The Ayalon(-Nusseibeh) Plan and more fun concessions (better known as “generous offers”)
I was not shocked – unlike many people – when I read Ami Ayalon’s latest statement (“I killed many Arabs, probably more than Hamas fighters killed Jews, and more than anybody else, but all in order to secure Israeli lives”). Now first of all, that statement is inconsistent and exposes Ayalon’s inherent racism. Take for example the latter’s indirect insinuation that he considers Jews and ONLY Jews to be Israelis. What else would explain the fact that he lumps all Arabs on one side, despite the fact that many Israelis of Arab descent have died in suicide bombings? Surely had he considered Arabs in Israel to be Israelis he would have referred to the Arabs he has killed as Palestinians, and if he has killed Arabs in Israel, Israeli-Arabs, and so on and so forth. But no, he does not. He talks about the conflict in terms of killing Arabs / saving Israeli (i.e. Jewish) lives.
Furthermore, Ayalon seems to be making the argument that it’s legitimate and morally justifiable to kill “many Arabs” to “secure Israeli lives”. Emphasis on secure, because secure and save are two different words. For example, many things fall under “security”, including the need to “feel secure”. In fact, many a mass-murder has been perpetrated by Israel in the name of “giving Israelis (sic) a sense of security”. Now let us give Ayalon the benefit of the doubt and assume that his justification holds. The assumption that the justification holds from his perspective as an Israeli ipso facto gives credence to the Palestinian perspective as well. The Palestinian perspective would then be expressed as follows: “I killed many Jews, probably more than IDF fighters killed Palestinians, and more than anybody else, but all in order to secure Palestinian lives”. Surely Israelis – and Ayalon himself – would object to such a statement. So what makes the Israeli statement any better?
The bottom line is, I think, that there is an irreconcilable clash between the two narratives. As such, any “peace settlement” enhanced along those lines is no solution at all. Indeed, the very logic of statehood and republican sovereignty is an application of this irreconcilable clash between states and the fervently nationalistic (racist and exclusivist) narratives and propaganda they “educate” their populations with. The nationalist project and peace are mutually exclusive, as history has shown and contemporary nationalist leaders are – unintentionally, and much to their chagrin – proving. Therefore, my argument is that a state solution – let alone a two-state solution – is problematic, if not at the time of the founding of the state, then later on (but ultimately).
Moving on, I will briefly talk about the Ayalon-Nusseibeh plan, the text of which can be found at bitterlemons-international (or if you doubt the partiality of that source, the Jewish Virtual Library). Take a look at the first article: “Both sides will declare that Palestine is the only state of the Palestinian people and Israel is the only state of the Jewish people.” This of course is a clear reference to the Arab minority in Israel, which is considered a “demographic threat” by the Israelis. There is actually a reference to “demographic considerations” in article 2 (bullet #1). “Demographic considerations” means that some of the territory that has a significant / concentrated Arab population would be “exchanged” for territories settled by Jews – yes, the ones that have been illegally (I am adhering here to international standards of judgement, i.e. 1967) expropriated and built on. Compare this to the following scenario: I steal $1000 from someone, then I go to him/her and say, “hey, I am willing to exchange the $1000 with something equal in value”. The first action would be considered theft. The second would be considered… a concession / compromise. Of course.
The same bullet talks about “vital needs” and conveniently ignores water issues. This is where the entire plan starts getting very vague – seemingly deliberately so. The Palestinian aspect of the plan seems to be more of an attempt to “reassure” the Palestinians that a Gaza+West Bank state would be “viable” (hence the generous land offer [sic] for connecting the two). Bullet #3 under article 2 says: “After establishment of the agreed borders, no settlers will remain in the Palestinian State.” Again, another vague statement. Will the settlers naturally be outside the borders of the Palestinian State? If so, why does the plan not address the fate of the Israeli-Arab population of the “exchanged” lands? If not, why is it that the settlers will leave only AFTER the borders are established (that would also open the way for Israeli official claims of ethnic cleansing and demands for compensation for “refugees” under the vague terms of this agreement)? Furthermore, what about the wishes of the Israeli-Arabs (whose citizenship will be taken away from them, which is not the case for the Jewish settlers who will not be within the borders of the Palestinian state under this plan)?
Article 4 says: “Recognizing the suffering and the plight of the Palestinian refugees, the international community, Israel, and the Palestinian State will initiate and contribute to an international fund to compensate them.”
This is another attempt to sweep the refugee problem under the carpet and consider the room “clean”. A number of criticisms: 1) The international community is not responsible for the problem created by Israel and its imperialist allies (Britain and USA); 2) What is the logic behind having the Palestinian state contribute to the international fund for the compensation of Palestinian refugees, for which it was not responsible, for the simple reason that it did not even exist at the time of the displacement and dispossession of the Palestinians first in 1948 then in 1967 (by the way, here I am assuming – since many Israelis will insist that I do – that had a Palestinian state existed it would have contributed [negatively], at least partially, to the suffering of the Palestinians)?? 3) Bullet #2 under article 4 also legitimizes the Israeli hand-washing off the “refugees willing to remain in their present country of residence, or who wish to immigrate to third-party countries.” Instead of Israel taking full responsibility for the compensation of these refugees (since when is compensation tied to “returning” to the territory of the Palestinian state? i.e. why shouldn’t those who don’t want to return be entitled to the same compensation, given that they are not returning to their original lands and property, which are now in Israel?) a shameless suggestion is made that “[t]he international community … offer to compensate toward bettering the lot” of these refugees.
It gets even better. Article 5: “The Palestinian State will be demilitarized and the international community will guarantee its security and independence.” A classic. Well I don’t think that I need to spend much time on this point. But since we are expected to enthusiastically adopt this ingenious article, let me rest my case (for the demilitarization – and indeed nuclear disarmament – of Israel) by simply pointing to two years: 1956 and 1967. And as for international guarantees, what guarantees? Such as the one by which the whole world sat and watched while Phalangists were massacring Palestinians (under the watchful eyes – and flares to light the skies, for more effective “purification” – of the Israelis)?
Article 6 concludes that if the first 5 articles are implemented, the conflict will end. No talk about the Israeli military contribution to the conflict (of course not).
Labour toilet paper, standard Israeli edition. Help yourself.