The Principles of a Piecemeal Israel

The principles of peace that Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh drafted is an interesting document. Unlike most Israeli-Palestinian documents formulated in recent years, it includes two concrete achievements for Israel.

The principles of peace that Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh drafted is an interesting document. Unlike most Israeli-Palestinian documents formulated in recent years, it includes two concrete achievements for Israel.

One is its recognition of the Jewish people, its right to the country, and the fact that it is the legitimate state of the Jewish people. The second seems like a genuine Palestinian concession on their demands to implement their right of return within the Green Line.

If Yair Hirshfeld and Ron Pundak had presented these two fundamental principles as a basic Israeli condition when they came to Oslo in early 1993, it is quite possible we would now be living in a very different reality. It is possible the accords crafted in Oslo would not have turned into the tragic and bloody grotesquerie we now live in.

However, in practical terms the Ayalon-Nusseibeh agreement is also defective. By relating to the June 4, 1967 lines as a basis for a future frontier and by stating that not a single settler will remain behind that border, the agreement creates a dynamic that could lead to the uprooting of close to 400,000 Israelis from their homes (210,000 in the West Bank and Gaza and 170,000 Jews in East Jerusalem).

This translates into a humanitarian catastrophe with no moral justification and no realistic chance. Since the agreement guarantees that the two geographic regions of the Palestinian state will be linked, without the proviso that Israeli sovereignty will not be adversely affected the agreement produces a dynamic that could lead to the partition of Israel into one Jewish Bantustan north of the Gaza-Hebron line and another Jewish Bantustan south of the line. Since the agreement also makes mention of the Saudi initiative, which refers to the right of return, to UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 (Partition Plan) and 194, it opens the door to eroding the fundamental principles that are its main achievements. The solution the agreement proposes on Jerusalem is utterly utopian, so the dynamic it could produce in the most sensitive place in the world is one of chaos.

Beyond its inherent specific problems, the Ayalon-Nusseibeh document has a fundamental problem. In September 2000, the Palestinian state-in-the-making launched a premeditated attack on the State of Israel. Even before its birth, the diplomatic entity of the Palestinian people chose to employ violence against its Siamese twin to unsettle it, wound it, block off its airways.

The object of this violent campaign strategic - to forcibly pry from Israel territorial and other concessions that sooner or later would lead to undermining its foundations. Therefore, any present-day Israeli move that extends beyond the line along which the diplomatic process was positioned on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 2000 is tantamount to capitulating to terror. That would translate into a Palestinian victory in the war now being fought.

In an unforgettable television interview given by Ami Ayalon to Ilana Dayan about six months ago, he raised an original argument - Israel must not win, the former Shin Bet director said. The agreement of understandings Ayalon has formulated with Nusseibeh ensures that this abstract provision will be realized in full. The agreement ensures Israel will lose the war.

If in the wake of the suicide attacks of 2001 and 2002 the Palestinians can still succeed in bringing about Israel's full withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 lines, and win a concession of sovereignty over the Western Wall, it is not hard to guess what they will manage to achieve in the next round of terrorist attacks.

If in the wake of the killing, the anguish and the demoralization that our neighbors have rained down upon us in the past two years, they can succeed in gaining Israel's willingness to divide itself in two and uproot hundreds and thousands of people from their homes, then there is no limit to what they will manage to achieve when they attack us again - immediately after the signing and implementation of the agreement.

After all, based on Ayalon-Nusseibeh, the reward for terror is enormous. The ability to bring Israel to its knees is within reach. Evidently, Ami Ayalon is not a man of the center. Through his astounding declarations and his unreasonable actions, he has transformed from someone who had been an outstanding commander of the navy into a somewhat eccentric political figure.

However, Ayalon's moves require that mainstream Israeli society must draw up a consensus definition of its diplomatic objectives in the current war. This objective must be clear - to ensure that when the violence ebbs, the Palestinians receive less than they were about to receive on the eve of the outbreak of violence.

We can go back to the Camp David program as Ehud Barak suggests; we can talk about the Clinton plan-minus, as others have proposed. Nevertheless, in one way or another Israel must make sure that the lesson the Palestinians learn from their aggression is that aggression does not pay.

If the lesson is otherwise, any peace agreement signed with them will not hold up. Any peace agreement will be nothing but a preface to another round of killing, terror and bloodshed.