The purpose of our military satellite is to alert us to the goings-on in countries posing a threat to Israel. Every 90 minutes, we receive fresh data on what the deal is over in Iran and Syria. So accurate are these recordings, that we know what time President Assad retires to his chambers to be alone with his beloved Playstation II.
It would never have occurred to me in my wildest dreams that the Defense Ministry would consider using the satellite to take pictures of settlements in the territories, "in view of the difficulty of obtaining complete and reliable information on construction activities in Israeli-administered territories."
Haaretz military correspondent Ze'ev Schiff, who brought us this news, says the U.S. administration is puzzled about why it should be difficult for Israel to obtain this vital information in areas that it controls. Is it possible that Israel doesn't know how, when and where illegal outposts are being built? Is it possible that it doesn't have control over every little thing that goes on in the territories? The answer is yes. Israel doesn't know everything.
While Israel has clung for years to the mantra that no state will ever be established between the Jordan and the sea, another state has sprung up right in front of its nose - the state of the settlers. In State A, you have the government, the Knesset and the Jewish majority. In State B, which lies over the Green Line and is populated by 200,000 settlers, a strange world, certainly very different from State A, has evolved.
Have you ever heard of any financial distress, poverty or hunger over there? What about soup kitchens or children who go to bed hungry? Have you ever heard any complaints from State B about mortgages or having trouble getting a loan? Do the same laws governing taxes, state aid, budgets and priorities apply there? Do their local council workers go for months without being paid?
Did you know that $80 billion have been poured into the settlements to date, and no financial whiz can actually put his finger on the winding path from here to there by which the money got from State A to State B? Did you know that most of the deadly terror attacks have been directed against residents of State A, while the majority of State B settlements enjoy a preferential zoning status that brings in a barrel of benefits?
A resident of Tel Aviv who gets his car towed away for leaving it in a red and white no-parking zone for five minutes would feel like he died and went to heaven if he moved to State B. Law enforcement over there has rules of its own, completely divorced from the laws of State A. Is anyone arrested or hauled into court for uprooting olive trees belonging to the Arabs or damaging their property? Have the wreckers ever come to tear down an unlicensed porch or building put up by a Jew, as they do in State A?
Twenty-two years ago, then-deputy attorney general Yehudit Karp was charged with investigating the chaotic state of law enforcement beyond the Green Line. But who needed this inquiry, which dragged on for years, to know that residents of State B enjoy almost complete immunity from Israeli law? The Karp report provided details of a long list of cases in which the police and the army did nothing in response to Jewish assaults on Arabs in the West Bank.
Over the years, State A has reconciled itself to the establishment of State B, partly aware of what was happening and partly not. At the end of 1989, a band of Kach supporters cooked up a scheme to turn the West Bank into a "Jewish state." Michael Ben-Horin was designated its future president. The conspirators had plans for an independent army, but that was already going too far.
Well, this core group still exists, and it is amassing strength, with its militias and rabbis who sanction attacks on Arab citizens and urge their flock to violently resist the soldiers of State A when the day comes to evacuate settlements.
All the signs show that at the moment, the ones who are doing, dictating and inching toward the finish line are the settlers. "Get a grip on your people," Shaul Mofaz told the heads of the Yesha council this week. Their reply: "Disengagement could lead to civil war, and we might not be able to stop it."
You'd think this exchange was between the delegations of two republics. But State A is not only the sovereign ruler of the territories. It's all we've got. A victory for State B, home of the extremists, will mark both their end and ours. Wake up, Mr. Prime Minister. The earth is shaking under our feet.
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