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Six Past Mossad Directors Call for Diplomacy with the Palestinians

After committing crimes against humanity, they call for Diplomacy with Palestinians

In 2003, four former heads of Israel’s secret counter-terrorism service, Shin-Bet, were interviewed by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

Their criticism of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s inaction to advance a diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict caused an uproar and deeply influenced Sharon.

The interview later triggered the award-winning documentary film The Gatekeepers, featuring six past Shin-Bet directors who criticized the political status-quo.

Now, Yedioth Ahronoth is publishing a similar interview with all surviving six past directors of Israel’s spying agency, Mossad:  Zvi Zamir (93), Nahum Admoni (88), Shabtai Shavit (78), Danny Yatom (73), Efraim Halevy (83) and Tamir Pardo (65).

Following are excerpts from the March 30th interview with the six:

Yatom: “We’re on a very steep slope. There are serious things that are wrong here. People around the prime minister and people in key positions are being questioned about public corruption, and all of that is because they’ve put their own interests before the state’s interests. I’m worried by the attacks on the gatekeepers and the inaction in the diplomatic realm [i.e. the peace process with the Palestinians], which is leading us to a bi-national state, which is the end of the Jewish and democratic state. (In a sense, Yatom refuse an “independent” Palestinian State. And what kind of diplomatic negotiation is he hopping to achieve?)

“As a Mossad director, I think it is a mistake for us only to address the period in which we served. In the context of the job we saw a whole lot of things: we saw prime ministers, we saw the decision-making processes in governments. We saw wars. We saw times of peace. And more than many others, we worked closely with the prime minister and with the top state officials. If we don’t say what we have to say, I think that we will be sinning against ourselves.(And how often did they sin and kept silent?)

Pardo: “The fact that between the sea and the Jordan there is a nearly identical number of Jews and non-Jews. The central problem from 1967 until today is that Israel, across the entire breadth of its political establishment, hasn’t decided what country it wants to be. We are the only country in the world that hasn’t defined for itself what its borders are. All of the governments have fled from coping with the issue.

Yatom: “The Rabin government didn’t flee from that. He was assassinated.”

Halevy: “Danny is right. 1993 was the only year in the history of the country in which three tracks of peace negotiations were held simultaneously—with the Palestinians, with the Syrians and with the Jordanians.”

Pardo: “But no prime minister ever declared which borders he hoped to have for the state.”

Yatom: “Barak did define. He was willing to leave the Golan Heights and more or less [to withdraw] to the 1967 lines.

Pardo: Excuse me. I insist on my opinion. The governments of Israel didn’t do that. Olmert had a vision and so did Sharon and so did Rabin. Each one went the single mile that he chose to walk—but none of them said: these are the country’s borders. If the State of Israel doesn’t decide what it wants, in the end there will be a single state between the sea and the Jordan. That is the end of the Zionist vision.” (And what is Zionist vision? Colonial occupation? Mandated power to rule and control Palestinians?)

Yatom: “That’s a country that will deteriorate into either an apartheid state  or a non-Jewish state, if we continue to rule the territories. I see that as an existential danger. A state of that kind isn’t the state that I fought for. There are some people who will say that we’ve done everything and that there isn’t a partner, but that isn’t true. There is a partner. Like it or not, the Palestinians and the people who represent them are the partner we need to engage with.” (Actually, the existence of Israel is an existential threat, Not only to Palestinians, but to Lebanese, Syrians and Jordanians. Countless pre-emptive (offensive) wars were initiated by Israel for no serious reasons)

Halevy: “We’re the dominant [party] and in order to reach any sort of arrangement we have to first of all treat the other side with some degree of equality. Beyond that, we needn’t balk at speaking with Hamas. Hamas was established here 31 years ago. We used everything we have against it, and they still exist. So we can’t ignore that and make do with saying, ‘they’re terrorists.’ Hamas also made a certain change to its charter, which recognizes the 1967 lines as the temporary borders of the state. That’s a big change.”

Question: How critical is the issue of peace to Israel’s existence?

Zamir: “It’s critical. Ultimately, we’re going to have to find a formula that can serve as a basis for a discussion with the Palestinians.”

Pardo: “The State of Israel needs peace in order to exist over time.”

Halevy: “I’ll put it in even starker terms: without peace, the survival of the State of Israel, its existence, are in question.”

Yatom: “My assessment is that if Rabin hadn’t been assassinated we would long ago have had peace with the Palestinians, and perhaps also with the Syrians. As the strongest country in the Middle East we need to take calculated risks and to get back onto the track of dialogue.” (All the military updated weapons from the western State count weakly against the determination of the people to confront occupation and apartheid laws and behaviors)

Shavit: “A peace that is based on the idea of two states is a more important interest of the Jews than of the Palestinians. The situation we’re in now is the result of our insistence not to achieve peace.”

Question: Our insistence?

It’s a lie that there isn’t a partner. Neither we nor the Palestinians are going to make peace voluntarily, of our own will. In this situation, someone is going to come from above who is big and strong and influential and, if need be, will impose that.” (Not with the Trump administration and USA congress that voted on Jerusalem as Capital of Israel)

Question: So you’re saying that Israel needs to opt for an arrangement even if it contains elements that are dictated from above, by the Americans or the Saudi? (That’s funny. Does this means that the US is not funding enough Israel? $144 bn in the last 4 decades?)

“Yes. Because when it comes to the question of what we get in return, if we opt for the two-state solution on the basis of the Arab League’s proposal, which was originally written by the Saudis, the biggest dividend that we’re going to receive is a declaration of the end of the conflict with all 22 Arab League states and the establishment of diplomatic relations with them and with another 30 Muslim countries around the world.

If tomorrow 50 Muslim countries in the world make peace with Israel and have diplomatic and economic relations with it, we’ll get to see all of the countries that are on our scale—let’s say, all the Scandinavian countries and Holland and Switzerland—see our back [i.e. rank behind us].

Instead of that, what are we preoccupied with nowadays? When is the next time that we’re going into Gaza, and when is the next time we’re going into Lebanon? We need to break that cycle already.

Why are we living here? To have our grandchildren continue to fight wars? What is this insanity in which territory, land, is more important that human life?”

Pardo: “I think that within the borders of the country there can’t be first and second-class citizens. Anyone who thinks that over time it’s going to be possible to maintain two classes of population, those with rights and those without rights, is creating a problem for our grandchildren that they won’t be able to cope with, and it could very well be that they will simply leave.”

Note: The strategic and political climate during the Syrian multinational involvement destroyed any peaceful horizon. The New Syria, Iraq, Lebanon (Hezbollah), and Palestinians have no confidence in Israel wanting to engage in any meaningful peace process. Even the concept that Israel needs peace is wrong: Israel weapon industry does Not favor any long-term peace conditions in the region). Currently, the wars will be against the people and no longer with regimes.

Keep those cameras rolling:  Viral video of an Israeli soldier trying to arrest a 12-year-old Palestinian

You have probably watched the viral video of the Palestinian women snatching a Palestinian child from the hands of an Israeli soldier, as he was trying to arrest the boy for rock-throwing.

If you missed it, no worries: as long as Israel’s occupation of the West Bank continues, you will have many more opportunities to watch similarly disturbing images.

Because as long as the occupation continues, and combat soldiers are sent to police an occupied hostile civilian population, this ugliness is unavoidable.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“The children-chasing soldiers of the late 1980s now have children of their own, who today are chasing the kids of the Palestinians who threw rocks at their parents.

And so it goes.

Generations of occupiers and occupied, chasing each other on the same hills, throwing the same rocks, engaged in the same embrace of occupation, enmity and revenge.”

The viral video of an Israeli soldier trying to arrest a 12-year-old with his arm in a cast is an example of how technology is driving a change of public opinion|By Ori Nir

There’s nothing new about it. Journalists who covered the West Bank for 30 years saw these sights numerous times.

I recently stumbled upon a story that I wrote almost 30 years ago, describing the aftermath of a clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian teens at a refugee camp near Ramallah.

It happened about two months into the first intifada.

At the end of the demonstration, soldiers dragged toward a bus several children who they had captured during the confrontation. Women gathered and tried to pull the children away from the soldiers. They failed.

As the bus left the scene, a couple of tear gas grenades were tossed from the window, sending the women back to their homes.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Palestinian women quarrelling with Israeli soldiers, trying to prevent their sons or brothers from being arrested.

There were even times when proud Palestinian teens being detained by the IDF would urge their moms to pull back so as not to be embarrassed before their peers.

From an Israeli military perspective, these scenes were as pathetic then as they are now.

The soldiers, annoyed and humiliated by rock-throwers but weighed down by military gear, would play cat-and-mouse with the kids.

They were typically able to catch only the slower ones, those who were either overweight or injured, such as the bandaged tween seen in the recent video.

The terrified kids sometimes wet their pants on their way to the military jeep. And the soldiers, often members of select combat units, complained that instead of fighting enemy armies, they had been reduced to chasing children and smacking them with sticks.

The children-chasing soldiers of the late 1980s now have children of their own, who today are chasing the kids of the Palestinians who threw rocks at their parents.

And so it goes. Generations of occupiers and occupied, chasing each other on the same hills, throwing the same rocks, engaged in the same embrace of occupation, enmity and revenge.

Still, there are some noticeable changes in this sickening dynamic.

One is that Palestinians today are much bolder. While Palestinian women have been pulling their loved ones away from Israeli soldiers for a couple of generations, I can’t remember the kind of fearlessness that we have seen in recent videos, images of Palestinian men and women having fist-fights with armed Israeli soldiers.

Where does this new courage come from?

It may in part be that Palestinians are in such despair, as the occupation is about to turn 50 and with no end in sight, that they increasingly feel they have nothing left to lose.

Without a doubt, though, what is radically different today is the ubiquity of cameras. And this is where I find hope.

Back in the 1980s, cameras were scarce in the West Bank. Video cameras were almost non-existent. Israeli soldiers knew that they could almost always get away with actions that were either illegal, embarrassing or both.

Last Friday’s “incident” in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh went viral thanks to multiple cameras and smartphones that focused on the soldier, on the child and on the Palestinian women.

The proliferation of lenses, of cameras constantly rolling, is the big difference between now and then. So keep those cameras rolling.

Keep sharing on Facebook and Twitter to remind us all – Israelis, their friends overseas, and the world at large – how devastatingly destructive the occupation is for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

By doing so, you are taking part in what may be the best hope for change.

Palestinian girl biting an Israeli soldier trying to release her brother from the hand of the soldier in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

The girl bites the soldier, trying to release her brother. Photograph: Mohannad Darabee/Demotix/Corbis

Note: This is the same fearless blond girl, now 14, who brandished her fist to the Israeli soldier, a couple of years ago, who was trying to arrest her younger brother.





February 2023

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