“The more involved the Americans get in the negotiations, the greater our differences with the Palestinians become,” former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the left-wing al-Monitor website Wednesday.
In a wide-ranging interview with former Haaretz defense correspondent Mazal Mualem, Mofaz predicted that the Obama administration would continue to press Israel and the Palestinians to renew “peace” negotiations in the next few months. But if history is anything to go by, American involvement in the talks will reduce chances of creating true conditions for peace between the parties.
Mofaz cited the 1997 Wye River Summit, during which Prime Minister Netanyahu bowed to American pressure and ceded 97 percent of the city to Palestinian Authority terrorists.
“Whenever the Americans were in the room and we had no direct access to the Palestinians, everyone spoke only to the Americans and as a result, became even more entrenched in their positions,” Mofaz told al-Monitor.
Palestinian media described the signing of the Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron as “the greatest day in the history of the Palestinian national movement,” because for the first time, a Likud prime minister had made concessions over Jewish claims to the Land of Israel.
Now the leader of a whopping two-member Knesset faction, Mofaz has renewed his 2009 proposal for a two-stage program to create a Palestinian state, first to include 50-60 percent of Judea and Samaria with a later stage of Israeli concessions to be negotiated “at some time in the future.”
What isn’t clear, however, is exactly how Mofaz plans to create the Palestinian state in the absence of either Israeli or Palestinian desire to create one. He sharply criticises Justice Minister Tzippi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid for remaining in the government when, according to Mofaz, Netanyahu “didn’t want an agreement, and he wasn’t capable of reaching one either, personally…He had no plan at all. Netanyahu’s preconditions… were intended to cause the talks to fail.”
But apart from Mofaz’s plan to “tell the settlers that the die is cast,” there is little to indicate just how Mofaz plans to see his plan through to fruition. He suggests trusting armed Palestinian gangs to provide security during yet another transitional “interim agreement,” instead of relying on IDF troops to identify Palestinian terrorists or would-be terrorists and arresting them.
And what if the Palestinians don’t agree to Mofaz’s umpteenth interim agreement? Does the plan include a unilateral pull-back from Judea and Samaria, Gush Katif-style? Does the plan include funding for Jewish families evicted in their homes, or is Mofaz relying on the Ariel Sharon model of unilateral disengagement – evict the Jews, then create so many bureaucratic hoops to jump through that obtaining reparations for the theft becomes nary impossible?
Mofaz does not answer these questions, partly because the interviewer fails to ask them. Instead, the pair discuss what appears to be the greatest crisis facing Israel today: Price tag attacks. To Mofaz, Jewish vandals who deface mosquess are the moral equivalent of Arab killers who blow themselves up on civilian buses: “They (price taggers) should be defined as a terrorist group so that we can begin using administrative detention against them, just as the Shin Bet knows how to do.”