In anticipation of the Sovereignty Conference, the weekly Besheva paper published an article about the Sovereignty Campaign and the upcoming conference.
All Roads Lead to Sovereignty
By Shimon Cohen, Besheva 2/2/2017
translated into English by Sally Zahav
- The collapse of the Oslo Accords and the harm from the Left’s political plans have brought about several figures of the Right to develop a political alternative: the application of sovereignty · Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar have been leading the Sovereignty Campaign in recent years, to the point that it has changed from a random idea into a platform that is supported by many MKs and ministers in the coalition · At the upcoming Sovereignty Campaign various schemes will be proposed, all with the goal of finally doing away with the idea of two states
When the disillusionment from the Oslo idea began and the leaders of the Right in Israel knew how to point out the evils of that idea in learned articles and stormy interviews, they were still stymied by the question put by the late President Shimon Peres with the two words “What is the alternative?”. To this question, there was nothing in their sack besides the general idea about our rights to the Land and our obligation to settle it.
Into this vacuum of policy and advocacy ideas, entered two women, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, the heads of Women in Green, which also began with a practical holding onto land in the field, mainly in the area of Gush Etzion. “After the uprooting from Gush Katif we decided that the battle cannot be only over one hill after another. We understood that the problem had to be treated at the root. The battles over hills continue for years and all this time the Arabs are taking over land massively. They are treated by various authorities, the administrative and the civil, the police and sometimes also the IDF, as the landlords despite their illegal activities, and we, in their eyes, are alien here. An Arab tractor that does illegal work is accepted as natural in their eyes and we are an alien plant, in every legal battle they were taken into account. We felt that there was injustice and understood that we must deal with it and change things in a basic way”.
It was not easy at first. The idea of sovereignty that began to develop was described in various ways as ‘delusional’, ‘chimerical’, ‘cut off from reality’ and so forth. Strong criticism was voiced also among groups of the Right who knew how to make declarations about what filled their heads since the merry days of Oslo – sovereignty would obligate us to grant citizenship to two and a half million Arabs who not only would pose a security threat but would change the demographic character of the State of Israel. If you don’t grant them the right to vote for the Knesset – they claimed at the time, and there are those who still claim this – we will be considered a pariah apartheid state and shunned by other nations.
In the United States people are taking note of the campaign
Katsover and Matar did not ignore these warnings and arguments and contacted a group of experts in the fields of security, demography, international law, the economy and others, setting out on a consciousness raising campaign throughout the length and width of the Land. Large sovereignty conferences that brought in thousands of interested people, smaller gatherings, vigils for support and reinforcement, billboards and advertisements in the media became an integral part of their Sovereignty Campaign. The problems that were presented were answered in a variety of ways and the sovereignty conferences gave a stage to the various outlines. More and more members of Knesset, ministers, public figures and rabbis have joined the process of consciousness-raising that began to take root and yield political results as well. The call for sovereignty that is arising now in the Israeli Knesset and becoming an item on the agenda for discussions, to deal with and begin to implement, was considered until recently to be the hopeless idea of a pair of crazy women.
Along with the Sovereignty conferences, Katsover and Matar have published a journal named “Sovereignty” (what else?) with the help of donors from Israel and abroad, in which experts, politicians and statesmen, public figures and spiritual figures publish their opinions on the ways to implement the vision of sovereignty. The journal, which is published in tens of thousands of copies in Hebrew and in English, was joined recently by an Internet site in the same spirit and with the same name (of course), and which is also bilingual, in Hebrew and in English. “With all due respect to the holy language, it is important to us to pass the message on to the entire world, especially since the shapers of public opinion, who also influence Israeli politics and policy, are across the sea. Moreover, we know that the State Department follows our activities”, says Matar.
Katsover, for her part, stresses that “our consciousness-raising activity in the Sovereignty Campaign does not come at the expense of or instead of activity in the field. We are students of Rav Levinger, ZT”L, who taught us about the necessity to act in three channels: consciousness-raising and influencing public opinion, practical strengthening of our hold on the ground and political action. It is important to stress that we are not alone, we advise and are advised by public figures such as Elyakim Haetzni and others. In the past, when Geula Cohen was in better health she was among those who advised and encouraged us. When we started out, we also consulted with Uri Elitzur, Z”L”.
For Matar and Katsover it is important not to take sole credit for the entire sovereignty initiative. “There were others who wrote and spoke about it long before us, like Elitzur, Caroline Glick and others. We turned it into a campaign, established the Forum for Sovereignty with Yoram Ettinger, Dr. Moti Kedar, Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed, Itai Elitzur, Caroline Glick, Yossi Dagan, Eran Bar Tal and other public figures. We are continuing to consult with them and see them as partners in raising the banner from the days when no one spoke about sovereignty until these days, when sovereignty is a key topic in every demonstration and gathering “.
“To move an idea dealing with policy and consciousness is a very difficult task financially. People prefer to donate toward a building, ambulance or Torah scroll where the name of the donor can be perpetuated, and therefore it is important for us to take every opportunity to thank the wonderful and dear people who have understood the importance of the matter and the power of the moment and have mobilized themselves to support the sovereignty campaign”, say the two women.
The methods with which to implement the vision of sovereignty, explain Katsover and Matar, are various and there are significant differences between one method and another. “We deliberated considerably, during the years of the campaign, whether it was better to present one way, in which to channel our efforts, or to allow for a number of methods to be raised. We chose the second option, and it seems that this was the correct choice. Even if the methods disagree regarding one issue or another, we all still have the same motto of sovereignty, and this motto has seen a dramatic increase in enthusiasm among the Israeli public, who have understood that it is no longer possible to continue in a virtual reality of unrecognized rule, of laws that do not apply in such a large area, of political negotiations that encourage the Arabs to think that indeed, in a short while we will be leaving. Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is not only a Zionist, Jewish, ethical necessity but also a security and political necessity. When we make it clear that we are here to stay, dreams of a terror state arising in the heart of the Land will disappear”.
These days, final preparations are being made for the fourth Sovereignty Conference, which will be held on Sunday, the 16th of Tevet, February 12th, in conjunction with the periodical Basheva (and will be broadcast live on Arutz 7). In this conference as well, in which ministers, members of Knesset and public figures will take part, the various ideas of how to promote sovereignty will be presented. However, in contrast to previous conferences, in this conference, Matar and Katsover intend to outline a plan that will offer a first response to the challenges of sovereignty.
Encouraging voluntary emigration
The best known among the plans for sovereignty is the plan of Minister Bennett, which includes, in the first phase, the annexation of Area C, comprising approximately ninety thousand Arabs on approximately sixty percent of the area in which the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria lives. These Arabs will be granted the status of full citizenship, if they desire it. Such a number does not present a demographic threat to the future of Israel, Bennett believes, who emphasizes that there is nothing in his plan that would negate the aspiration for sovereignty in the remaining territories of Judea and Samaria as well, but at this time the Arabs of Areas A and B would live in an autonomy, whose status would be determined in the future.
Conversely, there are those who believe that sovereignty over the entire territory must be applied fully and immediately, while dismantling the Palestinian Authority and granting a status of residency to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. Later on, it would be possible to consider granting the status of citizenship to those who are interested in it, in accordance with the Law of Citizenship.
Another plan is that of Dr. Martin Sherman, which rejects the possibility of leaving the Arabs of Judea and Samaria in place after sovereignty is applied. “With a Muslim minority of between 35% – 40%, most of whom not only do not identify with the Jewish character of the state, but ardently object to it, it will not be possible to create a coherent and cohesive society here and surely not one with a Jewish demographic character. Such a course of action would be a sure recipe for the “Lebanonization” of Israeli society and increasing erosion of the Jewish presence in it”, he says.
According to him, “We should deal with the ‘Palestinian’ collective according to the way it describes itself: as an uncompromising enemy dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish-Zionist entity in the Land of Israel, as it is expressed in the foundational documents of all the representative ‘Palestinian’ organizations. Accordingly, Israel has no obligation – ethically, legally or practically – to establish the socio-economic system of a hostile collective that is committed to its annihilation and to harm its citizens. On the contrary, Israel has an ethical obligation to act to overthrow it in order to prevent attempts to destroy Israel and kill her citizens, whom it is her function to defend”.
The main points of Sherman’s plan include Israel ceasing its services to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and encouraging voluntary emigration, while awarding suitable grants that would serve as an incentive also for the absorbing countries, which often have the need for a stable and affluent population.
There is also the approach of Prof. Aryeh Eldad, who will also be present at the upcoming conference. In a discussion with Basheva, he summarizes his position, saying: “the time has passed for legal exercises such as the Regulation Law and even adoption of the Edmund Levy Report would not solve all of the matters confronting us. We must take the bull by the horns, say “enough with occupation” and apply sovereignty. For this, it is enough to have a government resolution and there is no need for additional legislation. In ’48, the Law and Administration Ordinance was enacted, according to which, the government of Israel can expand the territory of Israel’s jurisdiction in any territory under its control by edict. This is how the law was applied in Be’er Sheva, Naharia, Acre, the western Galilee and every territory that was not within the borders of the original partition and were conquered in the War of Independence. There is no need for a law to do this, but if it is desirable, for the “glorification of the commandments”, it can also be done by legislation”.
Eldad does not reject the gradual application of sovereignty and believes that if Israeli citizenship was offered to the residents of Area C they would not take it because from that moment, they would have the accusation of betrayal of the Palestinian struggle hanging over their heads. In Eldad’s opinion, sovereignty over Greater Jerusalem as Minister Yisrael Katz has proposed or in Area C as Minister Bennett has proposed would bring an end to the attempts to establish a state in the remainder of the territory.
On the subject of how to progress in such a course of action, he says: “We are expected to solve the matter according to the UN proposal for the partition of the Land of Israel. The UNSCOP Committee was sent to prepare for the partition of the Land in May of ’48 and its people understood that in the Jewish State there would be 600 thousand Jews and 450 [thousand] Arabs, and since the Jewish State would not survive with such relative proportions of power, they suggested that the Arabs be residents of the Jewish State and citizens of the Arab state east of the Jordan River, meaning, there would be a division between citizenship and residency, such as exists in East Jerusalem. We would have to change the paradigm and instead of saying two states for two peoples, we would say two states from two sides of the Jordan”. Eldad also mentions that the Kingdom of Jordan was established on 75% of the territory that was allocated in the first place to the Jewish State in San Remo and the resolution of the League of Nations. “Churchill stole three quarters and gave it to the Arabs”, he reminds us, and believes that the day is near when the Palestinians in Jordan, approximately 75 percent of the residents of the kingdom, will rise up against the ruling Bedouin minority and bring about a revolution that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territory of the Hashemite Kingdom, which will weaken the Palestinian claim against Israel in the eyes of the world. Until then, as mentioned, Eldad sees the practical thwarting of a Palestinian state as a goal, and this is proper to do with at least gradual and significant annexation in Judea and Samaria.
Another channel for implementation of the vision of sovereignty is the channel of autonomy or autonomies, whose key principle is the application of sovereignty in the entire territory, and immediately afterward establishing one or several autonomies under the security umbrella of the State of Israel in the areas that are called Areas A and B. The residents of these autonomies would vote for their own municipal parliament while the residents of Area C would be allowed the possibility to receive the status of residency, a status of citizen in accordance with required conditions of loyalty or affiliation with the autonomy nearest to them.
Sovereignty in Greater Jerusalem
At the upcoming conference “Sovereignty Prizes” will be awarded to the family of the late Uri Elitzur for the father’s public relations activities in many debates and articles and to the journalist Caroline Glick, whose book lays out the issues and challenges of sovereignty in detail. Deputy Foreign Minister MK Tzipi Hotovely, who has been involved with the sovereignty campaign from its first years, will award the honor to Glick.
In a conversation with Basheva, she states that the revolution in consciousness that has occurred over the past eight years within the Israeli Right has brought about a development of conditions regarding the people’s desire to come to a resolution. When speaking of policy decisions of such a magnitude it is important that the people stand behind it, and not only the government that was elected for that purpose. The key is the will of the people”.
Her term in the Department of foreign Affairs and her familiarity with international pressures have not caused Hotovely to abandon her aspiration to see the first steps of sovereignty in the fiftieth year since the liberation of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. According to her, the process must be carried out “in logical steps”. “Sovereignty in Ma’ale Adumim is too limited and there is no principle behind it. If we seek a consensus then there is a similar Israeli consensus regarding Gush Etzion. The required step is sovereignty over Greater Jerusalem. This position is also held by my colleagues in the Likud. A first step such as this is also a statement of values against the Palestinian claims that focus on the heart, which is Jerusalem”. This plan includes establishing a Jerusalem metropolis that encompasses Ma’ale Adumim, Gush Etzion and other areas.
“We believe in processes. Israel in ’48 managed to expand the borders of the territory of the partition and in ’67 we unified Jerusalem and liberated Judea and Samaria. This is how Zionism works, in phases”, says Hotovely and goes on to the next phase that includes applying sovereignty in the entire area of Jewish communities, a step that she believes can be carried out in the present term of government. It would indeed be very worthwhile to coordinate with the Americans and the process might become larger and more significant, but these things depend on the government of Israel and the past teaches us that “the governments of Israel have not coordinated similar such steps with any international body. That is how it was with the declaration of Jerusalem as capital, that is how it was with the annexation of East Jerusalem and that is how it was with the annexation of the Golan”.
Hotovely’s plan also includes within it massive steps to encourage immigration, legislation that would include an obligation of loyalty and national service and other positions. “A society has never absorbed a group that rejects the very essence of its existence”, she says and negates the idea of naturalizing all of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. “It is impossible to turn terrorists and supporters of terror into part of us. I do not bury my head in the sand. I am asked about allowing freedom of movement, and the answer is that it depends on the degree of danger. If they support terror, Israel, as a state that must defend itself, will continue to defend itself”.
And what about later phases? “I believe that between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there must be Israeli sovereignty. There is no room for a Palestinian state, and certainly in a world where Palestinians are divided between Jordan, Judea and Samaria and Gaza. After applying sovereignty the matter of a solution for the Palestinian population, which has rejected all solutions until now, will arise. It may be that for now, when the process of significant immigration has not yet been completed, we might consider a solution of a federation with Jordan and a solution that would allow Gaza to be under Egyptian rule”. According to her, this step as well, if it would win American encouragement, including economic and other incentives to the neighboring countries, would have much better chances, while “if it comes only from Israel, it would have almost no chance”.
In Hotovely’s opinion, Prime Minister Netanyahu must present the American president, Trump, with the history of the political contacts and prove to him the stubborn refusal of the Palestinians to accept all outlines of Israeli withdrawal. “A plan will be placed before the government that claims that the Palestinians simply do not want a state. There is no precedent in the world to the situation of a population that seeks self-determination and refuses to accept independence only because of the size of the territory that was allocated for it, and as we know, there are in the world hundreds of conflicts and ethnic groups that demand independence. As a result of the consistent Palestinian obstruction the time has come for alternative thinking”. In Hotovely’s estimation, it is in exactly this spirit that Netanyahu is building the fabric of political relations with the new administration. “He instructs ambassadors in this spirit of an overall view of the Middle East and not focusing locally, on the Palestinian matter. We must contend here with ISIS. Netanyahu will discuss with Trump matters regarding Iran and Syria. It is important that he know that he is coming to these discussions with Israel’s backing in such matters”. And from the discussion about world leaders and those who draw international maps Hotovely returns to the kernel that began it all, “If it were not for Nadia and Yehudit, who raise this banner, it would not have become a general concern. They are the pioneers and the spearhead of this story. They are great women who swam against the current and they deserve all of the credit for this”.