The Israeli Initiative - Questions and Answers
How is it that right-wing MK Benny Elon is the one worrying about Palestinian refugees? Isn't this the banner of the left
Rehabilitation of the refugees is not the banner of the left- in Israel. The majority of left-wing organizations in Israel seek to further Palestinian national interests, even though this does not lead to the rehabilitation of the refugees or an improvement in their humanitarian situation. In fact, the opposite is true – it perpetuates their dismal situation and ensures the continuation of the conflict. Anyone interested in peace and in security for Israel, must relate to the problem of the Palestinian refugees. The customary repression of this question has not solved it and will never solve it, and it will continue to serve as an instrument for the national Palestinian struggle.We must remember that the national Palestinian interest contradicts the national Israeli interest. There is no future for the entity of a Palestinian state unless it is on the ruins of the State of Israel. Because the 'Israeli Initiative' is a Zionistic initiative, it is opposed to the cultivation of Palestinian nationalism, and is able to suggest a humanitarian solution for the refugees.Instead of perpetuating their misery as a political tool, we suggest bringing it to an end by means of a humanitarian solution, which will only bring good to the whole region
Isn't the Israeli Initiative basically suggesting a type of 'transfer', that is forced removal of a population
The Israeli Initiative is suggesting a humane and real solution to a humanitarian disaster that has been going on for sixty years, and which causes damages to the Middle East and to the entire world. This solution does contain an element of population transfer, but there’s no ethical problem with this transfer. The opposite is true: It is the good and the right thing to do from all aspects. There is no rational reason for refugee camps to continue to exist. They do not provide suitable housing for anyone, and all the peace plans call for their dismantlement and the dispersal of their inhabitants to more suitable places.
We must differentiate between forced transfer of a population during a war or as a result of conquest, and between encouraging emigration that grants the possibility of a new life to the emigrant, who is doing this out of his free will. Our plan to rehabilitate the refugees is a clear example of encouraging emigration.
Anyone who studies the issue of Gaza, for example, where there are approximately one million refugees, will understand that there is no other solution to this pressure cooker other than providing the possibility to leave it.The people living in the refugee camps in Gaza remain there for only two reasons: Firstly, out of the dream to return to the places where they lived until 1948 – to Ashdod, to Majdal (Ashkelon), to Falluja and to Kastina. Everyone, apart from the refugees themselves, knows that this dream will never be realized. The second and main reason is that they are unable to leave Gaza. They have no passport, no money; the UN aid agency, which is supposed to provide them with exactly these things, instead focuses on keeping them in the refugee camps.
Why is the Israeli Initiative based on cooperation with the international community
In recent years, Israel and the world adopted an approach whereby it is possible to realize the national desires of both sides in the conflict by dividing the territory between the Jordan and the sea. Geographically, this is an unrealistic approach; demographically and politically, the Palestinian problem cannot be solved within these boundaries.
In order to put an end to the 60-year old cycle of bloodshed, there is a need for regional and world cooperation. The solution suggested by the 'Israeli Initiative' requires the cooperation of all factors in the region. Israel – by a large financial investment, recognition of the refugee problem and acceptance of the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria as residents with the full rights of residents; Jordan – by granting citizenship to the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, Arab and Western countries – by investing money and a willingness to absorb rehabilitated refugees; America – by giving political and economic back- up both to the general rehabilitation plan and to the Jordanian regime.
A Jewish national home and a Palestinian national home can exist as a solution to "two countries living in peace, alongside each other", only when we are talking about both sides of the Jordan – that is, all the territory designated for the Jewish State according to the Balfour Declaration. In this way, it is possible to suggest a defensive and natural border (the Jordan River), and a reasonable living space for two populations.
Why does Israel need to contend with the refugee problem? Why can't it build a fence and forget about everything
This argument, which led to the construction of a security barrier and the disengagement from Gaza, is an escape from reality, which ensures that the war will continue – only in different and creative ways.
We fled from Lebanon and left the problems 'on the other side of the fence', and we did the same thing in Gaza – did this grant us quiet? Clearly not. On the other side of the fence life continues, the hatred continues, the arming continues, and the explosion is only a question of time. Closing one's eyes does not solve the problem.
How does the Israeli Initiative contend with the possibility that the refugees will be incited not to cooperate with the plan and choose to remain as refugees in their place and as their position
The Israeli Initiative is not forcing anything upon the refugees. Whoever wants to stay in the place where he lives today can do so, but he will not be able to continue to enjoy 'refugee' status.
The dismantlement of UNRWA and the transfer of care for the refugees to the UN's regular agency that looks after refugees will restore sanity to the care of the refugees and will end the distorted situation where the international system cooperates in order to perpetuate an abnormal situation that has severe humanitarian implications.
Our conflict is with the Palestinians, not with the Jordanians. Where is the logic in choosing the Jordanians as a 'partner'
The Palestinians are Arabs who live in the land of Israel. A large section of them are citizens of Israel. Another large section of them are Jordanian citizens, and the third section are refugees.
When one says 'a Palestinian partner', they only refer to refugees, and basically not even to them –but to the Palestinian national movement, led by different terror organizations.
The national Palestinian movement is an enemy, whose aim is to destroy the State of Israel. It is not a partner for peace and can never be so.
The 'partner' is one with whom Israel can create a new reality of peace and security, and who has an interest in solving the conflict while accepting the existence of a Jewish Israel as a starting point.
The kingdom of Jordan, which is an Arab country in the land of Israel, that is to say a 'genuine' Palestinian state, will live in peace alongside Israel. It is the only entity that can represent the Palestinians and also bring about an end to the conflict. The 'account' that the refugees have with us must be closed, not by negotiations but rather by rehabilitation and compensation.
Over the years, in Israel, they have spoken of the 'Jordanian option' as a realistic path to peace. The Oslo process caused a public dialogue in this direction, but failed. Today, both in Jordan and amongst the Palestinians, they are re-examining this approach in a positive manner.
Why will the Jordanians involve themselves with this trouble
The Jordanians are in this 'trouble' anyhow. If Israel transfers Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority Jordan will find herself bordered by an unstable Authority led by a militant, national movement that is connected to radical Islamist factors. A revolution in Jordan is likely to be the next destination of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas and this will be even easier to implement with America's withdrawal from Iraq, Jordan’s neighbor.
Jordan has never ceased to see itself as responsible for the interests of the Palestinian people. This is a country that contains a solid Palestinian majority and always finds itself in a delicate balance between its Palestinian nature and the monarchic, Hashemite regime, whose origin is Arab. 'The Israeli Initiative' proposes strengthening the regime in Jordan and anchoring the power of the Royal house, as an act that complements Jordan's return to the status of 'the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people'.
Guaranteed economic leverage as part of a meaningful aid package and as part of the process of the rehabilitation of the refugees itself, fits in with the interest for Jordanian development and the Kingdom's wish to fit in with the expected economic growth. The danger of a cessation of American support, should Jordan refuse to take part in the plan, also presents an effective motive for full co-operation.
Why is the Israeli Initiative proposing perpetuating the occupation and ruling forever over another people
The Israeli Initiative is opposed to the current situation, where hundreds of thousands of Arabs live in Judea and Samaria as residents without citizenship, in an environment without sovereignty, that is managed by a combination of the IDF on one hand and a corrupt and powerless Authority on the other hand. These inhabitants must return to being citizens, and the territory must return to being a sovereign territory of a state.
The natural citizenship of these inhabitants is Jordanian (indeed they were already Jordanian citizens, and Israel will not grant citizenship to those who are suspected of being hostile towards her). The natural sovereignty of the territory is Israeli, furthermore there is no logic – geographic, economic or security – in dividing the territory between the sea and the Jordan. We are not talking about occupation or control of another people, but only in a completely reasonable reality of a state where citizens of a neighboring state also reside in it.
There is great harm in the existence of the 'backyard; a place without clear sovereignty. Full sovereignty brings with it responsibility for health, economy, internal and national security, and safeguards the cultural, historic and environmental assets of the historic and geographical heart of the land of Israel.
Aren't Judea and Samaria occupied Palestinian territory
No. A Palestinian country never existed in the land of Israel and there is no 'Palestinian territory'.
All the land between the sea and the Jordan was called by the name 'Palestina', a land designated to serve as a national homeland for the Jewish people. The Partition Plan, however, proposed dividing the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state, but this decision was never implemented and there is no connection between it and between the armistice borders of 1949, known as the 'Green Line'.
Judea and Samaria were conquered by the Jordanian Legion in the War of Independence, and the attempt to transform the territory into part of the Jordanian kingdom was not accepted by the international community and lacks legal validity. Jordan controlled the territory for 19 years only, and since then, Israel has ruled there – for more than forty years.
Why not establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, as was guaranteed in Oslo
The establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza will not solve any problems – but will only create a new and greater one. It is not possible to create a viable state, which will bring economic prosperity and a solution to Palestinian distress, in the small territory of Judea and Samaria. Even the destruction of Jewish communities, as in the Gaza Strip, will not significantly increase the territory and will not grant any relief or future to those refugees crowded into it.
The sole 'advantage' in establishing a Palestinian state is the giving of a supportive spirit to Palestinian nationalism, which strives to cast the Jews into the sea. Any Palestinian state that will be established, will sooner or later aspire to 'complete' the process and cross the Green Line, and to establish an Arab state from the Jordan until the sea, including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. This aspiration is almost taken for granted when you live in a confined 'state' over the barrier without any access to the sea, and see Israel within touching distance – an advanced state with a Western standard of living, which is responsible for your dismal situation.
If we therefore include the support that such a step is likely to receive from Israeli Arabs, the topographical control of Judea and Samaria over the Dan region, Ben Gurion airport and Jerusalem, and the speed with which Hamas can become the master of a Palestinian state – indeed, it is clear that the establishment of such a state would be national suicide for Israel.