Mitzpe Yitzhar outpost 311.
(photo credit: (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
In March 2005, speaking about the dangers of the plan to withdraw the IDF from
the Gaza Strip and part of northern Samaria, then-deputy minister of immigrant
absorption Yuli Edelstein warned that the February 20, 2005 government decision
applied not only to Gush Katif and four small Jewish communities in Samaria.
Rather, he said the decision would be applied to redraw the areas of Jewish
residency in almost all the areas that Israel acquired in the aftermath of the
At the time, a map of the government withdrawal plan was made
available by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and is posted there
to this day for all American government officials to peruse. But that map, which
includes plans for the destruction of 63 Jewish communities and the eviction of
thousands more Jews from their homes throughout Samaria, Judea, Hebron and the
Jordan Valley, has never been posted or discussed in the Israeli public domain –
not in the media, not by the Knesset and not by the current Israeli
Today, the government is once again dominated by
representatives from the “national camp.” They say the current round of
demolitions will focus only on getting rid of a a few “outposts” where issues of
private Arab ownership have arisen. As a result, Likud voters in Ma’aleh Adumim,
Efrat and the Jordan Valley are not too concerned about the greater picture of
what the Israeli government has in mind.
That’s because they haven’t seen
the map that was approved seven years ago and which potentially puts all these
communities on the chopping block. In other words, there is no way of knowing
whether the 2005 map represents official government policy today, whether the
government plans to carry out its policy to retreat to the lines sketched in
that map or whether the map has no meaning for the current government at
The move to hide the full extent of the retreat plans from the
public was made after senior advisors to former prime minister Ariel Sharon
assured Judea and Samaria leaders that the Gaza/Northern Samaria pullout plan
would not be expanded to include the rest of Judea and Samaria. By hiding the
details of the government-approved withdrawal map from the Israeli public, Sharon
successfully prevented his wider plans from taking center stage on the national
debate. In short, preventing public debate on the matter was Sharon’s way to
ensure that his plans to “disengage” from Gaza in August 2005 would continue
Today, as then, it appears the government is trying to hide its
true intentions. After all, the Israeli government could balance its policy of
demolishing outposts where there is questionable land ownership by annexing all
Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria where no such questions of private land
ownership have arisen. Or the government could make clear statements about the
right of Israeli Jews to live in Judea and Samaria. But the government has done
THE FOLLOWING fact should go without saying, but unfortunately
bears repeating in the context of proposed retreats: The current issue at hand
is not an offer of “territories for peace.” The Palestine Liberation
Organization, and its political entity, the Palestinian Authority, remain in a
state of war with the state of Israel.
In October, 1993 the left-wing Al
newspaper reported that the PLO never ratified the Declaration of
Principles which formed the basis of the Oslo accords. That led then-Meretz
affiliated Prof. Yehoshua Porat to review the protocols of the Palestine
National Council discussion of the PLO covenant, only to conclude that the PLO
had not canceled its covenant as promised.
Today, the PLO and the PA make
no secret of their continued advocacy of the armed struggle for the “right of
return” as the slogan of the Palestinian Arab national entity.
situation where peace with the PA is not on the agenda, the people of Israel
have a right to know if the government of Israel will implement or nullify an
Israeli government decision from 2005 which involves further massive territorial
concessions to a hostile entity.
In 2005, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu was Israel’s finance minister. He knows the withdrawal map as
well as Sharon did. The current situation brings to mind General Aharon Yariv,
Israel’s first “land-for-peace” advocate. “Never confuse the concept of
‘territories for peace’ with being forced into a situation of ‘territories
before peace,’” Yariv told me in 1988.
While it is impossible to force
the media to cover an issue that challenges its near-unanimous view that Jews
should be banned from Judea and Samaria, the same cannot be said for the
government. As rumors continue to fly that a new round of “settlement” outposts
are slated for demolition in the coming months, the public has a right to know
just what the government’s plan is, and where it eventually plans to stop
targeting Jewish civilians.The writer is the director of the Israel
Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research.