Mofaz: Gov’t lacks strategy to deal with statehood bid

Submission of Knesset panel report on possible repercussions of Palestinian UN vote is postponed until calm returns to South.

Mofaz (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) postponed on Saturday the presentation of findings on the possible repercussions of a Palestinian declaration of statehood at the UN in September.
Mofaz said the report will be presented when the situation in the south calms down.
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The document’s final draft, prepared by committee adviser Barak Ben-Tzur and MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) who heads a subcommittee on the topic, was supposed to be presented on Sunday.
Earlier this month, the report was presented to committee members and defense officials who had submitted information, so they could make comments and changes.
At the time, Ben-Tzur explained to the committee that the findings were inconclusive, with different experts giving different assessments.
None of the experts consulted expected a new intifada to break out, but some predicted mass protests near the West Bank security barrier and settlements.
Others said a UN declaration of Palestinian statehood could further isolate Israel diplomatically, and even if the Palestinians did not become a UN member state, they could join UN committees and organizations and cause problems for Israel.
“It looks like Israel does not have a clear strategy to deal with September’s challenges,” committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said.
Mofaz has criticized the government numerous times in recent months, accusing it of being unprepared for the consequences of the expected UN vote.
“If the diplomatic process for September had been significant, most of the army’s preparations would not have been necessary,” he said after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz briefed the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last month.
Gantz said that he did not think the Palestinians were “putting energy into organizing events that will cause a step backward from all of the accomplishments and prosperity they attained in the West Bank.
“At the same time, we cannot ignore that the Palestinians are also sensitive to everything that is happening around us in the Middle East. There is potential for a conflict and an expectation that thousands will have a quiet, nonviolent demonstration in areas of friction on the security barrier or near settlements,” Gantz said. “The IDF cannot endanger the settlements in such a situation.”
At the same committee meeting, MK Einat Wilf (Independence) suggested that the IDF “has to think about the possibility that it may have no choice but to evacuate settlements facing Palestinian demonstrations.”
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