Herzog Presents New Diplomatic Plan: Separation From Jerusalem's Palestinian Villages

Two-state solution is impossible to realize under current conditions, opposition leader says, offers plan which includes completion of West Bank wall: 'I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible.'

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog unveiling his "separation plan" at the Institute for National Security Studies, January 19, 2016.
Chen Galili

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said the two-state solution was impossible to realize under current conditions on Tuesday, and presented a new diplomatic plan in which several Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem will be severed from the rest of the city and the separation barrier in the West Bank completed in a manner that includes all the settlement blocs.

“I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible” said Herzog, speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “They over there and we over here; we’ll erect a big wall between us. That is the kind of co-existence that’s possible now. You exist there and we exist here. Ariel Sharon did the right thing when he put up the fence that prevented the infiltration of suicide bombers, but he didn’t finish the job. We want to finish it, to complete the barrier that separates us. We call it the establishment of a security line, the red line Israel must part from Netanyahu so that it becomes possible to part from the Palestinians.”

Herzog said that Israel and the Palestinians are in the midst of a third intifada. “If we continue denying the truth it can become an intifada that’s crueler than the preceding ones, an intifada in the spirit of ISIS. But here people are still dreaming," he noted. “Two nations with such a strong national consciousness, both claiming this land, can never live together in one state at peace. The nightmare in which Netanyahu is ‘managing the conflict’ blew up in our faces and stabbed all of us.”

The opposition leader noted that he had warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that a third intifada was imminent. “I did not find Netanyahu to be a partner to my demands, nor was Abbas a partner. This is how we got to the state of insecurity in which Israel’s residents now find themselves. Both leaders don’t have the leadership skills, the power or courage to make painful compromises. It’s a mirror image of two leaders on either side of a barrier, two frightened and panicking leaders who only want to remain in power, two leaders who are paralyzed by fear.”

Herzog emphasized that there will be no progress under Netanyahu since he’s made “a pact with the extreme right wing.” He added that after the last elections he thought of looking into the possibility of a national unity government with Netanyahu “but Bibi was afraid of making a move, and if he’s afraid of moving I have nothing I can do with him. Bibi doesn’t deal with security – we’ll restore security. He won’t part from the Palestinians but we will. We don’t want to remain stuck with them. We don’t want to annex Judea and Samaria and give the right of return to three million Palestinians. This is what the extreme right wants, including Likud MKs Elkin, Levin and Hotovely. Netanyahu is too weak to oppose them or stop them.”

The plan Herzog proposed includes the following principles:

* Under current conditions a two-state solution is impossible. Nevertheless, Israel will maintain the principle of not taking steps that would vitiate a two-state solution geographically or diplomatically.

* Security activity against Hamas: “They will have no immunity and for every attack they’ll pay a heavy price. This won’t mean dummy bombings of empty areas. We’ll employ an effective iron fist and shut down their radio and TV stations. After that they won’t have internet or mobile phone services. They won’t be able to transmit instructions to terrorists. We’ll take harsh and severe steps, including ones directed at their leaders.”

* Completion of the security barrier around settlement blocs in the West Bank. “The separation barrier will prevent attacks in the settlement blocs that remain in our hands,” said Herzog. “The situation will be clear to everyone. We will be here and you, Palestinians, will be there. Live your lives, improve your economy, create employment. The blocs under Israeli sovereignty will be part of the permanent solution. They will serve as recipients of settlers from outside the major blocs.”

* Separation of Palestinian villages from Jerusalem. Herzog noted that in his plan the fence will be completed in the Jerusalem area in a way that will leave Palestinian villages outside city limits. “Then we’ll re-unite the true Jerusalem without hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who will remain on the other side of the barrier” he said. “Issawiya is not and won’t be part of Israel’s eternal capital. Neither is the refugee camp in Shoafat. We’ll separate from them. We’ll build a wall. Terrorists won’t have access to Jews. Those who want to work and make a living rather than stabbing people – we’ll leave those for the consideration of the defense establishment.”

* Confidence building measures vis-à-vis the Palestinians. “Palestinians will have total freedom in civil but not military matters. They’ll be able to build new cities and expand existing ones, to develop agriculture, industry, employment.” Herzog said that the IDF will continue to control the entire West Bank in order to prevent terror. “The IDF will continue to sit on the eastern border in the Jordan valley. After a few years, if things are quiet, we can discuss what’s next,” he said.

* Convening a regional security conference with the participation of moderate Arab countries. “Such a conference could change the situation in this region,” he said. “Together we can build a united security front against extremist Islamic terror in the Middle East, in which our separation from the Palestinians is an integral part.”