ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | The Next Round of Violence 24.4.05

The Next Round of Violence

24 April 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Diplomats talk, politicians act, conferences and declarations are made and it all makes headlines. Except for an occasional terror attempt or shelling in Gush Katif in Gaza or across the border in Sderot one would think all is quiet and the Palestinians led by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are heading down the road to peace. But if one wants the real story, speaking with the guys in the field is highly recommended, and that does not mean generals. Take your enlisted senior NCOs (A first sergeant for instance) fighting in a reconnaissance anti-terror unit. At the age of 21 and with 1.5 – 2 years of field experience he has a nose for what is going on, especially after having participated in scores of operations resulting kin several fire fights and in over 150 arrests of terror suspects. Diplomacy, presidential statements and Sharon's latest interview do not interest him.

"Yes," he says, "it's been quiet, but it's all a veneer. Don't listen to the politicians or that media nonsense being fed to the public, this is heading towards an explosion. We cannot make arrests for fear of violating an unofficial cease-fire. Remember, the Palestinians interpret this as a "hudna" or Islamic cease-fire designed to 'reload' and not to make peace. We had a full court press … they were off balance and losing. Now they're reorganizing, building more bomber belts and training new potential terrorists. And Abu Mazen makes it very clear, there will not be a Palestinian civil war, so who will disarm the terrorists? And those who are supposedly disarmed he brings into the Palestinian security forces. Sounds like a joke but it is not funny."

"So when do you think it will blow up?" I asked. "Can't tell you," he said, "but it won't take long. Abu Mazen has no control and he is not disarming anyone; it's just a matter of time before his authority is challenged. You can't have that many weapons and explosives in terrorist hands and expect them not to be used. This may sound quite negative, but remember it's our job to be paranoid, because we are the ones who have to clean up the mess. But seriously you 'civilians' (the inference being that we are reservists for a month or so a year) don't know this?"

"And the reason?" I insist.

"What reason? Who needs a reason? I don't deal in political garbage, that's your problem. In any case, who cares? Pick any reason you want."

Okay, so the kid is not destined to be a political analyst, but he made his point. So did veteran columnist Ben Dror Yemini writing in Ma'ariv on April 14 when he reviewed refugee issues. There he discussed the population exchange of tens of millions between Turks and Greeks in the 1920s, the Indians and Pakistanis in the aftermath the 1947 war, the Germans who returned to Deutschland from eastern Europe and especially Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia after WWII and the emerging arrangement in Cyprus (1974 Turkish invasion and division of the island) whereby a returning refugee is anyone 65 or older. In the last example northern Cyprus will retain a vast Turkish/Moslem majority.

Only the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is intractable. Only here are there supposedly "inalienable rights" for refugees spanning generations with the demand to return to Israel proper and not only to the Palestinian state in the making. Never mind that UN Resolution 194 does not insist on refugee return, but allows alternatives for compensation. There were about 700,000 Palestinians Arabs who left their homes, many of them willingly, either because they were told to by the Arab leadership or wanted to get out of the way of the upcoming war. Others fought to destroy the Jewish state – do they and their descendents have inalienable rights? And yes, some were forced out by the Israeli army in the middle of a war when considered a security threat.

Israel's Arabic speaking population is 18 -19% of the population today. Let us recall that no Jews remained in the West Bank and Gaza after the 1948 War and that includes the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. The 750,000 Jews who left the Moslem\Arab world came to Israel as refugees. Some left willingly but most were forced out. In short, it was a refugee population exchange.

Most interestingly, in Greece, the region of Thrace is predominately Moslem, but there is no Greek population to speak of in Turkey. India has 150 million Moslems but virtually no Hindus live in Pakistan. In the entire Arab world there are less than 10,000 Jews remaining (most living in Morocco), while over a million Arabs live in Israel. And now there is Cyprus where one should not expect to see Greeks on the northern side of the island even after conflict resolution. Sound lopsided?

So back to Abu Mazen and the Palestinians. All through Camp David 2000 he was insistent more than any other negotiator except maybe Arafat himself that all the refugees must be allowed back into Israel. In his campaign for the presidency this January he highlighted the refugee issue and the "right of return". He was, however, against the Arafat initiated violence. But it is a contradiction to demand the "right of return" but not be willing to use violence to attain the sought after objective.

Every armed Palestinian group understands this fully. Refusal by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to disarm the terror organizations will only lead to violence. The most convincing explanation will be Israel's refusal to recognize the "right of return", even if Abbas is only using the demand for posturing before negotiations or as a public relations ploy. The Palestinian refugees always believed they would return, and rightfully so, since no one ever told them otherwise.

The Palestinians already had their "Al-Aksa intifada" engineered by Yasser Arafat 4.5 years ago. No one should be surprised when the demand for "the right of return" is used as the springboard for the next round of violence against Israel, unless Abu Mazen and the PA decide on a two state solution and enforce their will against the terror organizations.

No bloody likely.