Security map strips Netanyahu naked
Palestine-Israel, Politics, 7/1/1998
The right wing camp in Israel was stunned to find that the Israeli army map of security interests in the West Bank had excluded some 59 Jewish settlements and leading right wing politicians accused the army of preparing a map that has the fingerprints of the former Labor government.
But Israeli army planning corps commander, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Yanai, who presented the map to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, denied that the report was drafted in accordance to any political guidelines. The map designates three central areas as vital to Israel's national security. Those areas are the buffer zone between the Palestinian territory and Israel, the Jordan Valley and the area of so-called greater Jerusalem. This map leaves 100 settlements inside territory designated as vital to national security, but leaves another 59 out.
In drafting the plan, the army has made it clear to the politicians that it does not need more than half of the West Bank territories for security purposes. To maintain Israel's security or to be prepared to a new wave of violence within the Palestinian territories, the army said it does not need more than 50 percent of the West Bank, a percentage that is totally rejected by the prime minister and his aides.
Netanyahu and his team want more territories from the West Bank to remain in Israel's hands both during the interim period and after the permanent status talks are finished. Yanai said that the placement of settlements either within or without those areas designated by the army as vital to national security was merely a technicality, and that such positioning was not done in an attempt to determine the contribution that any given settlement made to national security.
According to the army's vision manifested in the map, the zones vital to national security are a strip of land ranging from one to two kilometers in width along the buffer zone with the Palestinians, a strip of land approximately 20 km wide along the Jordan Valley, an area buffering Jerusalem, which includes the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Hebron and the Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem along the road to Jericho.
As expected, the map itself engendered a wave of supportive and opposing reactions from committee members. Committee Chairman Uzi Landau of the Likud said the map did not pass the test of common sense and that "it does not respond to our security needs but rather allows significant threats to Israel's security to exist." Yanai responded by saying the map was prepared without any preconditions having been imposed by the political echelon. "It was suited for a period in which peace negotiations were being conducted and that it was clear that were it a map that had to take the possibility of conducting a war into account, different data would have been employed," said Yanai.
Left wing opposition Meretz party chairman Yossi Sarid joined with the map's detractors and said it was useless as a tool for achieving a final status arrangement. Sarid noted that the map indicated that some 60 Jewish settlements were a security burden but, "It is a shame that good, talented people in the army bothered themselves for naught. National security is an issue for statesmen to determine and there are no security needs that are independent of political decisions."
Opposition Labor party member Haim Ramon said that the map indicated that the army believes Israel can forgo control of 50 percent of the territory without jeopardizing its security. He said the map proved how inaccurate Netanyahu was in his talk that the relinquishing of every additional percentage point in the second phase of further redeployment in the West Bank endangered Israel's national security. The Israeli army position, said Ramon, "strips Netanyahu naked of his false security guise with which he adorned his partisan and personal needs."
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