The decision making process in Israel as it relates to Disengagment and Convergence
Haaretz (a left wing newspaper) has a fascinating interview with the outgoing head of the National Security Council (NSC), Major General Giora Eiland. The article is well worth reading. Among other things, he outlines the decision making process that led up to the disengagement. In short, there was no process.
Q. In the government establishment, in which you were a member, was there an organized discussion on whether the disengagement was the right move?
A. No. When I assumed my office, on 18 January, 2004, there was only an amorphous term 'disengagement' from a speech in Herzliya. I asked Sharon how much time I had to formulate a plan and he told me, four months. But very quickly it became clear to me that [PM Sharon's adviser] Dov Weissglas had already met with the Americans and committed us to a major unilateral step both in Gaza and the West Bank.
"Immediately after, Sharon committed himself to the evacuation of 18 settlements in the Gaza Strip in an interview to [Haaretz's] Yoel Marcus, and at that point the game was up. The planning process I had began blew up.
"When we talk of a solution of two states for two peoples we make two assumptions: that it is possible to solve the conflict in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and that the reference for a border between the two states are the 1967 lines with minor changes. I reject these two assumptions. I think that between the sea and the river there is not enough area to contain two states, and I think that in order to maintain a defensible border, Israel needs at least 12 percent of the West Bank. The 1967 lines, even the Clinton Plan, do not give Israel defensible borders."
Q. And a Palestinian state in only 88 percent of the West Bank territory is a viable state?
A. "That is the second mistake. I argue that even a Palestinian state with 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 97 percent of the West Bank is not viable. Such a country will be poor, radical, restive, where the demographic pressures will be unbearable. In 2020 there will be 2.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, in area of 365 square kilometers. This will inevitably lead to pressure against the fences."
Q. Did you talk with Olmert about the convergence?
Q. How is that?
A. "I read about it in the papers like every other citizen. I have no problem with this. The prime minister is a very intelligent man, capable of making decisions, and is handling the situation in an impressive manner. I am sure he consulted with other people."
Q. But in the government establishment there has not been a discussion on whether the convergence is good for Israel.
Q. Not related to Olmert or Sharon specifically, the decision-making process in Israel appears to be sound to you?
So much for all those who believe that disengagement was a well thought plan and that convergence is a good idea. It is clear from here that disengagement took place without any real discussion of the implications and the same thing is happening with convergence.