Before we blame the Palestinians

In “All talk and no dialogue” (Haaretz, August 15), Ze’ev Schiff states that it’s “clear that the truce does not in fact exist,” and explains that the Palestinian government “is incapable of implementing the hudna,” that Abu Mazen cannot “enforce” the agreement among the various Palestinian organizations, and that “the leading trio - Abu Mazen, Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan, and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad - is incapable of enforcing the hudna even on the armed groups within its own movement, the Fatah.”

The cease-fire agreement that is of interest to Israel has three partners - Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United States - as part of the road map. Has Israel met the conditions of the agreement? Is Sharon able to (or, really, does he want to) enforce the cease-fire on his army? The

continuation of the Israeli policy of targeted assassinations - isn’t that “fire”? The duo in charge, Sharon and Mofaz - are they able to enforce the moratorium on construction in the settlements, as the road map requires? Do they even want to? And what about the “illegal outposts,” a few of which were dismantled under the “revolving door” system so they could pop up again on some nearby hill?

Schiff gives good marks to the Palestinian Authority for managing to seize hold of $3 million sent from Iran to Islamic Jihad and for reducing incitement. What good marks can be given to Israel? Has Israel met its obligations with its stingy release of prisoners, which wasn’t even part of the cease-fire agreement and was intended, so Israeli leadership claims, to build trust between the sides and to strengthen Abu Mazen?

Defining the Palestinian war of liberation as “terror” is incorrect, despite being widely accepted among us and in the United States. Terror, as distinguished from war, is when part of a group uses fear and violence to influence another part of the group. The din rodef (a rabbinic pronouncement of guilt) voiced by some of the Yesha (West Bank and Gaza) rabbis against the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, was an act of terror successfully designed to force on the nation’s leadership a political direction different than that chosen by a democratic authority. Blowing up the King David Hotel, on the other hand, was an act of war by a people seeking to liberate itself from a foreign regime and demanding self-determination.

The demand that the Palestinian Authority “dismantle the infrastructure of terror” is ridiculous and designed to thwart any future agreement. How would the Va’ad Leumi [in pre-state Israel] have responded to a similar demand to dismantle the infrastructure of the [Jewish underground groups] Etzel, Lehi, and Palmah? We dismantled our “terrorist infrastructure” (an erroneous term here, as noted) only after we achieved our goal and established our state.

Throughout the conflict, and at least since 1967, Israel has tried to manage the Palestinians and name a Palestinian leadership the country would find desirable. All such attempts failed in the past, and evidently will fail in the future. Israel can, and must, do a lot more than “one thing.” Israel must relate seriously to the road map and demonstrate this by stepped-up action to evacuate settlements; completely refrain from harming Palestinians - even if, in its estimation, they are “ticking bombs”; remove roadblocks and withdraw from all of Area A; and, above all, totally abstain from dictating to the Palestinians how to run their own affairs.

It would seem that there are only three ways for Israel to behave. One, enforced evacuation (transfer) of the Arabs from the territories, and after them Israeli Arabs, to nearby Arab countries. Two, agreement to a binational state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Three, division of the land, based on the 1967 borders, into two states, evacuation of all the settlements, and surrendering the right of return for Jews to Hebron, Shiloh and Beit El, while unequivocally opposing the right of Palestinians to return to Jaffa, Lod and Ramle.

The first way, although most Israelis seem to prefer it, will be met with vigorous international opposition the extent of which Israel will not be able to withstand. The second way is opposed by those who believe, as does this writer, that the Jewish people deserve a state of its own. The third way is the only possible one, whether with or without Palestinian agreement.

The writer is an architect. Ha’aretz is a leading daily Israeli English-language newspaper.