Recent events provide the first signs of new hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Both sides in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had long ago adopted the idea that the best thing to do regarding progress toward peace is... nothing. If this nothing could be accompanied by noise and fanfare about peace, so much the better, as long as the time could be used to entrench positions and create "facts on the ground."
Since the start of the Intifada II in September 2000, the framework for doing nothing changed from the Oslo accords to the quartet roadmap, and the basic idea was to see how much and how often one could proclaim allegiance to the roadmap, blame failures on the other side and at the same time violate it as outrageously as possible. In this conflict it appears that both sides will finally have to really do something substantial about peace.
Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) took office in a government in which, contrary to the stipulations of the United States, the security forces remain under the control of Yasser Arafat. There will be at best a cease fire, but there will be no dismantling of the terror infrastructure most likely, and no dent in the power of Yasser Arafat, which got a big boost from Israel's attack on him, and from the insistence of the EU on dealing with him. Like his predecessor Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurei wants to negotiate a truce with all the Palestinian factions, and Egyptian officials have come to help broker the internal peace agreement. Unlike Mahmoud Abbas, who tried to counter and isolate Yasser Arafat, Ahmed Qurei's strategy seems to be to use his relationship with Arafat to control the factions and stop the violence, rather than trying to oppose Arafat as Mahmoud Abbas did. This is not the first time that someone has tried to maneuver Yasser Arafat (or Ariel Sharon) into supporting a peace program, and such attempts have not met with notable success in the past. However Qurei, unlike Abbas, is an adroit politician and is in a better position to leverage organization support of the Fatah to maintain the peace, by making use of Arafat's patronage.
On the Israeli side, pressure is mounting on Alriel Sharon from many directions to pull the peace process out of the rut. Chief of Staff Ya'alon got the ball rolling by commenting that Israel had not done enough to try to help the previous Palestinian PM, Mahmoud Abbas, in his bid to get moving on the roadmap. Four former heads of the Israel Security Service (Shin Bet) concurred in a much publicized interview in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that Sharon's do-nothing-for-peace policy is leading Israel to disaster, and that Israel is missing opportunities that may not return. Their stands do not seem to relate to a specific action of the current government however, but rather to long term disagreement with Israeli policy toward the Palestinians in general, including the policies of Rabin and Barak, who, they claim, did not provide a clear direction for what Israel is trying to do with regard to the Palestinians, and did not "pound on the table" and say "we are going home."
Tomi Lapid, head of the Shinui party which is the major partner of the Likud in Sharon's coalition government, is threatening to push a plan for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The Ayalon-Nusseibeh and Geneva Accord peace initiatives are receiving considerable public support both in Israel and in Palestine, and this groundswell of public opinion cannot be lost on politicians of both sides.
Both initiatives, which have been studiously ignored or condemned by the Israeli government, require that Palestinians give up their claims to right of return of refugees.
Return of Palestine refugees to Israel would flood Israel with millions of Palestinians and Israel would cease to be a Jewish state. Until now, Palestinian groups, including Fatah, as well as negotiators have insisted upon the Right of Return, which they claim is guaranteed under UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Since the publication of the Geneva accords, some of the younger Fatah activists have been canvassing refugee camps in favor of giving up the right of return claims in order to obtain a Palestinian state and resettlement of refugees in that state and elsewhere. This represents a dramatic change of heart, motivated by recognition that the freeze in peace negotiations has been favorable to organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who oppose a two state solution, as well as playing into the hands of Israeli settlers who want to perpetuate and formalize the occupation. Palestinians continue to express support for Chairman Arafat for the Intifada and for suicide bombings and other terror actions, but the support for continuation of violence is declining. Palestinians have been living under a tremendous economic and physical strain since the start of the Intifada. Because of the destruction of infrastructure and of Palestinian government wrought by Israeli forces, and because of corrutpion and incompetence in the Palestine Authority, contolled anarchy has degenerated into uncontrolled chaos in many spheres. People are anxious to get back to work, clean up the Palestinian government and go about their lives. They were indignant at reports that Yasser Arafat sends his wife Suha $100,000 each month to support her life in Paris, and that Arafat controls several billion dollars in "slush funds." If there have been few terror attacks in recent weeks, it was more because of lack of means and motivation than because of any desire by extremists to keep the peace.
In Washington, the USA suddenly remembered that Israel has not dismantled any of the illegal outposts that it was supposed to eliminate under the roadmap. US officials began sending out clear signals that it is dissatisfied with Sharon's record on the outposts and with the Israeli security barrier, which cuts deep into Palestinian territory.
It is no coincidence that the US pressure comes just as the US government is finally beginning to understand that there are major problems in Iraq, and that the USA will probably have to deal from a position of far less strength than it thought it had. US officials were quoted on Israel radio as voicing disappointment with Sharon and linking pressure for progress to the debacle the US is facing in Iraq. According to Israel Radio, one official said that Sharon, "isn't acting as a friend, isn't keeping promises and is ignoring the Bush administration's difficult situation in Iraq and the criticism of the president..."
Israel TV Channel 1 quoted a US official as saying about the outposts:
"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. We know what's going on out there."
Though the US administration originally ignored the Geneva Accord agreements, their popularity, or exigencies of the situation in Iraq, caused a change in tone, and Secretary of State Powell praised the agreements, perhaps as a way of criticizing Sharon.
Perhaps this current window of opportunity is a coincidence of exhaustion of both sides, well timed popular initiatives, favorable developments in internal politics and US problems in Iraq. However, for many months it has seemed to me that the Sharon administration has entertained dangerous self-delusions concerning the readiness of the USA to support indefinite procrastination of the peace process and continuation of the occupation. The result was that Israel simply ignored the problem of developing any long term policy other than "grab what we can while we can, as quietly as possible." Likewise, Palestinian extremists became entrenched in their positions, convinced that they could count on Israeli intransigence to reinforce the popularity of their stands among the Palestinian people. But it was foreseeable that while the US would see Israel as an important asset in fighting terror, it would not indefinitely support Sharon's "facts on the ground" policy, because unquestioning US support for Israel would be an unbearable liability for the US in trying to deal with the Arab world. At the same time, the Palestinian and Israeli people have proven to themselves once more what they forgot: while the Oslo accords may have failed, the basic motivation for those accords is still as viable as ever. Both peoples are stuck with each other and condemned to live together in this land. It is only a question of finding the way to do it.
Sources and Background
GUSH SHALOM pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 www.gush-shalom.org
November 17, 2003
Former Shin Bet Heads Decry Israeli Policy
[The Yediot interview, with four former Shabak heads who sharply
spoke out against the way our government handles the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict, attracted worldwide attention. But so far the
interview was only quoted.
The following full translation was distributed on the discussion list
"Alef" by Amy Mina without mention who did
Jerusalem Friday November 14, 2003
We are Seriously Concerned About the Fate of the State of Israel
Yedioth Ahronoth (p. B4) by Alex Fishman and Sima Kadmon --
When the meeting is almost over, we ask Avraham Shalom (Bendor) if he
thinks we are on the brink of an abyss. We are on our way, he says,
because all the steps that we have taken are steps that are contrary to
the aspiration for peace. If we do not turn away from this path, of
adhering to the entire Land of Israel, and if we do not also begin to
understand the other side, dammit, we will not get anywhere. We
must, once and for all, admit that there is an other side, that it has feelings and that it is suffering, and that we are behaving disgracefully. Yes, there is no other word for it.
What do you mean disgracefully, we ask, disgracefully at the roadblocks?
All of it, says Shalom, all of it.
What is disgraceful, we ask, do we behave disgracefully in the refugee camps?
Everything, everything, Shalom says. It is all disgraceful. We debase the
Palestinian man individual to all and sundry. And nobody can take this. We too
would not take it if it were done to us. And neither do they take it, why should they
suffer? And we are incapable of taking even a small step to correct this. Shimon
Peres once tried to take this small step, he at least talked about it when I was
GSS director, and then nothing was done.
Q: What did he talk about?
That the music should be changed, says Shalom. The tone that makes the
music. And Peres truly tried to change the overbearing and arrogant attitude of the
Jews. And after all, this entire behavior is a result of the occupation. We have
turned into a people of petty fighters using the wrong tools. And if we don’t change
this, there will be nothing here.
This was the blunt, direct manner of the former GSS director, Shalom, to explain
the sense of urgency that led him, this week, to a unique meeting, the first of its
kind, of four directors of the General Security Service to send a message, a
warning, an alert, an alarm. To put a red alert sign in right in the face of Israeli
Together they have a total of 20 years in the GSS. The four—Avraham Shalom,
Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon and Ami Ayalon—under different governments and in
different periods, headed the organization that knows better than any other
organization the innards of both societies, the Israeli and the Palestinian. >From
the sewage of the Khan Yunis refugee camp to the offices of the presidents of both
Not only is the message harsh. The meeting itself wasn’t simple. These are
people who do not always live in peace among themselves. Only Carmi Gillon’s
willingness to join such a meeting with Yaakov Peri, after a long period of
estrangement, proves how much the matter burns in their bones. What ultimately
led them to put their old enmity aside, to overcome the natural embarrassment of
being prophets of doom, and to give up the comfortable addiction they each have to
their present occupation, was the deep sense that something very bad is going on
here. And each of them summarized this sense in his own language and style.
Wallowing in the Mud
In my opinion, Ayalon said, we are taking very sure and measured steps to a
point where the State of Israel will not be a democracy or a home for the Jewish
people. Everything else is commentary.
I completely agree with this phrasing, said Gillon. That is also what brought me
here. I am very concerned about our future. I look at my daughters, who are still
young, and it is clear to me that we are heading for a crash. And we are the second
generation that began the revival, and I would very much like the coming
generations to live in a Jewish and democratic state the way my parents wanted.
And I, said Yaakov Peri, do not foresee any breakthroughs being made by
deliberate decisions. I am one of those who believe in the phenomenon of cycles.
And whether there are seven or 70 bad years, there are always seven or 70 good
years. I think that a large part of the miracles that happened to the Jewish people
did not take place because a government or someone decided on them and
planned them, but because something unexpected and unforeseeable happened.
And I believe that something of this sort will happen in the not-distant future,
because otherwise, we really are bent on doom.
But I can say that from whatever aspect you look at it, whether the economic,
political, security, or social aspect, in each of these aspects we are going in the
direction of decline, nearly a catastrophe. And that is why, if something doesn’t
happen here, we will continue to live by the sword, we will continue to wallow in the
mud and we will continue to destroy ourselves.
Look, said Gillon, the reason that we are here, is because of Ami Ayalon’s
document. But with all modesty, although I am part of it, I think that this is the first
time, perhaps the last, that it will be possible to take four GSS directors, to put
them together for two hours and have them talk about—I don’t know, the most
minor description I can find is: the serious concern for the condition of the State of
Israel. This is the statement of the event. I personally had a great many doubts
about coming to this meeting. I deliberated until this afternoon.
What were your doubts, we asked.
It doesn’t matter, said Gillon in his cautious way. I had doubts. It appears a bit
too dramatic to me, and it is actually dramatic. Because if four GSS directors get
together who know the situation, and who live among their people and not only the
GSS, but are also involved in other social spheres – and they convene and want to
convey a message, it is important that this be the main message, and not if Arafat
is relevant or irrelevant.
Look What They Did to Us
Ami Ayalon is short-tempered, tense, almost emotional. He came to the meeting
with the avowed goal of promoting the document of principles he authored with Sari
Nusseibeh. He hopes that the support of three other former GSS directors will have
a dramatic effect. One of his achievements from this meeting was the willingness of
his colleagues to sign his document. Ayalon’s pleasure over this was touching.
True, the signature campaign among the Israeli and Palestinian publics goes on,
but the number of signatories is still far from constituting public pressure on the
You know what the paradox is? He asks. I go places all day. I meet with
thousands of people. In the Katamon neighborhood, in Sderot, in Kiryat Shmona,
everywhere in the country. There is no argument over our document. The argument
is not over the paper. The argument is over our rights and obligations as citizens.
Can we have an effect, is it right for us to have an effect, if our call, our cry, our
signature, will do anything. The argument is over what is democracy in Israeli
society at the beginning of the 21st century.
And what you see, says Peri, is apathy, repression, a lack of desire to think
deeply. Look what has been going on over the last three years: there are no
demonstrations, no rallies, almost no protest. Those who do bother to come out
strongly against the government of Israel or against the leadership, put an ad in the
newspaper at their own expense. There is almost nothing organized. Look what
they’ve managed to do to us.
And I think, says Peri, that this interview, this historic meeting, can achieve its
goal if we use it to appeal to the Israeli public. There is a natural resistance on the
part of an incumbent administration to any initiative that it does not make itself. But
I think that a government with any self-respect, a leadership with any self-respect,
must at last hold a debate on such an initiative. Afterwards it can throw the
document away, reject it, say it is unacceptable. But what we have here is
complete disregard. This is true for both the Ayalon-Nusseibeh document as well
as the Geneva document.
I think this is a mistake, because there is a desire on the part of the public, there
is a new sense of openness. In my opinion, the Ayalon-Nusseibeh document
balances, in a more than reasonable way, between what I call “the national
aspirations and identity of Israel as a Jewish democratic state,” and the national
aspirations of the Palestinian people. Its drawback is that its implementation is
dependent on an anarchist society, and who knows how many years it will take for
it to recover. But to come and say that this document or its principles cannot be
implemented because of the condition of Palestinian society—that would be a
As of today, says Carmi Gillon, the only political agenda formally on the table is
the road map. The problem is that all of the plans in the last ten years were plans
of stages. The stages were created in order to build trust between the sides. And in
these ten years, this failed, it didn’t work. And that is why I think that the change
that Ayalon and Nusseibeh bring, as does Yossi Beilin, is that they are coming and
saying: okay, this way failed. We tried it for ten years, and no trust was built. Now,
instead of building trust, let us build agreements. This is a different way of tackling
the conflict. Instead of trying to build trust and then agreements, we make the
agreements now, and then roll the carpet back and begin to deal with the stages
until reached an agreement.
As of today, says Gillon, we are preoccupied with preventing terror. Why?
Because this is the condition for making political progress. And this is a mistake.
You are wrong if you think that this is a mistake, says Shalom it is not a
mistake. It is an excuse. An excuse for doing nothing.
We remind Shalom that Sharon accepted the road map.
Yes, Gillon answers in Shalom’s place, but he made a condition to the road map,
that turned the issue of terror into the be all and end all. You can’t see the road
map from behind the terror.
The only person in the Likud who was honest in this matter, says Shalom, was
Yitzhak Shamir. He said: I’ll draw the matter out for ten years, and then another ten
One thing is clear, says Gillon, and that is without an agreement we are down for
the count. And only one thing interests me: how to have a Jewish democratic state
here in the Land of Israel. And after years in which I believed that we had to move
stage by stage, and after we paid the entire territorial price with Egypt and Jordan,
and from a strategic and security aspect this only benefited us, then I think that if
we don’t resolve the present situation and we continue our conflict with the
Palestinians, this country will go from bad to worse.
The question, says Ayalon, is what do we want. After all, for years, our leaders
did not know what to do about the security zone in southern Lebanon. And in the
end, we left there for one reason—because the public said: Gentlemen, we are
leaving Lebanon and stop driving us crazy.
That is why, Ayalon says, I contend that in the coming years we will
comprehend more and more the necessity—not the desire, but the necessity—of
organizing and creating coalitions from the outside.
What do you mean, we ask, popular movements like the Four Mothers?
This brew, which was concocted by the Four Mothers, says Ayalon, is a magic
potion. We don’t exactly know how to recreate it. I know some of the founders of
the movement and I don’t know if they planned what they did in detail. If you ask,
is the process of creating a public movement with a clear goal of what it wants to
accomplish with the details being left for the political echelon the right thing to do,
then yes. I think this is the correct process.
That’s not what happened with the Four Mothers, says Gillon. I want to remind
you that we left Beirut, we left Lebanon before we left the security zone. There was
a political upheaval in Israel that advocated withdrawing from Lebanon, and then
Rabin came up with the withdrawal plan.
This, precisely, was where the GSS had a lot of influence, says Shalom. We
were the first to say that we must leave there back in 1982. We said that it was too
big for us, but the army didn’t want to hear about it.
But the possibility of civil war, we ask, does that not scare you?
Very much, says Shalom. And Gillon says: But this is the idea and there is
nothing else, except for conflict.
The Founder – and the Dismantler
Interestingly enough, the word “conflict” came up in the course of this meeting in
only one context: the conflict with the settlers. We asked Ami Ayalon, since one
of the sections of his plan refers to evacuating all the settlements, how he plans to
Describe for us, we said, how you evacuate Elon Moreh.
I want to preface by saying, Ayalon says, that here too I begin with the political
echelon. After all, we erred in the public discourse and in the lexicon we created in
the last ten or 30 years. Were we to go to the settlers and tell them: you have been
the pioneers of the State of Israel for the last 30 years, it was because of you that
we were able to reach a situation in which an agreement with the Arab world is
possible, but you are also the ones who will pay the very painful price of the
agreement. And that is why we, Israeli society, have to make sure you have
houses, jobs, that we bring you home. Were this to be the language of public
discourse, we could, in my opinion, neutralize between 75- 85% of the
settlements. I think that such a situation was almost created in a rare opportunity
in the summer of 2000, when the level of anticipated resistance to removing
settlements was extremely marginal, because ultimately, these pioneers realized
that the public wanted something else.
Do you really believe, we asked him, that the manner of public discourse
willchange the positions of a large group of fanatical extremists, which to this day
dictates our national agenda?
You don’t understand. At issue are 15% or even 10% of the settlers, he says,
and we have to be capable of facing such a number.
We wondered how Ayalon thinks that it is possible to face 10-15% of the
settlement residents, when we are unable to evacuate even one illegal outpost.
After all, with every evacuation another settlement is immediately established. And
Yaakov Peri says: I think that Ami is saying smart things, but their time has
passed. I contend that that today 85-90% of the settlers, with a simple economic
plan, would simply get up and go home. There is no problem with them. There are
10%, perhaps 12%, of the ideological core with whom we will have to clash. And I
believe that Arik Sharon is perhaps the only person who can do this. As a founder
of the settlements he can also be the one to dismantle them.
The problem, says Peri, is that to this day no leader has ever gotten up in the
State of Israel, pounded on the table and said, “we are going home, because that is
what an agreement entails.” Sharon has often talked about the fact that we will be
required to make painful compromises, and there are no painful compromises
except for evacuating settlements. I am sure that Sharon understands this and that
it is difficult for him, ideologically, morally, socially, but the person who was able to
bring about a deal such as the prisoner exchange deal and who could be that
determined, can also get other things passed, such as evacuating settlements.
If Peri is the sober one, and Gillon the cautious and reserved one, and Ami
Ayalon the dreamer—then Avraham Shalom, the man who resigned as director of
the GSS in wake of the no. 300 bus affair, is the cynical version of the little boy
from the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes.
I don’t believe that these 10%, whom Peri mentions, are all that brave, he says. I
definitely don’t think so. Not long ago, at an internal meeting, after I heard that the
“hilltop youth” were like Hamas, I talked to some of them. They told me that there
are 100 activists and another 400 who follow them and 1,000 supporters. Let’s say
that these numbers are correct. So I said: if they were Arabs, would you know how
to solve the problem? Yes, they told me. So I said: so let’s resolve the problem as
if they were Arabs. Take 15 of them, put them under administrative detention, and
see how all the rest do nothing.
And I said something else. I said: you say they are like Hamas? That they are
willing to be killed? The answer was an explicit no. So I am more optimistic in this
matter. When we leave them out there alone, they’ll come. And how they’ll come.
A silence settled on the room, and only Peri said: I would like, how should I put
it, to soften this, without Avrum’s permission.
But Avrum Shalom says: I didn’t say we should have a civil war.
I, says Peri, think that perhaps we can expect a clash and it could be a painful
clash, and if I could avoid it, of course I would. But I don’t think there is any way to
avoid it. There will always be some groups, or some individuals, for whom the Land
of Israel nestles among the hills of Nablus and inside Hebron, and we will have to
clash with them.
If someone can show me a different way, says Peri, I am willing to accept it. But
if there is ever, and I hope that in the foreseeable future, there will be peace with the
Palestinians—then I don’t see how the State of Israel can be responsible for the
safety of its citizens living in Hebron. I don’t know how to do it, and I don’t think
anyone else knows. And that is the real problem. And I’m not making light of the
fact that Hebron is the city of the forefathers, but it must return to the Palestinians,
and those who live there today will have to leave, sooner or later.
All of us here, says Ayalon, speak of something that is the consensus, that is
not just confined to this room, but is common to all Israeli society: we want a
country that is a democracy and a home for the Jewish people. And that is why I
will state in clear words: in the life of every country or nation, there is more than
one Altalena. The political leadership of the State of Israel has made difficult
decisions in the past when it was clear what the alternative was, and a future
political leadership will have to make difficult decisions when the alternative is clear.
A very narrow square
There is something surprising, unexpected, about hearing the GSS people, who
are responsible one day for targeted killings and assassinations and closures and
roadblocks, and the next day, when they are released, they present a worldview
that is very far from this policy, one that it is easy to call left wing.
Interestingly enough, they firmly reject their definition as leftists, and are almost
offended by it. But Peri says: This sociological phenomenon should be studied
one day. Why is it that everyone—GSS directors, chiefs of staff, former security
personnel—after a long service in security organizations, become the advocates of
reconciliation with the Palestinians. Why? Because they come from there.
Because they were there. We know the material, the people, the field, and
surprisingly enough, both sides. And once you come from there, you know the
scents and can characterize and diagnose them.
Do you mean to say, we asked, that the present GSS Director Avi Dichter, with
his positions on tightening closures and increasing roadblocks, could be released
tomorrow from the GSS and present positions that are identical to yours?
Certainly, they say, without a doubt. I worked with three prime ministers, says
Shalom, and had a different effect on each of them, without wanting to. The same
words that I said echoed on different walls: One green, one blue and one yellow.
That’s the way it is. And I have to admit: Each time I was hit by the ricocheting
paint. But the effect was great. And you have to remember that as a GSS
director, you have to be non-partisan. You have no political influence, and it should
not interest you either. If you cannot serve under a certain government, resign. But
if you can live with the guidelines of the war against terror, then you do it to the
best of your ability, with all the means at your disposal. And the statements you
make to the prime ministers constitute an influence, in the absence of anyone else
to do it.
The GSS has a critical effect, because it is the only one that is familiar with the
material. There is no one else. That is why I don’t buy the definitions that are
directed at Dichter: What happened to him. Nothing happened to him. The State
of Israel is what happened to him that is what happened to him.
Excuse us, we said, but there is still a debate here with the chief of staff, who
argues that the blockades, the closures and the treatment of the Palestinian
population create a problem of expanding the circles of terror.
The strategy today, says Gillon, is how to prevent the next terror attack. Period.
And it is Dichter’s duty to come and say how best to prevent the next terror attack.
So it is true that the chief of staff is justified in saying that it is better to think in
broader terms, and to ask how to prevent the coming terror attacks and not just the
next terror attack. But I think that the problem, as of today, is that the political
agenda has become solely a security agenda.
A tactical-operative agenda, amends Shalom.
Yes, says Gillon, and it only deals with the question of how to prevent the next
terror attack, not the question how it is at all possible to pull ourselves out of the
mess that we are in today.
The existing gap is at the political echelon, says Ayalon, and it lies in the fact
that there is no balance to operative thinking. We have built a strategy of
immediate prevention. I want to give an example that may surprise you. When
Bibi Netanyahu came back from Wye Plantation, the GSS’s position was against
withdrawing from the territory, because it appeared to us as a withdrawal with the
intention of returning. It was not a real process, at least according to my
understanding of the security cabinet and the Palestinian Authority at the time.
And there were definitely situations when I, with my opinions as you know them,
when I was in my position—thought that it was wrong to withdraw from the territory.
And I have another example, said Gillon. The withdrawal from seven cities in the
West Bank. The withdrawal was set with a predetermined timetable, and I, as
GSS director at the time, thought that this was wrong, and that conditions should
be posed and fulfilled in advance, and only then should we withdraw from the next
city. Eventually, the political echelon, which was the late Yitzhak Rabin, sat down
and made the decision.
The problem, says Peri, is not the differences of opinion between the army and
the GSS, nor if someone changed his opinion. The problem is that when there is
no political direction, senior position holders such as the chief of staff or GSS
director may—and I am not saying that this is happening—lose their path, or
become confused or vague. If the State of Israel, the government of Israel, the
narrow kitchenette, the security cabinet, were to step forward and say: This is
where the State of Israel intends to go over the coming years, this is where we
want to go, it would be a different story. But when there is no political direction—a
senior position holder is ultimately forced to stick to his very square framework,
where he does not share the responsibility, since the GSS’s role is to thwart terror,
period. And it is the IDF’s role to provide internal and external security to the State
of Israel, period. And this square, in the reality that exists today, is very narrow. It
is not strategic. It remains at a tactical level.
And I have to tell you, that we should doff our hats to the security establishment,
who succeed in doing what they do within this limited framework.
In this context, says Gillon, remember that in the days of the Rabin and Peres
governments, there was a very clear policy: That we should fight terror as though
there were no peace process, and continue the peace process as though there
were no terror. That is precisely the direction that the GSS should be given.
When you talk about a political direction, we ask, did Barak’s government supply
such a direction?
Barak’s government, in my opinion, said Peri, did not signal in any political
direction. Can anyone here tell me which direction Barak was going in, aside from
the well known statement in the last hour of Camp David?
Yes, guffawed Shalom, that there is no one to talk to.
I think, said Peri, that all of the Israeli governments after Rabin, for the past seven
years, did not signal and did not tell the Israeli public or the security forces, where
they wanted to reach. And that is the reason that we have gathered here today,
after extra-parliamentary initiatives have arisen as a result of personal
acquaintance, as a result of familiarity with the material, and these initiatives enter
into the vacuum created by political deficiency.
Mistaken attitude towards Abu Mazen
Ayalon: Yaakov Peri says that one of the great errors of the political leadership
today is that fact that most of the debate revolves around the question whether we
do or do not have a partner. And I think that this is indeed an error. In this terrible
situation, where civilians are slaughtered in restaurants and buses, in my opinion
there is no other way but to take unilateral steps. And I believe that if the State of
Israel were to get up tomorrow morning—or three years ago, as far as I am
concerned—and leave the Gaza Strip and Gush Katif, and really and truly begin to
dismantle illegal settlements, then I tend to believe, based on long standing
acquaintance with our future dialogue partners—that the Palestinians would come
to the negotiating table.
We asked Shalom if he agrees with Peri. Yes, he says, one hundred percent.
Gillon and Ayalon also agree with him.
Therefore, continues Peri, it is an error of the first order that most of the things we
hear on the news and in the press consist of the question whether Arafat is relevant
or irrelevant, or whether we should expel Arafat or not expel him, or whether we do
or do not have a partner. And I accept that the State of Israel erred in its attitude
towards Abu Mazen’s cabinet on many topics.
Q: Was it also an error to destroy the PA’s security services in the three years of
Yes, says Peri. And I think that what we did with Jibril Rajoub was an error.
Yes, says Shalom, grave damage. And the preoccupation with Arafat is primarily
an anachronism, because we will not determine who is relevant and who isn’t. I
believe it was the mother of all errors with regard to Arafat. Just as it is not
dictated to us that Bibi will be after Sharon or Sharon after Bibi, by the same token
we cannot determine who will have the greatest influence over there. So let us look
at the Palestinians’ political map, and it is a fact that nothing can happen without
What you are saying, we said, is that it doesn’t bother you for Arafat to be a
Nothing bothers me in politics, if I can gain from it. Arafat or no Arafat, one fine
day he will be gone, and someone else will replace him. But in the meantime the
Palestinians are living in steadily worsening conditions.
I think that Arafat is a great obstacle, says Gillon. Over the past ten years we
have tried all types of governments. We have had hawkish governments, and we
have had dovish governments, and we have made compromises. On the
Palestinian side, the same Arafat remained in place. And without handing out
grades to the Israeli side, there is no doubt that Arafat deserves a failing grade. I
don’t believe in Arafat, but I believe in the document of principles. Because it is
good for the Jews. It is good for a Jewish and democratic state. It is good for
Israel, period. And I want us to determine our agenda, not Arafat. And when we
say that Arafat is an obstacle to peace, it is precisely like placing terror before
everything else. Why shouldn’t we come and say: Wait a minute, this is what is
best to preserve this state for our children. This is what assures us peace and
security. The best thing now is to convince and create public opinion that will
come and say: This is what we want. We want to withdraw from the territories.
We are willing to compromise on Jerusalem, we are willing to do all of this because
it is best for our security.
And I think, says Peri, that the State of Israel has made every possible error in
the matter of Arafat, including the latest decision to expel him, thereby putting him
on the stage after he had already sunk into the abyss. And they tried to sell it to
us by implying that there is some kind of trick here, some kind of maneuver that we
mortals do not understand what is behind it. And what was behind it was an
unwise decision by the Israeli government. I think that Arafat is interfering, and
therefore we have two paths: The extra-parliamentary path, for the sake of which we
have gathered here, and the unilateral path. To stop talking about a partner
already, and do what is good for us. And what is good for us is to be able to
protect ourselves in the most effective manner. Not to have to waste too many
troops in Gaza. To waste fewer troops on guarding hilltops and settlements and
three goats and eight cowboys. And ultimately, we will build a fence. The route
can be discussed, and that is already a different story. But we will build a fence.
A fence is necessary, at least to demarcate our ability to defend ourselves.
The red lines are in fact the borders of the historical State of Israel, says Gillon.
We returned to the Green Line in the agreement with Egypt. In Jordan. In
Lebanon. The tradeoff that the Rabin government and Netanyahu conducted, was
also on the Green Line. Therefore, it is clear to me that our borders in Judea and
Samaria, and certainly in the Gaza Strip, run along the Green Line. The separation
fence is becoming irrelevant. It is a fence that is not a fence, that follows borders
that are not borders.
I am also troubled by the fence, says Shalom. A fence succeeds on two
conditions: That no one ever passes in either direction, and that the discipline of
those who guard the fence is at the level of the Germans. And that will not happen.
Today’s fence is creating a political and security reality that will become a
problem. Why? Because it creates hatred, it expropriates land, and annexes
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to the State of Israel. This is contrary to our
interests, according to which we view the State of Israel as the home of the Jewish
The result, says Shalom, is that the fence achieves the exact opposite of what
was intended. Instead of creating a reality of separation and maintaining a window
of opportunity for “two states for two peoples,” a situation has been created where
this window of opportunity is gradually closing. The Palestinians are arguing: You
wanted two states, and instead you are closing us up in a South African reality.
Therefore, the more we support the fence, they lose their dream and hope for an
independent Palestinian state.
Shalom later says that until we understand that we have come to the Arab world
in the Middle East, rather than the Arabs having come to the Jewish world, until we
really understand that—nothing will happen here. Because our education is at
least as flawed as the Palestinians, who say that there is no State of Israel, that
we should be thrown into the sea. Our attitude on the issue of Arab honor is
catastrophic, he says. I have no harsher words to use. But it is also due to the
fact that we are also like that to one another, and if we have not succeeded in being
nice between Jews, how can it be demanded that we be nice to the Arabs?
And I mean that they should stop knocking around the Arab population. The fact
that we do not allow them to leave through this door, but only through that door.
And this one with his car, and that one without his car.
And that is not the GSS’s role, says Peri, this policy. There is a prime minister,
there is a defense minister. Imagine that Avi Dichter would come tomorrow and
say that we should drop an atom bomb on Gaza. So because it is a
recommendation of the most critical echelon, it would be done? There is a
leadership in the State of Israel. Excuse me, there should be a leadership.
All right, we said, let’s set aside the matter of the closures and bypass roads.
The measure known as targeted killing was also not invented today, but it seems
that it is being used differently today.
Excuse me, says Ayalon, once it was an operative consideration. It did not
become a political strategy. Today it is not the GSS that carries out targeted
killings. It is the State of Israel that does so today as a policy.
And I say, added Shalom, that it has become an excuse. And this is something
that cannot be explained to someone who does not understand about thwarting
terror. Because terror is not thwarted with bombs or helicopters, but rather quietly.
And the less we talk about it, the better. Believe me, if we were quieter, there
would be fewer terror attacks.
Once thwarting terror was a surgical operation, says Gillon. Today it is an HMO.
The business has become cheapened.
And why does this increase terror, says Shalom, because it is overt, because it
carries an element of vindictiveness.
Thwarting terror in and of itself, says Ayalon, cannot be government policy. It
must be GSS policy. Then thwarting terror will also be more effective, and the level
of security will be higher, if alongside the thwarting of terror there is a political
process, a political vision and faith. And I am talking about the Palestinian side at
the moment. For at the end of the day, they will reach a Palestinian state.
Take Advantage of the Wind
The gloomy feeling that pervaded this meeting cannot be overstated. It appeared
that the four GSS directors had decided to speak because of the belief that what
they say could lead to a turning point. Or perhaps they thought that the very act of
holding this dramatic meeting would also be its strength. That it could shake up old
conceptions and rock the apathetic and despaired public. Peri was the first to
discern the mood of despondency that was liable to hover over their remarks.
There are four GSS directors sitting here, he said, and this is liable to be
perceived as if we were writing a requiem for the country. And it is not so. We
came after long and exhausting political service, as volunteers and contributors,
because we are worried and because we are pained. Unlike Avrum, I don’t think
that I can call what is happening in the territories “disgraceful.” I think that many
things must be corrected. I think our massive and non-specific behavior, what was
previously called “an HMO instead of surgery,” is where the affliction lies. This
totality. And you cannot convey to a soldier at a roadblock or to a woman soldier
checking [Arab] women at a roadblock, the precise spirit of the commander.
Sometimes the fear, the lack of experience, the lack of intelligence or just a lousy
commander, are what dictate events. To this day I don’t understand why a tank
driving through the streets of Ramallah has to also crush the cars parked on the
side of the road.
And it appears to me, says Peri, that a call must come out from this room, that
says that when they are sincere initiatives that try to find a solution to the situation,
they must be addressed, by the public as well. And I call on the leadership to
address this in an open and businesslike fashion.
And I, says Ayalon, want to relate to the most terrible thing that has happened to
us. And I am not referring to everything that has been said here, which I do not
belittle and which I think is terrible. I think that much of what we are doing today in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza is immoral, some of it patently immoral. And I think that
over time, they pose a very big question mark on where we will be in another 20-30
But I think that what has happened to us—and this is even worse than the fact
that we’ve moved from surgery to the HMO waiting room—is the loss of hope. And
I’m speaking of both sides. Almost everything that we do to them and that they do
to us, were we able to put it into a context of time and to say that this is just a
stage on the way to something better, would be tolerable. The problem is that
today, neither us nor they see any better future, and this is the consequence of
what we are doing today. And that is the most terrible thing. And for this reason, in
my opinion, it is imperative to begin to create hope. Because if the captain doesn’t
decide where he wants to go, there is no wind in the world that can take him.
Yes guys, says, Ayalon, that is correct. The sea is always stormy. And you
can’t take advantage of the wind if you don’t know where you want it to take you.
Avraham Shalom (Bendor). Shalom was GSS director between December 1980
and September 1986. At his request, he ended his term in September 1986 in
wake of the commission of inquiry that investigated the no. 300 bus affair. Avraham
Shalom is one of the group of top GSS officials granted clemency by the president.
When he ended his term, he became an independent businessman, mainly
overseas. Among other things, he has served as a consultant to international
Yaakov Peri. He served as GSS director from April 1, 1988 to March 1, 1995. He
was GSS director during the first Intifada. Today he is chairman of Hamizrahi Bank
and chairman of the Lipman Company. In the past he was president of Cellcom and
the prime minister’s adviser on POWs and MIAs.
Carmi Gillon. He served as GSS director from March 1, 1995 until February 18,
1996. He asked to end his service after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. He
was recently elected chairman of the Mevasseret Tziyon Local Council. Prior to
that he was Israeli ambassador to Denmark.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Ami Ayalon. He was the first GSS director to come from outside
the GSS. He served as GSS director from February 18, 1996 until May 14, 2000. In
the past he was the commander of the Navy. Today he is chairman of the Netafim
irrigation systems company and heads the “National Consensus-Signing an End to
the Conflict” initiative together with Prof. Sari Nusseibeh.
Unofficial Translation: Shinui Plan To Renew The Peace Process
Aaron Lerner Date: 18 November 2003
The following is IMRA's unofficial translation of the Shinui plan
unanimously adopted by the Shinui Knesset Faction.
17 November 2003
Shinui Plan To Renew The Peace Process
1. The Government of Israel will renew the peace process with the Abu Ala
government with the intention of reaching an arrangement in accordance with
the Road Map.
2. The Prime Minister will meet with Abu Ala, and ministers of the
Government will meet with their counterpart Palestinian ministers in order
to bring about cooperation in the matters of their ministries.
3. An unlimited cease-fire will be declared.
4. The Palestinian Authority will make every effort and will be responsible
for the ending of terror and the break up of the terror organizations,
either by force or by peaceful means. Israel will stop all targeted killing,
except against terrorists who continue to initiate and carry out acts of
5. The incitement against Israel and Jews in all the Palestinian media,
mosques, public institutions and educational institutions will cease.
6. Israel will permit, in stages, the entrance of Palestinian workers to
Israel, with the exception of people who are suspected of belonging to
terror organizations. Israel will act for the establishment of centers of
employment within the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza that will become
alternative centers of employment when the day comes.
7. Israel will release in stages the frozen funds of the Authority with
American supervision and only if the funds are not used to finance acts of
8. If the ease-fire holds, Israel will replace the settlers in Netzarim with
soldiers, with the idea to also evacuate them when the time comes.
9. Israel will remove the illegal outposts, will not erect new outposts and
settlements and will not expand those existing, except for the needs of
10. The Government will hold new deliberations of the matter of the route of
the security fence with the goal of building a simpler and less expensive
11. Assuming that the cease-fire holds, Israel will withdraw its
encirclement of the cities, remove the roadblocks and the mounds of earth
blocking roads with the intention of completely clearing out from Area A, in
order to enable the Palestinian residents free movement and self rule.
12. Israel will release the Palestinian prisoners who do not have "blood on
their hands" and for whom there is no security reason to hold them, in
With regards to the matter of the future of Netzarim, as it appears in
Paragraph 8 of the Shinui Plan To Renew the Peace Process, four members of
the faction, Minister Danberg, Deputy Minster Brailovsky and MKs Doron and
Yasinov will receive freedom to vote to the extent that this matter comes up
in the Knesset Plenum.
[Gal Segal, the Spokesperson for Shinui, told IMRA today that while the
program does not explicitly condition the replacement of Netzarim settlers
with soldier on the PA breaking up the terror organizations that "it follows
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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Report: U.S.-Israel relations "on verge of crisis"
By Ellis Shuman November 17, 2003
Senior U.S. officials said that relations between the U.S. and Israel were "approaching a crisis" due to the policies of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, Army Radio reported today. According to the officials, the Bush administration is furious that Sharon is not evacuating unauthorized outposts in the territories, is expanding settlements and is continuing with construction of the security fence along a route that is not logical.
The prime minister "isn't acting as a friend, isn't keeping promises and is ignoring the Bush administration's difficult situation in Iraq and the criticism of the president," the officials said, quoted by the radio. Sharon is reportedly ignoring a series of critical messages received from administration officials, including their support for private peace initiatives such as the Geneva Accords.
Haaretz reported yesterday that messages were relayed in a series of telephone conversations between the National Security Council's Middle East Director, Elliot Abrams, and Sharon's bureau chief, attorney Dov Weisglass. Weisglass will soon travel to Washington in an effort to resolve the differences with the Americans, the paper said.
Officials at the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv said, however, that there was no crisis between Israel and the Bush administration. Prior to his departure today for a three-day visit to Italy, Sharon said, "Our relations with the United States are the best ever."
Yesterday, Sharon told the cabinet that Israel has either removed or thwarted attempts to put up 43 settlement outposts since the Aqaba summit in June. Sharon was responding both to a question posed by National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky and also to American pressure to take down unauthorized outposts, as per Israel's commitment in the "road map" peace initiative. Sharon promised Paritzky that the government would hold a discussion on the issue in the coming weeks and cabinet ministers would receive detailed information.
In a weekend interview with Newsweek and the Washington Post, Sharon said Israel had dismantled some outposts "but [can't complete this] in a short time. We still have quite a number of them; some were built many years ago under illegal procedures. We gave instructions to try to do [something about them] as soon as possible."
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reportedly presented U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at their meeting in Washington last week with a list of some 40 outposts which have been dismantled. Prior to Mofaz's departure from Israel, media reports suggested that the army was preparing to dismantle additional outposts, but Mofaz stated that no actions would be taken until he returned from Washington.
Haaretz reported today that no new unauthorized outposts are currently being established, but the settler population is instead working to assure the success of those outposts already set up. There is a quiet understanding between the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip and the defense establishment, the paper said. According to this understanding, no new outposts will be set up and the army will not dismantle existing sites.
Peace Now activists, which have been monitoring settlement activities in the West Bank, said the government's efforts to dismantle outposts were all a "bluff," Army Radio reported. Instead of dismantling sites, the government was hooking them up to electricity and connecting them with roads, the activists said.
According to the "road map" plan, Israel is committed to remove outposts and halt settlement construction, while the Palestinians are committed to dismantle terrorist infrastructure. Media analysts suggested that with the formation of a new Palestinian government, the Americans are now increasing their pressure on Israel to fulfill its commitments.
Ha'aretz 18/11/2003 11:52
FM Shalom to meet Powell in Brussels Tuesday
By Haaretz Service and Associated Press
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, turning aside media
reports of a brewing crisis with the Bush
adminstration over continued expansion of
settlements, said he would meet U.S Secretary of
State Colin Powell for talks in Brussels on Tuesday.
"This meeting will touch on a long list of issues in our
relations with the United States, including issues
concerning the Middle East," Shalom told Army Radio early
Tuesday. The two are in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Shalom said that Israel would continue to press
its demands that the Palestinian Authority
dismantle the terrorist organizations within
He dismissed reports of growing adminsitration
anger over the Sharon governments failure to
dismantle unauthorized outpost settlements, a
requirement of the U.S.-backed road map.
State-owned Israel Channel One television's
diplomatic reporter Monday quoted a senior U.S.
official as telling an Israeli counterpart of
continued settlement expansion, "You can fool
some of the people some of the time, but you
can't fool all of the people all of the time.
We know what's going on out there."
But Shalom said, "I don't think that there's a
crisis at all. I think that there are things on
which we and the Americans don't see
eye-to-eye, but these are things that have gone
on for decades.
"There has never been an adminsitration which
supported or recognized settlements or
expanding them. What we have to do is what is
demanded of us in the road map, provided that
the other side does the same thing."
At the same time, Shalom said, Israel must
insist that Palestinian Authority actions to
combat terrorism be long-term in nature, rather
than simply a declaration of a truce.
"They can't just think that they can have a
cease-fire that that's that."
A brief truce declared by Hamas and other groups
last summer effectively ended with a deadly
suicide attack on a Jerusalem bus, which
triggered an IDF assassination operation that,
in turn, prompted militant groups to formally
cancel the cease-fire.
The first hudna, or temporary cease-fire "didn't
just blow up in our faces, but these same
extremist organizations took advantage of the
truce period to dig tunnels for arms-smuggling,
to carry out training, to perform tests to
increase the range of Qassam rockets to as far
"Therefore, we saw that they act to exploit this
time to rehabilitate their infrastructure, in
order to be better able to attack us in the
Powell to face EU criticism on Iraq, Iran
Differences over Iraq and Iran were expected to
top the agenda when Powell meets with EU
foreign ministers later on Tuesday.
European diplomats said they were expecting
Powell to outline the new U.S. policy which
calls for an accelerated transfer of power to
That has been a key demand of Iraqi politicians
and European critics of the U.S.-led
administration. The formula announced at the
weekend calls for a provisional, sovereign
government to be established by June.
Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on
Monday welcomed the plan as a "very important
step forward." However France's foreign
minister said the transition is still too
In an interview published Monday in the French
daily Le Croix, Foreign
Minister Dominique de Villepin urged the
Americans to have a provisional
government in place by the end of this year - a
demand judged unrealistic by U.S. diplomats.
France and Germany have resisted appeals for
peacekeeping troops and extra reconstruction
aid for Iraq, pending a transfer of power to an
Iraqi administration or the United Nations.
Diplomats at NATO and EU headquarters denied a
report Monday in Britain's The Independent
newspaper suggesting Powell was likely to "test
the waters" for a NATO takeover of the military
operation in Iraq.
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