For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Dr. Aaron Lerner IMRA
28 October '10
"We will turn to the Security Council in order for it to declare our independence within a few months." Mahmoud Abbas – 28 October, 2010
It doesn’t really matter if the Palestinians intend to create a sovereign state if they don’t get their way with Israel in the coming months, or if these threats are no more than a negotiating tactic.
That’s because sometimes threats can take on a life of their own,
So Israel has to take this threat very seriously.
Israel’s goal in the event of such a move should be to prevent the Palestinian state from being effectively in existence for a long enough period that the event ultimately becomes no more than yet another in the long series of Palestinian declarations, photo ops and documents already gathering dust.
To achieve this, Israel would have to maintain a semblance of normality while, at the same time, operate as if the Palestinian state did not exist.
First and foremost this would require being able to ignore the officials of the Palestinian state while avoiding a humanitarian crisis.
Israel must be in a position to shift from interfacing with Palestinian officials at a national level to a regional and municipal level.
We have experience in this already.
Even in the worst of times in Jerusalem-Ramallah relations, Israelis and Palestinians cooperated on a municipal level to restore or maintain vital services.
One of the biggest tests Israel would face would be maintaining the flow of goods and people between the West Bank and the outside world.
Israeli planners should set as a goal to actually speed up the movement of cargo to and from the West Bank. It would also make sense to prepare administrative provisions to avoid the situation that equipment contributed from overseas for Palestinian humanitarian projects gets stuck in Israeli ports because of disputes over the payment of various duties and taxes to Israel.
Israel should also be prepared to efficiently substitute Israeli travel documents for the ones issued by the then defunct PA so that international movement is not impeded.
And what about the officials themselves?
Israeli planners have to decide if it would serve Israel’s interests better for there to be a Palestinian “government in exile” comprised of deported officials making photo ops in Geneva or to allow them remain to operate a state Israel whose existence Israel doesn’t recognize.
Then, of course, is the thorny issue of the Palestinian security forces.
While Israel wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with Palestinian cops associated directly with a specific municipality or regional groupings of municipalities, the American trained and armed Palestinian troops who answer to the Palestinian federal authorities could present a serious challenge if it is not possible to shift their allegiance to municipalities or regions.
It goes without saying that Israeli policy today towards enhancing the size, training or equipping of the American trained and armed Palestinian troops should already take into account the possibility that the Palestinians go through with a unilaterally declared state.
It would not be easy.
But with proper planning and unity Israel can insure that a Palestinian state created without the conclusion of an agreement with Israel will wither on the vine.
And the more prepared Israel is for this challenge, the more likely that the
Palestinians will opt to drop the idea.
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I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"