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Everything Is Ready; Just Sign

By: Alex Fishman, Yediot Ahronot

Date: 24.07.2009

If the Americans are ready to push a final-status agreement forward, and it appears that they are, then the plan revealed here for the first time will soon become reality. During recent months senior Israelis and Palestinians drafted a detailed security annex which resolves the relations between the state and the state-to-be. From the withdrawal schedule, through early warning stations, to the G.P.S systems that will be distributed to drivers upon entrance into West Bank roads. This is how sheep and wolves are supposed to live together.


In the Palestinian state, there will be three highways on which Israeli citizens can go without a passport. But this freedom of movement will have one condition: before getting on the road, the Israeli driver will be equipped with a GPS system and a panic button, which he will return when at the end of the trip.
So if you want to ride on Highway 443 from Maccabim Junction to the entrance to Jerusalem – a 21-kilometer drive – at the Maccabim checkpoint you will be directed to a road which  Israelis can use as well. An Israeli driver who drives off the road into Palestinian territory without good reason will be arrested. A vehicle belonging to one of the international forces there will race out after it, and the troops inside will ask him where he is headed and why. What if he doesn’t provide an explanation? He will be returned to Israeli territory and stand trial here. Incidentally, between 40,000 and 70,000 cars currently travel on this road every day. The same regulation will apply on Highway 1 between Maale Adumim and Highway 90 in the Jordan Valley and on the road between Ein Gedi and Mehola, where there will also be two rest stops for Israeli drivers.
This scenario, which is being publicized here for the first time, is part of a paper that was drafted approximately two months ago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will see it officially only this week, as will National Security Adviser James Jones. But unofficially, the entire document was taken apart and examined for several weeks at the Pentagon, the White House and the foreign ministries of France, Egypt, Great Britain and Jordan.
This paper – the security appendix to the Geneva agreement – presents in detail the security aspects of the final status arrangement. Only now, six years after the Initiative was launched, has the writing of the appendices, which go into great detail and turn its principles into practical measures, been completed. Now, for all practical purposes, it also receives real significance. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel stated that the Geneva Initiative is the basis for the final status arrangement. When President Obama declares that he intends to complete the final status arrangement in the Middle East within two years, the security appendix presented here is certainly the basis.
Status Quo
The meticulous clauses go into the smallest possible detail. Everything is here already. Thus, for example, if the Israelis allow free movement on the three roads under limiting conditions, then the Palestinians will not be able to enter Israel through them. They will have to do that through the permanent border crossings, present a passport and undergo a customs inspection. An Israeli who wishes to go through Palestinian territory only in order to cross it will go via the same route.
For example, the border crossing in the Jerusalem region will be located right at the French Hill junction. A Palestinian will reach the border on Highway 60. An Israeli who arrives at the same point today from Highway 443 sees, near the intersection on his left, a fallow field. This is where the Palestinian terminal is to be constructed. An underground passage will bring the Palestinian to the Israeli terminal, which will be located on the right side of the road, at the intersection itself. Here, he will be able to take the light rail, which is under construction, into the city.
The entrances to the Old City will be one-way, and Israelis and Palestinians alike will be able to enter without passports. Once inside, they will encounter international forces there too, which will have much broader powers in order to suppress riots, as well as the power to arrest. A visitor who goes up onto the Temple Mount will encounter an international force of another kind, whose purpose will be not only to supervise public order but also to enforce the status quo regarding, for example, archaeological excavations.
The security annex, which transforms the concept of a non-militarized Palestinian state to something practical, has been drafted by Israelis and Palestinians for the past year and a half. Before that, there was no political desire, on either side, to talk about the details of the Geneva agreement. Today, too, at issue is a paper written by “unofficial” representatives.
Samih el-Abed, a former minister and, until several months ago, the director of the Palestinian negotiating team regarding borders, was be the leader of the Palestinian team. Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO’s executive committee and a close associate of Mahmoud Abbas, was closely involved in all phases of its preparation. The British expert, Brigadier General (ret.) John Deverell, who served in the region until recently as part of the American-British-Canadian force to provide security assistance to the Palestinians, was also brought onto the team. President Mahmoud Abbas gave his approval at each stage of the discussions.
The Israeli team was led by Brig. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Brom, the former director of the strategic planning department of the I.D.F’s Planning Division, the deputy national security adviser, a participant in all the negotiations with Arab states, and today a high-ranking researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies. Alongside him were Brig. Gen. (res.) Ilan Paz and Brig. Gen. (res.) Dov Zedaka, each of whom is a former director of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria; Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, who was the director of the peace administration during Barak’s term as Prime Minister, and Boaz Karni, chairman of the board of the Geneva Initiative.
It is important to explain that this is the only detailed security document in existence to which the Palestinians have agreed. Although the document is not binding upon the Israeli government in any way, the day is not far off when the government will need to deal with it. The document is what there is. It is the closest thing to a practical and actual plan that was drafted by agreement by the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is no coincidence that the Palestinian battalions are undergoing training in accordance with the tasks given to them in this “non-binding” document: keeping law and order, tasks in intelligence, border control, the prevention of terrorism and the provision of emergency services to the civilian population.
“The first component of the document is the principle of non-militarization,” explains Brig. Gen. Brom. “Here we had to try to square the circle. On the one hand, to allow the PA to strengthen a force that would be effective enough to perform their internal security missions, and on the other to make sure that these troops would not be able to constitute a conventional military threat to Israel. In general, our point of departure was that under no circumstances can Israel’s security situation after the final status arrangement takes effect be worse off than before or irreversible.”
The document intentionally does not state the size of the Palestinian force or the number of personal weapons at its disposal. The authors reached the conclusion from the outset that in places where there was no possibility of having effective supervision and where the restrictions had no real significance in terms of security, nothing would be written down.
On the other hand, the document contains precise details of what the Palestinians may not possess: tanks, rockets, guided missiles, anti-aircraft or anti-ship weapons, artillery of any kind, mortar shells, mines, machine guns larger than 7.62 caliber, laser weapons or any other kind of radiation weapons, helicopter gunships, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, armed sailing vessels (except for light vessels up to 25 tons, armed with light weapons) and weapons of mass destruction. The Palestinian troops will possess 400 light armored vehicles that will carry only permitted kinds of arms: light weapons and non-lethal equipment to disperse demonstrations.
During the negotiations, the Palestinians claimed that they required RPG launchers, explosives and grenades for fighting terrorists. After all, the other side possessed such weapons. The agreement was that the grenades, explosives and armor-penetrating weapons which were not anti-tank rockets would be in the possession of the multi-national force. Every time the Palestinians wished to fight a terror attack, they would simply come to request those weapons from the members of the multi-national force.
The appendix also stipulates that the only troops that would be permitted to carry weapons in the non-militarized Palestinian state would be the police, the naval police, the national security troops, the internal security organization, the Border Police and the intelligence organizations. All the rest of the organizations who possess weapons today would be disarmed.
But the planned non-militarized state also poses dilemmas on the Israeli side. “Except for Costa Rica, there is no non-militarized state in the world,” says Col. (res.) Arieli. “There are demilitarized regions – Sinai, for example – but no one knows how a non-militarized state behaves. Another problem is that we and the Palestinians have no natural security border. The border is based on the location of the large settlements. The Green Line of 1967 was 313 kilometers long. The current line along the fence is approximately 800 kilometers long. The Geneva agreement brings it to 600 kilometers, but it is still a long, curving and unnatural line. Besides, we also have bad experience with the Palestinians regarding their ability to enforce decisions, as compared with Egypt and Jordan.”
In order to lower the level of suspicion of both sides and to create cooperation, it was necessary to bring in a third security official as a balance. General Jim Jones, who was a member of President Bush’s delegation to the region approximately a year and a half ago, once offered to bring in NATO troops. The solution suggested in the Geneva Initiative appendix is not necessarily NATO troops, but rather an armed multi-national force made up of four battalions, approximately three thousand armed combat soldiers, from countries to be agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians. At least one of the battalions would come from an Arab or Muslim country (Turkey or Egypt, for example). The intention is that all the battalions would come from countries whose very presence in the region could deter any outside elements that might wish to sabotage the agreement as well as each of the sides should they wish to outsmart.
One of the Israeli horror scenarios is a revolution in Jordan and the entrance of two Jordanian divisions into the West Bank. While the multi-national force is not built to cope with armed divisions, anyone who sends such troops will have to take into account that he could find himself in conflict with the United States, France, Russia, Italy or any other country whose soldiers serve on the multi-national force.
In order to lower Israeli fears of unexpected developments in the West Bank – an internal revolution, for example – the Palestinians agreed, after many disagreements, that Israel would keep an infantry battalion in the Jordan Valley. The battalion, which would be located at the Ma’ale Ephraim base, would include 800 combat soldiers, 60 APCs, 50 anti-tank launchers and 100 shoulder-borne anti-tank launchers. The battalion would not leave the base unless it was ordered to do so by the multi-national force and accompanied by its members. It appears that the Israeli need for this battalion has more to do with politics, psychology and public relations than real operational need. The battalion would remain in the Jordan Valley for 36 months after the signing of the agreement, after which the need for it would be re-examined.
Three multi-national battalions would be deployed along the Jordan Valley opposite Jordan, and one battalion would be deployed along the Philadelphi Road opposite Egypt, in Gaza. This would be done in order to prevent infiltrations, economic and security smuggling and similar incidents. Moreover, it would deal with the Israeli demand for a buffer zone between the Palestinian state and the Hashemite Kingdom. The security fence in the Jordan Valley would remain as it is for five years, and a similar fence would be constructed along the Egyptian border. For their part, the Palestinians are obligated to deploy a significant force along the borders in order to prevent the smuggling of personnel or equipment.
Flying Like the Jordanians
Here is a hypothetical but possible, scenario: a Kassam rocket is launched from Kalkilya at Kfar Saba.
According to the security appendix, the Palestinian battalion in Kalkilya is supposed to deal with rocket launchers. And what if that doesn’t happen? Then the observer force on the multi-national force comes into play and obligates the Palestinians to do their job. And if that doesn’t help, the multi-national force—on which there are no ammunition restrictions—will handle matters itself. Israel, in any case, is forbidden to pursue them into Palestinian territory.
Above the multi-national force will be a joint committee of Israel and the Palestinians. A joint operation room for the three parties will be established in the Kishle in the Old City. High-ranking military security committees of Israelis and Palestinians will also meet regularly.
Another cornerstone in the appendix is an Israeli presence in the non-militarized Palestinian state by means of two early warning stations, in Baal Hatzor and Mt. Eval. This refers, it should be noted, to the traditional Israeli demand throughout the years of negotiations, and the stations will be autonomous Israeli areas. There will be 150 professional soldiers in Baal Hatzor and another 50 soldiers for security, and there will be another 100 soldiers on Mt. Eval, 50 of each kind. In the station itself there will a liaison officer from the multi-national force and a Palestinian liaison officer, and around each facility will be a company of the force. The early warning stations agreement is for ten years, but the subject of extending its activity can be reopened five years after the signing.
The Israel Air Force will be able to carry out training flights over the West Bank, except on Fridays and on Muslim and Christian holidays. Flights at an altitude of less than 8,000 feet and crossing civilian air routes will be forbidden. The Palestinians will have the right to use civilian air routes over Israel that are used by the Jordanian airline. This agreement too can be reopened for evaluation after ten years.
Israeli involvement at the border crossings between the Palestinian state and Egypt and Jordan, according to the appendix, will continue. At the passenger terminals at the Allenby Bridge crossing, at Adam and Rafah, there will be a physical Israeli presence for 30 months after the agreement is signed, but it will not be perceptible to the passengers. Afterwards, for another two years, the Israeli presence will not be by means of people, but by means of closed circuit televisions. A similar arrangement will also be in force at the cargo terminal, but there camera surveillance will last for another year. The agreement not only applies to the three crossings, but to every place that in the future is defined as an international crossing. The airport in Dahaniya, for example, if it opens.
The crossings agreement includes specific detail—as does the entire agreement—down to the level of the time period in which every complaint will be handled. If, for example, Israel is displeased about something at the cargo terminal, it will have the option of stopping its work until the international inspector clarifies the matter. This inspector will have to provide a solution to the Israeli complaint within 12 hours.
Tight Timetable
The security appendix details the cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian law enforcement authorities and between the intelligence agencies of both sides. The document does not relate to the Gaza Strip as a separate entity, despite the Hamas regime and the obvious difficulty that it poses to this agreement. The presupposition of the authors is that the political situation in Gaza will change. “It’s definitely possible to think of a scenario in which the agreement is implemented first only in the West Bank, and that in the future, when political conditions change, in Gaza too,” admits Brig. Gen. (res.) Brom.
The timetable for the implementation of the agreement appears at the beginning of the security appendix. It too, as expected, gets into the minute details of each stage. All in all, the agreement is supposed to be implemented in full within 30 months.
Three months before signing the agreement, five joint committees of Israel, the Palestinians and the multi-national force should already be in place and working, with the goal of supervising implementation. Among others, there will be a committee whose purpose is to fight terror.
Half a year after signing the agreement: the multi-national force deploys its supreme command post.
Within nine months of the signing: marking the border between the two states is completed, the first forces of the multi-national force are deployed, the arrangements are completed for the early warning stations, the first stage of the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank is completed, a joint situation room is set up in the Kishle, the arrangement for the Jewish roads is completed, the arrangements for entering and exiting the Old City are completed.
Within 20 months after the signing: the second stage of the Israeli withdrawal up to the separation fence takes place. The multi-national force deploys in its entirety, including the Israeli battalion in Ma’ale Ephraim.
Thirty months later: both sides reach the permanent borders—as determined in the Geneva Initiative launched in 2003—which include land swaps. The safe passage route between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is inaugurated. The border crossings between Israel and the Palestinian state open.
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