Thursday, April 03, 2008

tipping points

Elyakim Haetzni has long been one of my favourite Ynet News columnists. His most recent column Point of No Return hits one out of the ballpark and touches on the dangerous fantasy of the so-called Geneva Accord:
Following the first wave of the planned expulsion (which is set to include some 100,000 people), Israel would have to evacuate the large settlement blocs, because the concept of a land swap isn't applicable. The Arabs have already declared they would not settle for an acre of desert land in the Negev in exchange for an acre in Ma'aleh Adumim or Ariel. Therefore, the vision of Palestine at the expense of Ben Gurion's vision of the Negev – which would outrage evacuees from Judea and Samaria and from within the Green Line - is not realistic. It's easier to destroy the blocs.

And still – what would they give in exchange for the Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem? If those, too, are evacuated, the number of Jewish evacuees would reach half a million. The cost pf the latest expulsion – some 10,000 people – comes close to some $5.5 billion (including the army's expenses, the damages inflicted by Qassams and the fortification of the Gaza-vicinity area). The State would not be able to meet the incomprehensible cost of the final expulsion which is set to be 30-times bigger - $170 billion.

Everyone is worried about the possible violent resistance by the "ideological" settlers, but the struggle of those who have come to Judea and Samaria in order to better their quality of life – and who would find themselves dispossessed of their property – could be just as strong. This time, with a frustrated and angry rightist youth, is the government preparing for possible casualties? In light of the bitter experience of the first expulsion (50% unemployment rate, alarming rise in heart attack and cancer cases, emigration from Israel, a breakup of the family unit, draft dodging), have the people of the Geneva Initiative looked into the ability of Israeli society to cope with a shock 30-times greater without falling apart?

And what would happen to the army, which is already reluctant to participate in local evacuation operations following the damages it has sustained during the first expulsion? Youths have been living in the evacuated settlement of Homesh for the past eight months, while the army refrains from evacuating them and the police fail to do so. What has the Geneva Initiative learned from this example? Religious soldiers make up 40% of junior officers in combat units. If even some of them refuse to take part in the expulsion, would we still have an army?

And what about the legitimacy of the rule of law in a society that treats 4% of its children as scapegoats? Are the people of the Geneva Initiative at all worried about the phenomenon of the 14-year old teen girls who chose to sit in detention for months and turn their backs on the country that ahs ethnically cleansed itself? Indeed, the Geneva people don't like them, but will they be able to do without them?

Do the Geneva people also see the Arab point of view? For instance: How long can Jordan survive the Palestinian state? And will Israel's Arabs settle for a "mere" autonomy, or will they demand a de-Judaization of the state? And how long will it continue to be called "Israel"? And won't the lives of the residents of central Israel be made hell by the masses of Gazans who will pour through the "safe passage" in the Negev en route the Green Line in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem?

Four years ago, I came to the conclusion the point of no return has already been passed in the disputed territories – and this was before the Gaza Disengagement. Just for a moment stop and think about this. The Gaza Disengagement saw 9.000 Jew evicted from their homes and businesses. To date, the Israeli government has yet to fully compensation most of those people, and most are still living in temporary housings while unemployment is rife. Ask yourself, how the Israeli government will accommodate an influx of just 5 times that number – then 8 times that number, then 10times that number.

You may be shrugging and thinking – so what – the Israeli government will have a hard time absorbing these people. The thing is, the government of Israel knows it will, but more importantly, so do those living in the Judean and Samarian communities. The Israeli citizens of Yesha know exactly what fate awaits for them, and if they accede to the government’s demands and abandon their homes – Gaza is still clear, front and center in their eyes.

It may very well be that no Israeli government can negotiate a settlement which requires the eviction of Israeli citizens from their homes without risking an outright civil war. And if its civil war – is the world prepared for the possibility of the rise of a second Jewish state?

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