Editorial View - By Asher Shla'in

[Comments are welcome at our Dialogue Corner]

The Four GSS Ex-Chiefs

Wisdom, Wickedness, Naivete - And Some Questions

The Israeli daily "Yediot Ahronoth" decided to recycle the Ayalon-Nusseiba Statement, competing with the journalistic "achievement" of "Maariv" with the Geneva Accord. Yediot's creative angle was an interview with four ex-chiefs of Israel's General Security Service (GSS), who are supposed to know both the "Palestinian side" and Israel's security needs.

The interview reminded me of the four sons in the Passover "Haggada": the wise, the wicked, the naive and the one who is incapable of inquiring. Not all the roles taken by the chiefs: Yediot already assumed the wisdom, whereas I shall try to provide some questions.

The panel criticized the policies of Israel's governments, including the ones they had served. They recommended a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, predicting that the settlers would offer limited resistance to their evacuation. Let us first discuss some ideas of two of the ex-chiefs.

Karmi Gilon asserted that "we are currently concerned only with preventing terror, why? Because it is a precondition for political progress". He suggested that "instead of first building trust and then reaching agreements, we should reach agreements now, and then start to deal with the stages that would lead to the accords", whereas "if we perpetuate the conflict with the Palestinians, the state will go from bad to worse". This implies that the obstacle is in the demand to renounce terror now, and in the very need to build trust. According to his logic, a far-reaching agreement should be attained even without mutual trust or faith that the agreement would be observed. Is it by this bright logic that he directed the GSS and arranged for the protection of the late PM Yitzhak Rabin? Is this a wise chief, or naive, or what?

Avraham Shalom complained about Israel's wickedness ("disgraceful conduct" as he puts it). He criticized (and rightfully so) the arrogant treatment of Arabs by certain Israelis. He claimed that "this behavior is a result of the occupation."

In my view, many Israelis lack a sense of respect, both for themselves and for others. This flaw in our culture affects our treatment of the population we rule, but also harms relationships among Israelis themselves. Clearly, proper respect for Jews and Arabs is urgently needed. Does the Ayalon-Nusseiba Statement convey such respect?

The Ayalon-Nusseiba Statement contains inter alia the following principles:

• A Palestinian State and a Jewish State would coexist on both sides of the borders, based on the 1967 lines.

• Evacuation of all the settlers from the Palestinian area.

• Palestinian refugees will return only to the State of Palestine.

• "The Palestinian State will be demilitarized and the international community will guarantee its security and independence".

• "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will come to an end".

The Yediot article makes it clear that none of the four chiefs is disturbed by neither the destruction of the Jewish settlements nor the imposition of a criminal regime over the Palestinian population. Admittedly, this political approach is shared by many.

However, may one ask these four security experts, how they view the role of the international community as a guarantor for the security and independence of the State of Palestine?

Let us note that the document contains no reference to Israel's security. Apparently, Israel's security forces are supposed to provide sufficient solutions.

We were told in previous "peace processes" that, should the Palestinians resort to violence, we would be "strong enough" to reverse the entire arrangement. Not any more! Under the Ayalon-Nusseiba agreement, the Palestinian sovereignty would be protected by international law, thus prohibiting Israel's ability to provide security to its population.

The organizers are currently attempting to persuade the masses to sign their document. Could anyone clarify at least this last point, to those who have not signed it yet?

Asher Shla'in, , 30/November/2003

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