Yoaz Hendel

Explaining a non-existent policy

Op-ed: Something that is often conspicuously absent from the discussions of Israeli PR problems is the country's clear lack of a consistent and clear policy regarding what is to be done with the West Bank and its residents.

Talia Sasson, chairperson of the New Israel Fund (NIF), served as head of the special occupations department in the Israeli State Attorney's Office for a period that ended in 2005. At PM Ariel Sharon's request, she prepared a controversial outpost settlement report. Sasson, a Meretz voter, doesn't represent the State Attorney's Office. She represents the Israeli leftist edge.



After Sasson came Shai Nitzan, a veteran of the religious-Zionist community, who became State Attorney. At the end of this month, Avichai Mandelblit, who served as Netanyahu's Cabinet Secretary, came in as the Attorney General. I don't know if you can find out an organization's DNA by sight, but I'll just say that I saw more knitted yarmulkes (which are usually worn by members of the Israeli religious-Zionist public. -ed) in the State Attorney's Office than their proportion in the general population.


Talia Sasson. Not representative of the Justice Ministry. (Photo: Eldad Refaeli) (Photo: Eldad Rafaeli)
Talia Sasson. Not representative of the Justice Ministry. (Photo: Eldad Refaeli)


Alon Liel served as Director General of PM Ehud Barak's Foreign Ministry in the year 2000, when the thesis of making peace with enemies collapsed into itself. The one responsible for the collapse was reality, with some encouragement from Barak. He proposed a generous accord to Arafat, offering up massive concessions (ones that make no security sense in my view), and getting rivers of blood in return. Liel was at the Foreign Ministry when the world - including George W. Bush's USA – condemned Israel for every response. He saw the government's powerlessness in the intifada's early days.


When he left government work, Liel decided to circumvent Israeli democracy and disregard it. He used outside pressure as a replacement for having to contend with the method in which the majority rules according to its leaders and the general happenings around it.


Liel is the Foreign Ministry's DNA in the same way Talia Sasson is the DNA of the Justice Ministry or Amram Mitzna, Ariel Sharon, Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon and Yuval Diskin are the DNA of the security establishment. And still, Education Minister Naftali Bennett was correct when he said there's a problem in the Foreign Ministry, and was also right about his claims regarding the short-lived boycott of him by the Ministry's workers' union. It's unacceptable that workers should decide what the Ministry's policy is, and which minister they're going to boycott. That's where the problem starts.


Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. Trapped. (Photo: AFP)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. Trapped. (Photo: AFP)


Every time I take part in some symposium whose topic is Israeli PR, there's always someone who gives a long speech about Israel's problems in that field. About how this and that is said, about how the Palestinians have more PR success, about how the international media can't see the whole picture; but also about the accomplishments and successes, the moral efforts, and the Supreme Court. They're all so busy being right that they forget what Israel's policy DNA is made of.


Imagine a world where Israeli PR representatives can have as much time as they want on foreign TV channels, front pages in international newspapers, all freely open to them. A whole hour on the BBC or CNN. All with one condition attached: At one point or another, they must say what Israel's policy in the West Bank is.


The chances of success there are slim. You won't find many in the government who can say what our policy is either. About a month ago I interviewed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. I asked her what our policy was. Hotovely, a gifted and experienced woman when it comes to media interviews, spoke of the incitement and of how problematic the Palestinians are (something about which we totally agree), as well as the world's hypocrisy (again, we agreed), but couldn't actually answer the question.


Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The logic of his West Bank plan is understood. (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The logic of his West Bank plan is understood. (Photo: Moti Kimchi)


She's trapped. Netanyahu has stated a policy of two states for two peoples again and again (other than a 24-hour period last election day). Hotovely wants to cancel the Oslo Accords and annex the entire West Bank, Arab residents included. Bennett is interested in separation based on the C territories (which are fully controlled by Israel, from both civil administration and security aspects. –ed) – 60 percent of the West Bank – with the rest going to the Palestinians. The others are busy waiting for the elections with no policy platform in hand. Now go and explain to them what you can't, because it doesn't exist.


Of all the various existing plans, I probably lean the most towards Bennett's idea of separation from the PA with the maximum amount of territory kept by Israel. The numbers are different, the idea is the same. I identify with his logic, and so I don't understand what the heck he wants from the Foreign Ministry's diplomats. After all, they're the ones who take orders from the political ranks, not the other way around. As a legal child, they inherit their government's DNA.


You are the government, Mr. Bennett. Sit down together, decide what your policy is in the absence of peace – from right or left – and announce it. That will make life easier for everyone.




פרסום ראשון: 01.20.16, 23:42
 new comment
See all talkbacks "Explaining a non-existent policy"
This will delete your current comment