We might never know whether the Geneva Initiative and the reservists who refused to serve in the territories were really the reason for Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, or whether the virtual agreement and the refusal provided him with an excuse for fleeing from the road map to the old Bantustan scheme. But to Labor and Yahad MKs, as well as most Shinui MKs, whose roots are in the peace camp - the people whose votes will pass the disengagement plan tomorrow - where Sharon is coming from should not matter. What is important is where the Likud is going. A review of the past 11 years shows that the central stream of Israeli society, including most Likud voters, are heading down the path that Yitzhak Rabin paved.
In a soul-searching article about "faith-based Zionism" published in Nekuda recently, Israel Harel, a resident of the settlement of Ofra, noted that the Oslo Accord removed 42 percent of the Land of Israel (Areas A and B) from the State of Israel. "It's true that from a declarative standpoint, we did not concede a single inch," he wrote, "but every intelligent person knows and understands that as long as international law in its current form applies in the world, these territories, which were handed over to the Arabs via a contract signed by the government of Israel, no longer belong to the Jewish people. But we no longer talk about that ... We've repressed it, we've accepted it."
He is right. Even though rightist governments claim that the Palestinians are violating the Oslo Accord by their violence, about half the West Bank is still under the civil control of the Palestinian Authority. And even though the Israel Defense Forces enter and leave the Gaza Strip at will, from a legal standpoint, most of this territory remains under Palestinian civil and security control. The two Sharon governments have not even dared to repeal the Barak government's December 2000 decision to adopt the Clinton outline, under which the Palestinians would receive 94 to 96 percent of the West Bank.
Ten years ago this week, when Rabin signed the peace agreement with Jordan, the peace camp with one stroke of the pen liquidated Betar's vision of both banks of the Jordan belonging to Israel, as well as Sharon's idea that Jordan is Palestine. On the eve of his first visit to Amman, Sharon, then infrastructure minister, was compelled to promise King Hussein that this utterance would no longer cross his lips.
The peace with Jordan, a rare fruit of the Oslo Accord, is another guarantee that no sane Israeli government would ever adopt the iniquitous plan of transferring the Palestinians eastward. Moreover, Israel's interest in preserving relations with Jordan, as well as with Egypt, requires every government to consider the impact of its actions in the territories on its neighbors to the east and south.
The separation fence, another brainchild of a Labor government that was adopted by Sharon, restores the Green Line to Israeli and international awareness and removes the outlook that "Yesha [the West Bank and Gaza] is here," in Kfar Sava and Mevasseret. "Isn't it clear that there is a real danger that everything not included in the fence will in the future not be under Israeli sovereignty?" asks Harel, and wonders about the "absurdity" whereby the right is enraged when the High Court of Justice rules against the fence.
The fact that High Court rulings are consistently pushing the fence westward, to the Green Line, is also thanks to peace organizations and individual activists that exposed the plot to exploit the threat of terrorism to effect a land grab.
The precedent of a withdrawal "under fire," without waiting for an agreement with the enemy, was set four years ago by the Barak government. The quiet that the exit from Lebanon brought to the northern border should be credited in large measure to the backing that this step received from the United Nations, the United States and Europe, as well as to the international community's pressure on Syria to rein in Hezbollah.
If the plan for a withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank is in fact executed, it will be thanks to the votes of Yuli Tamir, Amram Mitzna, Haim Oron and Eti Livni - all members of the Geneva Initiative group. The Israeli and Palestinian peace camps, the American administration and the Quartet must ensure that Sharon continues to pull the wagon leftward, in the direction of two viable states, rather than swerving rightward into a Bantustan and the perpetuation of the bloody conflict.
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