The Grand Deception

You might say the Israelis were faked out.

Ted Belman,

Ted Belman
Ted Belman
It is standard practice for athletes and magicians to "fake us out." They distract our attention to mislead us as to their intentions. Politicians do, too.

It used to be Israel’s policy to put facts on the ground to strengthen Israel’s hold on Judea and Samaria and to
The Kadima-Labour coalition is determined to negotiate a withdrawal from the West Bank.
make time work against Palestinians. That was when we considered such lands “disputed territories,” when we sought to get agreement on “defensible borders” and believed that Jerusalem would be Israel’s undivided capital forever. No longer.

As a result of this activity, the US declared war on the settlements. The Mitchell Report in May 2001, recommending a “settlement freeze,” was the first salvo. The Roadmap was the second. While Israel agonized over its acceptance, it finally did so subject to fourteen reservations. These reservations served no purpose other than to put Israelis at ease. They were never heard from again. You might say the Israelis were faked out. Even so, it is interesting to note that the reservations did not take issue with the settlement freeze or the requirement that Palestine be “viable” or that it be “contiguous."

Thus, Israel was committed to the Roadmap restrictions for the first time. Thereafter, Israel began demonizing settlers and restricting building in the settlements, subject to some posturing about infill. Israel also began turning a blind eye to illegal building by the Arabs. In effect, it was now allowing Arabs to put facts on the ground even though no one was supposed to take any steps that would prejudice the negotiations.

Ariel Sharon, who accepted the Roadmap and talked of painful concessions, bulldozed through the Gaza Disengagement. Shortly thereafter, his new party in coalition with Labour announced their Convergence Plan to much opposition, so they backed off publicly, but remained committed to "ending the occupation."

One of the big complaints of the Disengagement was that it was unilateral. I took issue with such criticism because no commitment he would have gotten would have been enforceable. Regardless, the Kadima-Labour coalition is determined to negotiate a withdrawal from the West Bank. This is what it wants to do. This governs all. So, while we are focused on the negotiations of core issues, wondering if Israel will avoid the Saudi Plan, Israel is using negotiations as a cover for disengagement sometimes known as “goodwill gestures”. Once again, Israelis are faked out.

The Declaration of Principles in essence is an agreement for withdrawal and disengagement. It allows Israel to remain in the West Bank for security reasons until the US-trained Palestinian Army can do the job. In the meantime, Israel will not be sitting idle. It will begin to encourage settlers to leave, will stop financing anything on the east side of the new border, will give greater license to the Arabs, including in Jerusalem. With each passing month, Israel will be disengaging or ending the occupation. It doesn’t matter when an agreement on Jerusalem will be negotiated. It doesn’t matter if terror stops.

The more Israel withdraws, the more certain there will be a Palestinian state. Israel’s primary concern is to have borders agreed upon. If borders are agreed upon, then Israel can end the occupation by returning to them. It won’t matter whether Jerusalem has been solved. But the more Israel disengages, the more tenuous its hold on Jerusalem will become.

But what about Hamas? While everyone is “outraged” that Zbigniew Brzezinski visited Syria and that Jimmy Carter
Starting next year, we will hear more and more about the Syrian track.
is visiting Hamas, I am sure they are a back channel and will be reporting back to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice. America plans to wean Syria away from Iran. This will undermine Hizbullah and Hamas. So I expect that starting next year we will hear more and more about the Syrian track. Israel is quite prepared to vacate the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria and Lebanon.

Can America do it? Yes, ultimately. Especially when Israel wants the same thing. (If you don’t believe me, watch this State Department Video on "The US-Palestinian Partnership".)

I believe this creeping disengagement, even without a declaration of principles agreed upon, will continue. The government of Israel will not put all this to the electorate until it is sure of winning. The more Israelis get used to it, the less resistance there will be to the deal being worked out. But just to be sure, Kadima and Labour are in serious negotiations for a power-sharing agreement between them so they can run on one ticket in the next election.

While it is appropriate for athletes and magicians to deceive, it certainly is not okay for the government of Israel to deceive its own citizens.

More Arutz Sheva videos: