Israel´s settlement policy could trigger West Bank violence, experts tell Netanyahu (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Amir Oren 06/10/12)
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Mideast experts warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week
that construction policies in the settlements or the burning of a
major mosque by extremists could help trigger a violent uprising in
the West Bank.
The meeting with Netanyahu, which lasted about 90 minutes, took place
The burning of a major mosque by Jewish extremists was the greatest
risk, the experts said. Violence could also be sparked, they said, if
Netanyahu´s plan goes through to build 850 new housing units in the
West Bank, especially if the diplomatic stalemate between Israel and
the Palestinians continues.
The implementation of construction plans without diplomatic progress
could undermine the Palestinian people´s support of President Mahmoud
Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the experts said. It could
also weaken the Palestinian security forces that are keeping a lid on
The experts included professors Shimon Shamir, Emmanuel Sivan, Meir
Litvak, Eyal Zisser and Anat Lapidot. Also present was Brig. Gen.
(res. ) Shalom Harari - a former Arab affairs adviser to IDF Central
Command, the Defense Ministry and the Israeli delegation to the
Madrid and Oslo peace talks.
Also in the group were advisers on Palestinian affairs and experts on
Egypt, Jordan, North Africa, Turkey and Iran, although Iran´s nuclear
program was not discussed. The session was coordinated by the
National Security Council, which sent officials to the meeting.
The experts presented statistics showing that the outbreak of the
first intifada in December 1987 and the second intifada in September
2000 were both preceded by mass violence and violence by individuals,
usually using improvised weapons. Netanyahu was told that such a
trend is apparent now as well.
The session took place while the political scene was in turmoil over
the planned evacuation of the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank
settlement of Beit El.
Netanyahu reportedly did not respond when the experts warned him that
the construction of the 850 apartments he pledged as compensation for
the evacuation of Ulpana could spark violence. He grew tense when
told that the burning of a major mosque could trigger a new
Palestinian uprising, sources said.
In a broad allusion to the 1996 riots sparked by the opening of the
exit to the Western Wall Tunnel near the Temple Mount, one expert
told Netanyahu that the burning of a mosque could become "the rock of
our existence." Netanyahu used this phrase in 1996 to describe the
Netanyahu shared little of his own positions and intentions, but when
aspects of Islam, among them Islamic law, were mentioned, he
mentioned Jewish law in response. "The greatest problem of Judaism is
that its law has not developed for the past 1,000 years," he said.
The dangers of a diplomatic stalemate are expected to be expressed
Tuesday in Washington in a discussion at the Saban Center for Middle
East Policy at the Brookings Institution. President Shimon Peres and
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be on hand.
On Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced President
Barack Obama´s appointment of Adm. Paul Bushong as the new U.S.
security coordinator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Bushong, currently a commander in Guam, as well as the head of the
Pentagon mission to Micronesia, will be responsible for building up
the Palestinian security forces. He will replace air force Lt. Gen.
Michael Moeller, who served in the post for less than two years. (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/10/12)
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