Last week, Kadima's candidate for prime minister, Ehud Olmert, gave lengthy and comprehensive interviews spelling out just exactly what he intends to accomplish during the coming four years if he wins the election. Unlike his mentor, Ariel Sharon, who, prior to his election, did not even hint that he planned to forcibly evacuate 10,000 Israelis from their homes during his forthcoming tenure as prime minister, Olmert makes no bones about his intentions: He plans to forcibly evacuate some 100,000 Israelis from their homes in Judea and Samaria. For his candor, Olmert has received accolades from a number of media commentators who make no secret about where their sympathies lie.
But what was Olmert actually saying? His statements imply turning most of Judea and Samaria over to Hamas and thus bringing Palestinian terrorism that much closer to Israel's population centers. Has he really learned nothing from the daily barrage of Qassam rockets that have been falling on the outskirts of Ashkelon ever since the forcible evacuation of Nissanit, Elei Sinai, and Dugit, south of the city?
Into the breach has stepped Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet security service, and now a leading Kadima candidate, explaining that while the Israeli settlements in most of Judea and Samaria will be evacuated, the Israel Defense Forces will remain in the area. Now this is straight thinking from a man who considers security first. He knows that if the IDF were to leave the area, the current situation in Ashkelon would be replicated in many of Israel's cities tomorrow. So, it's best for the IDF to be left there.
What we are promised, therefore, by the team from Kadima is a heart-wrenching scenario as 100,000 Israelis are forced from their homes, and a continuation of an Israeli military presence in the area that has been cleared of all Jews. The worst of all possible worlds - mounted policemen armed with batons, the probable involvement of the IDF in scuffles with Israeli citizens, tens of thousands of Israelis turned into homeless families, and a widening rift between two segments of Israel's population; and the continuation of Israeli military rule over the Palestinian population. Since these steps are supposed to be taken unilaterally, they are presumably in the realm of the feasible. But are they really in the realm of the sensible?
The dubious success of the forcible evacuation of the settlements in Gush Katif and northern Samaria seems to have turned the heads of some of our strategic thinkers. A position paper recently issued by the National Security Council advocates the forcible removal of some of the Bedouin in the Negev from areas they presently occupy, arguing that the "success" of the forcible removal of Jewish settlers proves that this method "works" and can be equally applied to the Bedouin.
Can one point an accusatory finger at Avigdor Lieberman if he suggests continuing on this path and "ridding ourselves" of some of Israel's Arab citizens by leaving some of their cities and villages outside the country's unilaterally determined borders? If he realizes his wish and ends up joining a Kadima-led government as public security minister, we may be in for some population transfers on a grand scale. This is beginning to look like the "social engineering" of Stalin's days in the Soviet Union.
The idea of forcing Israel's Jewish citizens to leave their homes in areas that the Kadima team has decided will be beyond Israel's unilaterally defined borders is not only absurd and contrary to the accepted rules of international relations, but also runs counter to the basic principles of democratic societies, as well as the internationally recognized right of Jews and Arabs to live in the Land of Israel. Except for the forcible transfer of America's Japanese citizens on the West Coast during World War II, it has no precedent in democratic countries.
The argument that France also forcibly removed its citizens from their homes in Algeria after the Evian accords of June 1962 has no basis in fact. Truth be told, the Evian accords called for respect for property and a full range of civil and cultural rights for those French citizens who would choose to stay in Algeria after it became independent. The French citizens who left Algeria left of their own free will, unlike the Israelis who were forced to leave their homes.
The vision of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria that Kadima is advocating seems to be receding day by day, especially now that Hamas has assumed control. Israeli leaders better start to put on their thinking caps and make contact with Jordan to discuss a mutual problem. They may find some common ground.
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