AMOS YADLIN

If the Zionist Union wins the election Israel’s defence minister will [20 Feb. 2015 correction: may well] be Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, IDF attaché to the U.S., Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) fellow and director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

At INSS, Yadlin was a prominent advocate of unilateral, limited Israeli withdrawal. ‘The basic parameters of a deal are known’, he explained two years ago: a two-state settlement, based on the 1967 borders ‘plus swaps to incorporate major settlement blocks‘.  In fact international law makes no distinction between settlements and settlement blocs, but Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, the leaders of the Zionist Union, share Yadlin’s position.

At one point, Yadlin was optimistic that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would successfully engineer such a deal, on the basis of Hamas’s weakness and the efficacy of U.S. pressure on the Arab states. But he also had a ‘plan B’: should efforts to reach an agreement fail, Israel should take ‘independent measures’ to determine its borders. ‘There is no need for Palestinian approval’, he assured: while Palestinian Authority coordination would be helpful, ‘Israeli policy should not be dependent on the wishes or the consent of the Palestinians’. (p. 16)

Specifically, Yadlin proposed a unilateral Israeli withdrawal to the Wall, annexing the major settlement blocs and maintaining military control over the Jordan Valley. ‘The line that Israel will draw as the border will be the separation barrier and the Jordan Valley‘. Tzipi Livni, too, regards the route of the Wall as Israel’s ‘future border‘. (Not so the International Court of Justice, which deemed it a violation of international law).

Yadlin seems fairly confident, however, that the Palestinian Authority will eventually play diplomatic ball. As a capsule diagnosis of the hopelessness of the PA, this is difficult to beat (aside from the incorrect, albeit revealing, suggestion that a non-violent movement could not affect Israeli policy):

At this stage, the leadership in Ramallah is still inclined toward a two-state strategy, but through means other than negotiations. One way under consideration is to obtain UN recognition of a Palestinian state; another way is through ‘popular resistance’. These two methods have many weaknesses. By appealing to the international community and international institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, the Palestinians would alienate Israel and accelerate the process of its delegitimization, but these two solutions can yield only slow and limited fruit, and it is doubtful whether they will prompt any significant change in the Israeli government’s position. ‘Popular resistance’, which is fundamentally non-violent or violent to a limited extent (e.g., stone throwing) also involves an internal contradiction. If it is conducted carefully and controlled by the Palestinian leadership in order to avoid escalation to full scale violence, it will not have any substantial effect on Israeli policy. On the other hand, if it takes place on a large scale with little control, escalation to massive violence by both sides becomes more likely. It is doubtful whether the Palestinian leadership, which itself has a problem with internal legitimacy, will be able to stand at the head of widespread ‘popular resistance’, and it is not at all clear that such a popular uprising would not be aimed first and foremost at the PA leadership itself. Recognition of the weaknesses of these options is likely to lead the Palestinian leadership to consider continuing the negotiations in 2014. (p. 217)

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