Paul Mirbach

A peace of the Strong?

So, on Thursday night I heard an interview with Naftali Bennett on the radio. He spoke about what he called “Peace of the strong”.

This was his plan in short:
1. Give the Palestinians “economic independence”, but not political independence.

2. Palestinians living in areas A and B would vote in elections for the Palestinian Authority. Israel would annex area C, and any Palestinians living in this area would be given Israeli citizenship. (He said we could allow this because it is only a couple of tens of thousands of Palestinians).

These are my thoughts with regard to this program:

1. Bennett and his Jewish home party have said time and again that the Oslo Accords are dead. The division of the West Bank into areas A, B and C were a part of the implementation of the Oslo Accords. So, if Oslo is dead, then the allocation of areas as a part of its implementation is also irrelevant. How can you hold onto the delineation of an area according to an agreement which you say no longer exists? That is fundamentally dishonest.

2. Areas A and B comprise about maybe 40% of the West Bank and holds about 2.8 million Palestinians. Area C covers about 60% of the land and has about 150 thousand Palestinians living in it. According to the agreement, all areas surrounding these Palestinian population centers are deemed area C. Meaning, that there is no contiguous connection between areas in A and B. They are enclaves that would be surrounded by annexed land by Israel. Even within themselves, areas designated A and B are not contiguous. This effectively gives Israel complete control over the Palestinians in A and B. Furthermore it is nothing more than an unashamed dereliction of responsibility for a people which Israel would control, depriving them of the ability to provide essential services and create a viable, independent and self-sufficient economy. They would be totally dependent on Israel for virtually anything they needed. So, Israel gets the lion’s share of the land and abandons its responsibility for the people it controls. This is nothing less than institutionalized oppression hiding behind a very thin cloak of sham independence for the Palestinians, while cheating them out of 60% of the land.

3. The similarity to the Apartheid era Bantustan policy in South Africa is uncanny. It too, was instituted in order to exert control over the Blacks, while shedding itself of its responsibility for the welfare of the people living in them, while “saving money”.

This program IS Apartheid. There is no other way to describe it. It disenfranchises 95% of the Palestinians, while maintaining control over practically the entire region, and annexing 60% of the land. This is not “peace of the strong”, it is the imposition of a policy of oppression of another people. I can never reconcile that with the values Judaism inculcated in me. this kind of policy could never be tolerated in a democracy.

Israel is not yet an Apartheid state. However, if this plan is enacted, it most certainly would be. This is the reality that awaits us if we do not wake up and resist the systematic erosion of our democracy. RESIST!

About the Author
Paul Mirbach (PEM), made Aliya from South Africa to kibbutz Tuval in 1982 with a garin of Habonim members. Together they built a new kibbutz, transforming rocks and mud into a green oasis in the Gallilee. Paul still lives on Tuval. He calls it his little corner of Paradise.