roadblock check point 521.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
High-ranking members of the Israeli defense establishment have recommended that
Israel offer the Palestinian Authority a series of goodwill and economic
gestures in an effort to convince President Mahmoud Abbas to back down from
plans to unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nations next
Preparing for the worst, hoping for the bestIDF
planting mines at Syria border before September
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is a proponent of the plan, which is
said to be opposed by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
IDF Chief of
General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz and head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency) Yoram Cohen are said to be in favor of the plan.
“This would be a
way to get the Palestinians to understand that they have a lot to gain by
working together with us, as opposed to making unilateral moves,” one defense
Under consideration is the removal of roadblocks, the
possible release of Fatah prisoners from Israeli prisons, an increase in the
number of Palestinian workers allowed daily into Israel, and special permits to
allow Israelis to enter Palestinian cities in Area A – territory that is off
limits to Israelis under the Oslo Accords.
Defense officials said that
the idea behind the goodwill and economic gestures was to demonstrate for the
Palestinians what they could potentially lose if they go ahead with plans to
unilaterally declare statehood at the UN General Assembly on September 20, as
they announced they would over the weekend.
Ministers who oppose the
move, such as Steinitz, have supported imposing sanctions on the PA if it
unilaterally declares statehood.
One proposal has been to withhold custom
payments that Israel collects on its behalf if the PA declares
Another proposal has been to make similar unilateral moves
such as annexing settlements blocs to Israel.
Barak has warned against
imposing sanctions on the PA, which he fears could lead to the collapse of the
PA and push Abbas to dissolve it.
“The possibility that the PA would be
dissolved could mean that Israel would be in charge of every aspect of life of
the Palestinian people in the West Bank, and this is not something that it
currently wants,” a defense official said.
As Israel works to formulate
its diplomatic policy, the IDF is continuing to train military units in
crowd-control techniques ahead of massive protests that are expected to break
out along Israel’s borders.
Israel is particularly concerned with its
northern border with Syria, where it fears that Syrian soldiers will also
participate in the protests, and possibly engage IDF troops deployed to stop a