Two new political initiatives emerge from the Israeli right: both aim to destroy the Palestinian cause and prospects of a Palestinian state, writes Saleh Al-Naami
"You will hit several birds with one stone," asserted Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Relations and Security Committee, when discussing the plan by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to detach Israel from the Gaza Strip. Despite political sparring and disparity between Hanegbi, who is a member of the opposition Kadima Party, and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Lieberman, the advantages of the foreign minister's plan were convincing to his opponent.
According to the proposal, which was formulated at the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Political Research Council,
- Economic separation embodied in the construction of a power station, desalination plant and a sewage treatment facility through international funds, in order for Israel to stop providing Gaza with energy.
- Israeli seaports should stop receiving all ships heading to Gaza. Security checks of these ships should take place in the Cypriot
- Sending European forces to the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, as well as the crossing between Gaza and Israel.
- International recognition -- including of the UN -- that the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip has ended.
- Israel would undertake diplomatic efforts to convince the US administration and other countries to adopt this plan and transform it into a working plan.
Lieberman will present the proposal to his European counterparts, some of who are suspicious of the Israeli minister's intentions. Experts on
- Terminate issues that arise from the connection between Gaza and Israel, which have caused Tel Aviv to come under heavy world pressure to end the siege on Gaza.
- Stifling any chance of creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, because in essence it will institutionalise a final separation between the West Bank and Gaza.
- Provide a conducive political atmosphere for Israel by giving Israel a free hand in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, especially in terms of settlement plans.
- Terminally bonding the Gaza Strip to Egypt, transferring political, security and economic responsibilities from Israel to Egypt.
No doubt, Lieberman's initiative dealt a strong blow to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because it inadvertently recognises Hamas's control over the Gaza Strip, at a time when conditions are ripe to undermine the credibility of the PA and Salam Fayyad's government. Accordingly, the PA summarily rejected the proposal.
Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian president, asserted that the initiative would revive the "conspiratorial plan of a temporary state". "Lieberman's scheme aims to divide the
Abu Rudeina further believes that the proposal puts an end to any chance of creating an independent Palestinian state with
Hamas also has rejected Lieberman's plan, saying it refuses the notion of separating
Abu Zahra urged that a connection should not be made between the Israeli proposal and the lifting of the siege on
Lieberman's plan for
Gaza represents no more than 1.3 per cent of the land area of historic Palestine, but jettisoning it gets rid of 30 per cent of the Palestinian population, especially now that the number of Palestinians living in historic Palestine is equal to the Israelis there, according to Al-Barghouti. He believes the process also aims to transform the Israeli occupation into "occupation through international funds", while
"Lieberman's scheme reveals the true intentions of Israeli policies, which aim to eliminate the idea of national independence and the right to determine the future of the Palestinian people. It also makes
Al-Barghouti further warned that Lieberman's initiative would relieve
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle voiced his concerns while attending an unofficial meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
The German official reiterated his support of a two-state solution, noting that, "We want
As soon as Lieberman dropped his bombshell, the former minister of defence and key Likud figure Moshe Arens, who was also once foreign minister, unveiled his own explosive idea. Arens suggested that Palestinians living in the
Arens, who is a Likud Party hawk, urged that political alternatives to the status quo should be considered and that "taboos" in Israeli politics should be breached, such as making West Bank Palestinians into Israelis. He was unfazed by accusations that he is promoting the idea of a bi-national state incorporating Palestinians and Jews. "Bi-nationalism already exists in
What is surprising is that this idea is acceptable to Knesset Speaker Reuben Rivlin, who said he "prefers giving Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians over breaking up the country." Likud Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely sponsored a campaign in the Knesset in 2009 under the banner "The alternative to a two-state solution" where she called for gradually granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinians.
It appears that some settlement leaders also approve the idea. Uri Elitzur, chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements and Netanyahu's bureau chief in his previous tenure as prime minister, published an article calling for granting Palestinians an Israeli identity card and the right to vote in Knesset elections.
Meanwhile, Emily Amrusi, former spokeswoman for the Yesha Council of Settlements, who participates in meetings between settlers and Palestinians, openly speaks of "one country where the sons of settlers go with Palestinian children on one bus to school."
Both initiatives primarily aim to avoid the cost of reaching a political solution to the Israeli- Palestinian struggle.