence and said that if it was easy not long ago to place Ariel and Kedumim inside it, today it is already much more difficult. The reason we should be paying attention to Barak's words on this matter, is that it was Barak, and not Ariel Sharon, who originally came up with the concept of unilateral separation. Already on January 8, 2001, in a closed-circuit television address to U.S. foreign policy opinion leaders Barak said that, "if there is no agreement Israel will impose a unilateral separation because we do not intend to rule over another people."
Of course, one might say that Sharon is not Barak or Olmert, and has different things in mind. Especially since after Olmert's interview the Prime Minister's Bureau released a statement saying that "there will be no further disengagements, that there is no such plan, and that the only peace program Israel will be a party to is the Road Map drawn up by the Bush Administration."
Alas, it is exactly this statement that should make it 100% clear that Israel WILL BE retreating into the Auschwitz borders. The statement consists of two parts. The first one was written for the consumption of the overwhelming majority of people, who gladly buy everything at face value. It is akin to U.S. President Bush, Sr.'s famous "Read my lips, no new taxes." The tax increase that followed was unexpected only to those who wanted to believe that something could come out of nothing. The fact that Sharon is no better than Bush in this regard can be deduced simply from the fact that, though today he is doggedly promoting the expulsion of the Jews from the Gaza strip, including Gush Katif, a mere two years ago, he solemnly promised that not a single settlement would be abandoned and even placed the importance of Gush Katif on par with Tel Aviv.
Now, the second part of the Prime Minister's Bureau's statement completely contradicts its first "no further disengagements" portion, though apparently not many people realize it. The point is that it confirms that Israel will be "a party to the Road Map." As Loius Rene Beres, Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue University, put it in his article "Avoiding the Road Map after Arafat," "Should Israel follow the Road Map, [it will follow] a route leading directly to its own extinction." The reason for this is that the main goal of the Road Map is the creation of a Palestinian Arab state through the "end [of] the occupation that began in 1967."
To put it differently, after the abandonment of Gaza and northern Samaria, in order to "end the occupation" Israel will be forced to perform further disengagements including partially abandoning Jerusalem. The Road Map explicitly states on this subject that the parties will "reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that... includes... a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of BOTH SIDES [emphasis added], and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide." Since currently Jerusalem is completely under Israel's control, it is obvious that Israel is the one side that will have to give.
This should be particularly clear in spite of any pronouncements to the contrary from any Israeli leaders, due to Sharon's complete turnaround on the issue of "disputed" vs. "occupied" land. Just three years ago, he referred to the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza according to their official international status -- as disputed lands. Today, in his preparation for the Gaza withdrawal, Sharon continues repeating that Israel must abandon the Gaza strip completely, so that there are no grounds whatsoever to say that it is still "occupied."
Any student of elementary logic can easily detect a huge flaw in Sharon's reasoning. If he is so concerned with removing from Gaza the status of "occupied" territory, how can he substantiate his position of "no further disengagements?" For almost a year Sharon has tried to convince his opponents that it is absolutely vital to demonstrate to the world community that Israel "ended the occupation of Gaza." But what about the remainder of the "occupied lands?" Since it is the perception of the world community that seems to count most, what kind of excuse will Israel invent in order not to proceed with further retreats?
Sharon's only "hope" is the prolongation of murderous Arab terror against the Jews. Otherwise, the Road Map requires him to continue giving land to the Arabs. As Professor Beres writes,
"It would be very hard for Israel to deny claims for Arab self-determination in the West Bank/Gaza if the Palestinians were to show 'good faith' by stopping their wanton murders of Jewish women and children. The world would never allow Israel to stand in the way of a Palestinian state in such seemingly conciliatory circumstances. Surely not when Israel`s Prime Minister himself continues to speak openly in terms of uprooting Jewish settlements."
The abandonment of Judea and Samaria, and the loss of the historically Jewish part of Jerusalem, which will inevitably follow the retreat from Gaza, will achieve the first of two Arab goals. Mohammad Heikal, editor in chief of the Egyptian Al-Ahram, and a confidant of Anvar Sadat's clearly expressed these goals in a February 25, 1971 editorial: "There are only two well-defined goals on the Arab scene: erasing the traces of the 1967 aggression by Israel's withdrawal from all areas occupied by it in that year and erasing the aggression of 1948 by Israel's total and absolute annihilation."
These "two well-defined goals" have never changed. The Arabs have simply became more politically correct in order to enlist the help of the Western world for their cause. And although the Arabs have tried to conceal their true intent from the West, they are much more explicit among themselves. Thirty years after Heikal's statement, Feisal Husseini, one of the most dovish Palestinian leaders, admitted in his last interview given to Egypt's Al-Arabi newspaper: "The Oslo accords were a Trojan horse; the strategic goal is the liberation of Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea..."
With his plan of gradually abandoning Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Sharon will help the Arabs "to erase the traces of the 1967 aggression," thereby making the Arabs' final push towards Israel's annihilation much easier. The Arab world will bring its final military blow to a strategically weakened Jewish state at a time when the Jews will be preparing to finally celebrate the establishment of peace. And for many, Israel's demise will be unexpected, as was the death of his horse for the gypsy.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.