On Gaza, Sharon, The Fence, Israeli Democracy Index, Euthanasia in the Netherlands, Book recommendation
Dear friends and colleagues,
I was asked by The Advocacy & Public Policy Committee of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom: The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace firstname.lastname@example.org to circulate the following. I urge each and every one of you to give this your utmost consideration, and to sign.
Subject: Join me in signing the Call to Bring the Settlers Home to Israel
I hope you’ll join me in signing the Call to Bring the Settlers Home to Israel found at http://bringthemhome.btvshalom.org/. The Call is the creation of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, a national group of Jewish Americans committed to ending the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the centerpiece of a campaign to tackle one of the toughest obstacles to Middle East peace: the presence of over 200,000 Israeli settlers living throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In its Call to Bring the Settlers Home to Israel, Brit Tzedek is introducing a nationwide campaign in Jewish communities to:
* Urge the United States government to provide generous foreign assistance and solicit contributions from the European Union, other major industrial democracies and the United Nations for this massive relocation effort;
* Call on the United States to pressure Israel to reverse its longstanding financial inducements to Israeli settlers and to redirect those funds to assist settlers who are willing to return to Israel proper.
Signing the Call will only take a minute of your time, and will add your voice to thousands of other American Jews who want the U.S. Government to embrace this important initiative for peace. You can sign the Call and read its full text at http://bringthemhome.btvshalom.org/
Meanwhile, Sharon's new plan is to withdraw from Gaza in stages, rather than all at once. Sharon met with Egypt's intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, to discuss his plan. Israel is urging Egypt to take a stepped-up role in assuring security there after an Israeli departure.
On June 6, 2004, after overcoming several setbacks, the cabinet approved Sharon's revised disengagement plan by a 14-7 majority. The result, however, that Sharon lost the majority in the Knesset, left with 59 MK out of 120. Labour assured that it will back him as long as he pursues the Gaza First Plan.
Voting in favor of the disengagement plan were Sharon, Netanyahu, Livnat, Shalom, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni, Minister in the Finance Ministry Meir Sheetrit, and Minister without portfolio Gideon Ezra, Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, National Infrastructures Minister Yosef Paritzky, Environment Minister Yehudit Naot, Science Minister Modi Zandberg.
Minister without portfolio Uzi Landau, Health Minister Danny Naveh, Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky, Housing and Construction Minister Effi Eitam, and Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev voted against the plan. Eitam resigned from the coalition together with his colleague Yitzhak Levy, both from the Mafdal (National Religious Party). Orlev, also from the Mafdal, contested their decision and may decide to compete against Eitam for the Mafdal's leadership.
National Religious Party Chairman Effi Eitam said that the plan's approval would lead to the expulsion of thousands of Jews from the Gaza Strip and the creation of a Hamas state on platter of Jewish blood.
Zevulun Orlev said that there was a basis for NRP to remain in the coalition, as there is no mention of settlement evacuations in plan.
The key principles of the four-stage disengagement plan are:
A. The stalemate embodied in the current situation is damaging; in order to break the stalemate, the State of Israel must initiate a process that is not dependent on cooperation with the Palestinians.
B. The aim of the plan is to bring about a better security, diplomatic economic and demographic reality.
C. In any future permanent arrangement, there will be no Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip. [Sharon said there will be no Jews in Gaza by the end of 2005.] On the other hand, Sharon says "it is clear that some parts of Judea and Samaria (including key concentrations of Jewish settlements, civilian communities, security zones and areas in which Israel has a vested interest) will remain part of the State of Israel."
D. The State of Israel supports the efforts of the United States, which is working along with the international community, to promote the process of reform, the establishment of institutions and improving the economic and welfare conditions of the Palestinian people, so that a new Palestinian leadership can arise, capable of proving it can fulfill its obligations under the road map. [Israel still pays a lip-service to the failed road map.]
E. The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and from the northern part of Samaria will reduce interaction with the Palestinian population.
F. Completion of the four-stage disengagement plan will negate any claims on Israel regarding its responsibility for the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip.
G. The process of graduated disengagement does not detract from existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. The relevant security arrangements will remain in force.
H. International support for the four-stage disengagement plan is widespread and important. This support is vital in ensuring that the Palestinians fulfill their obligations in terms of fighting terror and implementing reforms, in accordance with the road map. Only then will the sides be able to resume negotiations.
II. Key points of the plan
A. The Gaza Strip
1. The State of Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip, including all Israeli settlements, and will redeploy outside the area of the Strip. The method of the withdrawal, with the exception of a military presence in the area adjacent to the border between Gaza and Egypt (the Philadelphi route), will be detailed below.
2. Once the move has been completed, there will be no permanent Israeli military presence in the evacuated territorial area of the Gaza Strip.
3. As a result of this, there will be no basis to the claim that the Strip is occupied land.
B. Judea and Samaria
1. The State of Israel will withdraw from northern Samaria (four settlements: Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Nur and Homesh) as well as all permanent military installations in the area, and will redeploy outside the evacuated area. [I expect that there will be clashes between settlers and the army when this will take place.]
2. Once the move has been completed, there will be no permanent Israeli military presence in the area.
3. The move will provide Palestinian territorial contiguity in the northern parts of Samaria.
4. The State of Israel, along with the international community, will help improve the transportation infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, with the goal of providing continuous transport for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.
5. The move will make it easier for Palestinians to live a normal life in Judea and Samaria, and will facilitate economic and commercial activity.
C. The Process
The withdrawal process is slated to end by the end of 2005.
The settlements will be split into the following four groups:
1. Group A - Morag, Netzarim, Kfar Darom
2. Group B - The four settlements in northern Samaria (Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Nur and Homesh).
3. Group C - The Gush Katif bloc of settlements.
4. Group D - The settlements in the northern Gaza Strip (Alei Sinai, Dugit and Nissanit)
The necessary preparations will be undertaken in order to implement the four-stage disengagement plan (including administrative work to set relevant criteria, definitions and preparation of the necessary legislation.)
The government will discuss and decide separately on the evacuation of each of the above-mentioned groups.
D. The security fence
The State of Israel will continue to construct the security fence, in accordance with the relevant cabinet decisions. In deciding on the route of the fence, humanitarian considerations will be taken into account. [I also hope that prudence will prevail, leaving Palestinian land in future Palestine. No one disputes the necessity of the Fence given the significant reduction in the number of murderous attacks on Israel since its construction. Our generals were right in their forecast.]
III. The security reality after the evacuation
A. The Gaza Strip
1. The State of Israel will monitor and supervise the outer envelope on land, will have exclusive control of the Gaza airspace, and will continue its military activity along the Gaza Strip's coastline.
2. The Gaza Strip will be completely demilitarized of arms banned by current agreements between the sides.
3. The State of Israel reserves the basic right to self-defense, which includes taking preventive measures as well as the use of force against threats originating in the Gaza Strip. [I hope the "right to self-defense" will not be stretched beyond absolutely necessary measures, and that extra cautionary steps will be made to secure the safety of civilians.]
B. The West Bank
1. After the evacuation of the northern Samaria settlements, there will be no permanent military presence in that area. [This, of course, is not enough. The Plan is Gaza First, not Gaza Last. Having said that, I am of the view that it is prudent to carry this initiative in steps, while examining the reaction and counter-measures of the Palestinians.]
2. The State of Israel reserves the basic right to self defense, which includes taking preventive measures as well as the use of force against threats originating in the area. [Same caveat as above.]
3. Military activity will remain in its current framework in the rest of the West Bank. The State of Israel will, if circumstances allow, consider reducing its activity in Palestinian cities.
4. The State of Israel will work to reduce the number of checkpoints throughout the West Bank. [They should be significantly reduced. Some of them serve little or no purpose beyond making Palestinian daily life difficult.]
IV. Military infrastructure and installations in the Gaza Strip and the northern Samaria region. All will be dismantled and evacuated, except for those that the State of Israel decides to transfer to an authorized body.
V. The nature of the security assistance to the Palestinians
The State of Israel agrees that in coordination with it, consulting, assistance and training will be provided to Palestinian security forces for the purpose of fighting terror and maintaining the public order. The assistance will be provided by American, British, Egyptian, Jordanian or other experts, as will be agreed upon with Israel. [Good faith needs to prevail on both sides, and Israel welcomes outside assistance.]
The State of Israel stresses that it will not agree to any foreign security presence in Gaza or the West Bank without its consent. [Absolutely essential point, given the rough history we had with previous such attempts, none of them successful or objective.]
VI. The border area between the Strip and Egypt (the Philadelphi route)
The State of Israel will continue to maintain military presence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (the Philadelphi route.) This presence is an essential security requirement. The physical widening of the route where the military activity will take place, may be necessary in certain areas. [I hope the "physical widening of the route" does not entail the destruction of more houses on the Palestinian side and transforming poor civilians into desperate refugees and potential ticking bombs.]
The possibility of evacuating the area will be considered later on. This evacuation would be conditioned, among other factors, on the security reality and on the level of cooperation by Egypt in creating an alternative credible arrangement.
If and when the conditions are met enabling the evacuation of the area, the State of Israel will be willing to consider the possibility of setting up an airport and a seaport in the Gaza Strip, subject to arrangements agreed upon with the State of Israel. [Halleluiah. I hope to live to see this happening.]
VII. Real estate
In general, houses belonging to the settlers, and other sensitive structures such as synagogues will not be left behind. The State of Israel will aspire to transfer other structures, such as industrial and agricultural facilities, to an international third party that will use them for the benefit of the Palestinian population. [Pity Egypt and/or the European Community do not play a more constructive role, seeing that these houses be transferred to Palestinian civilians. They certainly need them, and Israel could use the money selling them.]
The Erez industrial zone will be transferred to an agreed-upon Palestinian or international body. [This is a starting point for them to develop viable economy. Of course, much more need to be done. The precondition is quiet borders.]
The State of Israel along with Egypt will examine the possibility of setting up a joint industrial zone on the border between Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
VIII. Infrastructure and civilian arrangements
The water, electricity, sewage and communications infrastructures will be left in place.
As a rule, Israel will enable the continued supply of electricity, water, gas and fuel to the Palestinians, under the existing arrangements and full compensation.
The existing arrangements, including the arrangements with regard to water and the electromagnetic area, will remain valid.
IX. The activity of the international civilian organizations
The State of Israel views very favorably continued activity of the international humanitarian organizations and those that deal will civil development, which aid the Palestinian population.
The State of Israel will coordinate with the international organizations the arrangements that will make this activity easier.
The State of Israel suggests that an international mechanism (such as the AHLC) be set up, in coordination with Israel and international bodies, that will work to develop the Palestinian economy.
X. Economic arrangements
In general, the economic arrangements that are currently in effect between Israel and the Palestinians will remain valid. These arrangements include, among other things:
A. The movement of goods between the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, Israel and foreign countries.
B. The monetary regime.
C. The taxation arrangements and the customs envelope.
D. Postal and communications arrangements.
H. The entry of workers into Israel in accordance with the existing criteria. [Hopefully more workers, as was the case before. Again, the key precondition is quiet borders.]
In the long run, and in accordance with the Israeli interest in encouraging Palestinian economic independence, The State of Israel aspires to reduce the number of Palestinian workers entering Israel, and eventually to completely stop their entrance. The State of Israel will support the development of employment sources in the Gaza Strip and in the Palestinian areas in the West Bank, by international bodies. [This is part of the "divorce mood" prevailing in Israel. I hope the mood will change, and it will if terror stops. In the short run, Palestine will find it very difficult to develop independent economy in the limited area of the Gaza Strip. Israel pushes away responsibility to "international bodies". This is the easy solution. Easy solutions are not always the most prudent ones.]
XI. The international crossing points
A. The international crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt
1. The existing arrangements will remain in force.
2. Israel is interested in transferring the crossing point to the "border triangle," south of its current location. This will be done in coordination with the Egyptian government. This will allow the expansion of the hours of activity at the crossing point.
B. The international crossing points between Judea and Samaria, and Jordan.
The existing arrangements will remain in force.
XII. The Erez crossing point
The Erez crossing point will be moved into the territory of the State of Israel according to a timetable that will be determined separately.
The implementation of the four-stage disengagement plan will bring about an improvement in the situation and a break from the current stagnation. If and when the Palestinian side shows a willingness, an ability and an implementation of actions to fight terrorism, a full cessation of terror and violence and the carrying out of reforms according to the roadmap, it will be possible to return to the track of discussions and negotiations.
On June 15, 2004, Israel's attorney general Meni Mazuz had decided against indicting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on charges of accepting bribes from the real estate developer, Dudi Appel. Rejecting Edna Arbel's (the state prosecutor) recommended of late March to indict Sharon, Mazuz had decided there was not enough evidence to support an indictment. As you recall, in January, Appel was indicted on charges of trying to bribe Sharon with about $700,000, most of it paid to Gilad Sharon, his son. Appel had been seeking Sharon's help with real estate deals, including building a resort and casino on a Greek island, beginning in the late 1990's when Sharon was foreign minister in a previous government. The resort was never built. The case is known in Israel as the Greek Island Affair. For proposed payments of $3 million, Appel hired Gilad to promote the development on the Greek island, though, the indictment said, he "did not have the relevant professional skills." After hiring Gilad, Appel made monthly payments to an account of the Sharon ranch, which is in Gilad's name. It listed 15 separate payments, some in dollars and some in shekels, totaling about $700,000.
Appel's indictment charged that he had told Sharon that Gilad would make a lot of money, but it did not lay out evidence that Sharon had knowingly taken a bribe. Legal experts say it would be possible to prosecute one man for giving bribes, without prosecuting the target of the bribe, if he was believed to be unaware of the intent.
MK Yossi Sarid (Yahad, formerly Meretz) and Eitan Cabel (Labor) announced they would petition the High Court.
Sharon is also facing the possibility of eventual charges in another investigation, into a loan from a South African businessman to cover the refund of illegal campaign contributions in his election race in 1999.
The Labour's legendary leader would love to join Sharon's collapsing coalition. It is difficult for him to be away from the real action, and he loves meeting leaders of the world to push the peace-of-sorts forward. Sharon and Peres just had "a routine meeting". Sharon wants to continue in office. Peres wishes to return to the Foreign Office. As you know, I am against coalition governments in principle, thinking it ill-serves democracy. It does serve the interests of leaders of both parties.
Israel is preparing to build new segments of its separation barrier around Jewish settlements that would mark the deepest penetration yet into the West Bank. According to the NY Times (June 14, 2004), President Bush has called the fence's route a "problem." Indeed it is a major problem. American officials have raised objections in continuing talks with the Israelis. But Israel has insisted that Washington has not opposed the first phase of construction around Ariel and nearby settlements that are more than 10 miles inside the West Bank. This is true. Does it mean that mistakes should be reiterated?
The Israeli plan, approved by the government last fall, calls for building a barrier around three sides of Ariel, which is about 20 miles north of Jerusalem and is one of the largest Jewish settlements, with close to 20,000 residents. This same building pattern would be carried out around several other settlements in the same area.
After this work is completed, Israel would consult with the United States about joining these sections together and linking them with the main barrier, which runs closer to the West Bank boundary.
Paul Patin, a spokesperson for the American Embassy commented: "We accept Israel's right to build a fence for security, but when the route goes deep into the West Bank, it has political dimensions, and we have concerns about that." The Bush administration has said that it does not object to the barrier in principle, but believes that it should be on, or very close to, the borders Israel had before the 1967 war in which Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli plan to include Ariel inside the barrier is one of the most controversial aspects of the entire project because it would be the most far-reaching intrusion into the West Bank. Until now, Israel has built about a quarter of the planned barrier, which would eventually put about 15 percent of the West Bank on the western or Israeli side, according to United Nations calculations. The barrier's planned route would put most of the West Bank settlers on the Israeli side of the fence.
The initial phase of the building is to be completed by May 2005. Construction on the parts that would connect the fence to the main West Bank barrier is tentatively planned to begin next year. In most areas, the barrier consists of an electronic fence accompanied by razor wire, trenches and guard towers. Some sections include concrete walls more than 20 feet high.
In another development on June 14, 2004, the Israeli military said it had removed 42 of 150 roadblocks and other obstacles in the West Bank. The move would ease Palestinian movements, though Israel still has checkpoints throughout the West Bank. This development should be congratulated. I hope this trend will continue.
Israeli Democracy Index
The Israel Democracy Institute publishes every year a report about the state of democracy in Israel. A complete English text of the 2004 Israeli Democracy Index will be available soon at: http://www.idi.org.il/english/article.php?id=205bf79ab2a9fdbc8aa2b819f733b9da.
Euthanasia in the Netherlands
This month I was invited to deliver two lectures, both on Euthanasia in the Netherlands, the subject matter of my forthcoming book, both at Hopkins. I think these were the last two public lectures for this academic year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues who have graciously invited me to address audiences in their respective universities, speaking on diverse topics. I cherish such meetings and encounters.
I recently read Patricia Campbell Hearst with Alvin Moscow, Patty Hearst: Her Own Story (New York: Avon, 1982). Hearst tells the story of her kidnapping by the SLA. It is most horrifying story, a real life drama, written in an engaging and interesting style. I found it difficult to let the book out of my hands.
With my very best wishes, as ever,
My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com
Earlier posts at my home page: http://lib-stu.haifa.ac.il/staff/rcohen-Almagor