DAYAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN AND AFRICAN STUDIES
NOVEMBER 10, 1994
(Translated from Hebrew)
I arrived here today from a meeting with King Hussein on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. I believe that Moshe Dayan was one of the few people, at least among those still alive today, who held talks with both King Hussein’s grandfather and King Hussein himself.
I do not want to try and evaluate Moshe Dayan’s place in our history he undoubtedly left his mark on the thinking and norms of behavior of the IDF but it can be said to his credit that he always said what he thought, and when he changed his mind, said that as well.
We are living in a time of changing circumstances, and we must be able to adapt ourselves to these changing circumstances in order to achieve what Israel needs most peace and security without messianic illusions on one hand or defeatism on the other. Hence, the heritage which Moshe Dayan left us is not one of sacred cows, but rather an approach which is prepared to see the changing circumstances, and, if this requires us to alter our stated positions, to do so.
I maintain that the difference between academicians and statemen or politicians is that while the academician can formulate brilliant ideas, and it is important that he do so, the statesman or politician is judged not only by his ideas but also by his ability to achieve results.
The ability to speak is very important, but the statesman is judged on whether he achieves his declared objective. This responsibility entails the ability to define goals; but above all, the statesman must have the political power to realize them. It is not enough to talk. If you do not have the political power which in a democratic system like that in the State of Israel means a parliamentary majority to support your policy, it remains mere words.
We are living in a period which, politically speaking, accorded an opportunity to the positions of the Labour Party which, as a result of the elections to the 13th Knesset, emerged as the largest party, with a majority bloc which prevented the right-wing and religious parties from forming a government together. This was a rare opportunity to implement our policies.
Throughout the world, it was commonly believed that only the conservative right could bring about compromise or breakthroughs. Only Nixon and Kissinger could open the door to Communist China, only De Gaulle could have resolved the Algeria problem, and only Menahem Begin could have achieved a peace treaty with Egypt returning Sinai to the last centimeter, uprooting every Israeli presence and razing Yamit.
Until recently, since the establishment of the state, the Israel Labour Party had not achieved a single peace treaty. As a result of the Knesset elections and our ability to shape a policy that was not dependent on a coalition with any party opposed to our views, we could devise a policy of our own. Perhaps we could have done so 20 years ago, or 17 years ago, but circumstances then were different, or our way of thinking was different.
Therefore, based on the results of the elections to the Knesset and I am pleased that after 15 years during which we were not the largest party, we succeeded in forming a majority bloc against the right and the religious parties we could formulate an approach based on the changed circumstances: a different world following the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the Gulf crisis which clarified the position of the United States as the only remaining superpower and its desire to advance peace.
The Madrid Conference was created not by Israel nor by the Arab states. It was created by the United States under changed circumstances and on the basis of its ability to convince the Arab states and Israel to attend the conference, and this under the Likud government. The framework was shaped by the U.S.
Until we formed the Labour government, the talks were ineffectual, without progress. We examined the situation. I admit that I never attached great value to an international peace conference. No international peace conference had ever produced any result. Our task was to refashion the framework of the Madrid Conference, following which, both under the Likud government and for almost a year under Labour, all the delegations convened for the same period of time in Washington, spoke under the spotlights, and achieved nothing.
We examined the situation and decided that the key to a breakthrough could be in one of two fronts the Palestinians or Syria. I admit that initially I wanted to address the Syrian issue. I found then, as I do today, a very rigid Syrian position. We decided to turn our attention to the Palestinian issue.
It should be recalled that the Jordanian option namely that Jordan would represent the Palestinians as well was buried in 1988, when in July of that year King Hussein severed himself from responsibility over the West Bank and Gaza. Therefore, in 1989, the National Unity Government initiated a change in Israeli policy, viewing the Palestinians as a partner. There was a debate over which Palestinians, but the May 15, 1989 peace initiative of the National Unity Government was a historic turning point in viewing the Palestinians as a partner, separate from Jordan. In March 1990, the National Unity Government was disbanded over the question of what weight should be accorded to the Palestinians and how talks were to be conducted with them.
At the Madrid Conference, the Palestinians were recognized as a partner, within an artificial framework of a Jordanian- Palestinian delegation with two negotiating tracks. Who headed the Palestinian delegation under the previous government? Haider Abdul Shafi a gentleman, a serious man, and an extremist, who together with Arafat established the PLO. Today he is adamantly opposed to the agreement which Arafat reached with us. He was our partner then.
In the course of 1993, we witnessed a process of polarization among the Palestinians polarization between the PLO, or part of the PLO, and the rise of the radical Islamic element: HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad. This is a process which is not confined only to the Palestinians. It is part of the dark wave of Islamic fundamentalism which is sweeping the Arab world, to a greater or lesser degree. An Egyptian professor once told an Israeli: ‘Gamal Abdul Nasser tried to bring us the Soviet outlook, and failed. Sadat and Mubarak tried to bring us the Western world and did not succeed. We are returning to our sources, to our law, to the Koran the Koran in its most fundamentalist interpretation with a readiness to use terror as a means to achieve our goals.’
I have often described this as ‘Khomeinism without Khomeini’, and we see this wave sweeping the Arab world, even in places totally unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as Algeria. To me, at least, it was clear that there was no alternative: either Arafat with part of the PLO, or radical Islam with which, today, and certainly in 1993, there is no basis for dialogue.
Those who wish to hurt those Palestinians who are working with us, speak of talking with HAMAS. This will only undermine those who still want to negotiate with us, with all the differences between us. After careful reflection and considerable uncertainty, we agreed on the Declaration of Principles. This was not a peace treaty, but an agreement on an interim arrangement which at this stage has been implemented only in small part. The difficult part of the interim arrangement not yet a peace treaty, not yet a permanent status is still before us. But the very fact of conciliation or mutual recognition between us and a part of the PLO created a new reality, a different atmosphere, and an opportunity for easier dialogue with Jordan. Because if the Palestinian issue is between the Palestinians and us, we are no longer talking of the Jordanian option as it existed until 1988, but of a bilateral Jordanian-Israeli dialogue.
We created not only a new procedural reality, but a new political reality as well: separate talks with the Palestinians, unrelated to the Syrians, unrelated to the Jordanians, not necessarily taking place in Washington. Afterwards, we created this reality with the Jordanians as well. King Hussein and I decided that this peace treaty would be signed on the border between Israel and Jordan, not someplace far away. Here, because the major negotiating was done here. It is a matter of mutual responsibility of the region, of the states, of the peoples.
The Arab world today can be divided into the following categories: – With two out of four countries, we have peace treaties Egypt, which at the time undoubtedly marked an historic breakthroug between the Arab world and Israel in peace-making; and the second peace treaty, the first since Madrid, with Jordan. – We have a complex peace process with mutual recognition between us and the Palestinians, represented by the PLO. We made a strategic decision to view the PLO as a partner, with all qualifications this entails, as with every Arab partner. – The third group comprises whose states with which we are engaged in negotiations but with which we have not yet reached any agreement, namely Syria and Lebanon. – The fourth group includes the rest of the Arab states, with which we do not share a common border. Here we can further distinguish those states which, in the prevailing atmosphere, tend more or less to seek understandings and arrangements with us, to open offices, exchange visits reflecting a new openness in the Arab world.
But there is a fifth element, which is the enemy of peace. Those which I have listed until now, including Syria and Lebanon, are not the enemies of peace. The enemy of peace today is the wave of radical, fundamentalist, terrorist Islam HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad among the Palestinains, Hizbullah in Lebanon, with Iran as the leader. This wave, in all its forms and manifestations, throughout the Arab and the Muslim world, is the enemy of peace. There is no other enemy. We argue with Syria over the substance of peace, the price of peace. There is no debate over peace itself. Lebanon is a Syrian protectorate. Algerians came to the Casablanca Conference to meet with Israelis.
An enemy of peace is defined not by state, but by radical Islamic terrorism. Ninety percent of Palestinian terrorism against us comes from HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad. Ninety percent of terrorism from Lebanon from Hizbullah.
There are some in Israel today who, out of political motives, indiscriminately link those Palestinians who want to continue the peace process with HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad. They are not the same. True, they come from the same people. We, too, had [Baruch] Goldstein, but he did not represent the Israeli people. We, too, have radical fringes they do not represent the majority. When we are speaking of the Palestinians, the division is much more complex.
This, today, is the enemy of peace. The enemy of peace relies on hardship and religious fanaticism. HAMAS, or radical Islam, uses the same format throughout the world: a mosque, a radical ‘imam’, a kindergarten next to the mosque, a clinic, welfare institutions, a school and underlying all, terror. Today, terrorism and violence directed against us is derived from Islamic fundamentalism. Today, international terrorism against us, and not just against us, originates from Islamic fundamentalism in Buenos Aires, in London, and also in the Twin Towers in Manhatten.
Islamic fundamentalism is today the enemy of the moderate regimes in the Arab world, especially those which have achieved peace treaties with us in Egypt, and in Jordan, where one third of the parliament voted against the peace treaty, all of them members of radical Islamic movements.
The problem facing us is, on the one hand, how to continue the peace process while not allowing the radical Islamic elements to carry out terrorist attacks which, from the point of view of Israel and Israeli public opinion, are the major obstacle to peace; and, on the other, how to move forward with the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Syrians and the Lebanese to resolve the problems, in a way that will prevent Islamic terrorism and help to eliminate the fertile soil on which it grows the poverty and ignorance prevailing among the Palestinians, in Egypt and in Jordan.
Without bilateral coordination, together with a readiness on the part of the international community to help those who have taken the risks inherent in the peace process, we shall not succeed. I will give you a simple example. We signed the peace treaty with Jordan. The most painful problem in Jordan today is the shortage of water. Water from Turkey will not reach the region until there will be peace with Syria and Lebanon. But there are simple things that can be done. Two dams can be built, one on the Yarmouk River and one on the Jordan just along our common border, unrelated to Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. These dams should cost between 100 and 130 million dollars. With all the grandiose plans, not a single dollar has yet been found for these dams. You talk with people in the world about funds to bring an additional 50 million cubic meters of water to thirsty Amman and there is not a single dollar forthcoming. Everybody talks of bank loans. The problem is that if you saddle Jordan or Israel, or any other country, only with loans, without massive aid, this will not produce a breakthrough.
To speak candidly, following the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, we received massive American aid, billions of dollars. Over the past ten years, we received from the U.S. a grant of $30 billion, and Egypt received $24 billion. There is no international body today capable of providing sums on such a scale to the Middle East in the form of a grant in order to advance the peace process. Not satiated Europe, and not America which provided such grants, at least for Egypt and Israel, and erased Jordanian debts.
From the Europeans we hear much talk, but very few results on the scale that the Middle East needs in order to translate the diplomatic peace into a different economic reality, both for the Arab parties to the process and for Israel. I hope that within five to ten years there will be a free trade zone, But the problem is the next two or three years. Will the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians feel that their involvement in peace brought a change to their lives? Will we remove the fertile terrain for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism? Will Israel finally be given the opportunity to develop its exports to Europe?
Today, we sell to America. Israeli exports to America are on a par with our exports to Europe. But whereas trade between Israel and America is almost balanced, we are so eager to trade with Europe, partly the fault of government policy, that the trade deficit in 1993 vis-a-vis Europe was 7 billion dollars, and this year slightly more. Exports to Europe have declined slightly, while imports have increased. For two years we have been negotiating with Europe. There has been some progress in the area of research and development, but not in agricultural quotas, not in other areas of production, despite the free trade agreement. Besides a balanced level of trade, America provides us with an annual grant of $3 billion, as well as partnerships in various joint security projects and still there have been three strikes in Israeli defense industries, including the Israel Aircraft Industries. Only American multinational companies have invested in Israel; not a single European multinational company.
Where do we stand today in the peace process? With Jordan, I believe that at this stage there are no problems. I considered the achievement of a peace treaty with Jordan as being of the highest importance, first of all in order to prove that the Labour Party can achieve peace. Secondly, I knew that on this subject there is a broad national consensus in Israel, as opposed to the differences with regard to the Palestinians. Thirdly, I believe that this helps create a balance, and we shall faithfully honor our commitments to both the Palestinians and the Jordanians.
Balance is needed in order to move forward. The next stage is a very complex one. The settlements in densely populated areas of Judea and Samaria today place a tremendous security burden on the IDF on a day-to-day basis without going into the overall strategic or political question. The number of IDF companies stationed today in Judea and Samaria is twice that in southern Lebanon, if not more. The major burden, both on the regular army and on the reserves, is not Lebanon or the Golan Heights, but first and foremost Judea and Samaria and Gaza, which I hope we will succeed in reducing.
Once we reach an arrangement in Judea and Samaria, the situation will be even more complex. The settlements there were not planned from the point of view of personal security. Here we do not have blocs like Gush Katif or Gush Etzion, or even Ariel or other large settlements. We will not have just two settlements, Netzarim and Kfar Darom, as in Gaza, but between 50 and 70 such settlements. The settlements in the densely populated areas were established without a plan for the security of the residents. I am not speaking about the Jordan Valley, or about the settlements along the Green Line.
I am looking ahead soberly, but with the belief that we are witnessing growing openness in the Arab world. We are continuing the process with the Palestinians, and consolidating the peace with Jordan. I look forward also to greater cooperation with Egypt. After 15 and a half years of peace, or more, Israel is today exporting less to Egypt than to Chile. There is still no economic cooperation. But I believe that now that we have begun to normalize our relations with the Palestinians, with Jordan, and given the new openness in the countries of the Arabian peninsula, this will come. Not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow; not an oil pipe here, and a water pipe there. This will take many more years. But there are simpler things that can be accomplished.
Israel’s greatest economic dividend as a result of the peace process is not business with Arab states, but the new openness to Israel throughout the world; the readiness to view Israel as a safer place for investment, a safer place to come to. Our exports in 1993 increased by 18 percent 80 percent of this increase to the Far East and Eastern Europe, not to existing markets. Exports to the Arab world are still very limited. This will not change tomorrow. But a new approach has been created, a new atmosphere. The question is how well the Israeli business sector will take advantage of the opportunities; how we will succeed in freeing ourselves from the old conceptions and the old legacy of government companies which we, as the Labour movement, created, but whose time has passed. I therefore regard the next year or two as critical. Whatever will not be achieved within this time, I doubt whether we will able to accomplish later. Perhaps yes, but I am doubtful.
We must continue to pursue the course we have followed, without haste. There are those who say: You imposed a closure, Arafat is under pressure, close to collapse. I saw him two days ago. He was not on the verge of collapse. He sees the situation quite soberly, and knows how to maneuver. I propose that we understand that he has his interests, but we, too, have interests. Our central interest is security. His interest and I have no reason not to cooperate with him on this is for us to transfer to him more responsibilities over the Palestinians so long as this does not harm our security. Why should we run their education, or health in the territories? Let them run it with one provision: that it doesn’t harm our security.
When we will begin talks on the permanent status, there will be considerable disagreement between us. Hence, I do not define our agreements with the Palestinians as peace agreements or peace treaties. These are agreements on interim arrangements. This is a major step towards peace, but we have peace treaties only with Egypt and Jordan. What we have is a significant peace process, a process of reconciliation with the Palestinians.
Lebanon is unfortunately not independent. The Lebanese President recently made an interesting statement. When I first heard it, I considered it an important signal. The next day Syrian Foreign Minister a-Shara went to Lebanon and ‘straightened him out’. An announcement was issued to the effect that the statement by the Lebanese President had been taken out of context and misunderstood. It’s too bad, because I believe that, were Lebanon more independent, we could achieve, if not a peace treaty with its present government, at least reasonable security arrangements. We are today paying a high price in Lebanon, in the lives of IDF soldiers, because we do not have such an arrangement with the Lebanese. We hope that this, too, will change, though I am not sure. I believe that in the next eight to nine months we shall know where we stand with Syria. Today the gaps are wide.
There can be no peace without painful compromise. Dayan, Begin and Ezer Weizman proved this. Those who think otherwise are living in a fool’s paradise. Not in Judea and Samaria, and not in peace with an Arab state. Those who say ‘peace with all of the Golan’ are saying ‘no peace’, pure and simple. How much of the Golan, is another question. This is why we have promised that should a peace which is acceptable to the government require a significant and painful withdrawal, we shall bring it before the people in a referendum, in order that the people should decide. But we must understand what the alternative is, should the peace treaty with Syria come to a halt: a political impasse, with all that implies perhaps also with consequences for what has already been achieved.
The Israeli government is determined to pursue this course not with haste, but carefully, particularly with regard to the Palestinians, because of the continuing terrorism. Not for the sake of ‘greater Israel’, but because of terrorism. And I believe that just as we have recorded achievements until now, we shall continue to do so.