Defense Minister Liberman tours northern border.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman unveiled a new policy toward Palestinians based on the “carrot and stick” model – harsher punishment for families and villages from which terrorists originate and economic benefits for those areas that have not produced terrorists.
“We will implement a differential policy in Judea and Samaria,” Liberman said. “Its purpose is to continue to give benefits to those who desire co-existence with us and make life difficult for those who seek to harm Jews.”
The minister added that “anyone who is prepared for co-existence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”
As part of this policy, the defense establishment is also establishing a news website in Arabic that will be run by the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Liberman announced the new policy on Wednesday at a press conference at his office in Tel Aviv.
According to Liberman, the new plan has three principles: Carrots and sticks; dialogue with the Palestinian public; and the drawing up of a list of those considered close associates of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Liberman stressed that the new plan was made in coordination with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I update the prime minister on every detail,” he stated.
According to the new policy, the defense establishment divided the West Bank map into two parts – the main part marked on the map in green represented the areas from which no terrorists had come, while a smaller part, mainly in the southern West Bank from Hebron southward featured villages colored in red and yellow.
The areas that will get benefits immediately are Beit Sahur, in which a hospital will be built; western Nablus, in which an industrial zone will be built; and Kafr Bidia, in which a soccer field will be built.
Infrastructure plans will also be expanded in Kalkilya, Hableh and Izbat Tabib, and an economic corridor will be opened from Jericho to Jordan in accordance with a plan being promoted and paid for by the Japanese government.
Liberman added, however, that he does not intend to allow the Palestinians to build another city in the West Bank.
The means of punishment for areas from where terrorism originates will include increased IDF activity in Area A of the West Bank; home demolitions; increased arrests; raids on homes from which terrorists came; confiscation of terrorism funds and property; cancellation of VIP permits for senior Palestinian Authority officials taking part in incitement; increased vehicle searches at the Kalandiya refugee camp; and stricter enforcement against illegal building.
Liberman quoted Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s saying that you must be “a generous and cruel genius.”
The plan, he said, had been formed after lengthy discussions.
“I didn’t wake up one night and make it up” – taking into consideration the opinions of OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, the COGAT, Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, as well as senior Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officials.
One of the keys of the plan deals with the defense establishment’s desire to hold talks with Palestinian figures without mediation and without the approval of the Palestinian Authority. Although Liberman did not call it as such, it could be defined as “a track that circumvents Mahmoud Abbas.”
According to Liberman, “[Abbas] speaks with everyone in Israel and, therefore, the goal is to attain symmetry between Israel and the PA.”
He said PA officials speak to all parts of Israeli society – ministers, MKs, mayors, academics and more – whereas Israel holds talks only with PA officials or those who have received the approval of the PA.
“Our goal is to create a dialogue with anyone who wants to talk to us,” the minister stated. He added, however, that “we have no intention to crown kings in the PA or to interfere in internal affairs.”
In answer to whether his plan is a return to the Village Leagues that then-defense minister Ariel Sharon formed in the 1980s to counteract PLO influence in the West Bank, Liberman said: “We are not forming Village Leagues. Secondly, there is a big difference between what his plan was and what happened.”