IDF document: “policy principle: separating Gaza from West Bank”

Posted: September 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

An IDF Powerpoint slideshow, presented before the Turkel committee for the investigation of the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, reveals the official goals of the Israeli policy regarding the Gaza strip.

The slideshow, prepared by The Administration for the Coordination of Government Policy in the Territories – the IDF body in charge of carrying out Israeli government policies regarding the civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza – deals with the humanitarian conditions in the strip; with food, water, fuel and electricity supply and with the condition of medical facilities in Gaza.

download the IDF slideshow [Hebrew] here

The first set of slides details the background for the current activities of The Administration for the Coordination of Government Policy in the Territories. Slide number 15 details the principles of Israeli policy:

-    Responding to the humanitarian needs of the population.
-    Upholding civilian and economic limitations on the [Gaza] strip.
-    Separating [or differentiating, בידול] Judea and Samaria [i.e. West Bank] from Gaza – a security and diplomatic objective.
-    Preserving the Quartet’s conditions on Hamas (Hamas as a terrorist entity).

Slide 20 deals with freedom of movement from and to the Gaza strip. Policy objectives are:

-    Limiting people from entering or exiting the strip, in accordance with the government’s decision.
-    Separating [differentiating] Judea and Samaria from Gaza.
-    Dealing with humanitarian needs.
-    Preserving the activity of humanitarian organizations in the strip.
-    Keeping a coordinating mechanism with the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli policy regarding Gaza could be seen as violation of official and unofficial principles of previous agreements and negotiations with the Palestinians and other parties. Gaza and the West Bank were regarded as “one entity” – though not officially declared as such – already in the 1978 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. The Oslo Declaration of Principles, signed in September 1993 and still an abiding document, specifically states that:

The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period.

This declaration was ratified in following agreements from 1994 and 1995.

The recent IDF slideshow is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories.

Nirit Ben-Ari, spokeswoman for Gisha, an Israeli NGO dealing with the freedom of movement, export and import to and from the Palestinian territories, said that “while in Washington a Palestinian state is being negotiated and people are already discussing ‘a train line between Gaza and Ramallah‘, in reality Israel is working to separate Gaza from the West bank even further than the separation already caused by the split in the Palestinian leadership.

“This policy is aimed against civilian population and against people who have nothing to do with Israel’s security concerns. It hurts family ties, and harms any future possibility to develop commerce, education and economical life in the Palestinian society. Those policies should raise concerns regarding the intentions of the Israeli government in Gaza.”

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Other slides in the IDF slideshow deals with the ways the IDF gather information on the humanitarian situation in the strip (mainly through NGO’s and media reports), how food and fuel supply is evaluated, and how the needs of the local population are calculated. According to the IDF assumptions, there are 1,600,000 people living in Gaza. The army does not occupy itself with the distribution of supply, so there is no way of knowing if the population’s needs are actually met – only that according to the IDF, enough food and water is entering Gaza.

The slideshow doesn’t deal with the export of goods from the strip, nor does it explains the mechanism that is used to determine which civilian goods could be brought in.

Slide 50 details the goods found on the Gaza-bound flotilla: medical supply, toys, school gear, construction materials and powered wheelchairs.


Goldberg vs. Beinart | Netanayhu did reject Oslo

Posted: May 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 25 Comments »

Jeffrey Goldberg accuses Peter Beinart of fabricating facts in claiming that Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the Oslo agreement.

Goldberg quotes Yaacov Lozowick:

Once he won he never (never: not once) rejected the Oslo process. He slowed it down, he added conditions, he did all sorts of things. But the leader of Likud was elected in 1996 on a platform that explicitly accepted the principle of partition.

14 years later – that’s all – a noticeable voice in American Jewry can glibly invent a story about Israel that contradicts the facts, and no-one calls him out on it because no-one knows any better, or if they do they join him in preferring to imagine a fantasy world rather than face reality.

But in an interview to Arye Golan in 2002, while serving as Foreign Minister under PM Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu firmly rejected Oslo:

Minister Netanayhu: “… the Oslo Accord is canceled. After all, what’s left…”

Q: “Your name is signed under the Hebron agreement.”

Netanyahu: “These agreements were in fact canceled by Arafat. We signed and I inherited the agreement, approved by the Knesset as part of the Oslo accord, and I’ve said on the campaign that I will fulfill my part while minimizing their damage but I will demand reciprocity and so I did.”

Q: “that means that the Hebron agreement is canceled as well as far as you are concerned.”

Netanyahu: “absolutely…”

One might argue that Netanyahu viewed the agreement as canceled only at the time of the interview (and not in 1996, as Beinart implied). Still, I would expect Goldberg to mention the fact that as Foreign Minister Netanyahu publicly declared Oslo to be canceled (without going to everything he said against the agreement prior to 1996, as leader of the opposition).

I also think that while serving as Prime Minister Netanyahu did everything in his power to bury Oslo, but that’s a different story.

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Here is the transcribed of the Arye Golan interview in Hebrew: Read the rest of this entry »


Back in the West Bank (part II)

Posted: August 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: this is personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

It’s been nine years since my previous military service in the West Bank. Back than, I promised myself that it was the last time I took such an active part in the occupation, but I didn’t keep my word. In the last three weeks I have been stationed in a small base in the Jordan Valley area, north of Jericho. I have a few more days to go. In my previous post I discussed the reason that brought me there. Now I’d like to report some of the things I’ve seen and learned.

The first thing one notices upon returning to the WB are the increased limitations on the Palestinians’ lives. When I was called to the territories for the first time, in 1993, Palestinians traveled freely into and out of the West Bank. During the Oslo days, the WB and Gaza were sealed. Now, after the second Intifada, Palestinians can’t even travel freely between their own towns and villages (though some of the roadblocks were removed recently). Most Palestinians are not allowed to use highway 90, going along the Jordan Valley, and some other main roads as well. The result is that on the West Bank Highways, you only see cars with the yellow Israeli license plates.

There are, however, exceptions. Some Palestinian Authority officials are allowed to pass through roadblocks. Others have permits to work at a certain settlements, or inside Israel, on the other side of the Green Line. Some live near the major highways, so they are issued a special permit to use certain roads which are normally reserved for Israelis. All this leads to an incredibly bureaucratic system of permits and approval, issued and renewed every few months by the army and with the supervision of the Shin Beit (the powerful internal security bureau). In most roadblocks and checkpoints one can find thick leaflets explaining the rights granted to the Palestinians by every permit. And when the permits are not enough, each Palestinian is registered on the IDF computer, so it’s possible to check where he is allowed to be, if he can use a specific “Israelis only” road, where can he work, etc.

This complicated system is operated, at ground level, by 20 years old kids or by reservists on units such as mine. Read the rest of this entry »


How Israel is Drifting away from the World

Posted: April 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, the US and us, this is personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

If you get your news about Israel from Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post – or worse, from the NYT or the LA times – it will probably be hard for you to appreciate how disconnected the Israeli public is right now with the rest of the world. While it seems that everyone else is in some sort of diplomatic frenzy – whether as a reaction to the stagnation of the Bush years, as a result of the economical crisis, or for whatever other reason – Israelis live in some kind of a bubble, where only remote echoes of the current moves are heard.

It is true that the most of the public never cares much for international news, and not only in Israel. But I am not talking about events in China or even Darfur. Israelis don’t think about the West Bank anymore, let alone the peace signals from Syria. With the possible exception of national security issues – such as everything that has to do with Iran – we couldn’t care less about the regions’ problems.

Read the rest of this entry »


Is Israel an Apartheid State?

Posted: March 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: racism, The Left, The Right, The Settlements, this is personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I got involved recently in several arguments concerning the issue of Apartheid, and whether or not we can name Israel an “Apartheid-state”. As most people can understand, this is not just an academic debate on definitions, but one that invites immediate political action. The word “Apartheid” symbolizes for us today something which is totally immoral. A regime that can’t be fixed, a system that’s wrong from its foundations. It’s an accusation not to be taken – nor made – lightly. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

If you asked me some years ago whether you can accuse Israel of Apartheid, I would have answered “no“. Today my answer is more complex. It’s something like “it depends“. I fear that we are heading towards the day when it will be a definite “Yes“.

Read the rest of this entry »