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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Barak's opportunism

In a low-cost move that shores up his party base, defense minister Ehud Barak this week endorsed the idea of paying revenants whose homes are outside the 'security fence' to leave their homes and move within the 'green line.'
This bill, which would allow West Bank residents to receive compensation for relocating within Green Line boundaries, was first conceived by left-wing activists as well as Labor party members prior to the parliamentary elections. MK Avshalom Vilan of the Meretz party and MK Ami Ayalon of the Labor party [Barak's rival for the party leadership. CiJ] were among the bill’s originators.

Barak’s statements Sunday, however, served as the first indication that the Labor Party intends to propose this bill to parliament in the very near future.
Senior members in Barak’s office stated that this bill is a true conceptual revolution that would allow Israel to readily evacuate West Bank settlements if and when a peace treaty is signed with the Palestinians. Furthermore, it might minimize conflict if and when settlements are evacuated, and aid settlers who are eager to leave west Bank settlements and are merely awaiting official government word on the matter.

Barak staffers also pointed out, however, that this would be a long and arduous process, contingent upon Israel’s reaching an accord with its Palestinian partners in line with the Annapolis peace summit and the Road Map proposal.
In how many ways is this bill wrong? Let me count the ways.

1. It assumes that the 'security fence' will be the future boundary between Israel and a 'Palestinian' state reichlet, something Israel has not formally proposed and that the 'Palestinians' will never accept. In fact, the 'Palestinians' have declined every Israeli attempt at 'trading' land within the green line for heavily populated land in Judea and Samaria because their goal is to destroy the Jewish state rather than to create one of their own.

2. The government has yet to find new homes for most of the 10,000 Jews who were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif two and a half years ago (who, by the way, received the same type of offer). Where is it going to find the money to pay to 'transfer' more Jews?

3. Who do they think is going to leave their home now and run the risk that the 'compensation' if and when there is a 'peace treaty' will be higher?

4. Most importantly, if the government often divides the Jewish cities and towns in Judea and Samaria into 'security' and 'ideological' (the former being clusters of Jewish homes that were erected in places that are strategically important to Israel and the latter being clusters of Jewish homes that were erected in places that are religiously or otherwise significant to Jews), it would only be fair to divide the revenants into 'ideological' and 'quality of life.' The former group is the group that lives in Judea and Samaria out of an ideological commitment to populate parts of the land of Israel that might otherwise be barren of Jews. The latter group is the group that moved across the 'green line' so that they could live a commutable distance from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv in a larger home than they could afford in either city or its suburbs. Most of the revenants who live beyond the 'security fence' are in the former group, and it is highly unlikely that the vast majority of them will be willing to go anywhere else voluntarily.

So Barak's support of 'transferring' Jews is low cost. No one is likely to take advantage of it even if it does pass and even if the government finds the money to fund it. I'd be more impressed if he sponsored a similar bill to 'transfer' 'Palestinians' but he won't do that because it would be immediately branded as 'racist.'


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