- General Issues
- 2011 >
- Time to Negotiate the Northern and Southern Sectors of the Israeli-West Bank Border
- President Peres and Dr. Ashrawi: Thank You for Staying on Track
- Playing the Victim Card Will Not Bring Peace
- Negotiations By the Parties
- The World Should Help the Palestinian Hunger Striker
- ...and only afterwards move to discuss the topic of Jerusalem
- A Question of Accountability
- Israel Twisting in the Wind
- Netanyahu: Too Big for His Britches
- Netanyahu's "Israeli Comfort"
- How Shaul Mofaz Can Jump-Start the Peace Process
- Netanyahu on the Brink
- Time for Taking Stock
- Israel in Wonderland
- Whatever Happened to the Quartet?
- The Palestinians Want to Negotiate
- A Time for Hope and a Call for Restraint
- Israel Can Win in Gaza, But Not Now
- Congratulations to the New State of Palestine!
- Security and Borders: Both Required for Peace
- It Is Up to Israel to Restart Peace Negotiations
- Israel and Palestine: Changing the Terms of Agreement
- The Knesset Bill to Increase the Number of Women that Elect the Chief Rabbis Is Important for Jewish Women
- Proposal on Governance of the Holy Basin
- Time for Netanyahu to Reach Across the Aisle
- Tzipi Livni's Challenge
- Women Should Be Free to Pray at the Wailing Wall
- Proposed Highway through the Jordan Valley Will Backfire on Israel
- 2014 >
- We Should Applaud Herzog and Livni for Reclaiming Zionism
- The Next Israeli Government
- West Bank Citizenry and Receipt of Individuals of Palestinian Origin
- What Next for Israel?
- Palestinian statehood
- Mischief in the Trade Legislation would Hinder Progress
- What Next for America?
- Could American Firms Choose to Gradually Disinvest from Israel?
- Boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitism
- 2016 >
- About the Authors
Yair Lapid: A Strong Leader for a Secure Israel (cont.)
Lapid’s most recent remarks on security came at a panel discussion of a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) of Tel Aviv University on January 15. There, he throws cold water on Netanyahu’s claim to be the only one who can keep Israel secure. In fact, Lapid can do better, he claims, criticizing Netanyahu for not being serious about consulting with Israel’s best experts on defense and security who are members of the Israeli National Security Council (NSC). Rather than work with the NSC, or even his own security cabinet, Netanyahu kept them at arm’s length while making the big decisions on his own. He never allowed the security cabinet to weigh in on strategic issues like “what do we want from our relations with the U.S., and what to do with the Palestinian issue after Abu Mazen,” said Lapid. Instead, he used the security cabinet mainly to discuss “whether to blow up a truck on its way through Syria” and other minor day-to-day tactical issues.
Lapid laid out his own comprehensive view of Israeli security in a major speech at Bar Ilan University in September 2015, titled, “A New Strategic Vision for Israel.” Israelis feel less secure, he explained, because under Netanyahu security has been on a seven-year decline. First, by picking fights with the U.S., Netanyahu damaged the linchpin in Israel’s security: “The special relationship between us and the United States was always a part of our security deterrent against hostile elements in Arab countries.” As a member of the security cabinet, Lapid warned it that Netanyahu was leading Israel “to a pointless and dangerous fight with the American administration” which damaged that security by emboldening Israel’s Arab foes who might calculate that the United States would withdraw some of its support for Israel’s defense.
Also, Lapid remarked, Israeli’s growing diplomatic isolation has weakened its security. As one example, he noted that diplomatic weakness prevented Israel from taking effective measures to disarm and stabilize Gaza after the conflict in 2014:
After Operation Protective Edge I suggested in the Security Cabinet and in public forums to advance a diplomatic initiative—the disarmament of Gaza in exchange for its rehabilitation. At least after seven weeks of fighting and after 72 of our best people fell we would do something to prevent the next round. But Netanyahu is so isolated diplomatically that he failed to start the process. So, it ended with $5 billion of donations and the rehabilitation of Gaza without anyone talking about taking the weapons from Hamas and preventing the next round.
The same could be said for Netanyahu’s ineffectiveness in his diplomatic efforts to curb the threat of Iran, the rearming of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and more. They are all signs of the weakening of Israel’s security on his watch.
The Citizens Proposal lays out a plan for separating Israelis and Palestinians which, we believe would be acceptable to Lapid. It acknowledges Lapid’s concern to preserve Israeli control of the largest interior settlements, notably Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim. “If I were prime minister, within three weeks, I could close a deal that says we formally freeze [construction] outside the blocs — in exchange for building within the blocs, Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel,” said Lapid on March 6 of last year. Similarly, the Citizens Proposal places Gush Etzion on the Israeli side of the proposed border and calls for special administrative arrangements for Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim.
The concept of special status with regards to the most sensitive areas of East Jerusalem was recently raised by outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry. Lapid could run with this concept, apply it to these other large settlements as well, and negotiate the terms of a border between Israel and Palestine while leaving the precise arrangements for Jerusalem and these large settlements for resolution at a later time. This sort of staged approach is what Lapid called for at a speech at the Herzliya Conference in 2013, as reported in Haaretz:
The first stage would be an Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank where there are no settlements and a freeze on construction outside the large settlement blocs. In the second stage, Israel would "move into the settlement blocks while evacuating the isolated settlements,” along with “direct negotiations [with the Palestinians] with the mediation of the United States, in Ramallah and Jerusalem, on final borders." During these two stages, the IDF would be deployed throughout the West Bank. In the third and last stage, final borders between Israel and a Palestinian state would be set, including land swaps, and talks on the remaining core issues would get underway.
Amid the fear and uncertainty that roils Israel today, Lapid is stepping up to offer a clear and common-sense approach to security and to resolving the Palestinian issue. His approach is largely in agreement with our own. We believe his time has come.
Outcomes of SC Resolution 2334 (cont.)
If this was the case under President Obama, a president sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, imagine how much more frustration the world is going to feel if blocked on every side by a Trump presidency, almost certain to last four years and quite possibly eight years. If the world wants to make any impact on the issue of settlements and negotiations toward a two state solution, then the world must create a real option that penalizes settlement-building, thereby putting the onus on the U.S. to gather enough support to change the status quo, instead of holding the cards to delineate the default position.
With Mr. Netanyahu in serious trouble at home, yet again for corruption, his command on the reins of power is not as strong as it looked even quite recently, but with alternatives like Naftali Bennet being the second most popular choice to replace the Prime Minister, there is no way to rely on a change of heart at the top of Israel’s government. It will be more of the same in the years to come, unless the world community, as a result of the Paris conference, carves out a path by which it can act independently of any US roadblocks.
Sanctions are sometimes necessary. A people that has been dominated and scattered to the winds for two thousand years, culminating in the genocide of the holocaust, commanded everyone’s goodwill. But we are now seventy years on from that time in history, and Israelis are no longer in the same position. In fact, Israelis are now by far the stronger partner, holding on to power over the Palestinians and denying them their own nation, or even rights of participation in the nation of Israel. The war of 1967 happened fifty years ago, before the vast majority of Palestinians alive today were even born. They are now a nation without a land, and from their perspective, for no good reason.
The Oslo Accords have been violated over and over, and are now essentially defunct. Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have failed time and again. The time has come when the world cannot just sit by and do nothing, but must make a statement of intent and follow it up by action, otherwise any further negotiations will be fruitless. Suddenly right at the beginning of 2017, a real possibility has arisen because the world finds itself united in its opinion. Let us hope the Paris talks result in real steps that lead to punitive sanctions on the Israelis if they continue to flout world opinion. At the same time, Israel must know that whatever steps the world takes are not out of animus towards Israel; they are taken out of concern for those who are oppressed as more and more settlements are erected in future Palestinian lands.
We hope that an outcome of the Paris Conference is the development of agreed-upon policies to distinguish the products of and “relevant dealings” with Israel, from those with the West Bank lands that nations around the world are recognizing as belonging to the State of Palestine, based upon 1967 borders and subject to adjustments arrived at by negotiations between the parties. We hope that the international community will show unity and resolve to implement these policies.
One caveat, however, concerns the Old City and its sacred sites. Out of respect for its sanctity and to preserve peace, we would ask that policies regarding relevant dealings steer clear of this area. Policy considerations should include measures to prevent corporations from circumventing the intent of the international community to sanction relevant dealings by establishing dummy offices in the Old City. This area should remain as neutral territory, insulated from the political and economic strife that any strong international measures may stir up.