mutual threats are no empty words. Both Israeli and Palestinian officers
believe that there will be war. The Israeli army admits that its soldiers
train on a model of a Palestinian village and disclosed that the Palestinian
forces, too, are training for a confrontation.
The Israelis argue that Arafat is
interested in a war, so that history will record that Palestine was born
in struggle. The Palestinians are convinced that Israel will agree to a
fair peace only after sustaining many more casualties, as in Lebanon.
Both Israelis and Palestinians say about each other: "They understand
only the language of force."
Israelis read in their newspapers
that Ehud Barak offers the Palestinians 92% of the West Bank and wonder
why Arafat refuses such a generous offer. The Palestinians see the
peace-map published in Israeli newspapers, which shows several
Palestinians enclaves surrounded by Israeli territory, and say that it
is better to die then accept such a "final settlement".
If war breaks out, what will it be
like? Here is a possible scenario:
On September 13, Arafat will
announce the creation of the State of Palestine. Israel will declare the
annexation of the settlements. Masses of unarmed Palestinians, women and
children in front, will march on one of the isolated settlements. The
settlers will open fire. There will be casualties. Palestinian soldiers
will return fire. The Israeli army will intervene on the side of the
settlers. Dozens killed, hundreds wounded. All this live on TV screens
around the world.
All over the West Bank, battles
will break out. The Israeli army and the settlers vs. the Palestinian
"police" and the armed Fatah organization. Hundreds of Palestinians and
dozens of Israelis dead.
The Israeli army will employ
attack choppers and tanks. The Palestinians will use the anti-tank
weapons smuggled into their territories
(explaining, by the way, what has happened to some of the money "stolen"
by "Arafat's cronies".)
The Israeli army will have to
decide whether to invade the Palestinian town and villages. It won't be
an easy decision. (In 1976, a Syrian armored column was sent into the
narrow alleys of PLO-held Sidon and annihilated.) If not, the Israeli
army will blockade the Palestinian towns and villages, cutting off
water, food and medicines. All this, too, live on the world's screens.
An urgent meeting of the Security
Council will adopt a resolution decreeing an immediate cease-fire, the
deployment of UN observers and the convening of an international peace
conference, with the participation of the State of Israel and the State
of Palestine. Under intense international pressure, peace will be
achieved - a peace much more favorable to the Palestinian side than the
present Barak model.
This is only one of many possible
scenarios. Every war has it's own logic, which cannot be foreseen. But
several basic facts stand out:
- First, while Israel has an
immense military superiority, this is a war it cannot win.
- Second, The Palestinians can
absorb hundreds, and even thousands of killed, without breaking. Not
because they are indifferent to human lives, but because they are
fighting for their national existence, on their own territory, in their
towns and villages. It is well to remember that in the
Intifada, 1500 Palestinians were killed, including 300 children.
Israeli society, on the other hand, is not willing to absorb even dozens
of killed in a war perceived to be solely for the sake of the
settlements, which are already quite unpopular. Everyone understands
that peace could be achieved now, if Barak would not insist on the
support of "eighty percent of the settlers".
- Third, the world supports the
creation of a Palestinian state, and the Barak map of enclaves will not
sell. Under international law, all the settlements are illegal.
- Forth, In spite of the fact that
this is an American election year, US support for Israel is no more
automatic. The Chinese spy-plane transaction does not help.
And, most importantly, the peace
terms that will be adopted after the war will be less favorable, from
the Barak point of view, than those that could be achieved today. But
then, peoples frequently act rationally only after a blood-letting.
Until then, the mothers - yes, even those four - are silent.
is a small town east of the Jordan river. Some months after the 6-days war, in
which all the Arab armies were beaten, the Israeli army attacked this town,
which had become a base of the PLO. During the attack, Arafat and many other
PLO leaders were there. In this battle, in which Jordanian and PLO forces
fought together, the Israeli army was beaten for the first time. In Beirut,
the Israeli army besieged the PLO forces for some eighty days without trying
to storm the place, and in the end was forced to agree to an honorable
withdrawal of Arafat and all his forces, with their arms.)
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