West Bank Annexation – A Window of Opportunity or an Apocalyptic Nightmare

June 28, 2020

As of July 1, 2020 the Prime Minister will be able to bring the agreement reached with the United States regarding the application of sovereignty for discussion by the cabinet and the government and for the approval of the government and/or the Knesset.” (Article 29 of the national unity government)

 

Application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank is a historic opportunity. According the national unity government deal PM Netanyahu can bring his proposal regarding the application of sovereignty to government as of 1st July 2020. It is a difficult strategic dilemma: Annex now during coming months or not, how much to annex, how big are the risks in West Bank, in Israeli borders and internationally, does ”window of opportunity” close after US presidential elections on November 2020 in case Mr Trump’s rival Joe Biden – who opposes annexation – is elected and reverses US policy?

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed  already 1st June the IDF chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, to speed up the military’s preparations for developments on the Palestinian front, including the country’s planned annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria. Gantz is believed to have asked Kochavi to present the IDF’s plans for a possible escalation of violence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The IDF has been preparing for annexation-related scenarios for the last six months.

Two-States according Deal of Century (Trump Peace Plan)

Annexation?

Annexation is the term applied when a state unilaterally proclaims its sovereignty over other territory. and many international institutions look that it is forbidden by international law. Many international organizations and states have view that extension of Israeli law and jurisdiction to West Bank is against international law. Some experts, especially in Israel, claim opposite as there is no another state in West Bank or making claims for that territory.  A recent example of annexation was Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, but this approach of international law – whatever it is –  is also flexible as seen e.g. in case of Kosovo earlier.  However in this article I use ”annexation” as a general, not legal, term. 

In terms of territory, Judea and Samaria (West Bank) have not been parts of any sovereign state since the fall of the Ottoman Empire over 100 years ago. Israel, which has controlled those territories since 1967, possesses the only strong claim to sovereignty—but it has never actually claimed that sovereignty. After Ottoman rule West Bank was part of British mandate agreed to serve as Jewish homeland in San Remo 1920. After UN partition plan 1947 – which was accepted by Jewish organizations but not by local Arab representatives, Jordania attacked and occupied West Bank until Israel took it back in Six-Days-War 1967. Jordan and Israel made peace agreement in 1994 where the international boundary between Israel and Jordan follows the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, the Dead Sea, the Emek Ha’Arava/Wadi Araba, and the Gulf of Aqaba. The section of the line that separated Jordan from the West Bank was stipulated as “without prejudice to the status of [that] territory.”

One of the most significant differences between annexation and current situation is in settlement construction. Currently, building and zoning in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defence minister and prime minister, and can take months or years. Following annexation, it would become a local matter and consequently easier for Israel to build there.

Starting point, exact boundaries are at planning stage or negotiated with Palestinians.

The area

In public debate there has been views that Israel is annexing, or should annex, the entire West Bank, the sc One-State-Solution as its outcome. However areas earmarked for annexation (the precise contours of which are being mapped by Israel and the US) may comprise about 30% of the West Bank according to Trump peace plan (Peace to Prosperity ).

Under the Trump peace plan, which Israel has accepted, Israel can and should declare its sovereignty, and extend its civilian law, over the portions of Judea and Samaria it’s capable of governing effectively and efficiently without military support. So the specific areas that Israel is considering annexing are already primarily Jewish, and already under Israeli control, they are located in area C agreed with Palestinians in Oslo Accords in 1993.

One scenario is a plan for “gradual” Israeli annexation in the West Bank, Mr Netanyahu might initially act to annex just the settlements, which could amount to only 3%, and the remaining 27% later on once the boundaries are agreed with Washington or Palestine Authority.

Gershon Hacohen /BESA gives another aspect which is Israel’s growing residential and infrastructure density. He sees annexation as ”a golden opportunity to develop the West Bank communities. This means that the application of sovereignty calls for the strategic governmental formulation of a new national master plan for the development of Israel’s eastern rampart. The master plan, according Hacohen, could include e.g:

  • To consolidate Jerusalem as a metropolitan city while developing circumferential transportation and municipal infrastructures
  • To fully utilize the open corridor from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea for the saturation construction of hundreds of thousands of housing units.
  • turning the Jordan Valley, up to the eastern ridge lines in Samaria, into a tract of continuous settlement for the absorption of two to three million Israelis.

All these trends exist in Area C, and they offer a guiding framework for organizing the infrastructures of the Palestinian entity in lands controlled by Israel.

One of the Israeli settlements in West Bank, Ma’ale Adumim. Photo credit AFP

 

Different views

Our future doesn’t depend on what the Gentiles will say, but on what the Jews will do.” (David Ben-Gurion)

The declared intention for the implementation of sovereignty in certain parts of the West Bank is prompting vigorous debate in Israel. The matter of applying Israeli sovereignty to certain areas of the West Bank has been disputed both Israeli right-wing and left-wing camps.

Right-wing camp highlights the security risks and that Palestinian Authority (PA) would get half of the Area C – which is agreed to be under Israeli administration due Oslo accords – in addition to Area A and B, which are now full or partial under PA. Settlement leaders are not keen on annexation, either. They have launched a public campaign against the Trump plan. They say annexation would risk opening the door for a Palestinian state while ending any expansion of Israeli settlements in much of the West Bank. .

The left-wing camp, backed by many former army officers and public servants, sees more risks than and opportunity; so far, as the details and terms of annexation can make it more attractive. Leftist view has been that annexation would be counterproductive if not completely fatal for the prospect of an eventual two-state solution. Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz stipulating that they would seek to advance the Trump plan “while pursuing the security and strategic interests of the State of Israel, including the need to maintain regional stability, preserve peace agreements and pursue future peace agreements”.

Some Israeli commentators anticipate swift and terrible ramifications of a decision to annex parts of the West Bank. Their darkest visions include e.g.

  • an intensification of violence between Israel and the Palestinians,
  • a severing of relations by Jordan and Egypt, which might even go so far as to nullify their peace treaties with Israel,
  • the Gulf States that have been tacitly cooperating with Israel on security and intelligence fronts will end their cooperation,
  • the EU will condemn Israel in the strongest possible terms,
  • scores of countries will recognize the Palestinian state,
  • the BDS movement will significantly intensify,
  • antisemitism will reach new heights.

The problem with annexation of Jordan valley is the matter of control of the West Bank’s main traffic corridors. From a security standpoint, IDF should remain in charge of security on the ground. It questionable if the completion of bypass arteries, bridges and tunnels are enough.

As Area C already is in Israel’s control, the annexation could happen with a vote in Israel’s parliament but in practice with almost no changes on the ground. However, if Israel formally declares land as part of its state, it would make it even more difficult to give it up in any future agreement. The main problem would be, that reversal would require in Knesset the support of a large majority (66%) of Israeli MPs and as I understand, that this something which is very unlikely.

My rhetorical question: Does anyone think (except some Palestinian leaders publicly) that this “settlement” would be given to State of Palestine in any possible Peace Deal?  City of Ariel (founded 1978) located between -67 line and security barrier in West Bank:

 

Global response to annexation?

We can disagree with Israel on political issues and still cooperate in other areas, such as the coronavirus and technological matters,” (FM Anwar Gargash, UAE)

Global response to annexation is negative. Sure the Palestinians are against and calling for international pressure. The UN has warned that annexation would most likely trigger conflict and instability in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the US is likely to block any attempts to pass resolutions at the UN Security Council condemning Israel.

Jordan has said it would be forced to review its relations with Israel if annexation goes ahead. One reason for hardline statements might be that the US call for is naturalizing the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, which is considered by the regime as a severe threat to Jordan’s stability.

Egypt has traditional solidarity with the Palestinians and with their demand for an independent and sustainable state based on the 1967 borders. A Egyptian national interest is the desire for a renewal of negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, which will contribute to regional stability and could – according to the Trump plan – lead to projects worth billions of dollars in Egypt’s own territory.

The Arab world has sharply criticised Israel’s plans. The EU – Israel’s biggest trading partner – says it will use diplomatic means to “discourage” Israel from carrying out its plans. Some member states have called for tougher action, including possible sanctions.

Probably annexation will negatively affect Israel’s relations with the Gulf states. their public opposition to the annexation will likely continue, but so will their quiet security cooperation with Israel, particularly in light of the common interest of curbing Iran’s regional and nuclear aspirations.

In my opinion the global response will be verbally hard against annexation, it will be condemned but as usual there will no meaningful countermeasures as outcome.

 

Palestinian Authority has opportunity to negotiate a better deal

Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose” (Bret Stephens)

Palestinian Authority has opposed  annexation and Trump peace plan  even before it was published. Again the Palestinians seems to be the only nation that ever said “no” to an offer of independence with international support.

PA declared on May 2020 they’re no longer bound by the 1990s-era peace accords that govern Israeli-Palestinian relations, and have begun refusing to coordinate with Israel on matters of daily Palestinian life, from tax collection to policing to cancer treatments — arrangements they’ve found humiliating. The even didn’t took corona aid from UAE as the aid-cargo came via Ben Gurion airport. Ordinary Palestinians are paying the price for the disruptions in funds, policing and medical care. Palestinian authorities also refuse to coordinate with Israel to allow Palestinian patients to travel outside the impoverished Gaza Strip for life-saving treatments, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

Palestinian officials are now refusing to accept any of the tax revenues Israel collects on their behalf, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinian civil servants unlikely to get full paychecks this month. The $145 million a month Israel transfers to the Palestinians is estimated to make up about 60% of the Palestinian Authority’s budget.

The Trump peace plan violates no agreement as such. It sets out an ostensible framework for peace between the Palestinians and Israel, including the establishment of a Palestinian state and the granting of considerable economic benefits for the Palestinian people. In my opinion exactly Palestinians have now window of opportunity to get a good deal and finally their own state. And exactly now in coming months when President Trump is in office and wants to make his ”Deal of Century”, winn the next elections and maybe get the Nobel peace prize. So Palestinians have now excellent cards in their hands to get best possible deal for them.

 

My view

The fundamental principle, recognised by Britain’s Peel Commission in 1937  and by the fledgling United Nations in 1947, that the only way to resolve the conflict is to partition the Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, guaranteeing national self-determination for both peoples who claim it as their own.

Comprehensive peace proposals were presented to Palestinian leadership three times in the past – once by the United Nations (1947) and twice by Israel (2000, 2008). All three times, Palestinian leadership rejected broad peace deals, while Israel said yes.

As White House finally published its ”Peace and Prosperity plan” (Deal ofCentury/DoC) , I commented  it as follows:

I agree with President Trump that his Vision is the most serious, realistic, and detailed plan ever presented, one that could make Israelis, Palestinians, and the region safer and more prosperous. In my opinion even at minimum it creates updated framework for possible Israeli-Palestinian negotiation as well possible one-sided Israeli actions if negotiations don’t start. DoC is just the first step and provides the basis for historic progress toward peace. Anyway the best aspect with DoC in my opinion is that it simply mirrors the reality on the ground as it exists today in the West Bank and not high-flown ideas and utopies.

In my opinion the DoC could be even better. From my point of view the map would be more clear if Israel would annex only some 200,000 Israelis who live in the 12 Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and the second group of some 300,000 Israelis who live in the so called ‘settlement blocs,’ located west of the security barrier which are usually very close to the Green Line. This kind of approach could be described as constructive unilateralism as this kind of annexation is not foreclosing the possibility of a future Palestinian State and sc Two-State-Solution. The rest 90,000 settlers – less than 20 per cent of the entire population of those living beyond the Green Line – who live beyond the route of the security barrier, could be, if so agreed after possible negotiation with PA, relocated inside barrier and future border.

David Ben-Gurion faced a similar dilemma in 1937 when accepting the Peel Commission’s partition plan, which offered the prospective Jewish State a small fraction of the territory of mandatory Palestine. “The Jewish state now being offered us… is not the Zionist goal, but it could serve as a decisive stage on the way to realizing the larger Zionism,”

A Palestinian counteroffer of direct talks with Israel might be the best and pragmatic approach to resolving the conflict of the century. In my opinion this would be a win-win outcome for Israel, Palestine and President Trump.

 

Palestine-Jordan confederation, Three-state option

Best solution in my opinion: Spatial separation with Jordanian and Sinai options

 

Sources:

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,606, June 15, 2020 ,

Trump peace plan ,

al-Jazeera ,

Council on Foreign Relations ,

Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen/BESA in The Jordan Valley Annexation Dilemma: A Realistic Approach ,

INSS: A Strategic Framework for the Israeli-Palestinian Arena ,

Israel Defense ,

My related articles:

Gaza Options ,

Deal of Century finally released ,

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank ,

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


Deal of Century finally released

February 9, 2020

Deal of Century” (DoC) aka ”Trump peace plan” – a long waited Mideast peace plan by the White House – has now been released as its full format. Officially known as ”Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, is a proposal to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Earlier in late June 2019 the economic portion was made for public as the first part of Deal in the Bahrain Conference.

DoC – this “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration – is rather a reaction to political realities in MidEast; it is the United States’ redefinition of the parameters for definitively resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in large part espoused Israeli positions. One can describe DoC as an updated version to sc ”Clinton parameters” – created during Oslo process – which were the framework some two decades for negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authority.

 

DoC aka ”Trump peace plan”

[An improved economic situation was]a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

The plan, outlined in a 180 page report, calls for a two-state solution (Israel and a future Palestine) with Israel retaining all of its current West Bank settlements, all of Jerusalem including the holy sites, and security control over the entire West Bank. The capital of the Palestinian state will be in “eastern Jerusalem,” in neighbourhoods beyond Israel’s security barrier.

The plan speaks about an innovative network of roads, bridges and tunnels that enable freedom of movement. The tunnels will be state-of-the-art, according to the plan. It will include tunnels or a covered road that might link Gaza and the West Bank, according to the map.a 34-km. tunnel or covered overpass that links the West Bank to Gaza.

The plan’s map seems to show the Palestinian state extending to large enclaves in Israel’s Negev that will be larger than Gaza itself.

Here are some of the key points, as outlined by the White House:

  • The Vision provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River.
  • Over time, the Palestinians will work with United States and Israel to assume more security responsibility as Israel reduces its security footprint.
  • Approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory, and approximately 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory. Land swaps will provide the State of Palestine with land reasonably comparable in size to the territory of pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza.
  • Israel has agreed to a four-year land freeze to secure the possibility of a two-state solution.
  • Jerusalem will stay united and remain the capital of Israel, while the capital of the State of Palestine will be Al-Quds and include areas of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, where the United States will build its embassy.
  • Palestinian refugees will be given a choice to live within the future State of Palestine, integrate into the countries where they currently live, or resettle in a third country. but refugees will be able to return to Palestinian territory (i.e., the territory controlled by the PA) or to receive reparations from an international fund. After the agreement is signed the status of refugee will be abolished and UNRWA will be dismantled.
  • The Palestinian population located in enclaves that remain inside contiguous Israeli territory but that are part of the State of Palestine shall become citizens of the State of Palestine and shall have the option to remain in place unless they choose otherwise. They will have access routes connecting them to the State of Palestine. They will be subject to Palestinian civilian administration, including zoning and planning, within the interior of such Palestinian enclaves. Such enclaves and access routes will be subject to Israeli security responsibility.
  • Beyond its borders, the State of Palestine will have high-speed transportation links (such as the West Bank/Gaza connection), and until such time as the State of Palestine may develop its own port, access to two designated port facilities in the State of Israel.
  • Two access roads will be built for the benefit of the State of Palestine that will be subject to Israeli security requirements. These roads will enable Palestinians to cross the Jordan Valley to the border crossing with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, allow Jordanians and others from the region to enter the State of Palestine.

Small detail of goals in “Economic part” of DoC

The economic portion of the Doc is slightly similar to the Marshall Plan which was aimed to rebuild Western European economies after World War II. This part of DoC (more in Palestine: Peace & Prosperity Plan ) was billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” The plan calls for a $50 billion mix of grants, loans and private investments over ten years to develop a future Palestinian state’s infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and health care industries. Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, states that have absorbed Palestinian refugees for decades, would receive nearly half the funding.

 

Some critical remarks

In my opinion the DoC could be even better. From my point of view the map would be more clear if Israel would annex only some 200,000 Israelis who live in the 12 Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and the second group of some 300,000 Israelis who live in the so called ‘settlement blocs,’ located west of the security barrier which are usually very close to the Green Line. The rest 90,000 settlers – less than 20 per cent of the entire population of those living beyond the Green Line – who live beyond the route of the security barrier, could be relocated inside barrier and future border.

There is a risk – according study by Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS)that the annexation might lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the absence of an alternative government authority will force Israel to seize control of Areas A and B and to impose upon them a Military Administration regime. The annexation of the entire West Bank will constitute the irreversible abandonment of the trend toward separation and the de facto adoption of a one-state outcome.

I think that the core problem is whether Israel is a democratic state including its Palestinian residents from disputed territories or a Jewish State separating Israeli citizens from most part of Palestinian residents in West Bank; Israel can be democratic only if all its citizens have equal human and political rights.

From my point of view Israel’s borders are defensible even if Israel annexes only 5-15% of West Bank and after Security Barrier has completed. I base this claim e.g. with following aspects:

  • Israel has military and intelligence edge and I don’t have any doubts that it can keep this edge also in future,
  • IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet etc can copy fast and flexible way to any new threads and challenges be they kite balloon or cyber attacks e.g. due first class ecosystem supporting new innovations,
  • IDF is developing whole time both technic and strategic levels and probably it will have also enough financial resources to be updated based to its popular support in Israeli society;  IDF is one of the most respected organisations in Israel.

If aspects mentioned above are valid it makes possible political decisions – negotiated or unilateral – like separation and relocating outposts. (More in Israel´s Eastern Border? )

Two-States according Deal of Century. Source: The White House

The DoC contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine. The Triangle is an area southeast of Haifa, near the Palestinian city of Jenin, which includes 14 towns and villages where more than 260,000 Arab Israelis live. These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated.

Residents of those areas have protested against the idea that they may one day be redefined as living in a new Palestine state.  I don’t understand why this kind of detail still is in final version of DoC;  one reason why the Triangle is in DoC could be to win support from hawkish Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman who has long advocated for such adjustments in any peace deal with the Palestinians.

 

sinai option by Ari RusilaMy third critical view is related to land swaps in Negev as those planned industrial, agricultural and residential zones are artificial and a bit isolated from Gaza.

In my opinion implementing the sc Sinai Option in cooperation with Egypt would be much better solution to Egypt, Israel and Gazans. This option was last time in public 2014 when – according Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report [01 September 2014 ] – Egypt offered Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. (More in Sinai Option again )

 

 

Is DoC politically realizable?

Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose (Bret Stephens)

Comprehensive peace proposals were presented to Palestinian leadership three times in the past – once by the United Nations (1947) and twice by Israel (2000, 2008). All three times, Palestinian leadership rejected broad peace deals, while Israel said yes. Palestinian rejection – anchored in refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state – remains the primary obstacle to peace. As Israel made major concessions for peace with Egypt and Jordan , so probably Israel will do the same with Palestinians based on DoC and possible negotiations with Palestinians.

Many ministers from Netanyahu’s Likud party as well as the Yamina alliance of right-wing parties are against the Trump plan, if it includes any mention of a Palestinian state. However in my opinion clear majority of center-right and center-left political parties support DoC so saying “yes” to a Palestinian state on what is likely to be some 80% of the West Bank, while also agreeing to a Palestinian capital on the northern and eastern outskirts of Jerusalem beyond the current security barrier.

In Judea and Samaria the PA and Fatah declared a “day of rage” in the Jordan Valley. They also organized protests in cities and at the friction points with the Israeli security forces. However only few dozen Palestinians participated in the protests at the various locations, and in some instances they clashed with the Israeli security forces. As there were no mass demonstrations and the events did not spin out of control, the situation and reactions were completely different than e.g. during 2nd Intifada after failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit to reach final agreement on the conflict.

Arab powers appear to be prioritizing close ties with the United States that are vital to countering Iran over traditional unswerving support for the Palestinians in their reaction to President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. Despite Palestinians’ rejection of the plan and boycott of Trump over perceived pro-Israel bias, three Gulf Arab states – Oman, Bahrain and the UAE – attended the White House gathering in a sign of changing times. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE issued statements welcoming the Trump administration’s peace plan.

This time the U.S. initiative has a wide regional support and probably it will gain support also among Palestinian population as it indeed gives “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” So from my point of view the plan, also its political part, has good change to be implemented also without acceptance from current Palestinian leadership.

Also The United States hopes that DoC will lead to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and then it will be up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take courageous and bold actions to end the political stalemate, resume negotiations on the basis of Doc, and make lasting peace and economic prosperity a reality.

New high-tech Qalandiya Crossing: the process of examination and entry at the crossing has been shortened so that passing through requires only a few minutes as opposed to the hours it required in the past. Source: COGAT

 

My view

Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose (Bret Stephens)

Israel and Palestinian Authority have negotiated two decades about solution based on Two-States, and now maybe more than ever one can claim that the roadmap towards it is the dead end. Instead the situation today is drifting towards One-State option, which is unwanted outcome for both parties. The outcome of the U.S. initiative may well be Two-States but the roadmap is new with regional and economy first approach and this in my opinion gives a better change for positive development and even solution this time.

Prior U.S. and international efforts to settle the more than 70-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict have focused on a process that would leave many of the most sensitive issues to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Trump plan veered from that by presenting a proposed final outcome. No prior conception of a peace settlement, moreover, has gone as far in articulating a plan to foster Palestinian civil and economic vitality.

I agree with President Trump that his Vision is the most serious, realistic, and detailed plan ever presented, one that could make Israelis, Palestinians, and the region safer and more prosperous. In my opinion even at minimum it creates updated framework for possible Israeli-Palestinian negotiation as well possible one-sided Israeli actions if negotiations don’t start. DoC is just the first step and provides the basis for historic progress toward peace.  Anyway the best aspect with DoC in my opinion is that it simply mirrors the reality on the ground as it exists today in the West Bank and not high-flown ideas and utopies.

 

Some of my related articles:

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

New” Idea: Connecting Gaza to Northern Sinai

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution

Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach


Appendix:

From deal to ”Quality peace”

The only way to solve a conflict at any level of society is to sit down face to face and talk about it.” (John W. McDonald)

.

Deal of Century is exellent peace plan but does it sole the conflict is other question. From my point of view current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope today’s modern type of conflicts. In my opinion peacemaking is only secondary action by managing conflicts – a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions. This approach can have an outcome which I call ”Quality peace”.

More about holistic approach e.g :

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach

Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

R2P vs Facades of Interventions

Multifaceted Intervention Practices

Quality Peace?


Securing Maritime Assets Demands a New Approach by Colonel (Ret.) Zohar Rozenberg

August 22, 2019
Below is a fascinating guest post by Colonel (Ret.) Zohar Rozenberg, former Head of IDF’s Cyber Department. 

At this moment, cyber-attacks threaten thousands of vulnerable cargo ships, which carry billions of dollars’ worth of goods. Due to the lack of maritime-specific cybersecurity solutions, vessels are highly susceptible to digitally-led hijackings or even ransomware. This threat can wreak havoc on global shipping– the backbone of modern economics. With Artificial Intelligence functionality, future solutions include autonomous safety mechanisms which recognize that they are the sole line of defense.

Unlike enterprises or fixed-location systems, maritime vessels face unique challenges due to rotating crews and remote positions. A lack of industry-wide cybersecurity practices has robbed the industry of hundreds of millions of dollars. Turning a blind eye to this danger is an open surrender to cyberattacks, leaving countless openings for opportunistic hackers to infiltrate ships’ software systems.  

Hijacked ships being held for ransom or run aground into a reef or dock, risks catastrophic damage to humans and natural habitats alike. Beyond that, the blow dealt with a company’s reputation may take years to recover from, resulting in a significant loss of revenue and consumer confidence. Notably, Maersk’s 2017 cyberattack had a rapid response, resulting in a minimal loss of only 300 million dollars.

In order to secure investments and ensure security, practical solutions must act on their own, without human intervention. 

Unique Challenges
Today’s market has no lack of quality cybersecurity software, but when it comes to the maritime industry and its unique set of challenges, most of the existing solutions do not fit. 

Legacy solutions lack viability. No cybersecurity software accounts for protecting a floating mini-city forced into radio silence. Cargo ships, cruise liners, and offshore rigs face greater cybersecurity challenges than the International Space Station. The difference is: astronauts spend two years preparing for a single mission, while deckhands have zero computer expertise.

Modern maritime vessels rely on unstable, low-bandwidth, and choppy communication. With such a massive area and so few people, there is no room for an IT expert. In reality, the inability to secure a vessel with maritime-focused cybersecurity solutions is of greater concern than a poorly screened crew.

These increasingly digitally-managed ships rely on outdated systems, some running Windows XP, without a means to properly encrypt information. If a compromised ship has been given new coordinates, the onboard system has no cloud to rely on and no IT department to ask. Tech support is simply unavailable at sea.  

Even if a ship’s captain were to determine that a security breach has occurred, they would have no way to address it. Without regulated protocols to secure all connected devices from ship to port, the frequency of cyber-attacks will continue to climb.

Solutions
Crews and cargo transport all kinds of smart devices– each a potential gateway for hackers. The first step to countering a cyberattack is acknowledging it. Any viable system which is expected to block an attack can not shut down and wait for instructions. The risk of irreversible damage is too great. 

Understanding the uniqueness of the challenge and the seriousness of the risk, we at Elron found only one solution which was able to fully meet the needs of securing maritime environments in front of cyber risks.
Comprised of ex-Naval Officers and Cyber Security experts, Naval Dome is the first multilayered cybersecurity solution for critical onboard systems. Offering remote secure access, OTA updates, and anomaly analysis, this application acts as an onboard IT team. It is the first of its kind to offer a hands-off solution. Addresses both internal and external threats, invaders can never reach the navigational or operational systems.Having ample experience to understand this industry’s distinct challenges, they have proven that securing sea bearing vessels can be practical and reliable. This is why Elron has Invested in this venture, helping them to implement their software on ships and platforms of some of today’s largest maritime corporations. We hope their product will bring a greater awareness of what is possible for practical cybersecurity technology. 

Conclusion
An immobile ship loses money and a compromised ship ruins reputation. With our global economy becoming increasingly accessible, we at Elron expect to see a rise in global shipping and cruising. A secure maritime industry is a secure global economy.

To make this a reality, the ecosystem must develop and implement maritime-specific solutions. Rapid and autonomous response cybersecurity solutions are the only option. Patchworking legacy solutions are ineffective and risk the whole ecosystem.

A product that can act quickly and self-correct is an essential piece of technology when it comes to a vessel’s security. Simply encouraging companies to implement a cybersecurity solution by 2021 is not enough. We are investing in securing the industry today.


About Zohar Rozenberg
Colonel (Ret.) Zohar Rozenberg is the VP of cyber Investments at Elron. He retired as a colonel after 20 years at IDF’s 8200 unit where he led and directed several innovative projects and organizations. He was also involved in the founding of the National Cyber Bureau and the formalization of the Israeli national cyber strategy. In 2008, he received Israel’s highest defense award. Col. Rozenberg holds a B.S in Electrical Engineering and an M.B.A from Tel Aviv University

Palestine: Peace & Prosperity Plan

July 7, 2019

[An improved economic situation was] “a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

 

Peace to Prosperity” can be seen as the first part of long waited ”Deal of the century”, an “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration. It was made for public in the Bahrain Conference late June 2019. The plan is billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” The political portion of the U.S. plan, is coming after Israeli elections in September 2019.

The United States has now released the economic portion of its proposed Mideast peace plan. The plan calls for a $50 billion mix of grants, loans and private investments over ten years to develop a future Palestinian state’s infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and health care industries. Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, states that have absorbed Palestinian refugees for decades, would receive nearly half the funding.

The U.S. initiative planed by the Trump administration is pursuing the goal of changing the Palestinian experience from a society of miserable “refugees” into a prosperous society.

The plan itself is laid out in a 40-page document that can be downloaded e.g. from White House webpage. The plan is divided into three parts: unleashing economic potential, empowering the Palestinian people, and enhancing Palestinian governance. Each section is around 10 pages long, which makes them appear equal in importance. The three sections are divided into sub-sections, where a total of 50 different topics are covered, from educational access to property rights and roads and rail connections. In this, the plan appears exhaustive.

Below some highlights from “Peace to Prosperity” plan, The White House  as source:

 

Näyttökuva (109)

 

The economy

The first initiative will UNLEASH THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL of the Palestinians By

  • developing property and contract rights,
  • the rule of law and anti-corruption measures,
  • capital markets,
  • a pro-growth tax structure and a low-tariff scheme with reduced trade barriers.

This initiative envisions policy reforms coupled with strategic infrastructure investments that will improve the business environment and stimulate private-sector growth. Hospitals, schools, homes, and businesses will secure reliable access to affordable electricity, clean water, and digital services.

Billions of dollars of new investment will flow into various sectors of the Palestinian economy; businesses will have access to capital; and the markets of the West Bank and Gaza will be connected with key trading partners, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

The resulting economic growth has the potential to end the current unemployment crisis and transform the West Bank and Gaza into a center of opportunity.

 

The people

The second initiative will EMPOWER THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE to realize their ambitions, Through

  • new data-driven, outcomes-based education options at home,
  • expanded online education platforms,
  • increased vocational and technical training, and
  • the prospect of international exchanges,

this initiative will enhance and expand a variety of programs that directly improve the well-being of the Palestinian people. It will strengthen the Palestinian educational system and ensure that students can fulfill their academic goals and be prepared for the workforce.

Equally important, access to quality healthcare will be dramatically improved, as Palestinian hospitals and clinics will be outfitted with the latest healthcare technology and equipment.

New opportunities for cultural and recreational activities will improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people. From parks and cultural institutions, to athletic facilities and libraries, this initiative’s projects will enrich public life throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

 

 

The government

The third initiative will ENHANCE PALESTINIAN GOVERNANCE, improving the public sector’s ability to serve its citizens and enable private-sector growth. This initiative will support the public sector in undertaking the improvements and reforms necessary to achieve long-term economic success.

A commitment to

  • upholding property rights,
  • improving the legal and regulatory framework for businesses,
  • adopting a growth-oriented, enforceable tax structure, and
  • developing robust capital markets

will increase exports and foreign direct investment.

A fair and independent judicial branch will ensure this pro-growth environment is protected and that civil society flourishes.

New systems and policies will help bolster government transparency and accountability.

International partners will work to eliminate the Palestinian public sector’s donor dependency and put the Palestinians on a trajectory to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.

Institutions will be modernized and made more efficient to facilitate the most effective delivery of essential services for the citizens.

With the support of the Palestinian leadership, this initiative can usher in a new era of freedom and opportunity for the Palestinian people and institutionalize the policies required for successful economic transformation.

 

The outcome

The plan aims to double the GDP of the Palestinians, and create one million jobs in 10 years timefrsame. Now the Palestinian GDP is larger than that of Somalia and South Sudan but smaller than Afghanistan’s. GDP per capita is around $2,200 in Ramallah, while it is more than $35,000 in Israel and $4,000 in Jordan. From 2012 to 2016, the Palestinian Authority received a total of more than $4 billion in aid, making them some of the “top recipients of non-military per capita aid in the world.”

With the potential to facilitate more than $50 billion in new investment over ten years, Peace to Prosperity represents the most ambitious and comprehensive international effort for the Palestinian people to date. It has the ability to fundamentally transform the West Bank and Gaza and to open a new chapter in Palestinian history—one defined, not by adversity and loss, but by freedom and dignity.

 

My view

The Trump administration has now kicked off an economic portion of its long-awaited plan for Arab-Israeli peace. 

The White House website called the document “a new vision for the Palestinian people and broader Middle East.” However Kushner’s approach – economic development before political settlement – is not totally unique for solving Israel-Palestine conflict. The US vision essentially turns the “refugees” from liabilities into assets, thereby taking the refugee issue off the table. There is an example from year 1959 when UNSG Dag Hammarskjold presented his initiative (UN General Assembly document no. A/4121) absorpt the refugees into the economy of the Arab region financed by oil revenues and international funds up to $2 billion.

The Hammarskjold and Kushner plans had/have similar intentions but faced also with same critics. Putting economic cooperation with Israel ahead of political cooperation was deemed unacceptable, no matter what benefits might create to the Palestinian people. The main objection by Palestinian Authority is that the plan offers an economic vision but postpones the political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The difference is that some members of Arab League now are behind new plan and critics is coming mostly from the current leadership of Palestinian Authority. This makes it easier for Trump/Kushner also to implement the deal.

Comprehensive peace proposals were presented to Palestinian leadership three times in the past – once by the United Nations (1947) and twice by Israel (2000, 2008). All three times, Palestinian leadership rejected broad peace deals, while Israel said yes. Palestinian rejection – anchored in refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state – remains the primary obstacle to peace. As Israel made major concessions for peace with Egypt and Jordan , so probably Israel will do the same with Palestinians.

This time thee U.S. initiative has a wide regional support and probably it will gain support also among Palestinian population as it indeed gives “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” So from my point of view the plan, also its political part, has good change to be implemented also without acceptance from current Palestinian leadership.

Israel and Palestinian Authority have negotiated two decades about solution based on Two-States, and now maybe more than ever one can claim that the roadmap towards it is the dead end. Instead the situation today is drifting towards One-State option, which is unwanted outcome for both parties. The outcome of the U.S. initiative may well be Two-States but the roadmap is new with regional and economy first approach and this in my opinion gives a better change for positive development and even solution this time.

The main sources for  this article have been: BESA, The White House and The Focus project.


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila website


IDF vs Hezbollah Tunnel Warfare

January 1, 2019

“Iran’s annual funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon to attack Israel: 1 billion dollars.  
Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel: A few million dollars.
Destroying this attack tunnel and protecting Israeli civilians: Priceless.”
(Israel Defense Forces)

Operation Northern Shield, which the IDF launched on 4 December 2018, aims to locate and destroy Hezbollah (terror)tunnels that cross the Blue Line from Lebanon into northern Israel. The operation is part of the ongoing Iran–Israel proxy conflict.

The Operation Northern Shield, following intelligence surveillance of a number of years. is underway via a well thought-out plan that combines intelligence exposure, engineering-based targeted action, and cognitive and diplomatic activity, all of which demonstrate clearly to Lebanon in general and Hezbollah in particular the aims and scope of the operation.

While Operation Northern Shield is still ongoing Israel’s attention is currently focused primarily on preventing Hezbollah to produce and convert rockets into guided long range precision missiles on Lebanese soil.  Probably both Israel and Hezbollah don’t have big interest to escalate the situation now – the future is different issue.

Some diplomatic activity

United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) acknowledged the existence of four tunnels near the Israel-Lebanon border, and can confirm that at least two of the tunnels cross the Blue Line” in violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which helped end the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Israel and the United States are proposing a resolution to the Security Council to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization (the European states have designated only Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization)

The Russian embassy posted a tweet saying that there is “no doubt that Israel has the right to protect its national security, including to prevent the illegal entry of anyone into the country.”…“we hope that the actions taken for this purpose will not conflict with UNSC Resolution 1701.” Also the United States “strongly supports Israel’s efforts to defend its soverignty,” US National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote on Twitter.

The (End of) terror-tunnels

  • During the first day of the operation, on 4 December, the IDF uncovered a tunnel near the Israeli town of Metula with an estimated length of 200 metres (220 yd) that “extended more than 40 yards (37 m)” into Israel
  • On 6 December 2018, IDF discovered a second tunnel originating from the village of Ramyah near the border,
  • On 11 December 2018, the IDF located a third tunnel crossing into Israel.
  • On 16 December 2018, the IDF located a fourth tunnel crossing into Israel, and that as the tunnel had been rigged with explosives anyone entering it from the Lebanese side would be risking their life.
  • On December 26, 2018, the IDF blew up the fifth Hezbollah terrorist tunnel, which had been located a few days before in the region of the Shi’ite village of Ayta al-Shab (east of the Israeli community of Zar’it). Before the tunnel was destroyed the IDF called on the Lebanese villagers to evacuate the area

According to a senior IDF officer, most of the tunnels in the north exposed so far were “five star tunnels,” of the kind Hamas could only dream about. They had ventilation ducts and electric connections, and some of them had telephones. Some of Hezbollah’s tunnels were dug to a depth of more than 49 yards. They were ten feet wide and almost eight feet high (IDF spokesman, December 27, 2018).

The tunnels Hezbollah burrowed are meant to facilitate the movement and infiltration into northern Israel of hundreds of its fighters as part of its well-established military doctrine that calls for “the conquest of the Galilee.” and its aim is that during the next war, Hezbollah would invade the northern Israeli Galilee region and conquer it. Hezbollah’s operational plan also includes the construction of facilities to launch massive missile attacks on population centers and strategic sites. From Hezbollah’s perspective, the aerial attacks would attract the entire attention of Israel’s military, thereby simultaneously enabling Hezbollah to activate its plan for “the conquest of the Galilee” using its special forces.

Background

Hezbollah has long history of creating underground facilities such as tunnels, this was evident during the 2006 Lebanese war.  However then they served for defensive purposes i.e. moving troops etc but now the tunnels were intended for offensive objectives.  The idea of the tunnels is to transport Hezbollah elite units e.g. with motorcycles into Israel, to make ambushes, kidnap soldiers and terror civilian communities – the same idea which Hamas developed in Gaza before Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014.  Original idea came from lessons learned from Viet Cong activities in -60’s and -70’s.  Hamas shared their experiences with Hezbollah with Iranian financial support. 

IDF started searching for Hezbollah tunnels into Israel in 2013 after residents of northern Israel reported hearing sounds of digging, but failed to find anything. After the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, which saw numerous tunnels dug by Hamas from the Gaza Strip into Israel being uncovered and being utilized in several attacks, the IDF renewed its search for Hezbollah tunnels in northern Israel, and this time found indications that such tunnels existed. A laboratory made up of soldiers from technology and intelligence units was formed to investigate it, based on a similar laboratory investigating Hamas tunnels in southern Israel. A variety of seismic sensors and radar systems were used to locate the tunnels. The operation was planned two and a half years in advance.

After realizing that Hezbollah’s tunnels would need to be dealt with in 2015, a team of IDF military engineers, intelligence officers, and technology experts determined that plans should be made for destroying the tunnels. Senior officers in the IDF Combat Engineering Corps realized that the hard, rocky terrain of northern Israel, as opposed to the soft, sandy terrain of the area where Hamas tunnels were dug in the south, would pose a challenge that the IDF was not accustomed to.

 

Operation Northern Shield: The outcome

The impact of of Operation Northern Shield is significant on Hezbollah’s plan to establish a credible ground threat against Israel. The operation makes clear the improved IDF’s intelligence and detection capabilities and destroying the tunnels as well building the security barrier or wall Negating this Hezbollah capability solidifies Israel’s military superiority and widens the gap between it and the organization in a manner that could affect the balance of deterrence, which has remained stable since 2006.

By refraining from punishing the organization for these violations, beyond By taking only preventive actions against the tunnels, and not punish Hezbollah or to make destroying airstrikes nor land operations, Israel is signaling its intent to maintain the stability and calm along the border. Hezbollah, for its part, is embarrassed and lack of interest in military escalation against Israel at this stage, due to its continued military involvement in the war in Syria, which thus far has taken a heavy toll in resources and casualties (about 2000 dead and approximately 8,000 wounded, and families that need to be supported).

Cement mixers en route to the border

IDF forces continue filling the tunnels with concrete

Bottom line

In  fact word operation describing ”Northern Shield” is an overstatement as the effort consists of engineering activities performed entirely within Israeli territory, with no fire and no maneuvering elements. According IsraelDefense in internal discussions within the defense establishment, quite a few speakers thought it would have been better to avoid destroying the tunnels at this time. The proponents of that view reasoned that it would be better to allow Hezbollah to invest more and more energy in the tunnels, of which the IDF was fully aware, and destroy the tunnels in the future, only in the event of a war – or turn them into a trap.

While Operation Northern Shield is still ongoing is Israel’s attention currently focused primarily on the project run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah to produce and convert rockets into guided long range precision missiles on Lebanese soil. This is also the main explanation for the Israel Air Force campaign during last three years to bomb the supply lines from Iran via Syria to Hezbollah.  Only last year there was over 200 IAF attacks in Syria. Recently civilian airliners have carried in direct flights from Tehran to Beirut advanced weaponry such as Global Positioning System (GPS) components that could upgrade Hezbollah’s arsenal of unguided heavy rockets into precision-guided munitions (PGMs).

.

Sources e.g: Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center , Jerusalem Post, IsraelDefense The Institute for National Security Studies

More about Hamas’ tunnel warfare and Israel’s anti-tunnel campaign e.g: Gaza’s Tunnel War Continues On All Fronts  and Underground Iron Dome i.a. Against Hamas’ Terror Tunnels

 


Hudna – The Hamas-Israel deal – on the Way

November 6, 2018

The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar – affiliated with Hamas – has reported on 3rd Nov. 2018 that according a draft agreement between Israel and Hamas the later will commit to restricting border protests and restict violence until the end of 2018, while Israel will agree to lift 70 percent of its blockade on the Stript and expand the fishing zone to 14 nautical miles. Apparently for the first time since August 2018, significant progress was again made in contacts for an Egyptian-mediated arrangement.

One proof of the progress was the “return march” held on November 2nd Nov., 2018: Participation in the march was limited compared with previous weeks, the demonstrators did not approach the security fence, no attempts were made to break through the fence and no incendiary kites and balloons were launched into Israeli territory and Hamas’ restraint force kept demonstrators away from the fence.

Operatives of Hamas’ restraint force use clubs to keep demonstrators from approaching the security fence (Fatah Facebook page, November 2, 2018).

Despite this 32nd protests – during the “Return March” campaign – were significantly calmer than those 31 held in previous weeks, eighty-seven protesters were wounded, 32 have been evacuated to hospitals, with seven of those being wounded by live gunfire. The rest were treated for tear gas inhalation. However no severe injuries were reported.

A senior Hamas official told Haaretz the Palestinian factions in the Strip decided to put an end to the violent protests along the border with Israel, as well as stop the launching of airborne firebombs. According to the official, the protesters will also stop setting tires on fire and approaching the Israeli side of the border.

The lowered level of violence of the last “return march” was apparently the result of a number of understandings achieved through Egyptian mediation. As part of the attempts to reach an arrangement, an Egyptian delegation headed by Ahmed Abdel Khaliq, head of the Israeli and Palestinian directorate in Egyptian General Intelligence, came to the Gaza Strip. The delegation held a series of meeting with representatives of Hamas, the other Palestinian organizations, and members of the Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March.

The Egyptian security delegation meets with representatives of the Palestinian organizations and the Supreme National Authority of the Return March in the Gaza Strip (QudsN Facebook page. November 1, 2018).

At a conference held ahead of Friday’s protests [2nd Nov. 2018], the factions – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front and several others – agreed to lower the level of friction in light of the talks brokered by Egypt. The decision also follows Israel’s decision to expand the permitted fishing zone off the Gaza Strip’s coast and transfer funds from Qatar for Hamas salaries.

The Draft agreement

The published draft also includes – i.a. – following clauses:

  • Israel agreeing to allow 5,000 Gazan workers under the age of 40 into Israel for employment,
  • Egypt will open the Rafah crossing, which it has mostly maintained closed since Hamas took over the Strip in 2007.
  • Israel will strive to leave its crossing with Gaza open and the United Nations will advance projects in the Strip that will create tens of thousands of jobs.
  • The Palestinian Authority will pay Hamas civil servants 80 percent of their salaries and not object to Qatar funding Hamas salaries for at least six months.
  • At a later stage Egypt would work to advance the prisoners’ exchange deal between Hamas and Israel and institute a ceasefire of at least three years with international supervision and Russian and UN sponsorship
  • Egypt would work to extend the fishing area to 14 miles, leave the Rafah Crossing permanently open and support infrastructure projects and projects that were expected to provide about 30,000 jobs in the Gaza Strip.

Neither Hamas nor Israel has verified these details. However “Palestinian sources” explained that in fact no lull agreement had been reached, but an equation of “quiet in return for quiet” had been formulated, based on the ceasefire of 2014.

On 31st Oct. 2018, Israel reportedly agreed to allow Qatar to transfer funds to Hamas to pay the salaries of its civil servants after Israel negotiated with Qatar and received guarantees that the money will be transferred only for the stated purpose.

Sources: Haaretz , The Jerusalem Post and The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

 


New Road Maps to the Two-State

August 19, 2018

We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there…Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.” (Isaac Herzog)

Ever since the Six Day War in June 1967, innumerable plans have been put forward from the Left, the Right and the Center about what to do with the historic land – and its inhabitants – that suddenly and quite unexpectedly fell under Israel’s control – plans regarding ways to divide sc West Bank up or annex it to Israel, without imperiling the country’s Jewish majority.

A new analysis by Haaretz gives some content for implementing possible Leftist plans in West Bank. At the map by Haaretz  the two-state solution could be achieved with a minimal evacuation of Jews from the West Bank. The suggested numbers are 33 isolated settlements, fewer than 10 000 families and some 46 000 people.

 

For any Israeli government it is necessary to coordinate its actions with the mainstream settler community. According Fathom approximately 590,000 Jews living beyond the Green Line can be divided into three groups. The first group is the approximate 200,000 Israelis who live in the 12 Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, which will undoubtedly remain under Israeli sovereignty in any agreement. The second group is some 300,000 settlers who live in the so called ‘settlement blocs,’ located west of the security barrier which are usually very close to the Green Line. The vast majority of these settlements are also likely to remain under Israeli sovereignty. Only the third group, comprising 90,000 settlers – less than 20 per cent of the entire population of those living beyond the Green Line – who live beyond the route of the security barrier, needs to be addressed at the present time.

 

Leftist approach

The main position of the Zionist Left has been spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians – “they are there and we are here.”One of the first plans for the West Bank was submitted by then-Labor Party minister Yigal Allon. Allon’s basic idea was to give Israel defensible borders, while not significantly altering the demographic balance of the country. His plan called for Israel to annex most of the Jordan Valley – a ribbon some 15 kilometers in width from the Jordan River to the eastern slopes of the mountain ridge running through the West Bank – to serve as a buffer from attacks from the east. Israel would annex one-third of the West Bank, and give up the other two-thirds. The densely populated Palestinian areas from the mountain ridge to the Green Line would not be annexed, and would either form a Palestinian autonomous region, or – in a later revision of the plan – be confederated with Jordan, and linked to the Hashemite kingdom by a corridor near Jericho.

Allon+ Plan, put forward in 1995 by Benjamin Netanyahu

 

The guiding principle of Allon plan, as well most plans after that, was to retain the maximum number of settlers inside Israel in the minimal amount of territory. This principle is valid also with Leftist plans during last years.

Former Leader of the Israeli opposition – and Labor/Zionist Union – Isaac Herzog proposed to divide the land between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following a quote from interview of Isaac Herzog in Fathom:

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there…Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.”

Politically, the idea “us here, them there” harkens back to Yitzhak Rabin, who used that as a campaign slogan in 1992. Later former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed a similar unilateral separation in the West Bank. Herzog’s plan seems likely to garner support among the centrist, center-left and even parts of the center-right Israeli voter base.

According Omer Bar-Lev ( MK for the Zionist Union)

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit.” His steps include a halt to settlement construction beyond the main settlement blocs, passing a compensation law in the Knesset to grant generous compensation to settlers living outside the blocs who want to settle inside Israel, expanding Area B – the territory in the West Bank where the Palestinians have civil control, and Israel has security control – by another 20%, a move that would necessitate taking 20% from Area C, and the evacuation of some 35,000 settlers living in that part of Area C. Once separation is achieved, Bar-Lev hopes the sides will negotiate a final status deal. His map has Israel ceding 95% of the West Bank, and needing to evacuate a total of 70,000 settlers.

According Israeli NGO Blue White Future  Israel should prepare for a reality of two states for two people,

  • by considering transferring areas east of the barrier to Palestinian control in a gradual, monitored and supervised manner. [Note that this part requires coordination and therefore is optional].
  • by enacting a law that allows for voluntary evacuation, compensation and eventual absorption of settlers presently residing on the eastern side of the security barrier, to encourage settlers who wish to relocate within the green line or within settlement blocs, regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is concluded. and
  • by preparing a national plan for the absorption of the settlers who would relocate to Israel proper, whether before or after an agreement is signed. Such a plan should have urban, vocational, social, psychological and other appropriate components.

mideast peace process alternatives

 

Some alternatives?

“The one-state solution is not a solution, but a problem.” (Ori Nir)

The alternative plans from the Right range from extending Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria and encouraging the Palestinians there to leave, to annexing Area C, and giving the 80,000 Palestinians living there Israeli citizenship.

On the far Right of the spectrum is a plan articulated by former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who advocates a plan for Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria that includes the following: Annexing all of Judea and Samaria and making sure that Jewish sovereignty extends everywhere. The Arab population would have the following options: Either emigrate voluntarily with the aid of a “generous emigration grant”; receive permanent residency – similar to Green Card status in the US – but be unable to vote.

A different approach has been proposed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Liberman advocates taking all of the land – excluding Gaza – from the Mediterranean to the Jordan and redividing it along demographic lines. In this plan, large Jewish settlement blocs would be drawn into Israel, and the area of the “Triangle” with its large Israeli Arab population would be penciled into a Palestinian state.

In addition there is the maximalist alternative plans from the Right – annex all of the territories Israel gained during the Six Day War – and also the maximalist plans of the Left: a complete withdrawal from all the territories. Few Israelis, nor I, advocate such a policy, so over the years there have been numerous variations on this theme.

Recently a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict was proposed by sc Federation Movement. Its Federation Plan or Federation Program presents a new approach to the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict. The basic idea is

formulation of a common vision for the federal state by establishment of a federal government, and the division of the country into 30 cantons, 20 of which will have a Jewish majority and ten will have Arab majorities (one of which will have a Druze majority). At first place the federation idea sounds interesting as it seems to solve a basic dilemma in Israeli-Palestinian conflict: how Israel same time can survive as a Jewish state, have real democracy and keep – more or less – post-1967 boundaries especially in West Bank.

Sure there is also a zero-alternative, to do nothing else than keep “status quo”.  This alternative, however, is leading towards undemocratic “One-state” solution, which in my opinion is one of the worst scenarios.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle no one-state israel

My View

The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings/agreement/plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed; The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try. (both plans can be found from my document library ) The parameters of the end-game have been clear the whole time but despite of a number of negotiations the final agreement is missing.

clinton parameters

As possible solutions for Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been besides 2-State solution also bi-national ‘One-State’ solution, partial solutions like Sinai and Jordan Options and different variations of ‘Three States’ solutions. One of course easy ‘solution’ is zero-option – ‘frozen conflict’ or ‘status quo’ scenario which can be implemented also through pseudo-talks. Today also unilateral actions – instead vain negotiations – can pave way towards some solutions.

In my opinion democratic One-state, Israel-Palestine federation or confederation based on cantons might work in theory but not in practice at least for decades. My argument is that even since early times of British Mandate first the Pan-Islamic and then pan-Arab rhetoric expressed fundamental ethnic and religious objections to Jews and for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The history of repeated aggressions by neighbours have also created deep distrust among Jews about Palestinians. This kind of ecosystem and peoples’ minds are challenging to transform peaceful coexistence with eternal enemy; it might take decades and generations to change fundamental ethic values. Besides instead of Israel-Palestine federation or confederation I see Palestine-Jordan confederation much more better model.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict roadmaps to peace

I referred two new leftist initiatives above and in my article Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev, an MK for the Zionist Union and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future, leftist think tank – which both in my opinion are steps forward and also to the right direction as well including required new roadmap for better future. I don’t see constructive unilateral steps as goal but more as strategy and process which will lead towards a comprehensive agreement.

The new analysis by Haaretz (How Many Settlers Need to Be Evacuated to Make Way for a Palestinian State ) gives some content for implementing these possible Leftist plans in West Bank.  The map helps to prepare a national plan for the absorption of the settlers inside security barrier; it shows the settlements which will be evacuated from West Bank, it gives the numbers of settlers which helps to plan urban, social, vocational and other needs of operation and to allocate necessary funding and budgeting and all this regardless of whether an agreement with Palestinians is concluded or not. 

Related articles:

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution

Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

Israel’s 5 Strategy Options Regarding West Bank After Abbas

Trump Presidency Brings Realpolitik Back To Mid-East

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The ideal – maybe utopist – long holistic peace process by Ari Rusila


The Causes of Israel’s Zionist Left Decline?

July 29, 2018

The Israel leftist movement has been in decline some four decades and especially since 2001. BESA center has recently publishe two pespective papers (by Gershon Hacohen in BESA and by Shmuel Sandler in BESA)which try to describe reasons for this decline.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen claims that spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians – “they are there and we are here.” – as the main position of Left has been disastrous. Prof. Shmuel Sandler (emeritus) claims that the two-state framework has long been the preferred international, as well Labor party, solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, however, opting for that solution have been punished at the polls.

Zionist Left

The Israeli Labor Party is a social democratic and Zionist political party in Israel. It was was established in 1968 by a merger of leftist Mapai, Ahdut HaAvoda and Rafi parties. Since Israel independence 1948 all Israeli Prime Ministers were affiliated with the Labor movement and during the 1970s, the welfare state was expanded under successive Labor governments; but, despite its achievements, in the 1977 elections, Labor for the first time ended up in opposition.

In 1977-96, Labor was headed by two leaders: Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. Labor won two elections during that period: in 1984 and in 1992. In none of the elections from 1977 through 1992 did Labor accept the PLO leadership as a partner in a peace process between the Jewish state and the Arab states; in stead the perceived partner was the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Future borders between Israel and its eastern partner were drawn according to the Allon Plan, which envisioned Israeli control over the Jordan Valley and strategic territories scarcely inhabited by Palestinians. The position of Labor changed after Oslo accords and Labor accepted the concept of a Palestinian state and Ramallah replaced Amman as the future partner.

Especially since 2001 the Israel leftist movement has been in decline, at least in elections. Following the October 2000 riots and the violence of the al-Aqsa Intifada, Ehud Barak (PM/Labor) resigned from office. He then lost a special election for Prime Minister to Likud’s Ariel Sharon. However, Labor remained in Sharon’s coalition as he formed a national unity government with Likud, Labor, Shas, Yisrael BaAliyah and United Torah Judaism, and were given two of the most important cabinet portfolios; Peres was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was made Defense Minister. Labor supported Operation Defensive Shield, which was conducted in April 2002 against Palestinians in the West Bank. After harsh criticism that Peres and Ben-Elizer were “puppets” of Sharon and not promoting the peace process, Labor quit the government in 2003.

Prior to the 2003 elections, Amram Mitzna won the party primaries, and led the party into the election with a platform that included unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The party was routed in the elections, winning only 19 seats (its lowest ever), whilst Sharon’s Likud won 38 (40 after Yisrael BaAliyah merged into the party). Subsequently, due to internal opposition, Mitzna resigned from the party leadership, and soon afterwards was replaced by Shimon Peres. Despite being omitted from the original right-wing coalition, Sharon invited Labor into the coalition to shore up support for the disengagement plan.

Before the last elections in 2014 Labor, headed by Yitzhak Herzog, and Hatnuah (the Movement party), headed by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, formed new list – Zionist Union – but this could not to make comeback to power. Following the exit of MK Yitzchak Herzog from the Knesset, to become the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Tzipi Livni replaced Herzog as the new head of the opposition but new Labor leader Avi Gabai would continue to be the Zionist Union’s candidate for Prime Minister.

Spatial separation

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen claims that ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, it has been axiomatic among Israeli decision-makers that spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians is a vital Israeli interest, even if not accompanied by a peace agreement. In line with this thinking, Israelis have been repeatedly promised that the implementation of spatial separation, including the removal of Jews from these territories and the construction of a security fence, would reduce daily friction and create a safer and more stable security situation.

Mr Hacohen asks where a more workable security situation has developed Is it in Gaza after the unilateral disengagement thirteen years ago where complete separation has been effected, or in the West Bank, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s vision of partial separation prevails?

Mr Hacohen claims that since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the Israeli security forces have been conducting regular counterterrorism activities throughout the West Bank as a matter of course. Generally authorized by the Central Command and the Shin Bet without the need for the approval of the political echelons, this routine activity has given the security forces freedom of action and operational flexibility, which, together with other factors, has ensured relative calm and stability in the West Bank. However in stark contrast, the total spatial separation between Gaza and Israel as of the summer 2005 disengagement has denied the IDF freedom of action beyond the border fence. Not that the IDF’s overall capabilities have been reduced, but by transforming the Strip into an ineradicable terror entity that can exact a heavy price from invading Israeli forces, Hamas has succeeded in placing a strategic “price tag” on a wide range of activities short of overall confrontation. It is no secret that the balance of costs, risks, and opportunities that accompanies the decision to act in Gaza has become infinitely more complex since the disengagement.

israel-palestine conflict

No separation = One-State solution

I addition the border fence enables Hamas to grow stronger and to organize safely under its protective wing. Hamas has managed to build a regular military force comprising battalions and brigades, armed with a large below-ground rocket/missile arsenal and supported by an effective command and control system. None of this would be possible without the full realization of the Israeli leftwing concept of “they are there and we are here.”

Two-state framework as cause of Israel’s Zionist Left Decline

The low standings of the Zionist Camp list, formed before the last elections in 2014 by Labor, headed by Yitzhak Herzog, and the Movement party, headed by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, floated a new demand for change at the top. According Shmuel Sandler the Labor party is thus once again challenging its newly elected chairman, Avi Gabai. But if Labor leaders want their party to become a real contender for the office of Prime Minister and an alternative to Likud rule, they should replace their partner for a durable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict rather than replace their own leaders.

Labor has replaced eight chairpersons in the past twenty years. According Shmuel Sandler the leadership of Labor refuses to recognize is that its main problem is not who leads the party but its identification with the failed Oslo process, which installed the PLO leadership in Ramallah and Gaza (before its loss to Hamas in 2007). A short analysis of the 40 years since Labor’s defeat in 1977 after having ruled Israel since its inception – a turning point in Israel’s political history – shows that the problem is not one of leadership but of political identity. Because it is identified with Ramallah’s behavior and demands in any future settlement, Labor has suffered repeated electoral punishment.

New Leftist approach

Throughout two decades of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” direct negotiation has been perceived as the only paradigm that can lead to an agreement “Two-State solution as its final aim. The failure to reach an agreement has given excuses to the rejectionists and extremists on both sides, allowing them to blame the other party for failure to progress, and destroying the belief within the respective societies that an agreement is possible in the foreseeable future.

Israel’s Left as well sc international community and Arab League have supported Two-Sate solution The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings/agreement/plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try. (both plans can be found from my document library ) The parameters of the end-game have been clear the whole time but despite of a number of negotiations the final agreement is missing.

One provocative view to issue

Both analysts – Hacohen and Sandler – claim that Two-State and spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians as the main position of Left are the causes of Israel’s Zionist Left decline. My conclusion differs from theirs. From my point of view the new Leftist approach has wide support in Israeli political map besides in Center-Left also in Center and Center Right which support makes its implementing realistic in future. In addition already partly implemented spatial separation with help of security barrier has decreased dramatically suicide bombings from West Bank. Sure behind the border Hamas can build more easily its military capabilities than in West Bank as Hacohen says but as seen during “Great Return March” campaign from April 2018 the IDF (Israel Army) has effective countermeasures and civilians mostly could continue their civilian routines. In West Bank situation is worse as the security barrier and spatial separation are not so ready than with Gaza.

I agree with Sandler that the political identity of Israel’s Left is has been connected with Two-State solution, however not anymore identified with Ramallah’s behavior, as Sandler claims, nor with traditional roadmap of peace process. It is clear that to solve Israel-Palestine conflict a new approach to the peace process is needed; and recently Israel’s Left has done exactly that.

Spatial separation and constructive unilateralism

Already 2012 then Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labor Party until January 2011, said that Israel should consider imposing the borders of a future Palestinian state, becoming the most senior government official to suggest bypassing a stagnant peace process.

Leader of the Israeli opposition – and Labor/Zionist Union – Isaac Herzog has proposed to divide the land between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following a quote from interview of Isaac Herzog in Fathom :

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state… If we reach an agreement to separate from the Palestinians, this will be a victory for Zionism.

According Omer Bar-Lev – MK for the Zionist Union – Israel must give equal rights to all human beings living in the borders of the country. To keep the Zionist vision alive, Bar-Lev proposes that Israel has to separate from the Palestinians. His conclusion:

If Israel wants to be a democratic state, which it does, then it has to either grant them full citizenship rights, which will subsequently destroy Zionism (one state for two nations) or separate from the Palestinians (two states for two nations). In that case, Israel can keep the Zionist spirit. Then, it is for the Palestinians to decide to create their Palestinian State, which is in their interests and they will make their own decisions.

Bar-Lev calls his program as ‘it’s in our hands.’ According him to achieve separation,

the best way to do it is through an agreement with the Palestinians, for sure… However, the probability of both sides, simultaneously, producing leaders who can make that strategic decision, and that strategic compromise, is very low. Israel cannot put its future in the hands of the other side. If we had a partner, then great, we should make an agreement and move forward and sign a two-state solution. However, even if the other side is not prepared to do so, Israel has a lot of steps it can take to begin the separation from the Palestinians.

The plan titled “It’s in Our Hands,” by Omer Bar-Lev calls for Israel to unilaterally define its own borders to ensure its security, would keep control of all of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and bequeath about 60 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, evacuating 35,000 Jewish settlers — less than 10 percent of the total. This plan might be provocative but for me it seems to be realistic tactic towards two-state solution.

Palestine-Jordan confederation, Three-state option

Spatial separation with Jordanian and Sinai options

An Israeli NGO Blue White Future,(“BWF”) is a non-partisan political movement founded in 2009 and seeks to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a “two states for two peoples” solution by facilitating the relocation of settlers so that all Israel’s citizens reside within secure permanent borders that guarantee a Jewish majority. According BWF  a constructive unilateral move is a move by either party that helps to further the achievement of two states, and is in line with the two-state vision as described in the many blueprint proposals for a two state solution. A constructive unilateral move will not become an obstacle once the parties resume negotiations.

Israel should prepare for a reality of two states  for two people, most notably by declaring that it does not have claims of sovereignty over most of the occupied territories, and by planning and acting accordingly, including preparing for the relocation of settlers residing east of the separation barrier to Israel proper. Specifically, its policy should include the following components:

Israel should consistently strive for a permanent agreement according to the principles of the Clinton parameters and other like-minded proposals, while pursuing an unconditional track, independent of any progress that may take place through negotiations.

Israel should refrain from building new settlements and from expanding existing settlements east of the separation barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Construction could continue in the settlement blocs and in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Israel should enact a law that allows for voluntary evacuation, compensation and eventual absorption of settlers presently residing on the eastern side of the security barrier, to encourage settlers who wish to relocate within the green line or within settlement blocs, regardless of whether an agreement with the Palestinians is concluded.

Israel should prepare a national plan for the absorption of the settlers who would relocate to Israel proper, whether before or after an agreement is signed. Such a plan should have urban, vocational, social, psychological and other appropriate components.

mideast peace process alternatives

My conclusion

From my perspective both Israeli Leftist initiatives – ‘it’s in our hands’ by Omer Bar-Lev and ‘Constructive unilateralism’ by Blue White Future – are steps forward and in my opinion also to the right direction – especially as the prevailing Israel’s Right-wing policy in my opinion is keeping due security reasons discriminating status quo in West Bank and leading towards “de facto” undemocratic “One-State” option, which would destroy Israel as ‘Jewish homeland’. This new Leftist approach can gain more ground in near future as today there is a trend to make regional solution in cooperation between US, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as Palestinian Authority will be bystander if needed. Related to Gaza there is a good possibility to make at least a ‘Cold Peace Solution’ with Hamas and at best long term development plan by implementing sc Sinai Option with Egypt.

So what are the causes of Israel’s Zionist Left decline if not the ideas of spatial separation or previous identification to old “Two-States” solution? Honestly I don’t know, but I would seek the answer from wider trend e.g. in Europe where the Left-wing parties have lost elections decades after the basics of Western well-fare societies were built in -70’s mainly by them. Last decades the voters have also found more response to their needs from populist movements who are giving simple answers to practical issues – Israel, especially inside security barrier the West Bank scenarios are secondary questions. In Israel it is clear that the increasing population between pre-67 green line and Jordan river opposes with Right-wing parties “Two-State” solution with pre-67 lines, in my opinion Israel’s Zionist Left should clarify its new Leftist approach to peace process and what it means to awerage population in Israel.

My related articles:

Constructive Unilateralism: Leftist Approach to Israel-Palestine Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


“New” Idea: Connecting Gaza to Northern Sinai

June 23, 2018

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies has recently published new paper The Three-State Solution  by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 870, June 19, 2018 ). The article proposes thinking spatially outside the box: connecting Gaza to northern Sinai. According Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen it is time to consider a new paradigm for resolving the Strip’s endemic predicament, and by extension the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. That paradigm could entail a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and northern Sinai, from Rafah to El-Arish, with the latter territory leased to the Palestinians on a long-term basis.

sinai option by Ari RusilaI agree with this paradigm  even though it is not a new proposal, indeed I have propagated about it some nine years starting from my article The Three-State Option could solve Gaza conflict  (2009). Especially the ”Sinai option”- more in my article Sinai Option againhas been known already from 1956.

Few years ago – according Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report [01 September 2014 ] – Egypt offered Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. PA President Abbas reportedly rejected proposal. Speaking in a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said: “The plan, which was proposed in 1956, included annexing 1,600 square kilometres from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip in order to receive Palestinian refugees.” He continued: “The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it.” One idea with offer was to resettle “Palestinian refugees” in the Sinai.

One part of ”Sinai option” – already few years ago – has also been the new Gaza port and its alternative Palestinian International Port in El Arish (more in Gaza Seaport – A Threat or Change and background in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal )

From my point of view “regional peace process” can be implemented by Egypt, Jordan and Israel and instead of Arab Peace Initiative be based on Sinai and Jordan options. More e.g. in Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Palestine-Jordan confederation, Three-state option


Israeli Intelligence Keeps Its Qualitative Edge

June 13, 2018

The Israeli Intelligence Community have been first in the spy game for decades. Today it includes three main members: Military Intelligence Directorate aka Aman (military intelligence branch of the Israeli Defense Forces), Mossad (overseas intelligence) and Shin Bet aka ISA aka “Shabak” (internal security) and two smaller units: The intelligence branch of the Israeli Police and The Centre for Political Research (the intelligence branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).  In addition there is National Security Council   to evaluate global conditions according to overall intelligence, and preparing national and security responses and SIGINT service: this proposed service would supply all the other services with SIGINT intelligence.

Recent years Israel has took again steps forward to keep its superiority – qualitative edge – of Intelligence services in future too. Latest example about this development work is The Shahaf Combat Intelligence Collection battalion, which is responsible for collecting visual intelligence in the Lebanon sector, from the Mediterranean shore at Rosh-Hanikra to the foot of Mount Hermon.

Integrated Radar and MARS systems

Located in the Galilee region, The Shahaf Combat Intelligence Collection battalion employs surveillance operators, mobile surveillance resources and warfighters performing intelligence collection operations, if necessary, across the border as well. The battalion has a personnel of about 750 regular troopers and the capacity to grow by another 100 in an emergency.

According IsraelDefense the Radar systems introduced to the battalion in 2009 changed the world of intelligence collection. In the past, when optics reigned supreme, the surveillance operator would scan the sector. Such a scanning cycle took a few minutes to complete, which meant that each point within the sector was scanned once every few minutes, leaving space for Hezbollah to take advantage of. Today, Radars reign supreme as they enable continuous scanning of a given sector. This technology changed the operational concept of the battalion. Recently, Radars capable of seeing through foliage have been introduced, and they have improved ability to identify Hezbollah intrusion attempts and issue alerts.

Another intelligence collection element introduced to the Lebanon and Syria sector in recent years is the MARS surveillance system. According IsraelDefense this system consists of multiple surveillance cameras for different ranges and with different resolution characteristics, capable of monitoring a very broad sector. The optical system is integrated with the Radar, and when the Radar spots something, the optical system is alerted and takes up the monitoring process. The MARS surveillance system was yet another factor that contributed to the improved effectiveness of the battalion’s intelligence collection work. Instead of having each surveillance camera operated by a team of six surveillance operators in shifts, the MARS system makes it possible for a single surveillance operator to control multiple sensors simultaneously.

A combat intelligence soldier surveying the field.

Intelligence in Context

In order to bridge the existing gaps, the IDF employs other surveillance resources from the air which, in combination with the combat intelligence collection setup, provide a unified status picture.

According IsraelDefense ‘Intelligence in Context’ is an intelligence collection concept that integrates an extensive range of resources and that integration makes it possible to overcome the weaknesses of each resource individually. Another advantage of this operational concept is the ability to focus on relevant collection. Instead of starting to search one house after another within the town of Bint Jbeil to find out what Hezbollah are doing, the context, namely – the integration with other intelligence sources, enables the battalion to focus. The field forces do not always know where the information had come from, owing to compartmentalization reasons, but that information guides field forces to ‘look over there’. This improves the effectiveness of the battalion’s capabilities by orders of magnitude.”

One of the challenges of collecting intelligence opposite Hezbollah involves the other side’s competence. “The enemy is smart,” says Lt. Col. Tomer Meltzman, the commander of The Shahaf Combat Intelligence Collection battalion. “Hezbollah are fully aware of the fact that we are watching them, and the troopers of the battalion keep asking themselves whether what they see through the lens should be taken at face value. The procedure for writing mission reports at the battalion includes facts, interpretation and recommendations. The facts are what you see, backed up by visual evidence. The context is the interpretation of what you see, and the recommendations are the combination of facts and insights. The question each team member asks himself with regard to Hezbollah is this: ‘Does what I see truly reflect whatever actually happens’?

All of the collection reports from all of the companies are routed to me, and a dialog is under way with the collection teams around the question of what Hezbollah are doing or what they are planning. As in the Lebanon sector the issue of information security is observed very strictly compared to other sectors, compartmentalization is implemented even between the individual companies and teams within the battalion. Consequently, one team may see something and come up with a certain interpretation for the local event in its sector, but at the battalion commander’s level, that interpretation is integrated to form a more complete collection picture. Although information security and compartmentalization are intended to safeguard operational activities, they present a serious challenge as far as the implementation of the ‘Intelligence in Context’ concept is concerned.”

All of these compel the IDF to employ creative techno-operational thinking so as to maintain the advantage embodied in intelligence collection from within Israel or through the use of the Lebanese airspace. “We operate on two levels: we meet periodically with the relevant industries on the ground, in order to germinate new ideas that would solve operational problems. Additionally, we keep track of civilian technologies that may contribute to us,” says Meltzman.

Another field is understanding the context of the target in real time. “While to this day we have had Radars and optical systems, the next leap will involve the identification of the context of the target. When you spot an individual on the other side of the border, you want to know who he is, whether the Israeli intelligence community has a record for him, whether he is new to the sector and whether he is connected to other individuals in the sector. The ability to analyze such information in real time can shorten the loop closure processes for the targets we spot.”  says Meltzman.

Source: IsraelDefense

Upper Level developments

The issue regarding the suitable structure of the Israeli Intelligence Community (IIC), and questions as to dividing responsibilities and jurisdictions between Aman, Shin Bet, and Mossad, became agenda issues many times in the past. The Commission to investigate the intelligence network following the War in Iraq maintained that, it is finally time to restructure the IIC in accordance with a proper work distribution, professional designation, as well as a correct constitutional and legal frame of reference.

According WikiPedia the Commission recommended on reforming the current IIC structure, ending up with three or four independent intelligence services, alongside the National Security Council, with the distinction between them being based upon the respective spheres of responsibility of each service:

¤ Aman (IDF): its jurisdiction is to consist primarily of “military intelligence”—alerting the political leadership and the security arms to the possibility of war and estimating the means of the enemy, and identifying prospective targets during a war or a limited military conflict.

¤ Mossad: is to be charged with, in addition to foiling attacks, a strategic-political emphasis, which includes evaluating the stability of regimes, and engaging in industrial-scientific-technological and nuclear-related intelligence as well as against global terrorism.

¤ Shabak: is to be tasked with the security of the State, its citizens, and organs, against Palestinian and other forms of terrorism, and against internal subversion.

¤ National Security Council: is to evaluate global conditions according to overall intelligence, and preparing national and security responses.

¤ SIGINT service: this proposed service would supply all the other services with SIGINT intelligence.

As the result of the process known as the Arab Spring and of a dramatic technological revolution, Aman, Mossad and ISA have recently undergone far-reaching changes. For example in the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, where almost 1,000 officers changed positions and the organizational structure has been revolutionized.

A senior intelligence officer interviewed in IsraelDefense concludes the background of this massive wave of changes in Aman:

In the era of the Internet and the social networks, events take place at a mind-boggling pace. Processes that once took years are now being concluded within days and even hours. However, beyond the regional instability, the really fateful change, as far as the intelligence agencies are concerned, has been a technological one. In the past, the primary intelligence effort was SigInt (Signals Intelligence, based on the spotting of electronic signals and monitoring of radio communication networks and telephone lines). Today, no one uses telephones or radio transceivers anymore. The enemy has evolved into an entity that is usually amorphous, with no definite chain of command, and each independent intelligence objective keeps a number of different cellular telephones which it uses to send written messages through E-Mail, the social networks and WhatsApp, or uses the Internet-based Skype network that offers basic encryption capabilities. The entire concept and all of the resources should be revised in order to keep on collecting SigInt in this day and age, and that is only one example of the change.”

Generally, the intelligence community must adapt itself and provide real-time information about Jihad organizations and arms transfers, but also about enemy targets in caves and in urban areas – so that the information may be handed over promptly and the targets may be ‘treated’ by precision-guided munitions. IDF Military Intelligence Directorate also led a comprehensive program known as IBW (Intelligence Based Warfare), whose objective was to deliver tactical intelligence all the way down to the tactical echelon, namely – the platoon engaged in combat on the ground.”

According IsraelDefense  substantial organizational changes have taken place within the other intelligence agencies of the State of Israel, ISA (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad.

At ISA, the most important, most significant change was concluded last year and included a substantial reinforcement of the cyber activities in the context of a cyber-SigInt division. ISA had recruited extensively for its cyber activities, and is currently regarded as one of the leading agencies in this field – as it is the agency in charge of securing all national infrastructure and utility systems.

The Mossad has also adapted itself to the era of cyber warfare. The world media attributed numerous cyber warfare operations to this agency, including the attack against the Iranian nuclear reactors using the Stuxnet computer virus. One thing is certain, though: the relations between Israel’s three intelligence agencies – the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, ISA and Mossad – are the best ever.


Trivia 1:

The Israeli Defense Forces’ Secretive Unit 9900, which specializes in deciphering “visual intelligence,” now has 100 autistic volunteers so far. Autistic soldiers have special skills deciphering intelligence photos–and benefit from the chance to use those skills. Afterwards, the military helps them find jobs in the civilian world. Source: JewishNewsSyndicate


Trivia 2:


Trivia 3:


Trivia 4:

Black Cube is a private intelligence agency, which is based in London, Paris and Tel Aviv. The company was founded in 2010 by former Israeli intelligence officers Dan Zorella and Avi Yanus. Its employees include former members of Israeli intelligence units, including Aman, Mossad and Shin Bet, as well as legal and financial experts. Black Cube’s main business is “litigation support”, in which the company provides intelligence, evidence and advisory services in multi-jurisdictional legal and criminal cases.


Trivia 5:

The head of Israel’s security service said on Wednesday that 250 terror attacks had been prevented since the beginning of 2018.  Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, speaking at an international counter-terrorism conference hosted by the Public Security Ministry in Jerusalem, said Israel has arrested 400 Palestinians who planned to commit lone wolf attacks, including suicide bombings, abductions and shooting attacks.

He explained that Israel’s threats “are varied and spread over several unstable and challenging arenas,” adding that his organisation’s success is due to “the combination of quality, dedicated human assets, advanced technology and unique and professional operation methods”.  “As a learning, incorporative, advanced and technological organisation we put great emphasis on strategic cooperation with our friends in the (intelligence) community in both Israel and abroad, with the Israeli high-tech industry and with other civilian bodies,” he said.

Argaman added that “the security service knew to adapt itself and use technological, intelligence and operational tools in order to find these assailants ahead of time.”

According to the statistics that he presented, the Shin Bet prevented 400 attacks in 2017 and arrested 1,384 Palestinians who had planned terror attacks, thirteen of which had planned to commit suicide attacks, whereas others had planned to abduct soldiers and civilians.  Source: BICOM  


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