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Friday, January 23, 2004

Security Fence is Israel's Prerogative

According to the Signed Oslo Agreements
by Aaron Lerner, Director of Independent Media Review and Analysis - IMRA
The Oslo "process" documents not only stripped the Palestinians of any claim to any universal rights to engage in violent "resistance to the occupation", the agreements granted Israel the right to erect a separation fence that would also afford security to Israeli communities located beyond the Green Line.
"The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.

. . . the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators."
So wrote Yasser Arafat in his September 9, 1993 letter to Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel.

And it wasn't easy to get Arafat, acting as the representative of the Palestinian people, to sign off on those phrases. Words that forfeited any possible legal claim to the right to continue employing terrorism and other acts of violence in what he and his supporters called a "liberation struggle".

Take a look at the phrase: Arafat didn't just renounce the use of "terrorism" - a word that the Arabs claim cannot ever be applied to their murderous activity - he also renounced the use of "other acts of violence".

Arafat didn't want to sign off on the phrases, but Yitzhak Rabin made it clear that this was his red line.

So there was Yasser Arafat in the summer of 1993: Arafat, essentially an aging has-been exiled to Tunis from Beirut, watching as each month Israeli security forces continued to whittle down their dwindling "wanted list" of terrorists.

No. Contrary to what has become the story line in some quarters, it wasn't the "children of the stones" that raised Arafat from the dung heap of history, it was a group of Israeli ideologues seeking a way to facilitate an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Oslo was Arafat's lifeline. Israel could take it or leave it. So Arafat blinked first.

And it didn't end there.
"Israel shall continue to carry the responsibility for overall security of Israelis and Settlements, for the purpose of safeguarding their internal security and public order, and will have all the powers to take the steps necessary to meet this responsibility." - Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Washington, D.C., September 28, 1995, Article XII Paragraph 1.

"Nothing in this Article shall derogate from Israel's security powers and responsibilities in accordance with this Agreement." - Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Washington, D.C., September 28, 1995. Annex I, Article I Redeployment of Israeli Military Forces and Transfer of Responsibility, Paragraph 7.
The Palestinians agreed - in writing - that Israel "will have all the powers to take the steps necessary" not just to protect Israelis within the Green Line but Israelis in general. Not just to protect Israeli communities within the Green Line but also "Settlements".

It is right there in black and white.

And so today, when Israel has determined that the erection of a separation fence with some sections beyond the Green Line is one of the "steps necessary to meet this responsibility" it is the height of absurdity for the action to be assailed as if the Oslo documents have no standing.

What an irony: the very same bodies and individuals who press Israel the hardest to trade its security for yet more pieces of paper are the first to turn their backs on the pieces of paper that Israel already paid so dearly for.