Is Benjamin Netanyahu's Coalition Itching for Fight With Palestinians?

Military Brass at Odds WIth Government Over Security

Misguided: Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline policies have military brass worried. They fear Israel is only boosting hardliners among the Palestinians and undercutting their best possible partners for peace.
getty images
Misguided: Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline policies have military brass worried. They fear Israel is only boosting hardliners among the Palestinians and undercutting their best possible partners for peace.

By J.J. Goldberg

Published April 28, 2013, issue of May 03, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Coming from anyone else, all this might just be interesting speculation. But not from Fishman. His admirers, including yours truly, consider him a top analyst with extraordinary intelligence sources. His critics say he’s little more than a mouthpiece for Military Intelligence. Either way, his analysis of Yaalon’s new Gaza policy must be seen as a distress signal — or a shot across the bow — by the intelligence community.

A second blow came in an April 18 article (a truncated English version appeared April 19) by Palestinian affairs correspondent Elior Levy of Ynet, Yediot’s stand-alone website. Levy reported that “the defense establishment” had given the government a list of proposed “gestures” toward the Palestinian Authority with the aim of avoiding mass unrest on “Nakba Day,” the May 15 anniversary of Israel’s founding. The gestures are also meant to encourage renewal of peace talks without damaging Israeli security or violating current Israeli policy, such as settlement construction.

Levy wrote that the document had been given to the government shortly before President Obama’s March 20 Jerusalem visit. However, he wrote, given the statements by Israeli officials, following the April 8 visit by Secretary of State John Kerry, that Israel “does not intend to present any confidence building measures towards the Palestinians,” it’s “not clear” whether the gestures will find any traction.

Levy didn’t specify what part of the “defense establishment” had drafted the purported document. He told me in an email that the source who showed him the document insisted on complete anonymity. He made it clear, however, that it came from the military. Given the tone and language of the proposals, it appears likely that it came from the General Staff’s strategic planning branch.

Topping the list of gestures is the release of 30 to 40 elderly or ailing prisoners deemed incapable of endangering Israel. The army is said to hope this happens before May 15 in order to reduce popular unrest, which has been mounting following several prisoner deaths.

Also sought before May 15: giving Palestinian security forces additional ammunition and crowd control equipment to deal with the expected Nakba protests.

Other gestures would come in stages, in exchange for reciprocal diplomatic gestures from the Palestinians. Among the proposals: easing prison visiting rules; permitting construction of new Palestinian police stations; expanded planning and construction of housing and infrastructure in Palestinian villages, and permitting a new bypass highway around Ramallah.

But, again, all this appears fanciful as of today. Paradoxically, the army wants the Palestinian security forces to get better weapons so they can continue working with the army to fight terrorism. But they’re unlikely to get it, because the politicians consider the Palestinians hostile and untrustworthy. The politicians believe the radical decline in organized West Bank terrorism is entirely the work of the army, no matter what the army says.

That’s the paradox of Israel’s political-military tension in a nutshell. The politicians don’t trust anyone but the army to keep the country secure. The generals say security is more complicated than that. But the politicians don’t believe them. They don’t trust the generals.

Basically, they want them to shut up and shoot.

Contact J.J. Goldberg at goldberg@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.