Top Disengagement Strategist: Convergence Won´t Bring Stability

The outgoing head of the National Security Council, Gen. Giora Eiland, officially parted from the Cabinet today, leaving sharp criticism of PM Olmert's withdrawal plan in his wake.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 12:19

Speaking with journalist Ari Shavit of Haaretz this weekend, Eiland - responsible for drawing up the logistical plans for Ariel Sharon's disengagement from Gaza - said Israel missed a "historic opportunity" to receive something in return for quitting Gaza. Neither does he think the latest plan, to withdraw unilaterally from most of Judea and Samaria, will succeed.

Eiland is of the opinion that a future unilateral withdrawal from Yesha (Judea and Samaria) would lead to a situation he rejects: the traditional two-state solution.

Eiland told Shavit that Israel could have demanded a totally new type of solution, but did not take advantage of the situation, and instead, the Disengagement "contributed nothing to the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

"The move along a unilateral path," Eiland said, "leads us to the classic solution of two states for two peoples, and I think this is an impossible solution [because it makes] two assumptions: that it is possible to solve the conflict in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and that the reference for a border between the two states is the 1967 lines with minor changes. I reject these two assumptions. I think that between the sea and the river there is not enough area to contain two states, and I think that in order to maintain a defensible border, Israel needs at least 12 percent of the West Bank... [In addition], even a Palestinian state with 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 97 percent of the West Bank is not viable. Such a country will be poor, radical, restive, where the demographic pressures will be unbearable. In 2020 there will be 2.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, in area of 365 square kilometers. This will inevitably lead to pressure against the fences."

Asked for his alternative proposal, Eiland showed great imagination, partially adopting MK Benny Elon's 'Jordan is Palestine' plan. His idea involves annexing 600 square kilometers of Judea and Samaria to Israel, taking parts of the Sinai (600 square kilometers, about 1%) and Jordan (100 square kilometers) for the benefit of a future Palestinian state, and giving Egypt 150 square kilometers of the southern Negev.

Eiland's position against the classic two-state solution is not new. Already in February of this year, speaking at the Herzliya Conference, he said, "It is not certain that 'two states for two nations' is a stable solution for this dispute."

A year ago, veteran journalists Raviv Drucker and Ofer Shelach published a book in which they showed that the Disengagement Plan was hatched up simply to avoid Ariel Sharon's indictment in the Greek Island scandal. They wrote that top Sharon-aide Dov Weisglass led the way in preparing the plan, and that those in the army and government who could have helped improve the plan for Israel were left out of the decision-making loop. Drucker and Shelach explained that Eiland "was in the midst of preparing a plan as to how Israel could get some benefit from its withdrawal, when suddenly he was presented with this new [unilateral] plan - and even now he objects to the plan [as it now stands]."

Eiland confirmed this in his talk with Shavit: "When I took office, on January 18, 2004, there was only an amorphous term 'disengagement' from a speech in Herzliya. I asked Sharon how much time I had to formulate a plan and he told me, four months. But very quickly it became clear to me that Dov Weissglas had already met with the Americans and committed us to a major unilateral step both in Gaza and the West Bank. Immediately afterwards, Sharon committed himself to the evacuation of 18 settlements in the Gaza Strip in an interview to Yoel Marcus, and at that point the game was up. The planning process I had begun blew up."

Olmert's convergence plan will "not bring stability," Eiland says, and "will not solve the conflict. But it will encourage Hamas to keep the calm... There will be a situation of two states without an agreement. The Palestinian state will be a radical Hamas state, not satisfied and not viable. There will be continuous instability."

Eiland headed the National Security Council for 2.5 years; the average term in this position has been about a year. He will be succeeded in several weeks by former Mossad Deputy Head Ilan Mizrachi, who left the Mossad for the private business sector in 2003 when Ariel Sharon did not choose him to head the organization. Mizrachi is considered to be an expert in Islamic and Arab affairs.