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New policy group aims to shake up diplomatic strategy
By BEN HARTMAN
21/06/2010
Israeli public policy group holds inaugural conference in Tel Aviv.
 
Stressing the need for Israel to come up with a revitalized public discourse on security, diplomacy, and strategy, a new Israeli public policy group held its inaugural conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

The Israel Security Council, which is run by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), brought together dozens of experts with a wide range of experience in the fields of security, public policy, and academia, as part of an effort to clear up the morass in Israeli diplomacy and strategy through the encouragement of alternatives to long-held diplomatic solutions for Israel. This effort includes at its center a re-examination of the concept of a two-state solution based on an Israeli withdrawal to the ’67 borders.

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The founders include JCPA chief and former Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold, who told The Jerusalem Post before the conference that “the security dimensions of Israel’s needs as it approaches future peace processes has been forgotten,” adding that for too long “the strategy has been that a peace agreement will bring security and not the other way around.”

“Many times diplomats will put forth a proposal and then go to the army to ask, ‘Okay, now how do we make this work?’ It should be the other way around.”

In his address to the conference, Gold said that the main issue facing Israel’s image in the world, and in particular whenever there is a large diplomatic crisis, is not a lack of hasbara, or a lack of sufficient ambassadors with good enough English to get Israel’s point across.

The problem, according to Gold, is that Israel “has no clear message in regard to its goals. If someone asks Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad what he wants, he’ll say ‘a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.’ If someone asks an Israeli politician they say, ‘It’s complicated’ or ‘We want peace,’ or ‘a secure peace.’ The Palestinians have clear targets and we have only indistinct goals.”

Another of the council’s founders, former Israel National Security Council chief and deputy IDF chief of staff Gen. (Res.) Uzi Dayan, said that Israel’s image had recently become “a factor affecting our national security.”

He added that “it’s not enough for us to be strong. Whenever we formulate a strategic endeavor, we need to ask ourselves: How will we explain this?” Dayan also said that a future peace agreement must be based on the preservation of “the defensible borders of Israel.” Retention of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan valley must be part of any future peace agreement, as the Green Line is no longer relevant as a future border for the state of Israel.

“When we talk about what will be the border to ensure our security, it won’t be on the Green Line and it won’t be the security fence. The only relevant border is the Jordan Valley.

Dayan’s argument was mainly based on the threat of rockets fired from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley on Israeli population and industrial centers on the coastal plain, but also on the uncertainty of what future threats Israel could face on its eastern borders.

“Does anybody know what will happen in the future in Iraq? In another 50 years? What about in Jordan for that matter? “The time has come for our diplomacy to be based on territory controlled by our soldiers.

We have a historic and diplomatic right to do so.”

The council’s board of founders includes former Yesha council chief Pinchas Wallerstein, Likud icon and three-time minister of defense Moshe Arens, as well as former Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball star Tal Brody, and head of NGO Monitor Bar-Ilan Professor Gerald Steinberg, among many others.

Sunday’s conference was also held to promote a pamphlet written by former Israel national security advisor Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, called “Regional Alternatives to the Two-State Solution,” which states that the two-state solution as it’s currently envisioned “is difficult to implement and would not ensure stability.”

The pamphlet argues that there is little reason to believe that concepts that failed in 2000 at Camp David should work again in 2010, and presents other alternatives, including a “Jordanian-Palestinian” federation that includes “three-states: the West Bank, the East Bank, and Gaza,” which would be “states in the American sense, like Pennsylvania or New Jersey.” Another option is one based on exchanges of territory between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.

In an address to the conference, Eiland referred to the Israel-Palestine conflict as being paradoxical, in that “everyone agrees that the conflict must be solved and virtually every international body agrees that the two-state solution is the way to solve the crisis, yet the two-state solution isn’t seen as desirable and maybe even possible, by either side.”
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