Photo: Gil Yohanan
Tough dilemma. Cabinet meeting
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Act like leaders

Our leaders must not act like military commanders, take risks for peace

Israel is at a highly sensitive period in strategic-diplomatic terms. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas’ takeover seems stronger than ever, and Fatah’s forces have disappeared as if they were never there. In the West Bank too, we see Hamas growing stronger compared to Mahmoud Abbas’ relative weakness.


The quiet dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders is mistrusted by the public, both because of past disappointments and because of the situation in the Strip. And in the backdrop, above everything, we see the Iranian threat and Islam growing stronger in the Arab world, developments that have direct bearing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


In the face of all this, Israel’s leadership faces a tough dilemma, which has been accompanying our leaders for dozens of years now: How much leeway to give the Palestinians? To my regret, the Israeli leadership is not showing the required generosity and is not undertaking enough steps on the macro level that can improve the situation.


Olmert, Barak, and Livni are acting like division commanders in Nablus or Ramallah. Division commanders on the ground have a clear mission – to prevent terror attacks – and they are indeed doing an incredible job. The mere fact that we are able to talk about a peace process is a result of the daily activity of soldiers on the ground.


However, the leadership should be leading, rather than being led by terror warnings. A leadership needs to take responsibility and tell IDF commanders: In light of our long-term diplomatic vision, and despite the fact that your mission is to curb terror, we are taking the responsibility and ordering you to engage in acts that may make it more difficult for you in the short term, but would lead to the realization of our national goals in the long term.


Alternative still in our hands

The required steps need to be undertaken while adhering to the truly essential security principles: Gradually removing roadblocks across the West Bank, and switching to a policy of mobile roadblocks; shifting regular checkpoints that cannot be removed to an “open most of the time” status (with changes prompted by assessments of the situation or in light of intelligence warnings); boosting military activity on the roads and around communities; respecting Palestinian sovereignty as much as is possible; making West Bank roads useable by both Palestinians and Israelis; speeding up the security fence construction; and screening everyone entering Israel through the security fence crossings.


These are not empty slogans, but rather, a real action plan that can be implemented. The leadership must overcome its tunnel vision regarding security in the West Bank. We must not examine the situation only based on the number of terror attacks, despite the difficulty inherent in this.


We must check whether there is a chance to reach an agreement and peace with our neighbors, and whether the current path can lead to a breakthrough. We cannot have domestic considerations, stemming from the fears of paying a political price, leading our strategy.


History shows that leaders who acted courageously and adopted meaningful steps won the trust of the public, which knows how to appreciate it. If the situation will continue on the current path, the escalation is guaranteed. Yet the alternative is still in our hands.


פרסום ראשון: 08.03.08, 23:57
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