End this freeze!

An open letter to the Prime Minister

Tractor in settlement 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Tractor in settlement 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Last November, you led our government to freeze construction in Jewish settlements for a full 10 months. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the decision “unprecedented.”
The official policy goal was to induce the Palestinian Authority to negotiate directly with the State of Israel. But the Palestinians refused, armed with excuses.
It was only arm-twisting from the Obama administration that brought them to negotiate in the last month of the freeze. Now, despite the freeze’s failure to induce negotiations in the first place, there is talk, even demands, of extending the freeze. This must not happen.
Ultimately, the freeze is based on the big lie – that the settlements are the cause of the Israeli- Arab/Palestinian conflict and only removing them and creating a Palestinian state will achieve peace. But the Jewish-Arab conflict began long before the creation of the “settlements.”
In 1920, the first organized Arab pogrom of Jewish sectors of Jerusalem occurred. Until Israel’s establishment, many more anti-Jewish riots and other attacks were perpetrated.
In 1948, the Arabs of the region, including the Palestine Arabs, waged war on the Jewish community, rejecting a partition plan which allotted them more territory than the disputed territories combined.
In 1964, three years before Israel’s capture of the territories, the PLO, the terrorist umbrella group which became the Palestinian Authority, was formed with explicit aim of destroying Israel.
Nor has the conflict dissipated with the removal of settlements or steps toward creating a Palestinian state.
After Israel signed the first Oslo Accord in 1993 and created a provisional Palestinian government, terrorism increased five-fold. In 2005, when Israel evacuated Gaza and destroyed settlements, Hamas and Hizbullah grew in power and in daring.
Mr. Prime Minister, this is nothing you have not yourself recognized. On countless occasions you have defended settlements and rejected their removal. Just before elections you asked, “Why uproot these children and their families...? So rockets can be fired from here to there?” You are also the chairman of the Likud party, founded by Menachem Begin and successor to the movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Your father served as Jabotinsky’s personal secretary. My grandfather succeeded him in that same role. Just as Jabotinsky’s principles were passed down two generations to me, I am sure they were passed down to you.
Both Jabotinsky and Begin opposed two-state solutions because the country was rightfully ours and partition would lead to more bloodshed, possibly our destruction.
Their principles are inscribed in the “general purposes” section of the Likud’s constitution. It defines the Likud as “a national-liberal party which advocates... the integrity of the Jewish homeland and strives to achieve the goals of... cultivating love of the Land of Israel in the heart of the people” and “[s]afeguarding the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel as an eternal, inalienable right, working diligently to settle and develop all parts of the land of Israel, and extending national sovereignty to them.”
Mr. Prime Minister, when you joined the Likud, you signed a declaration affirming that you identified with these goals.
Yet the freeze you enacted diametrically opposes them.
It inhibits the settlement, development and extension of sovereignty to all parts of the country. It encourages the partition, not the integrity of the homeland.
It cultivates enmity toward the land, enforcing the belief that our connection to it is a hindrance to peace.
It is a slap in the face to those whose unwavering commitment forms the foundation of the Likud.
STILL, MOST of us who believe in the Likud’s principles have remained silent to give you the benefit of the doubt, room to lead and to maintain the unity of the party. We reasoned that 10 months, though “unprecedented,” was not too high a price to pay.
An extension of the freeze, however, means a potentially indefinite period determined by the pressure applied by a US president who sees settlements as a cause of conflict and who lists rapprochement with the Islamic-Arab world a top foreign policy priority.
Admittedly, the Palestinians have already stated their intent to use the freeze’s end as an excuse to terminate negotiations. But even if it continues, they will find excuses.
Mr. Prime Minister, in ending the freeze on schedule you can justifiably claim that the freeze was always meant to end. When asked about extending the freeze in the US, you yourself responded, “We have done enough.”
But if you extend the freeze, you will have transformed it into a new precondition for negotiations.
This would be a major victory for the Palestinians for which they gave nothing in return.
Tactical considerations aside, you gave your word that the freeze would end on schedule. While enacting a partial freeze, as some have suggested, is technically not the same as extending the freeze, as prime minister you must not nickel and dime the public out of your promises.
The Likud too must not be perceived this way. I am confident that the Likud is the wellspring of Israel’s greatest leadership, but lately the public has been left doubting.
Mr. Prime Minister, surely you are mindful of those who call you “weak.” When people say, “Be strong,” you reply, “Don’t worry, I am strong enough.”
But will that be true if you cannot muster the strength to end a self-imposed freeze on the schedule you yourself set? Be strong and courageous.
End this freeze.
The writer is an officer of Likud Anglos.