Israeli contractors are still working on building the “security fence” separating Israel and the West Bank. As it turns out, this fence has gone beyond the 1948 frontiers. The Israeli army confiscated over 100,000 acres of Palestinian land, and more than 33 water wells located within the Palestinian territories have vanished inside the fence.
Still, the issue of separating Palestinians from the Israelis is a major issue in Israeli elections. Both the Likud and Labor agree on the need for separation, but each party suggests a different way to carry out this separation.
Sharon’s Likud party, supported by other racist, right-wing parties, call for a separation that rests on the forced deportation of Palestinians and confiscation of their land, where Jewish settlements would be built.
On the other hand, Mitzna’s plan is based on Rabin’s ideas and the elements of “separation by agreement” that the Labor Party proposed under Barak during the 2000 Camp David negotiations and the 2001 Taba negotiations. In addition to “Clinton’s ideas”, which he proposed to both sides in Washington in 2000.
These proposals were based on the June 4, 1967 borders, and the principle of two states/ two people, as the basis for the separation. Moreover, they confirmed in principle the creation of a Palestinian state on 96-97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, while the rest is to be exchanged between both parties.
I believe that Mitzna’s thesis lays down realistic bases for both sides to separate with agreement. Moreover, it must be noted that he has made a daring proposition – never made before by any Israeli leader – and that is to immediately withdraw from Gaza.
Mitzna has no power to implement his plan, and the chances of him being elected appear remote. Sharon’s plan, which is currently being implemented, only complicates the political solution. Especially that it has been opposed by the Palestinians, the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. In addition, it runs contrary to the conclusions of the various separation committees that had been appointed by previous Israeli governments.
And while the right-wing leaders refuse to learn from the lessons of the national unity government, especially those that contradict their extreme ideological convictions, the basic facts were enough to prove right the separation committees’ conclusions.
It is only reasonable to maintain that the proximity of settlements and Arab quarters in Jerusalem and Hebron make a “security separation” impossible. Should Sharon refuse to evacuate any settlement for ideological reasons, and refuse the idea of separating East and West Jerusalem, the presence of over 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem, most of whom carry Israeli citizenship, is enough to undermine the separation plan.
There is no doubt that Mitzna’s position was bold and clear in seeking the proper remedy for the problem. Moreover, his election to the Labor party’s leadership proves that a good share of Israelis still believe in achieving peace without depending on the Americans.