Maj.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit, the former head of military intelligence who has
become an outspoken representative of the Israeli moderate camp, presented grim
prospects for peace at a joint Palestinian- Israeli conference on Wednesday
Even if a two-state solution is found and peace is declared,
he said, it will take another two generations before a sense of normality can be
“We will all know that it’s going to be, on the one hand, a
relatively cold peace, and on the other hand, much more importantly, a very
precarious peace,” the 86- year old officer said.
Gazit, who led the
Military Intelligence Directorate from 1974 to 1978, was a guest speaker at the
conference, held at the Ambassador Hotel in east Jerusalem and hosted by the
Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information – an organization that aims
to build a discourse between leaders of both communities.
titled “Israeli and Palestinian Security Concerns in the Peace Process,” was
part of a series hosted by the IPCRI to bring together speakers from both sides
of the border, guaranteeing travel permits to enable Palestinians to
At Wednesday’s event, Gazit was joined by Rami Dajani, a legal
adviser for security on the PLO Negotiations Support Unit.
replaced Jibril Rajoub, who was originally scheduled to appear.
called upon the Israelis to depart from the status quo and what he described as
an Israeli perception that the relationship with the West Bank was the “normal
state of affairs.”
“We need to have a different way of thinking about
resolving these conflicts altogether,” Dajani said.
But Gazit dismissed
Dajani’s hopes as unrealistic.
“I’m afraid this is not in the cards,” he
He pointed to the settlements as the major obstacle in the possible
transition of the West Bank to the Palestinian authorities.
acknowledged that many of the settlers would not willingly leave the West
But he rejected any possibility of Palestinian sovereignty over the
settlers, noting that if any settlers did remain on the Palestinian side, they
would retain Israeli citizenship and require security from the
“Israel will have to deal with those settlements before we
can hand [the West Bank] over to the Palestinians and say, ‘This is your
responsibility,’” he said.
Gazit blamed the media for pouncing on and
exaggerating obstacles to stronger relations, saying this only further
the peace process.
However, Gazit, who emphasized that he was speaking
for himself and not the government, also spoke of his time in the army
period when Israel was quick to react and could more easily overcome the
that arose in the peace process.
“The main element that was
characterizing our operations in those days... was the need and the
understanding that things should be dealt with immediately,” he said.
blows up into the huge fire that cannot be extinguished.”
Now 30 years
out of the military, Gazit – who was known to reach out to Palestinian
authorities even in his military intelligence post – said he had seen no
improvement in his own communications with the Palestinians.
“I had much
better discussions then,” he told The
after the conference.