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Ha'aretz, December 21, 1997

The lie of security settlements

By Nadav Shragai


There is little difference between the distinction that late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made between political settlements and security settlements, and the distinction that Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai is making between the national interests map and the security interests map.Rabin in his day, and Mordechai today, are essentially saying that there are in fact security interests which must not be touched, and there are national interests, such as settlement, and perhaps water, which may be negotiated.

In essence, this is a debate between the "now-ist" perception represented in the extreme by Peace Now, which grants little weight to immutable values on the one hand, and those who maintain that there are values that supersede changing needs and that security must protect those values, on the other.

Security needs are changing needs. Rabin at one time believed it unthinkable to leave the Golan. But when he concluded that security conditions had changed or would change in the future, he agreed in principle to hand the Golan Heights in their entirety over to the Syrians. Moshe Dayan underwent a similar metamorphosis concerning Sharm el Sheikh. Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin MK (Labor) changed their positions about the Jordan Valley.

Mordechai did not need to undergo any transformation at all. From the start, he was never considered a member of the Land of Israel Faithful camp, and he has not become one today. Politically, Mordechai is a "now-ist." His refusal to accede to requests by Jewish settlement leaders who met with him last week to create a synthesis between the security interests map and the national interests map by turning them into one map, is characteristic of someone who, before the elections, considered joining the Labor party, but in the ended chose Likud.

Mordechai, with his two maps, provides compelling proof that the differences between the Netanyahu government and that of his predecessors on the Palestinian issue are negligible. From an emotional point of view, the basic attitudes of Likud and Labor have indeed not changed. Peres and Beilin believed in a New Middle East, in a peace that would bring security, and in coexistence with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu still scoffs at the devotees of the New Middle East, talks of security that will bring peace (in that order) and find it very difficult to become convinced of the sincerity of the Palestinians. But Netanyahu's ideology begins and ends here, at the basic point of departure.

In actual fact, he has taken on the role of the pragmatist whose policies are dictated mostly by pressures. Mordechai's security interests map, which Netanyahu adopted last week, is the same map (with slight changes) that Uzi Dayan, as head of the planning division of the IDF general staff, prepared in 1993 for the Rabin government. The dozens of settlements left out of that map are more or less the same ones left out of Israeli sovereign territory in Beilin's permanent settlement map.

The fact that Mordechai is differentiating between the two maps confuses the issue. There are no "security" settlements and "non-security" settlements. Settlements never provided security, not even the settlements located within the security interests map. Ma'aleh Adumim, located within the boundaries of the security interests map, and Kiryat Arba and Ofrah located outside the security zone have the same security value � zero.

Settlements in Samaria, just like settlements in the Galilee, can stop neither tanks nor missiles. Settlements were established so that tanks and missiles would protect them. Settlement in the entire Land of Israel, whether in Elon Moreh, the Jordan Valley, the Golan, Jerusalem, the Galilee or the Negev has always been political (or national, as Mordechai puts it), but not a matter of security. Security and peace have always been important national values. But they have been merely the tools to attain the main goal: the resettlement of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

The distinction between political and security settlements initially made by Rabin, and the distinction between the map of security interests and that of national interests drawn by Mordechai undermines the consensual basis of the debate over Israel's borders.

It is not surprising that the Likud, too, has been drawn into it. The Likud long ago swept its ideological principles under the carpet concerning the right of the Jewish people to all of the land of Israel.

Likud ministers and spokespeople have repeatedly used the security argument as an excuse for continuing to hold on to Judea and Samaria. They have turned security, once a means, into an almost absolute value, while the true value � the national one which was once their banner � has been obscured ever since it stopped bringing in votes.

At first this was a tactical move, but with time the ideology dimmed and the tactic became the essence. That is how a man like Mordechai, who with all due respect to his illustrious military past has only the weakest of ideological roots in the Likud, could attain such a senior position.

It all starts and ends with security, as if security is not something that can be had in other parts of the world. Anyone who treats his flag in this fashion will end up by folding it up, and that is exactly what has happened in the Likud. The distinction between a more insignificant national value and a paramount security value comes out of the Beilin-Peres school of thought, and the differences between them and Netanyahu are becoming increasingly blurred



(c) copyright 1998 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved

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