December 7, 2013
SO HERE comes John Kerry again, for the umpteenth time (but who is counting?) to make peace between us and the Palestinians.
It is a highly laudable effort. Unfortunately, it is based on a false premise. To wit: that the Israeli government wants peace based on the two-state solution.
Unwilling – or unable – to recognize this simple truth, Kerry looks for a way around. He tries approaches from different directions, in the hope of convincing Binyamin Netanyahu. In his imagination he hears Netanyahu exclaim: “Now, why didn’t I think of that?!”
So here he comes with a new idea: to start by solving
Let’s not talk for now about the other “core problems”, he says. Let’s look at your concerns and see how to meet them. I have brought with me an honest-to-goodness combat general with an honest-to-goodness security plan. Have a look at it!
This approach is based on the false premise – the offspring of the overall premise – that the “security concerns” cited by our government are genuine. Kerry is expressing the basic American belief that if reasonable people sit around a table and analyze a problem, they will find a solution.
So there is a plan. General John Allen, a former commander of the war in
Since the Jordan valley constitutes about 20% of the West Bank, which together with the Gaza Strip constitutes altogether about 22% of the former country of Palestine, this is a non-starter.
For our government, that is its main value.
THE JORDAN, one of the most celebrated rivers in world history, is actually a
smallish creek about
How did it attain its present strategic importance?
The following account is simplified, but not far removed from what actually happened.
Immediately after the June 1967 war, when all the Palestinian lands had fallen
Most of the
This valley, part of the huge Syrian-African rift, is flat. Lodged between the river and the central Palestinian mountain ridge, it also has ample water. For the trained eye of a kibbutznik, it was ideal for agricultural machinery. It was also sparsely populated.
Almost all important Israeli leaders at the time had an agricultural background.
Levy Eshkol, the Prime Minister, had been responsible for many years, before the
establishment of the state, for the Jewish settlement effort. The Minister of
Defense, Moshe Dayan, was born in a kibbutz and grew up in a Moshav (cooperative
village). The Minister of Labor, Yigal Allon, was not only a renowned general of
the 1948 war but also a leader of the largest kibbutz movement. His mentor was
IT WAS Allon who provided the military pretext for keeping possession of the
He devised a security plan for the post-1967
Known as the “Allon Plan”, it had – and still has – a strong hold on Israeli political thinking. It was never officially adopted by the Israeli government. Nor does there exist an authorized map of the plan. But it has been endlessly discussed.
The Allon Plan provides for the annexation of the entire
It was generally assumed that Allon intended to return the
THE MILITARY foundations of the Allon Plan were not entirely ridiculous – at the time.
One must remember the situation in, say, 1968. The
The Israeli military nightmare was that all these military forces would suddenly
come together on Jordanian soil and attack
That was 55 years ago. Today this picture is indeed ridiculous. The only
possible military threat facing
As for warning stations, they can be located in my apartment in Tel Aviv. The
100 or so kilometers from here to the
The same goes for other “security concerns”, such as keeping warning stations in
The American general will listen politely and be hard put not to burst out laughing.
There are several Jewish settlements along the valley, put there by the Labor
Party when it was still in power. The inhabitants don’t employ labor from the
neighboring Palestinian villages, but cheaper and more efficient workers from
The only remaining Palestinian township is
ASSUMING FOR a moment that the general convinces Netanyahu that his security plan is wonderful and solves all our military problems, what difference would it make?
Instead, other “concerns” would come to the fore. There is an inexhaustible supply.
The same goes for the other story that fills
The Bedouins have inhabited that Sinai-Negev desert since times immemorial.
Ancient Egyptian stone paintings show their characteristic beards (the same
beard I brought home from the 1948 war, after fighting in the
During the first years of
The real reason was, of course, to get them off their
land and replace them with Jewish settlers.
Being Bedouins, they live dispersed with their
goats over large areas. The government is trying (again) to get them out. The
bureaucrats want to “Judaize” the Negev (while trying
at the same time to “Judaize” the
Call it Zionist, nationalist or racist, it is hardly an attitude conducive to peace. That should be the real concern of John Kerry and John Allen.