Oslo: A Peace Proposal or a “Time Out” Till the “Full Victory” of Israel?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 16 Jul 2018
A Brief Theoretical Framework
7 Jul 2018 – 25 years after, looking back to The Declaration of Principles (Oslo Agreement) of 1993 should deal with its results rather than to be about the intentions of the leaders at that time.
Three approaches of analysis might be mentioned:
- First: Some will take an actor- based perspective on evaluating Oslo by focusing on the brevity and the sincere intentions of Arafat and Rabin who signed the Agreement. The space allowed for this article do not allow for a thorough investigation of this approach.
- A second approach will go further suggesting a structural based approach addressing the structures that Oslo created ever since, and the possible prospects of that structure in the future. According to this approach the actors are part of structures that dictate their acts.
- Yet, there is a third approach in which the roles of the actors are to be seen, but these roles will be analyzed in the framework of the interactive relations with the structure called as “Structuration” by the British Sociologist Anthony Giddens. A term expressing the interactive relationship between the actors (The Agency), and the socio-political and economic structures.
This include the change of the actors through history, and the influence on them, and their perspectives, policies and actions by the structure and their influence on the structure as will. Adding to the complexity here the structure should be perceived as local, regional and international/transnational (inclusive to the roles and the influences of the non- State Actors locally and beyond). What follows will be a thorough investigation of the actors modus operandi through history while seeing the continuities and the ruptures that took place in relation with the mentioned components of analysis and others such as the different at the micro level (such as the personal influences, specific events.. etc), or the macro level( such as wars and crucial changes), or the meso level (inclusive to the influences of the society, community, and the constituencies), and finally the mega level (crucial events that leads to radical changes locally and globally such as the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990’s and the war against Iraq in 2003).
These components look to be as providing of pathways for a thorough review of Oslo. The space here however allows for a brief review of the results 25 years after locally, regionally, and globally.
The Israeli Current Narrative and Proposals towards the Palestinians
Locally, and in relation to the Palestinians, Israel in its 70th year looks to be back to the early days of Zionism, combined with all its aggressiveness and exceptionalism that leaves no place to the other. For them it is a matter of time till Israel will have a one million Jew living in West Bank as presented in the Yisha Council booklet published in March 2013 in the eve of the US President Barack Obama visit to Israel by then.
Territorially, examples also include the call of the Habayt Hayihudi and parts of the Likud and other coalition parties for the annexation of Area C to Israel, or annexing and granting Israeli identity to West Bank Palestinians (Moshe Arens, President Robi Rivlin, and the Journalist in the Jerusalem Post Caroline Glick who wrote a book about that option). Or annexing while keeping the Palestinians as “residents” rather than granting them citizenship (Yisha Council 2013 proposal that can be found in their website). Or annexing the biggest parts of West Bank, and giving the leftovers to big Palestinian families to run them in each one of the West Bank cities (Professor Mordechai Kedar proposal). Or evacuating the West Bank Palestinian population to Jordan and other places as the Zehut Party led by Moshe Feiglin proposed in its platform that can be found in the party website. It is significant that these kinds of proposals witnessed a boom after the new American Administration led by President Donald Trump took its position in the beginning of 2017.
Without mentioning other proposals, it can be said that the common among all of them is that this is not the land of Palestine, but rather the land of Israel over three thousand years of history. The gentiles (The Arabs and the Palestinians) according to this narrative occupied it for a while, but later it was “liberated” in 1967 war and the “Palestinian occupiers” have two options after they got defeated: The first is to continue living in “Eretz Israel” abiding with the Israeli hegemony and the Israeli laws, or they have to leave the country violently, or by force if they decided to resist Israel. This is a one common component that is included for example in the Zehut Party platform, in Channel Seven of the settlers’ articles, and in Yisha Council website.
Another common component is about leaving Gaza out. For some to be the State of Palestine, or an autonomous territory, and with or without adding parts of Sinai to it.
The third common point is the assumption behind these proposals. This assumption is as follows: The Palestinians are already defeated, and the issues of Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements expansion are already taken out of negotiations table with an American support. The result- it is assumed- that the time to liquidate the Palestinian question is arrived. Accordingly the US based “Middle East Forum” led by Daniel Pipes established the “Israeli Victory Caucus” in July 2017 to work for a full defeat of the Palestinians and full victory of Israel. The Caucus is led by the MK Oded Folder from Habayt Hayihudi Party, and includes 26 MK members such as Yehuda Glick, and Avraham Neguise (both from the Likud). In April in the same year the same Forum established the “Congressional Israel Victory Caucus” in the United States led by the Congressmen Ron De Santis, and Bill Johnson, with the aim to convince the American Administration to drop with the peace prices and alternative to adopt an approach that will help Israel to defeat fully the Palestinians and to claim West Bank and East Jerusalem as fully Israeli. The establishment of this Caucus first in the USA then later in Israel raises the question about who is more extreme: Zionism or those extremists in the USA and who feeds whom between them?
In the website of Daniel Pipes there are doom day scenarios for the achievement of the full Israeli victory such as cutting the water and the electricity supplies, burring the Palestinian martyrs in unknown places, and cutting the compensation for the damage made by these martyrs actions from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the State of Palestine, and other “evil” methods alike.
Israeli Expansion Proposals to Jordan and Saudi Arabia
If it is time for the Israeli “full victory”, then Israel should think according to the new mainstream in Israel about the implementation of regional plans of expansion. Among these plans discussed in Israel these days are ones to Jordan and others to Saudi Arabia. According to these plans the expansion might be in a light version taking the shape of economic projects, such as the railway project that the current Minister of Transportation Mr Yisrael Katz proposed last month, echoing a similar idea that was proposed by Theodor Herzl in 1886. Opposite to the economic projects of Shimon Peres during the 1990’s that aimed for peace and economic prosperity in order to create a new Middle East, the new economic projects aims to normalize with the Arab counties without making peace with the Palestinians, and fully implementing the Arab Peace Initiative by fully withdrawing from all the Arab territories occupied by Israel including the Golan Heights.
In the opposite there are other hard versions for expansion that include wars and regime change.
In regard to Jordan, the Israeli plans for it are not new. In 1922 Winston Churchill the British Minister of Colonies decided to separate Jordan from Palestine, leading at the end for the independence of Jordan in 1946.
In other hand the Zionist expansionist projects towards Jordan continued in the case of the Labour Zionist trend till Oslo, and in the case of the Revisionists of Jabotinsky and the right wing that followed till today. The Labour looked for Jordan to be the alternative Palestinian State, and later more or less (after 1967 war) as the care taker of the civil daily life issues of the Palestinians. Negotiations (mostly indirect) in between took place with Jordan for the so called a “territorial compromise” in regard to the 1967 occupied territories.
In regard to the Revisionists, the Likud continued talking about Jordan as the Palestinian State till the Middle of 1990’s as it is shown in Benjamin Netanyahu 1995 book “A Place among the Nations”. In that book Mr Netanyahu claims that there are no Palestinian people, and advocates for a Jordanian citizenship to them. It can be argued in other that the Likud denial of the presence of a Palestinian people is still firm till today. For instance Ms Tzipi Hotovili spoke last November that the Palestinians have no rights in Jerusalem and no right of return, and that the Israeli Settlement expansion will continue, and the Jordan Valley to be kept in the hands of Israel. These kinds of statements leaves no place to the Palestinians in their homeland, and no option to them rather than fulfilling their right of self determination elsewhere.
Besides the Likud the Zehut Party calls for Jordan to be the Palestinian State as mentioned, but more “ sophisticated” there are the calls for toppling the Jordanian regime and replacing it with a new ruler (some even mention the name of Mudar Zahran: a Journalist who lives in Britain, and who was sentenced earlier to imprisonment in Jordan).
These kinds of ideas are growing among the colonial settlers and their supporters. One of these is a former Attorney called Ted Belman who writes in Channel Seven website, and edits an electronic Journal called “Israpundit”. In the end of 2017, he held a conference in Jerusalem under the title of “The Jordan Option: The Ultimate Solution”. In that conference he presented ideas for toppling the Jordanian regime due to his rejection of transforming Jordan to a Palestinian State, and presented a plan for evacuation of 415,000 families from West Bank and transferring them to Jordan. In the conference also participated Professor Mordechai Nitzan who spoke about the Jordanian continuous enmity to Israel as he claimed, and Drs Edy Cohen and Geoffrey Clarfield who attacked harshly the Jordanian Regime, and claimed also that it creates problems with Israel in regard what is called as “The Temple Mount”, and Hebron.
Yet there are other plans for expansion to Saudi Arabia. The historical part of them is presented by Dr Jasem Younis Al Hariri in his 2013 book about “The Israeli Policies towards the States of Gulf Cooperation Council after the end of the Cold War”. Yet the new among them is included in a book called “ Return to Mecca” authored by Avi Lipkin who worked earlier in the office of the Israeli Army Spokesman, and later as a businessman and lecturer mainly in the churches and the synagogues in the United States and Europe. Mr Lipkin who lives in Kedar settlement, is on the process of registering new Party in Israel for the coming elections, the Party is called as “The Judeo- Christian Bible Block Party”. The party advocates for the unity of the people of the Bible (The Jews and the Christians) to work together to sustain “Eretz Israel” in one hand, and to expand in the region in the other hand. In regard to Saudi Arabia he speaks in his book about “Jabal Alloz” (The Laws Mountain as he called) as the historical place where the Jews resided after they left Egypt. He adds that Israel will not occupy Saudi Arabia, but the threats from ISIS, Iran, and the Houthis of Yemen will oblige the Saudi Regime to request Israeli intervention in order to rescue it.
These plans are part of other plans that Israel prepared for the region. In regard to Egypt for instance a 2017 book is written by Dr Awatef Abdel Rahman revealed the “Zionist incursion of Egypt since 1917”.
In conclusion, these plans show clearly that Israel thinks and behaves on the basis that its task in Palestine is already or almost finished by transforming it to the “Land of Israel” and ending the Palestinian effective resistance. For them it is a matter of time to create Jewish Majority in Palestine in one hand and to expand to the Arab Countries in the other, territorially and economically, by using also the Iranian claimed threat to these countries as a way to pull them towards cooperating with Israel.
These plans are doomed to failure. In one hand Israel has no population capacity to create a Jewish majority in West Bank (unless if it will make a third transfer to the Palestinians). There is also the Israeli growing gap with the United States Jews and the reluctance of these to emigrate to Israel as well. Before all that the Palestinian resistance is still an influential factor and it might escalate in the coming future as well as the resistance that might emerge from the region on the basis of potential changes to happen.
Dr. Walid Salem is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He was born in East Jerusalem in 1957 and teaches democracy and human rights at AlQuds University. He is a writer of thirty books and training manuals, and tens of research papers on Democracy, civil society, citizenship, refugees, and Jerusalem. He is also a consultant, evaluator, and trainer for several public and private bodies. Salem trained more than thirty thousand Palestinians on these issues since 1990. From 1993, he has been the Director of the Centre for Democracy and Community Development, East Jerusalem. He is the Coordinator of Middle East Citizen Assembly as regional network of experts and activists on citizenship issues that include participants from 19 countries from the region since 2004. He has lectured at several international conferences and seminars about democracy, Jerusalem, refugees, and development in Palestine.
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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 16 Jul 2018.
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