On May 17, 2012, the Washington based Woodrow Wilson Center featured Amihai Ayalon in a book presentation: Peace Without Partners: Can Israeli Unilateralism Lead to a Two-State Solution? The controversial topic provoked questions − did the book contain a genuine proposal for achieving peace or, was it only another distraction for those who desire a just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis? Because hope is eternal, are Ami Ayalon’s words designed to keep it that way?
Ami Ayalon arrived with credentials; a former Labor Party member in the Israeli Knesset, he gains attention by having previously been commander-in-chief of the navy and head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service. The former intelligence agent also arrived with publicity. His Blue White Future organization (http://bluewhitefuture.org) “that seeks to help achieve a two-state solution, and has developed a radical new unilateral approach to achieve this goal,” so as to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel and keep its blue/white Star of David flag, received space in a New York Times article: Peace Without Partners, By Ami Ayalon, Orni Petruschka and Gilead Sher, April 23, 2012
Add suspicion to the agenda. Note that other Labor party figures, identified with the “peace process,” fired up many and disillusioned all. Recall President Shimon Peres, “father” of the settlements, General and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, originator of “break the bones of Palestinians” during the 1990 Intifada, and former Knesset member Yosef Beilin’s Geneva Initiative, “a permanent status agreement based on previous official negotiations, international resolutions, the Quartet Roadmap, the Clinton Parameters, and the Arab Peace Initiative,” whose program had no accomplishments. All were members of a Labor Party that, despite its calls for “peace initiatives,” promoted the settlements, the major obstacle to negotiations.
Ayalon’s Peace Without Partners approach maintains that the “greatest threat to the nation is disappearance of the Zionist entity. Israel needs to be a Jewish democracy with a majority of Jews. The children who have been raised with a narrative of 5000 years of Jewish history cannot be betrayed.” From these propositions, Blue White Future concludes that “peace requires two states.” Continuing the thoughts, he suggests that Palestinian leader “Abu Mazen cannot deliver what he promises because he lacks support from Arab heads of state. Nor can Israel promise what former Prime Minister Olmert proposed. Negotiations no longer exist. Only coordinated unilateralism, based on former United States President Clinton’s peace proposals, can resolve the crisis.”
The details of a six point plan:
(1) Israel must take constructive steps to advance the two states based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps − regardless of whether Palestinian leaders agree to accept it.
(2) Israel should declare willingness to return to negotiations anytime and state that it has no claims to sovereignty on areas east of the existing security barrier. It should end all settlement construction east of the security barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
(3) Israel should also enact a voluntary evacuation, compensation and absorption law for settlers east of the fence, so that those who wish can begin relocating before there is an agreement with the Palestinians.
(4) Israel should develop a strategic plan to help 100,000 settlers who live east of the barrier to relocate within Israel’s recognized border.
(5) The IDF will remain in the West Bank until the conflict is officially resolved by a final-status agreement
(6) A Law of National referendum will decide the Israeli population acceptance of the plan.
Coordinated Palestinian acceptance will complete the process – two nations for two peoples and all disputes mutually resolved.
Another benefit − from this approach “the international community will see Israel as an honest player.”
A disingenuous plan, with built in obstacles.
The “show stoppers” are so definitive that success with the plan is dubious.
Will any Israeli leader want to have his/her name recorded in history as acquiescing to the halt of the Israeli initiative to control all of Biblical Israel and having relinquished land to the Palestinians?
Ami Ayalon calmly states that “right of return” of any Palestinian refugee to Israel will not be permitted; refugees will return to the new Palestine nation. Will any Palestinian leader agree to that proposal? To them, the Palestinians outside of borderless Israel are not refugees; they are displaced persons who have been forced to live outside of their lands. The present West Bank cannot absorb new populations ─ insufficient agriculture, water, and employment prevent immigration of a large number of new people, and the authority will fear that the in-gathered Palestinians will be those who are most poor, most angry, most restless and most rebellious. In addition, the Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza, Lebanese and Syrian camps want to return to ancestral homes in Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias, and hundreds of other ethnically cleansed villages in Israel. No more than someone removed from Philadelphia would consider returning to Akron, Ohio, will displaced Palestinians consider returning to a territory that is alien to them.
Will Israel cede claims of sovereignty on areas east of the existing security barrier? Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared, “Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley.” On March 2, 2010, the PM told a Knesset committee that the Jordan Valley’s “strategic location makes pullout impossible, even in a peace deal.”
An immediate question; why is Amihai Ayalon telling us this? His proposal has an air of uncertainty and a dreamlike quality. The proposal rests on convincing the Israeli government to proceed with the recommendations − a difficult, if not impossible task. What can Americans do about that, except hope and postpone other endeavors until the Israelis, if ever, proceed? Why is the Labor leader, who must have many associates in Israeli politics, not devoting all of his time and effort to convince his associates and government to start moving the proposition − at least halting new settlements and settler expansions − some small initiative to convince others that this concept has legs. Would not Israel, if it had any interest in the plan, want to show some good faith?
The thrust is singular − a Zionist perspective on only what is good for Israel and not what is good for reconciliation. It essentially legalizes the illegal land seizures and legitimizes the illegitimate actions. No consideration to “right” the “wrongs,” or to allow Palestinians to reclaim water rights, land rights, and human rights.
Most disturbing is the appearance that the Israeli children have been raised with a narrative of 5000 (?) years of Jewish history, rather than the actual sixty years of Israeli history. Archaeology and historical research have disproved the biblical myths of a united Jewish nation that commanded vast territory for centuries in the Levant. Academics lack historical evidence that supports the existence of the Torah’s Hebrew prophets or a common and connected history of Jews through millennia. Other than religious beliefs and some common customs, Falasha, Yemenites, Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, German-American and other Jews have tenuous relations between each other. Relating modern day Israel to ancient tribes, as if the small tribe of a 5000 year-old Abraham walked the land only a few years ago, denies reality.
Careful examination of the proposal, as in most mighty dramas, reveals sub-text. The former Shin Bet leader has knowingly or carelessly framed a document of surrender. This plan serves as a floater, to gauge opinion of a treaty of surrender for the Palestinians, in which Israel unilaterally dictates the surrender terms. The terms may not be exactly as Ami Ayalon has specified, but then the Palestinians, who have sacrificed everything, must make some sacrifices. Expect the terms to be exactly as Israel wants them, with Jerusalem entirely Israeli, all major settlements incorporated into Israel, some unusable Israeli land given to the Palestinians for any loss in West Bank land, all Israeli roads and water provisions remaining as is for Israelis in the West Bank, and the Jordan Valley incorporated into Israel. There will be a new nation with defined borders, the nation of Israel; the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza can declare themselves one or two nations, as they want. Checkpoints will disappear and be replaced by border guards. A visa will be required to enter Israel, even if it is only for passing through new Israeli territory to re-enter Palestinian territory. This will include traversing the Jordan valley to reach Jordan. West Bank Palestinians will be more landlocked and less able to move than brethren in Gaza.
The drama of Peace Without Partners is not much different than that of Partners Without Peace. The characters and their actors are the same. The backdrop and scenery are the same. The plot is identical. The script has been modified, but still controlled by the same director. Without a change in action, the ending will be the same − and there is no discernible change in action.