On Thursday, October 22nd, 2015, the CIS held a conference at Air Force House in Herzliya, attended by 200 members and supporters.
- The feasibility of the two-state solution, Col. (ret.) Shaul Arieli (a separate newsletter will cover this lecture).
- CIS’ Policy and Plans, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amnon Reshef.
“The future of the State of Israel does not depend on the availability of a partner. Israel must take a security-diplomatic initiative”
To view a video of the speech(Hebrew), press here.
“The wave of terrorism testifies to the risks inherent in a binational solution”
The People of Israel are experiencing a period of anxiety concerning personal security, and for good reasons. This is not the first wave of terrorism, and without a fundamental change in conditions, it can be safely predicted that the current round will not be the last.
This wave of terrorism is a concrete and painful manifestation of the risks facing Israel as a democratic-Jewish state from the emergence of a bi-national reality. It is the outcome of failures of many Israeli governments and the absence of a strategy and of a courageous security-diplomatic initiative.
Our security forces are working diligently and courageously in protecting our people and lowering the flames. But these activities, even if proven effective in the immediate future, do not address the core problem, and thus cannot prevent the next round.
“The status quo policy has failed”
The policy of maintaining the status quo has failed repeatedly, resulting in outbreaks of violence from the north, south, and from within. We cannot control the behavior of our neighbors. But with different conduct we can change their calculations; strengthen the moderates; weaken the extremists, and ensure that – when the time comes – our people will be united in the conviction that we are just, and the relevant international community will not unite against us.
It is not just that sanctifying the status quo does not fit in with an ever changing environment, but even as Israel declares allegiance to the status quo, it constantly changes it: legalizing isolated illegal settlements; increasing the number of settlers beyond the separation fence; building settlements and neighborhoods to prevent Palestinian territorial contiguity; as well as a huge investment in infrastructure, in building roads to nowhere – none of these are expressions of a status quo.
These are material changes that jeopardize the prospects of separating from the Palestinians; feed frustration, hopelessness, and fury among Palestinians; radicalize the street against us in neighboring countries; and irritate our friends in the West.
“Israel does not initiate; it lets itself be dragged along”
For a long time, Israel has taken no initiative. We have let ourselves be dragged along by events. That is how we were dragged into the Second Lebanon War; into Operation Cast Lead; into Operation Protective Edge; and now into the uprising of knives and car ramming attacks.
The future of the State of Israel must not be dependent on the availability of a partner. Only on our own decisions”
The two-state solution, which is the best solution for the State of Israel, its security, and existence as a democratic-Jewish state, seems farther away than ever. But current Israeli policy jeopardizes its possible realization in the future.
The standing of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is dismal, and a large part of the Palestinian public no longer regards him as their legitimate representative. The Abbas era may soon be over. We may have to wait for his successor. But this is no justification for jeopardizing our long-term security by taking irresponsible actions in the interim.
The split between Fatah and Hamas, between the West Bank and Gaza Strip rules out a dialogue with a single Palestinian government which represents all Palestinians. We can’t change this. But we must avoid any act that perpetuates it, and must encourage measures to change it – including by Egypt and other pragmatic Arab states.
The claim that there is no partner – justified or not — must not justify a policy that keeps us stuck in the Palestinian mire. The future of the State of Israel is not dependent on the availability of a partner, but is based solely on our decisions.
“We must set Israel’s border with Palestine”
Therefore, we must immediately set Israel’s eastern border with Palestine, including the settlement blocs and the Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Such a decisive unilateral decision will be a turning point with far-reaching consequences in future negotiations with the Palestinians and the international community:
First and foremost, it will be the ultimate response to trickling terrorism from the West Bank into Israel and will limit the friction points between the peoples. That was the logic behind the construction of the separation fence following the Second Intifada. That logic still holds and is even more valid now;
Such a decision will allow Israel to continue developing the large blocs within the territorial swap concept which has already been endorsed by all relevant parties, including the Palestinians;
Such a declaration, however painful, will clarify the status of the settlements on the eastern side of the border.
“This will rehabilitate our relations with the US and Europe”
This decision will make it clear to all that our intentions are serious; it will rehabilitate our relations with the US and Europe; and allow regional cooperation to begin.
In view of the principle that we must avoid any measure that makes it more difficult to achieve a permanent settlement, it is essential to ensure that our actions today do not perpetuate the separation of the two parts of the future Palestinian state. This means that rehabilitation efforts in the Gaza Strip and efforts at cease-fire stabilization do not weaken the Palestinian Authority, but rather pave the way for its return to the Gaza Strip, if at all possible.
We must strive for a reality in which Israel’s readiness to move forward will yield a response from the relevant Arab states and the international community whereby they undertake to share in the responsibility for the relationship between Hamas and Fatah.
“Israeli military control will continue until a permanent settlement agreement is reached and implemented”
Israeli military control will continue until a permanent settlement agreement is reached and implemented, including security arrangements that will allow a different deployment of the IDF. All to be implemented in accordance with agreed phases and subject to the Palestinians’ meeting the conditions for transition from one phase to the next.
Demilitarization of both the Gaza Strip and West Bank will be a condition for a permanent status agreement. However, while Palestinian controlled segments of the West Bank are already demilitarized, it is important to demand a gradual demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as well, even if prospects for short term compliance are dim.
“Achieving national goals depends solely on Israel’s decision”
Achieving national goals depends solely on Israel’s decision. Progress toward realizing them does not depend on an agreement with the Palestinians or on the existence of a partner. The stages mentioned and the interim solutions suggested will serve Israel’s strategic objectives in both the immediate and long term.
To talk about diplomatic arrangements – even gradual ones – in these times sounds hallucinatory. But every crisis has a “morning after”, and it is our duty to try and ensure that the morning after will not be the eve of the next crisis.
In this hall, and throughout the country, there are hundreds of senior defense officials who share this vision. Cumulatively, we represent thousands of years of experience in security in all the defense branches.
We served in all of Israel’s wars without hesitation. We have lost countless dear friends. Many of us deal with the scars of battle every day and every night.
“Change the nation’s direction so that our children can grow up in a secure and strong Jewish-democratic state”
This is the time to step forward to serve as a powerful lever for change. Not partisan change – that is not our business as a movement. But to change the national direction. A change that will ensure that our children and grandchildren will not be forced to experience what we have experienced. A change in which they will grow up and raise their children in a secure and strong Jewish-democratic state.
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