donderdag 16 oktober 2014

Ya'alon: ''No state for the Palestinians, we just have to manage the conflict''

Moshe Ya'alon
Israel's Defense minister Moshe Ya'alon (picture) gave some interviews  about the conflict with the Palestinians which are probably respresentative for what mainstream Israelis, or the Israeli cabinet, nowadays think. Probably more so than Netanyahu's lip-service to the two state solution.
Palestinians cannot expect much from Ya'alon. Autonomy is all they can expect and that is what they already have, as far as he is concerned. He does not believe that the conflict can end, just managing it is what is in Israel's interest. About the forthcoming talks about a more permanent ceasefire in Gaza he says, that in fact nothing more is needed than already has been agreed upon. ''A seaport - an airport, those are pipedreams. Even Hamas understands that these things are not on our agenda or that of the PA or Egypt.”

I quote some parts of the interviews in Israel Hayom and Haaretz:
The Palestinian Arabs will not have a “state” but rather an “autonomy”, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Israel Hayom daily newspaper in an interview published Wednesday. “Our efforts to create shortcuts over the last two decades -- from Oslo until present day -- have all failed,” he said. “We know how to live with it. It is certainly not necessary to control them. We can give them political autonomy like they have now,” said Ya’alon.
"We withdrew from Gaza. The Gazans chose Hamas, which in turn chose to rockets instead of exporting strawberries, and for that they are paying a price,” he told the newspaper. “It is probably not a permanent and stable solution, but it is important to talk about 'crisis management' in regard to Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria in such a way that will serve our interests.”
Asked whether Palestinian Authority (PA)Mahmoud Abbas is still a partner for peace, Ya’alon replied, "Abbas has never said that he recognizes us as the nation state of the Jewish people. He also never said that if a compromise is reached, even one that adheres to his vision of [pre-]1967 borders, it would end the conflict and the [Palestinian] demands. He never said that he has given up on demanding refugee rights. So where can we go with him? He is a partner for discussion; a partner for managing the conflict.”
“I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and maintain relations in a way that works for our interests. We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a [Palestinian] state,” said the Defense Minister. “As far as I am concerned let them call it the Palestinian Empire. I don't care. It is an autonomy if it is ultimately a demilitarized territory. That is not a status quo, it is the establishment of a modus vivendi that is tolerable and serves our interests."
Ya’alon was asked whether he rejects the so-called “two-state solution”, to which he replied, "Call it whatever you want. The political separation has already happened, and it is a good thing that it has. We are not controlling the lives of the residents of Gaza or Judea and Samaria. This separation is important.”
He continued, “I would encourage and reinforce governability, the economy and the residents' ability to live in dignity and economic comfort. But to derive something so black and white from that? State or no state? Let's put the terminology aside. The other side doesn't think that 1967 borders will be the end of the story, and they never said that it would be the end of the story,” stressed Ya’alon. “To them it is merely a stage; it is not about establishing a state, but rather destroying the Jewish state and negating its existence. There is a lack of symmetry here that is not in our favor, so we need to learn this conflict without delusions."

Ya’alon is not convinced that the indirect contacts with Hamas will end with a more detailed cease-fire agreement. As far as Israel is considered, the principles already formulated in the limited agreement at the end of August are sufficient, in addition to the agreement it reached with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority regarding the entry of goods and money to the Gaza Strip under tight international supervision.
In his opinion the heart of the matter is the diplomatic-security coordination with Egypt, which already enables significant limits on Hamas’s efforts to rearm. “In the past year not a single rocket has been transferred from Sinai to Gaza because Egypt has started to operate effectively,” he says. “Both we and Egypt stopped the transfers of cement to the Strip, long before the fighting, because we realized that the cement is used for digging Hamas’s tunnels.”
The new arrangements, he says, “will allow the Gazans to live. The transfer of money and the means for rehabilitation are already beginning. But a seaport, an airport – those are pipedreams. We can discuss it in Cairo, but even Hamas understands that these things are not on our agenda or that of the PA or Egypt.”

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