"THE SECOND HALF OF 48"
-THE SHARON-YA'ALON PLAN*
Official declarations and many reports in the Israeli media indicate
that the Israeli military and political leadership are aiming,
eventually, at a total destruction of the Palestinian authority, and,
with it, the process of Oslo, which is now dominantly considered by
them a 'historical mistake'. What can they be after? -Let us trace
some of the background for this development.
Ever since the 1967 occupation, the military and political elites
(which have been always closely intertwined in Israel) deliberated
over the question of how to keep maximum land with minimum Palestinian
population. The leaders of the '1948 generation' - Alon, Sharon, Dayan,
Rabin and Peres - were raised on the myth of redemption of land. But
a simple solution of annexation of the occupied territories would
have turned the occupied Palestinians into Israeli citizens, and this
would have caused what has been labeled the "demographic problem"
- the fear that the Jewish majority could not be preserved. Therefore,
two basic conceptions were developed.
The Alon plan consisted of annexation of 35-40% of the territories
to Israel, and self-rule or partnership in a confederation of the
rest, the land on which the Palestinians actually live. In the eyes
of its proponents, this plan represented a necessary compromise,
because they believed it is impossible to repeat the 1948 'solution'
of mass expulsion, either for moral considerations, or because world
public opinion would not allow this to happen again.
The second conception, whose primary spokesman was Sharon, assumed
that it is possible to find more acceptable and sophisticated ways
to achieve a 1948 style 'solution' - it is only necessary to find
another state for the Palestinians. -"Jordan is Palestine" - was the
phrase that Sharon coined. So future arrangements should guarantee
that as many as possible of the Palestinians in the occupied
territories will move there. For Sharon, this was part of a more global
world view, by which Israel can establish "new orders" in the region -
a view which he experimented with in the Lebanon war of 1982.
In Oslo, the Alon plan route triumphed, where gradually it became
apparent that it is even possible to extend the "Arab-free" areas.
In practice, the Palestinians have already been dispossessed of half
of their lands, which are now state lands, security zones and "land
reserves for the settlements". However, it appeared that Israel will
be satisfied with that, and will allow the PA to run the enclaves
in which the Palestinians still reside, in some form of self-rule
which may even be called a Palestinian 'state'.The security
establishment expressed full confidence in the ability of the
Palestinian security forces - which were created and trained in
cooperation with the Israeli ones - to control the frustration of
the Palestinians and protect the security of the settlers and the
Israeli home front.
But the victory of the Alon plan wasn't complete. Even the little
that the Palestinians did get, seemed too much to some in the military
circles, whose most vocal spokesman in the early years of Oslo was
then chief of staff, Ehud Barak. Another consistent voice which has
emerged is that of Brigadier Moshe (Bugi) Ya'alon, who is also known
for his connections with the settlers. As head of the military
intelligence -Ama"n- (1995-1998), Ya'alon confronted the subsequent
chief of staff, Amnon Shahak, an Oslo supporter, and has consolidated
the anti-Oslo line which now dominates the military intelligence view.
Contradicting the position of the security services' ('Shin Bet')
and the many media reports which praised the security cooperation
between Israel and the Palestinian authority, Ya'alon claimed in a
cabinet meeting in September 1997, and later, that "Arafat is giving
a green light to terror".
The objection to the Oslo conception in the military circles was based
on the view that it will be impossible to maintain such an arrangement
in the long term. If the Palestinians have a political infrastructure
and armed forces, they will eventually try to rebel. Therefore, the
only way is to overthrow the Palestinian authority, and the whole
Oslo conception. The first step on this route is to convince the public
that Arafat is still a terrorist and is personally responsible for
the acts of all groups from the Islamic Jihad to Hizbollah.
During Barak's days in office, Ya'alon became one of his closets
confidants in the restricted military team which Barak has assembled
to work with (Amir Oren, Ha'aretz, Nov 17, 2000). The same team was
prepared already at the beginning of the Intifada for a total attack
on the Palestinian authority, on both the military and the propaganda
levels. On the latter, this included the "White book" on the crimes
of Arafat and the PA. This is the same team which is now briefing
the political level, as well as US representatives, and is responsible
for the dominance of the call for toppling the PA.
But what can they have in mind as a replacement of the Oslo
arrangements? One wave of rumors (reported e.g.in March 9 in 'yediot')
is that the IDF plans to reinstall the Israeli military rule. But
this does not make any sense as a long term plan. The Oslo agreements
were conceived precisely because that system could no longer work.
The burden of policing the territories was much too heavy on the army,
the reserves and the Israeli society, and the IDF's success in
preventing terror was, in fact, much lower than that of the PA in
later years. After the Lebanon experience, and after the seven years
of Oslo, during which the Israeli society got used to the idea that
the occupation comes for free, with the PA taking care of the settlers'
security, it is hard to imagine that anyone believes a pre-Oslo
arrangement can be reinstalled.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that after 30 years of occupation,
the two options competing in the Israeli power system are precisely
the same as those set by the generation of 1948: Apartheid (the Alon-
Oslo) plan), or transfer - mass evacuation of the Palestinian
residents, as happened in 1948 (the Sharon plan). Those pushing for
the destruction of the Oslo infra-structure may still believe that
under the appropriate conditions of regional escalation, the transfer
plan would become feasible.
In modern times, wars aren't openly started over land and water. In
order to attack, you first need to prove that the enemy isn't willing
to live in peace and is threatening our mere existence. Barak managed
to do that. Now conditions are ripe for executing Sharon's plan, or
as Ya'alon put it in November 2000, for "the second half of 1948".
Before we reach that dark line, there is one option which was never
tried before: Get out of the occupied territories immediately.
*A shorter version of this article was published on June 10 in Hebrew
in 'Yediot Aharonot'.