סני ארזי
Sany Arazi
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a Kohelet Policy Forum conference

Bennett is actually fine with the Oslo Accords

Opinion: Right-wing tenets like Israel holding both sides of the River Jordan, the PA being a disaster and a complete refusal to retreat from any territory have fallen from favor with the defense minister, who seems to have adopted some of the left's most deep-rooted beliefs about West Bank

Sany Arazi |
Published: 01.25.20 , 22:38
Last week, under right everybody's noses, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett essentially told the pro-settlement, religious-Zionist Kohelet Policy Forum that large swathes of the West Bank should be under Palestinian control.
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  • It even came as the Forum praised him for his policy turnaround regarding the West Bank.
    Defense Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a Kohelet Policy Forum conference  Defense Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a Kohelet Policy Forum conference
    Defense Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a Kohelet Policy Forum conference
    (Photo: Kohelet Policy Forum )
    "Israel's policy is that Area C belongs to us, not the United Nations," said the newly appointed defense minister, referring to the area of the West Bank that under the Oslo Accords is completely controlled by Israel.
    "A month ago, I convened everybody at the ministry and explained that the government will do everything it can to make sure that any new construction there is Israeli."
    As a man of the left, I'm very displeased with the interim defense minister in charge of overseeing our security thinking that annexing Area C is a good idea.
    Former Shin Bet security service chief Yoram Cohen warned that such a move would lead to a "bloodbath."
    But I can't refrain from reading between the lines and feeling an urge to yell: "We told you so."
    For decades, Israel's right-wing politicians have kept telling us how everything bad that happens in this country stems from the Oslo Accords, birthed from the treacherous left.
    Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat during the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House in 1993 Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat during the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House in 1993
    Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat during the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House in 1993
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Suddenly appears the leading political representative for the religious-Zionist right, the same one who cried and lamented that giving autonomy to the Palestinians and founding the Palestinian Authority were a disaster – and the biggest announcement to his constituency is that he accepts the Oslo division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C.
    In practice, Bennett is claiming that the idea of Palestinian autonomy and an end to the control of Palestinian cities in the West Bank is the right idea.
    Unexpectedly, the old mantra of "Israel on both sides of the Jordan River" is gone, demands to not give up any land at all are gone, while the claim that the Palestinian Authority should not be given arms also evaporates.
    The leader of the settlers agrees to that coordinating with the PA's security forces is good for Israel and helps against terrorism.
    Suddenly, Oslo is not a horrible disaster, but the basis of Bennett's dreams regarding the country's borders.
    The minister also reminded us of a very important and oft-forgotten fact: each and every one of his predecessors who wanted to deepen Israel's hold in the West Bank had to do so in complete opposition to the heads of the defense establishment.
    He keeps reminding us again and again that Israel's top-ranking defense officials have always warned against the Messianic right's adventurous escapades.
    Bennett's conduct reminds of other political promises made by Israel's lawmakers.
    ארכיון 2012 בנימין נתניהו אביגדור ליברמןארכיון 2012 בנימין נתניהו אביגדור ליברמן
    Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AP)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to dismantle the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman promised to "get a drone and kill [Hamas political leader] Ismail Haniyeh within 48 hours."
    It's easy to make such promises and it pays off electorally, but reality always brings to light the true worth of such promises.
    Netanyahu and the rest of the right keep insisting they have kept the country secure during their years in power, but they always forget to mention that the decisions that solidified the borders and led to this security were made before their regime and against their will.
    Yitzhak Rabin pulled the IDF out of the alleyways and streets of Jenin and Nabulus; Ehud Barak withdrew from the Lebanese mire; and Ariel Sharon put an end to the bloody entrenchment inside the Gaza Strip.
    And although no one today thinks those ideas were perfect, not one logical right-wing politician today would even dare to suggest that we should reconquer the Gaza Strip, Nablus or southern Lebanon.
    נסיגה מלבנון של צה"לנסיגה מלבנון של צה"ל
    IDF soldiers withdrawing from southern Lebanon in 2000
    (Photo: Efi Shrir )
    The bottom line is that after a decade of right-wing rule, even as a man such as Bennett helms the Defense Ministry and the cabinet is packed with firebrand right-wingers like Miri Regev and Bezalel Smotrich - the "horrible" reality that the Oslo Accords created still remains while far-fetched ideas such as returning to Lebanon are given voice solely by inconsequential commentators on social media.
    Even as we endure the apex of the right's rule, with the ship of state firmly under their control, with all the speeches and extravagant slogans thrown about on an hourly basis, we also see how in practice the right has completely adopted the solutions inherited from the left.
    By their actions, the right can - in a best-case scenario - offer the Israeli public a "management" of the Palestinian issue and remain in power.
    It is safe to assume they know that their statements sound good as rhetoric, but don't provide a serious solution to the problem.
    If anything, they will ultimately birth a ticking time bomb.
    Sany Arazi is the director of political watchdog group 'Project 61,' which is part of Jerusalem think-tank Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy

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