Ya'alon: Land for peace concept failed

Former chief of staff says pullout from W. Bank will bring Hamas there, too.

yaalon 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yaalon 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The concept of land for peace has proven a failure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any future IDF withdrawal from the West Bank will create a second "Hamastan," which would threaten both Israel and Jordan, former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday. Ya'alon said Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip and the creation of "the first jihadist Arab entity" on Israel's doorstep last month was "the last nail in the coffin" in a string of faulty conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that had characterized Israeli and Western policy for decades. "The strengthening of Hamas after the Israeli pullout from Gaza and the Hamas takeover of Gaza necessitate a renewed examination of Israeli and international conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, to my mind, are no longer relevant," he said in an address organized by the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem research institute, on the consequences of the Hamas power grab. Ya'alon said the faulty conceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict included the beliefs that the Palestinians want - or were able - to establish an independent state within the pre-1967 armistice lines, that the creation of two states within those boundaries would solve the conflict, that land for peace was the basis for any peace agreement, that peace would bring security, and that the key to stability in the Middle East was the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said the violent Palestinian rejection of the peace proposal offered to them at Camp David seven years ago, which would have given them a state on the Gaza Strip and some 95 percent of the West Bank, and the refusal of both Hamas and Fatah to recognize the existence of a Jewish state negated the essence of Israeli and international policies - that the Palestinians want an independent State alongside Israel on the pre-1967 borders. "We are talking about [a Palestinian Authority which is] a gang authority and not a political authority," he said. Ya'alon said regional stability was not dependent on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as many Western leaders argue, but on the defeat of jihadism, led by the Iranian regime. "Any Israeli concession will not only not reduce the threat, but will increase it," he said. "The result of Israeli concessions today will hurt not only Israel's interests and those of the West, but those of moderate Arab regimes in the region," he added. Ya'alon, who is expected to be a top contender in the political arena in the future, said Israel must treat the Hamas-run Gaza Strip as an "enemy entity" and should "disengage" from providing water, electricity and other supplies to the volatile coastal strip where an estimated 1.4 million people live. At the same time, he said Israel should give the Fatah-run PA in the West Bank a chance to establish autonomous rule, while Israel stayed in charge of security. He said he opposed the deployment of any foreign troops in the West Bank, including from Jordan, calling it a fruitless idea that has been ineffective in the past. Ya'alon's tenure as IDF chief from 2002 to 2005 was marked by both a successful crackdown on terrorism, and his very overt falling out with then-prime minister Ariel Sharon over his opposition to the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In a separate address, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, a former head of the National Security Council, said Israel was missing an opportunity following the Hamas takeover of Gaza last month. Eiland said Israel had not used the Hamas conquest of Gaza to pressure the Islamist group to stop Kassam attacks and to free Cpl. Gilad Schalit, and was instead serving the Palestinian interest by releasing security prisoners and easing movement in the West Bank. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders were interested in reaching a peace agreement, Eiland said, since such an accord would not be practical, given the political realities on the ground, and would only lead to an escalation of violence.