Ami Ayalon, Former Shin Bet, Calling on Gantz to NOT AGREE to any unilateral annexation

Channel 12 - Meet the Press | 4.4.20

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Gantz and Ashkenazi: prevent a government they might join from taking any unilateral annexation measure

Ha’aretz featured a full-page CIS ad whose translation is enclosed. In it, 220 generals and equivalents, including former direct commanders and subordinates of Gantz and Ashkenazi, call upon them to prevent a government they might join from taking any unilateral annexation measure.



CIS in an urgent message to Knesset: Lack of parliamentary oversight undermines national security


In the face of an unprecedented assault on Israel’s democratic norms and institutions, among other steps, earlier today, CIS issued the following statement (already picked up by the press):

The Chairperson of Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), former member of the Security Cabinet and Knesset Security and Foreign Affairs committee, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Matan Vilnai, sent a clear message to Knesset Chairman, MK Yuli Edelstein, and to the chairs of Knesset factions:

The absence of Parliamentary oversight over the government activity in the realm of security as well as in other areas, via the Knesset Security and Foreign Affairs committee, constitutes a security negligence, undermines national cohesiveness and endangers our democracy!

The state of Israel is dealing with one of the most severe crises since its founding. The public is in a state of uncertainty and is concerned about the future. At such an hour, when public confidence in the governing authorities is more essential than ever, Knesset oversight of government decisions, particularly as they relate to national security, is vital.

On behalf of the hundreds of CIS members, I call upon Knesset Chairman, Yuli Edelstein, and all leaders of Knesset factions to decide immediately on the formation of an interim Security and Foreign Affairs committee that secures transparent oversight of the security agencies, which is essential for public trust in them.

Trashing the norms and institutions of our democracy endangers our national security.

A CIS Position Statement Regarding The American Plan and Annexation

CIS welcomes any effort to renew the national discussion over the necessity of separating from the Palestinians in a two-state agreement, and the prime minister’s endorsement of this solution. However, the Movement warns against any attempt to use the initiative for unilateral annexation.

Whether the American initiative serves as a basis for future negotiations – which Israel will enter after the prime minister accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state over 70% of the West Bank and additional 14% of sovereign Israeli territory – or should future conditions for negotiations with the Palestinians result in a different Israeli approach, CIS warns against any attempt to exploit the initiative for a unilateral annexation move.

There is no risk-free unilateral annexation.

The situation does not justify - and certainly does not require - taking unnecessary security risks.

Any unilateral annexation - of a single settlement bloc, all settlements, or the Jordan Valley - undermines Israel’s security:

  • Annexation will destabilize the already sensitive relations with Jordan, its regime stability, and bilateral security coordination. The importance of security coordination with Jordan to Israel’s national security, in deterrence, early warning, and in thwarting acts of terror and state aggression from adversaries such as Iran, cannot be overstated. It will be utterly irresponsible to undermine a primary Israeli security interest and bring those risks closer to our border.
  • Annexation might bring about the end of security coordination with the Palestinian Authority and possibly its very collapse. Whether this will be due to a Palestinian leadership decision or be forced upon it by popular pressure, terror groups - first among them Hamas - will fill the ensuing security vacuum. To prevent their takeover, the IDF will be forced to reoccupy the entire West Bank. Thereafter, Israel will be responsible for managing the lives of 2.6 million Palestinians. Much of the IDF and Shin Bet’s attention will have to be dedicated to this mission, at the expense of preparedness for security challenges to the north (Syria, Lebanon), east (Iran) and south (Hamas). All this with no exit strategy from the trap of a bi-national state.
  • Annexation is expected to increase the level of violence from Gaza, both directly and via the West Bank. This will force the IDF to reoccupy Gaza as well and to run the lives of its two million Palestinians. Here too with no exit strategy.

CIS supports the annexation of major settlement blocs as part of an agreement with the Palestinians.

But what is a legitimate demand in negotiations is likely to prove destructive when done unilaterally.

Regardless of our judgement of any facet of the American initiative, it incorporate two unacceptable precedents:

  • Abandoning over 14,000 Israelis, residents of 15 isolated settlements, at the heart of the territory earmarked for the State of Palestine. Protecting them will be a security nightmare.
  • The possibility of including the Arab Triangle, and its 250,000 Israeli Arab citizens, in the area designated for transfer to Palestinian sovereignty. Beyond being morally reprehensible, the very consideration of the idea would severely undermine the process of integration of Arab citizens into Israeli society. The worrisome phenomena of very few Israeli Arabs who over the years cooperated with Israel’s enemies might evolve into a flood, once Arab citizens see no value in loyalty to the state. The price will be paid not only by the Shin Bet, which will face an unprecedented challenge, but by the general public as well.

Given irresponsible calls for ‘annexation now’ on the one hand, and the dim prospects of an imminent two-state solution on the other, CIS determines that reducing tensions between the two peoples and preserving conditions for a future agreement mandate civilian separation from the Palestinians while maintaining the present security deployment until negotiations permit otherwise, all as detailed in our Security First plan.

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Why Did Israeli Generals Write to Netanyahu?

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Rolly Gueron Explains Why West Bank Annexation Should Stay Out Of Coalition Talks

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Annexation under the Cover of Corruption

Ben Dror Yemini | May 25, 2019 | Yedioth Ahronoth

The justified preoccupation with immunity and corruption makes us forget the danger that clauses on full or partial annexation are now being inserted into the coalition agreements. Most Israelis oppose annexation, including those who have no enthusiasm for a Palestinian state. But among MKs from the coalescing coalition – there is a majority. Against this backdrop, Commanders for Israel's Security sent a letter to the Prime Minister - signed by hundreds of former senior officers in the defense establishment - asking him either not to annex, or to hold a national referendum if and when the government decides on annexation.

They write, among other things, "Applying Israeli law to Judea and Samaria, in whole or in part, other than as part of a negotiated agreement, will result in a chain reaction that will seriously compromise Israel's security, economy and its regional and global status... Annexation without an agreement endangers Israel’s security and the lives of its residents... What will begin as the application of sovereignty to a limited area will necessarily deteriorate into full annexation of the West Bank with its millions of Palestinian residents."

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “Those 'experts' supported the nuclear agreement with Iran and warned, 'Bibi has made a navigation error and is destroying the alliance with America'." A crushing response? Not exactly. For two reasons.

First, because the alliance with the Trump administration is definitely important, but that is not an alliance with America. Israel is gradually losing the support of Democrats and of the American Jewish community. It is true that that is mainly because of mendacious propaganda against Israel, but not only. It also has to do with Netanyahu.

Secondly, many experts have erred repeatedly. Regarding Iran, it seems to me that there is no need to support every measure made by Netanyahu to know that he was actually right. Iran exploited the nuclear agreement to expand its destructive influence, increas the danger to the State of Israel, develop more and more missiles, and to undermine governments in Arab states. Just like Jihad, it seeds destruction and ruin wherever it is. And thanks to the nuclear agreement.

But just like defense experts err, just like Kennedy and Churchill erred quite a few times, Netanyahu is also wrong. Big time. In 2002, he was among those who urged the American administration to attack Iraq. "There must be no mistake on this matter," Netanyahu told Congress. "The moment that Saddam has nuclear weapons, the network of terrorist organizations will have nuclear weapons too." Israel's semi-official position was the opposite. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opposed Netanyahu's position and tried to persuade US President George W. Bush that Iran, not Iraq, was the problem.

In any event, according to a study by Prof. Dov Waxman, Israel did not push the United States into confrontation. But good souls spread Netanyahu's position to undermine his position on Iran. He was wrong about Iraq. That does not mean that he is wrong about Iran.

To the same degree, the fact that defense experts have erred on various issues does not lead to the conclusion that they are wrong now.

Because annexation is a different story altogether. There is no need to wait for the future to know that annexation means the establishment of a Judeo-Arab entity. Mixing hostile populations necessarily ends in bloodshed.

Some right-wingers dream of encouraging Palestinian emigration from Israel. These are fantasies. Even assuming that 20,000 Palestinians leave the territories every year, as the right claims, because of their birthrate, the proportion of Arabs between the Jordan and Sea will grow.

Even without a Palestinian state, which the Palestinians do not want, annexation means a bi-national state, with full civil rights or without rights. In any case, the result is one and the same: the end of Zionism. The conclusion is not despair. There are interim solutions based on civil and demographic separation - even if not total - while retaining security control. In any event, there is no need to wait for the future to know that when it comes to annexation, the defense experts are right.


CIS Response to the Exposure of the Sovereignty Movement’s Activity

February 12, 2019

Commanders for Israel's Security responds to the activity of the "Sovereignty Movement”, as exposed on Ynet (Eng Ver click here) today.

 "Today, the extreme right's mode of operation for annexing millions of Palestinians was revealed. Undetected, a right-wing extremist group is working to ensure that the next government will implement its plan.

Although most of the Israeli public understands the destructive implications of annexation, utterly opposes it, and is unaware of the measures to realize this horror scenario, the Sovereignty Movement creates facts on the ground, mobilizes extreme right-wing politicians and lays the groundwork for implementing the move.”

It is now clear that these are not merely delusional dreams. The declarations favoring annexation, or using the laundered term "application of sovereignty," frequently delivered by extreme right-wing politicians, are public expressions of a well thought-out plan developed in hiding, whose implementation began during the term of the outgoing government. With backwind of the support they have mobilized so far, the annexationists no longer hide their intentions, openly proclaiming their determination to accomplish the feat during the term of the next government, leading to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish, secure and democratic state."

According to CIS, "The annexation pressure is on. The pressure exerted on politicians to express support for annexation are but the prelude to the pressure to be exerted on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, if elected, to commit to annexation as a condition for forming the next government.

If the annexation move is not halted immediately, we will wake up to a different Israel during the term of the next government, without a solid Jewish majority and all the security and other implications of integrating millions of Palestinians into the State of Israel. This pressure should be stopped right now.

According to Commanders for Israel's Security, "We call on all heads of the Zionist parties to express a clear position against the annexation plan and in favor of the State of Israel.

“CIS is a non-partisan movement comprising retired senior members of the defense establishment. Its 286 former senior commanders from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad and Israel Police are united in a mission to ensure a strong, democratic Israel with a solid Jewish majority for generations to come.” Security-political initiatives developed by teams of the CIS security experts have been  presented to the public and decision-makers.

Ministers and MKs advocate for the Movement to Annex the West Bank

by Dror Liba | Ynet |  February 12, 2019

The issue of annexing Judea and Samaria to Israel is one of the most explosive - both from a political and diplomatic standpoint. The international community opposes the annexation of the territories on the grounds that it will put an end to the two-state solution, but the idea garners wide support among Israeli right wingers.

In an embarrassing incident which unfolded between Israel and the United States about a year ago, the White House denied having had any talks about sovereignty with Jerusalem. The issue at hand was the Law of Sovereignty proposed by Likud MKs. To thwart it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had discussed it with the Americans. After heatedly denying this, the White House demanded that Netanyahu issue a clarification, in which he announced he had only updated Washington on the bills proposed by the Knesset.

In all probability, Trump's Centennia Plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be presented before the April 9 elections, but with the initiative continuing to resonate in the background, it is evident that considerable activity is underway to promote the idea of applying Israeli law to the territories.

The Sovereignty Movement - which has gained power and traction in recent years, primarily among Likud members - is an offshoot of the Women in Green movement, founded by right-wing female activists Yehudit Katzover and Nadia Matar. Matar made headlines prior to the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, after having called the head of the Disengagement Administration "a modern-day Judenrat." She was questioned and tried for insulting public officials, but the charges were eventually dropped. Both women regularly attend demonstrations in the West Bank.

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MKs call for sovereignty over Judea and Samaria

In recent years, the Movement has made efforts to influence members of the Likud Party, with its members constantly working to boost support for annexation. In the Leumiada (the flagship event of the ‘national camp’), which took place in Eilat last month, a panel of speakers led by the movement was held, entitled “Applying Sovereignty." The panel featured Ministers Zeev Elkin, Haim Katz and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

The movement’s YouTube channel featured videos of numerous ministers, deputy ministers and MKs who support its objectives - including Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of the New Right, Miri Regev, Yariv Levin, Gila Gamliel and Ofir Akunis of the Likud, Elazar Stern from Yesh Atid, and many others.

Akunis said: “To begin with, the idea of a Palestinian state is off the table. Second, we must take courageous, tough, challenging, and difficult decisions vis a vis the international community - first and foremost to apply sovereignty over Area C. Area C has a clear Israeli and Jewish majority and a negligible Palestinian minority."

According to Gamliel, “It is our duty to boost Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, to apply Israeli law to the entire Judea and Samaria." Levin said in the video: “As far as I’m concerned, the application of Israeli sovereignty throughout Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) is not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘how’ and ‘when’."

Stern said: "Indeed, we must strive for sovereignty. I believe it’s  possible. The challenge, of course, is to rearrange some more procedures here so we can apply sovereignty. "

The movement also publishes a journal entitled “Sovereignty”, which features articles supporting the application of sovereignty to the West Bank, written by prominent Likud members such as Gideon Sa'ar, Elkin and Gila Gamliel. During the last local elections, the movement called on residents in Judea and Samaria to vote only for candidates committed to the application of sovereignty. Among other initiatives, the movement holds conferences and seminars for youth who support the movement's vision.

The influence of the movement on the Likud was already apparent in late 2017, when the party's Central Committee issued a declaration confirming that the party supported the annexation of the territories. According to the resolution, “On the 50th anniversary of liberating Judea and Samaria, including Jerusalem, the Likud Central Committee calls upon the Likud's elected representatives to seek unhindered construction [in Judea and Samaria] and to apply Israel’s laws and sovereignty to all liberated areas of settlement in Judea and Samaria."

The movement enjoys donor funding, mainly from the Central Fund of Israel, which is based in New York and headed by the Marcus family. The private fund raises donations from American Jews and transfers them to right-wing Israeli entities.

Im Tirtzu, Chonenu and the Kohelet Forum are some of the organizations that benefit from the Fund's support. The Sovereignty Movement has received NIS 1.5 million in donations from the fund.

Commanders for Israel's Security responded to the story as follows: "Today, the extreme right's mode of operation for annexing millions of Palestinians has been revealed. Unnoticed, a right-wing extremist group is working to ensure that the next government will implement its plan. Although most of the Israeli public understands the destructive implications of annexation, utterly opposes it, and is unaware of the measures to realize this horror scenario, the Sovereignty Movement is creating facts on the ground, mobilizing extreme right-wing politicians and laying the groundwork for implementing the move.”

Annexation Is a Pernicious Issue for Israel

By Ed Robin And Steven Windmueller | FEB 6, 2019 | JEWISH JOURNAL

Modern Israel has been a remarkable unifying force for American Jewry. Sadly, the subject of Israel and most discussions about Israeli policies today have become deeply divisive. In some instances, these debates have cost friendships and silenced organizations and Jewish leaders from engaging in conversations around Israel.

There is an issue, however, around which most Jews can coalesce — the potential annexation of portions or all of Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. This poses a threat to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, which should concern all Jews.

Various proposals for annexation of portions or all of the territory are currently on the Israeli political agenda. Advocates of these proposals are not bashful about their intent to pass such legislation during the next government. This is a result of Israeli coalition politics whereby a minority political party can demand support of a policy as a condition for its participation in the governing coalition.

Yet, contrary to common understanding, a just-released poll by The Institute for National Security Studies shows that only 25 percent of Israelis support some form of annexation. However, the majority opposing annexation do not view this issue as a priority, while its passionate advocates do.

The ideological controversy over borders mirrors historic debates about “Greater Israel.” For over 100 years, there have been passionate debates within the Zionist movement about the required borders of the Jewish state — the entirety of biblical Israel or only those areas with majority Jewish population. In debates over whether to support the United Nations partition resolution in 1947, the consensus position favoring a Jewish state separate from an Arab state prevailed over advocates who embraced the Greater Israel position, enabling the Zionist enterprise to succeed dramatically with the formation of modern Israel. Similarly, the agreement to cede territory to Egypt at Camp David prevailed over fierce opposition, leading to four decades of peace, which continues to be maintained.

Defeat of current annexation proposals is essential to preventing a cascade of extremely serious political, security and economic consequences. Many of the proposals seem deceptively innocuous, promising to annex unpopulated territory, not Palestinians. The consequences of these proposals would likely produce dire long-term and short-term consequences. Advocates of this “luxurious” (no cost) annexation proposal pretend this action will not trigger reactions. They are wrong.

There is a strong consensus among security experts that annexation, even on a small scale, would upset the fragile balance with the Palestinians. For example, territory annexed in all the proposals would eliminate contiguity for areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is essential for transit from one area to another. This arrangement would likely lead to the termination of security cooperation and/or the collapse of the PA. As a result, the Israel Defense Forces would be required to re-enter and take over all of Judea/Samaria and assume responsibility for its millions of Palestinians.

This would have a severe impact on Israel’s security and economy, while also burying any possibility of an ultimate resolution separating the parties to the conflict. The multiple billions of dollars in security and public services expenditures for control of the territories alone would cripple the Israeli economy, and international sanctions or loss of investment would add to the blow.

Israel has made tremendous strides in its relations with many of its Arab neighbors, creating the opportunity for a different Middle East, which might eventually include a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Proposed annexation moves would give potentially friendly powers in the region little choice but to abandon this hopeful path. Public outrage in the Arab countries would very likely result in termination of existing limited cooperation. Iran would have a potent public weapon against its Sunni enemies. American groups opposing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) would be severely disadvantaged. While annexation consequences would far exceed BDS as a threat, they also would make its success substantially more likely.

Internationally, severe diplomatic, financial and legal problems would likely result. Although the current U.S. government might not initially object, reaction from the European Union might well include concrete measures, including political, economic and arms supply sanctions. Russia and China might well join in opposing Israel’s actions. The international community, assuming abandonment of any possibility of an eventual two-state solution, would increase pressure on Israel to grant equal rights to all Palestinians. Thus, Israel would be faced with a tragic dilemma — either the loss of its dominant Jewish character and becoming a secular, democratic state; or denying Palestinians equal rights and losing its standing and character as a democratic nation.

Annexation initiatives have galvanized a strong nonpartisan effort to defeat these measures. Notable among them is the Commanders for Israel’s Security, a network of almost 300 former senior leaders of the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet and police that has conducted extensive research on the subject, illustrating the immediate and existential threat. Each political party campaigning for election should be encouraged to publicly commit not to enter a government unless the coalition agreement opposes annexation or permits it a veto. In this way, the consensus opposing annexation can prevail in a nonpartisan way.

Only by preventing annexation can Israel retain its strategic security, flexibility and future options while insuring against a required choice between being a Jewish or democratic state.

Ed Robin is a board member of the Israel Policy Forum. Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.