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http://www.washington-report.org/back/1995/10/9510016.htm

 

Rabin Implements Sharon's West Bank Settlement Plans

By Israel Shahak

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 1995, PAGE 16

 

Israel's Likud party has persisted on being the party of talk instead of action. Thus former Likud party Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's big speeches about settlement building in the occupied territories antagonized President George Bush and the American public while in fact he did little in the way of land confiscation and settlement building. By contrast, the Labor party has led a government coalition of hypocrisy, soothing talk and huge settlement expansion. The point is well illustrated in an article in the July 19 Yediot Ahronot by Israeli journalist Tanya Reinhart. The article,which I have translated from Hebrew, follows:

To judge from common talk, a heavy cloud of civil rebellion is hovering over us and a fierce struggle is being waged between the settlers and the government. The leftist columnists are denouncing and the learned analysts are debating whether soldiers have the right to refuse to evacuate army training camps [in the occupied territories] and others are praising the government for dealing so well with the danger of rebellion.

In reality, all the talk about rebellion and confrontation with the government is no more than a media show. An outstanding example is the recent affair on Ha'Zayit hill. About six months ago, tempers ran high on the hills near the Efrat settlement. Meretz and Peace Now joined the protest of the [Palestinian] residents of al-Khader village over the plan for building a settlement on the Tamar hill. In the spirit of the times, the protest ritual ended in the decision to transfer the buildings to the adjacent Ha'Zayit hill and the government authorized the construction of 286 housing units there. However, the "Ha'Zayit association" headed by MK Hanan Porat, faced financial difficulties and therefore has not managed to build the authorized units (Ha'aretz, July 14).

Last week the settlers decided to hold a spectacular operation of moving 17 mobile homes to the hill that they were given. Incredibly, that happened just two days after their leaders met [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin. This huge confrontation was a consequence of the simple fact that they had refused to apply for the permit that is officially required for transferring mobile homes. The photogenic confrontation with the police supplied the message that we love to hear--the settlers are enraged about the government's "peace process."

The settlers are doing the dirty work of the
government.

Anyone who still recalls the evacuation of Yamit [in Sinai by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1982] and the massive demonstrations of the settlers immediately following the Oslo agreement can see that there is no genuine concern here, and that the rebellion is a play staged by the settlers. It is no coincidence that the secular right wing did not succeed in mobilizing thousands of its supporters for these demonstrations. The secular right wing knows that the government is faithfully and thoroughly implementing the demands that it has posed for years.

In an interview in Davar on July 14, [Likud leader Gen. Ariel] Sharon boasted that the plan now being implemented is exactly what he has been proposing since 1974. He even praised Rabin, saying, among other things, that "I also have no doubt that there are people abroad who think that Rabin gave the Palestinians some big deal. No way. These things are being done with cunning."

The settlements in Sharon's plan were positioned so that it would be possible to seize the hills and the state lands between them, creating a Jewish territorial continuity. Indeed, for several weeks the settlers have been creating facts on the ground, unhindered. In late June, the spokesman of the Judea and Samaria Council, Aharon Domb, expressed his satisfaction at the fact that "the government seldom intervened in the 'Land of Israel First' campaign in which the settlers took control of and fenced in tens of thousands of acres of state lands." They could have been stopped as they were stopped in the staged affair on Ha'Zayit hill. There were not too many of them. If there had been the will, it would have been possible. But there was no will, because the settlers are doing the dirty work of the government.

If so, why are we preoccupied with fake commotions that concern only a few mobile homes while tens of thousands of dunums are being confiscated by the government or taken over by the settlers? The answer is that fake commotions always affect the stupid soul-searching of the Israeli left. If the right wing is so enraged about the government's decisions, many of the members of the left think that that is a sign that the government should be supported. In this way we can continue to convince ourselves that the confiscations, the bypass roads and the huge budgets granted the settlements are a necessary interim course on the road toward creating a Palestinian state, or that the government is keeping the settlements as a bargaining chip.

A bargaining chip for what? What else can Israel get from the Palestinians that it is not already taking at this stage? According to [Israel's Foreign Minister] Shimon Peres, the current agreement leaves only 18 percent of the West Bank lands under Palestinian control and, in addition, leaves all its water under exclusive Israeli control. Let us suppose that Arafat wants to bargain for Jerusalem. What bargaining power will he have from the ghettoes that he now is allocated? Sharon is right. This government is implementing his vision of the future but the true believers of the left cannot be confused by facts. They will always prefer to believe the settlers.

 

 


 

Dr. Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and retired professor of chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is chairman of the Israeli League of Human and Civil Rights.

© Copyright 1997 American Educational Trust


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