A future of benign colonialism
Gershon Baskin, 1, responds to 2, Danny Dayan’s plan. Includes inset of photos of ‘Yesha’ – Judea, Samaria and Gaza – camps. Yesha is also the name of the umbrella organisation of settlers’ councils.
An Israeli Border Police officer aims a tear gas grenade launcher at news photographers while advancing on Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, August 2011. Although Danny Dayan’s Plan includes more free movement for Paletinians it does not suggest accepting the right to protest or the removal of Israeli border police from Palestinian land. Photo by Mati Milstein
By Gershon Baskin, JPost
June 11, 2014
Danny Dayan, the former head of the Judea Samaria and Gaza Council (Yesha) published his plan for “managing the conflict” in the wake of the failed US negotiations efforts. The four-pillared plan has many positive aspects to it and when presented by Dayan, who makes a concerted effort to present himself as the reasonable, secular, non-fanatic face of the settler movement, it sounds almost too good to be true. But Dayan ignores the entire political context including the endgame which, if his plan were to be adopted, would lead us to a binational state, and therefore the plan itself, if not necessarily all of its components, must be totally rejected.
The plan calls for the gradual removal of all movement and access obstacles that Palestinians face both within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Israel. Palestinians, according to Dayan, should be able to freely enter all of Israel and all of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Dayan states that in order to enable this free movement there would be “zero tolerance” toward Palestinian violence and terrorism (he also mentions Jewish violence in this respect). The Israeli government would heavily invest in upgrading the Palestinian economy including the ability of Palestinians to work freely inside of Israel and the removal of all restrictions on Palestinian imports and exports. Lastly Dayan suggests that all discrimination against Palestinians be removed, that the civil administration be transformed from a military body into a civilian one and that Palestinian self-governance be strengthened.
The idea is that Israel will continue to be able to claim that since it does not rule [all] of the Palestinians directly, there is no obligation to grant them Israeli citizenship; they have a self-ruling authority that governs them directly.
This plan is nothing more than an advanced and sophisticated form of colonialism. It is the ultimate expression of the so-called “benign, enlightened occupation.” It is great for the Palestinians living under Israeli rule to have (mostly) equal rights, to have access and movement possibilities to get to their places of work inside of Israel where they will receive better salaries and conditions than in the Palestinian-controlled areas. Palestinians will be able to come to the Israeli shopping malls and spend their money earned in Israel to bring home to their families better quality (and more expensive) commodities than they can buy today in most towns and villages of the West Bank. Truly an advancement.
Many Palestinians, having lost hope that one day they will be free and independent might very well be willing to accept Dayan’s “generosity” and take advantage of the fruits of Israeli domination and control.
But many others will not. Economic development, jobs, opportunities for social mobility, are all components necessary for building security and stability. But they are not sufficient. A people fighting for a piece of land they can call their own, for a territorial expression of their identity, could be temporarily bought into complacency. They might appear to forfeit national aspirations for short-term self-interest and benefit, but as long as the national flame stays lit in their hearts and the sense of injustice toward their national identity remains in their consciousness they will once again arise and resist.
Dayan once told me that he recognizes that Palestinians will never give up their national aspirations. In his mind, that is what essentially makes them dangerous to him and what he stands for (settling on the land which is supposed to be the Palestinian state).
What if Palestinians see through his veiled attempt to fool them into acquiescence and reject his plan from the outset, despite the clear benefits that he proposes? What if only a relatively small number of Palestinians reject it, say ten to 20%, and they don’t agree to be silent or to behave as Dayan wishes and expects? Could Israel even implement the plan if Palestinian violence is on the rise? Or what if the Palestinian actually do what they are talking about – engaging in actions of non-cooperation with the occupation that will provoke Israeli violence and bring about international criticism, pressure and perhaps even sanctions on Israel?
It would be so much easier and wiser for Israel to realize that the Palestinians will never give up their national aspirations. It would make so much more sense for us to place ourselves in their shoes and to ask ourselves if we would be willing to give up the dream of an independent sovereign state in exchange for better living conditions. Clearly we would not. If Dayan and his like were to invest the same creative energies that they have exerted in building the settlements into building partnerships with Palestinians based on two states for two peoples rather than domination, control and preventing Palestinian independence they would find true partners for peace.
Palestinians have already accepted that the majority of settlers will remain where they are under the plan for territorial swaps. Now rather than spending energy trying to trick the Palestinians into forgoing their dreams for statehood Dayan and friends should reach out to them and offer them similar terms through state-to-state partnership and cooperation.
The author is co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew and The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas by The Toby Press.
DANNY DAYAN’S PLAN
Op-Ed: A Courageous Plan: Peaceful Non-Reconciliation
There is now a vacuum which should be filled by a courageous Israeli initiative regarding the lives of Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria.
Dani Dayan, Arutz Sheva
June 09, 2014
The collapse of the Kerry Plan presents Israel with a formidable challenge. It goes without saying that I myself never believed in nor subscribed to this type of policy, but one can’t deny the fact that it provided a horizon, albeit an illusionary one, for many Israelis and Palestinians, as well as for many in the international community.
However, the dismal failure of the American initiative brought home even to them the understanding that that this conflict has no political solution at this time. This “despair” has led to the realization that for the first time in decades, and certainly since the signing of the Oslo accords, there is no serious plan capable of producing results within a reasonable amount of time on the table. A vacuum of sorts has formed and this vacuum, contrary to the conventional ‘right-wing’ approach, is now problematic.
The vacuum should be filled by a courageous Israeli initiative regarding the lives of Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria. The fact that is impossible to make progress in the diplomatic path reinforces the need to advance in the human path. It is clear the Palestinian Arabs are entitled to drastic and immediate improvements in their lives, and this is feasible. This is especially true in view of the fact that no negotiated settlement to the conflict appears feasible in the foreseeable future.
Israel must initiate an ambitious and bold plan towards improving and normalizing every aspect of day-to-day life in Judea and Samaria and human rights in particular, as long as those changes do not adversely affect its security needs. I refer to “security” in the narrowest sense of the word. The time has come for Israel and Israelis to let go the trauma of the second Intifada. Israelis cannot go on living under psychological siege while imposing excessively sweeping and burdensome restrictions on the Palestinians, despite the heinous acts of terror perpetrated almost a decade ago.
The Israeli initiative should include far-reaching steps, from the removal of the anti-terror separation fence to the rebuilding of the refugee camps in Judea and Samaria, in cooperation with the international community. The Palestinians will enjoy complete freedom of movement and be able to return to work in the Israeli job market – and not just manual labor. A comprehensive plan will be adopted to increase the Palestinians’ per capita income; the civil administration will no longer be run by the military; Palestinians will serve on planning and building committees; identical legal norms will be applied on both sides of the Green Line; and the governance of the PA will be strengthened.
Of course, the plan must be implemented gradually and with caution, in reversible increments, with a constant eye on the ultimate goal – maximum normalization of life in Judea and Samaria. As I see it, the country’s leaders, led by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, must behave as if hanging before them is a permanent virtual banner asking, “What have we done today to enable the Palestinian Arabs to live in a more dignified manner?”
A basic condition for implementation of the plan is the introduction of a “zero tolerance for violence” defense policy. Palestinian freedom of movement will not result in a reduction of Israeli military activity in Areas A and B. In fact, just the opposite might occur. It goes without saying that zero tolerance for violence means zero tolerance on both sides – the various “Price Tag” activities must be eradicated once and for all, and the sooner the better.
I realize that this plan will spark fierce criticism from certain quarters, and it is not difficult to guess what they will say. I feel no need to apologize. Neither side has a monopoly over human sensitivity or respect for human rights. My well-known position that posits that there should be no sovereignty between the Jordan and the Mediterranean other than Israeli sovereignty is not relevant to this plan. In fact, no political “end game” position is relevant.
The desire and need to dramatically improve the quality of life in Judea and Samaria conflicts with neither the vision of the Greater Land of Israel nor the two-state solution. All the parties can – and in my opinion, must – wholeheartedly support this type of plan. Whatever political reality ultimately emerges, better and fairer conditions of day-to-day life in Judea and Samaria are prerequisites no matter how you look at it.
It is important to stress that this plan is presented by me personally, and does not necessarily represent the views of the YESHA Council or any other organization.
Principles of the Plan
Freedom of Movement – Removal of the Separation Fence
Israel will gradually remove all restrictions on movement currently imposed on Israelis and Palestinians. Initially, restrictions on movement inside Judea and Samaria, including barriers, checkpoints and restrictions imposed by military orders will be lifted, and Jews and Palestinians will be allowed to move freely on all roads. During the second phase, Palestinians will be allowed entry into Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria and into the Green Line, i.e. the gates in the separation fence will be opened regularly as a preliminary phase before the fence is completely dismantled and removed.
Freedom of movement will also apply to Palestinian travel overseas – Israel will ensure quick convenient access from Judea and Samaria to the international airports of Israel and Jordan.
Needless to say, Jews are also entitled to full freedom of movement. Although it does not depend exclusively on Israel, action must be taken to ensure the right of Jews to move freely and securely in Hevron, Nablus and all other parts of Judea and Samaria.
Freedom of Employment
As a direct consequence of their freedom of movement, the Palestinian Arab residents of Judea and Samaria will also benefit from freedom of employment in Israel. This is a mutually beneficial interest. There is currently no satisfactory reason why Israel should import tens of thousands of foreign workers from all over the world while tens and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who live among us are struggling to earn a living.
Palestinians need to return to Israeli cities, but not only as blue-collar workers. Israel must make a concerted effort to encourage the inclusion of Palestinian academics in its advanced industries: an engineer from Ramallah can and should be able to work in Tel Aviv and a Palestinian Arab (in addition to Israeli Arab) doctor treating patients in an Israeli hospital should not be a rare sight. On the contrary; even if this currently seems like no more than a fantasy, in the long term, this vision should include Israeli academicians working in the Palestinian cities of Judea and Samaria – in factories, hospitals and academic institutions.
Freedom of movement and freedom of occupation also means free movement for Palestinian imports and exports, without delays or unnecessary restrictions. Israel must remove the majority of barriers and delays that currently impede Palestinian importers and exporters. There is no reason why a container destined for Nablus should be delayed for days in the Ashdod port, or why a container from Hevron should be delayed for a week at the Tarkumiyye checkpoint on its way to Europe.
Increase Palestinian per capita income
Free occupation is only one, albeit major and necessary, step in the overall process that Israel must adopt to increase Palestinian per capita income. Israel, in conjunction with the international community, must adopt practical measures to comprehensively improve the infrastructures for water, sewage, transportation, education, health, etc. in Judea and Samaria. The goal: to decrease to a minimum the huge infrastructure gaps between Israeli and Palestinian Arab societies.
Here is an example: Whereas for now, Israel generously allows its advanced healthcare system to provide treatment of various humanitarian cases, the aim is to dramatically improve the Palestinian healthcare system so that it can treat more of these cases on its own.
Furthermore, Israel should establish at least five new joint industrial parks throughout Judea and Samaria. The main goal is not to build more Israeli-owned factories, but rather to establish significant new Palestinian-owned industries within joint industrial parks. This is important both economically and symbolically.
Demilitarizing the Civil Administration
The Israeli Civil Administration will employ civilians instead of members of Israel’s military. A 50-year-old Palestinian should not have to deal with soldiers and officers half his age. The civil administration should employ experienced people who understand full well that it is their job to serve the Palestinian civilian population efficiently and courteously.
Establishment of joint courts for the arbitration of civil disputes; incorporation of Palestinians in planning and building committees
Joint Israeli-Palestinian courts will be established in Judea and Samaria, to hear and decide on civil disputes, including those involving land. This will involve extremely complicated legal proceedings, but will make a significant and genuine contribution towards alleviating the sense of hostility felt by Palestinians towards Israeli rule, and hence its decisive importance.
Even before the establishment of the joint courts, Palestinian Arab residents will be included as full-fledged members of the Civil Administration’s planning and building committees that consider construction in Arab towns.
Application of equal legal norms on both sides of the Green Line
As a matter of principle, it is unacceptable that Judea and Samaria be subject to different legal norms than those applied on the other side of the Green Line, particularly with respect to punishment policies. The law that applies to a 16-year-old Palestinian from Judea and Samaria caught throwing stones should be the same as the one that applies to a 16-year-old Jew in Judea and Samaria caught throwing stones and any other 16-year old of any ethnicity committing the same offence inside the Green Line. There is no practical or moral justification to implement a different legal policy for Palestinian Arabs and Israelis.
Strengthening the Governance of the PA
Besides trenchant criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s behavior on the diplomatic front and our profound revulsion with the methods of incitement that it has chosen to adopt, it is not in the interest of either party to weaken or dissolve the Palestinian civil mechanisms of self-government, which have been functioning independently for the past twenty years. Israel must not fight its justified political battle against the Palestinian Authority by disrupting day-to-day Palestinian life in Areas A and B.
In this context, Israel must refrain from delaying the transfer of various tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, strengthen the parity coordination mechanisms in various sectors pertaining to the quality of residents’ lives and generally adopt any measures that promote the efficient functioning of the PA’s civil mechanisms.
Hevron as a Symbol
The re-establishment of a Jewish community in Hevron is a Zionist act of the first order, and the right and obligation to maintain and develop it is unassailable. Without any contradiction of this unequivocal determination, it is Hevron that should serve as a symbol of Israel’s new and daring policy. As in the entire region of Judea and Samaria and Israel as a whole, all the ugly barriers and fences that restrict the movements of both Jewish and Arab residents of Hevron should be removed. The whole city of Hevron will be effectively open to all: Palestinian Arabs will no longer be subject to the severe restrictions imposed years ago to address the security needs of the Jewish community, and the latter will no longer be forced to remain within closed enclaves.
Rehabilitation of the Refugee Camps
66 years after their creation, the time has come to thoroughly and determinedly rehabilitate the refugee camps in Judea and Samaria. It is unacceptable for fourth and fifth generations of refugees continue to live in abject poverty and in conditions incompatible with life in the 21st century. Camp residents should be provided with suitable housing, employment, healthcare services and, of course, education.
In Dayan’s view, giving these camps a make-over would get UNRWA out of Israel’s hair, tame their residents and keep them in their place: a refugee camp with all mod cons.
Below, the Balata camp near Nablus, biggest of the nine West Bank refugee camps. Photo by EPA.
Funeral and protest march in Jenin refugee camp above, Reuters, and below the notorious Khan Younis camp in Gaza,
Rehabilitation of the camps in Judea and Samaria is a project that Israel cannot take on by itself, for many reasons, including political ones. This project will come up against fierce resistance from the Palestinians as well as from international entities such as UNRWA (the UN Refugee Agency for Palestinian Refugees), which has thus far proven to be a complete failure in handling the problem, and not by coincidence.
Nevertheless, we must stick to this goal – the rehabilitation of the camps – and persevere to make it happen. It is intolerable for hundreds of thousands of people in Judea and Samaria to continue to knowingly live in poverty and unemployment, leading to frustration and violence, captives of political circumstances that have remain unchanged for almost seven decades, and which show no signs of changing in the future.
As noted earlier, this plan is based on the premise that in the absence of a political solution at this time, Palestinians are, of course, still entitled to live dignified and proper lives. This premise holds true for residents of the refugee camps as well.