Geneva accord would eliminate security role for Israeli military

Special to World
Monday, December 8, 2003

JERUSALEM The Geneva Accords, supported by the European Union and the United States, have been bereft of security arrangements that ensure a role for Israel's military in any agreement with the Palestinians.

A report by a leading Israeli think tank asserts that the understandings reached between a group of Israeli opposition politicians and those aligned with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat virtually eliminate the role of the Israeli military in defending the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Arab or Palestinian attack. The report said the document does not resemble any of the security guarantees sought by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who signed the 1993 Oslo accords with the PLO.

Instead, the report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs maintained, the Israeli interlocutors of the Geneva understandings replaced security guarantees by a proposal for an international force to police the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The security arrangements long demanded by Israel, the report said, were also substituted by a pledge for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.

"In essence, almost all of Israel's security requirements were exchanged for the idea of deploying a foreign military presence that will be supervised by an international committee created to oversee the agreement's implementation," the report, entitled "The Geneva Accords: A Strategic Assessment," said. "Israel's security needs were also conceded in return for basically empty declarations about cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security establishments. According to the logic of Geneva, the Israel Defense Forces can be dismantled, for the IDF has no role in fighting terrorism and in defending the state of Israel. These responsibilities, according to Geneva, will now lay with the proposed international force."

The report said the Geneva document eliminates Israel's right to self-defense and places its security in the hands of the international committee that will include the European Union and the United Nations. This marks a departure from Israel's policy to ensure its own defense.

Authored by the former head of military intelligence's research division, Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, the report said the Geneva Accords do not contain a security safety net for Israel. The only reference to Israeli defense includes the right for the Israel Air Force to conduct military exercises in the air space over Palestine and the stationing of two early-warning stations.

The report termed the Israeli right to maintain what it termed isolated early-warning stations as worthless. The understandings which provide for the settlement of an unspecified number of Palestinian refugees in Israel did not contain a provision for the deployment of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley if the Jewish state is threatened from the east.

"Israel would have no control, or even an Israeli presence, at the borders between Palestine and Egypt or Jordan in order to thwart the infiltration of terrorist elements into Palestinian territory," the report said. "There would be no Israeli presence at the international entry points, or at Palestinian airports and seaports, in order to prevent the smuggling of illegal weaponry, which was attempted regularly during the Oslo years."

Under the Geneva understandings, the report said, the Palestinians are provided a corridor from the Gaza Strip through Israeli territory and to the West Bank. Israelis, however, do not have the rights of passage through Palestinian areas in the West Bank in trying to reach the Dead Sea or Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The report does not allow Israel to operate against Palestinian insurgency cells in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the report said. This would also include the right of retaliation for Palestinian missile and rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

"It is a sad irony that the language on Israel's rights in the Geneva Accord leave it only with the option of issuing a complaint, even if it detects the movement of tanks and armored vehicles within the Palestinian corridor it is to create between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," the report said. "This encapsulates the extent to which Israeli security was treated irresponsibly in the Geneva Accord."

The report said the Geneva understandings demand that Israel, which is not accorded water rights, continue its withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem even if Palestinian violence continues. The Israeli military, the report said, will lose the high ground from which to protect the Tel Aviv coastal plain from Palestinian or Arab rocket and missile attack.

"Israel has the right to complain to the international committee, but it may not halt its withdrawal, even if Israel has solid confirmation that the Palestinian Authority is not lifting a finger to combat terrorism or if there are intelligence indications that it is actually providing tangible assistance to terrorist groups," the report said. "Even under these conditions, Israel is required to transfer territories vital to its national defense and to concede its ability to fight terrorism."

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