[(Continued from p.5)]atic of the Oslo process. The Oslo process meant the avoidance of problems rather than confronting them. The political leadership tried to blur the fact that there were basic breaches of agreements and that while Israel wanted peace, the Palestinians wanted to continue the struggle. The politicians ignored the facts; they ignored the military analyses; they ignored the uselessness of the ballistic markings; they ignored the smuggling. In short, they avoided all obstacles so that the process could go on. This writer asked the army officer who must still remain anonymous: "All right, we know about the politicians. This was their agenda and they could not admit their mistakes, but why was the army quiet?" He said: "Some in the army wanted to be partners in this historical process and closed their eyes to avoid recognizing the military meaning of what was going on."
What this officer could not say explicitly has been said by Likud Knesset member Uzi Landau: "It is not a matter simply of closing one's eyes. This was intentional deception and intentional ignoring of information. There was an uninterrupted process of arms smuggling from Egypt through Gaza and from Jordan. The leadership clique swept everything under the rug. The army did not take seriously the information it had collected itself, and anyone who spoke up and warned was treated as a spinner of fantasies. All the revelations -- the supposedly new ones that appear in the government White Paper [published in the December Outpost] -- are in fact old news. For the last year and a half, the army had information making it clear the Palestinians were preparing themselves for a time of conflict. It is a very worrisome question why the army did not strongly oppose the government's obfuscation."
For over two and a half years, Landau saw from up close how the army failed to speak up strongly but instead followed the program fed to it by the Prime Minister. During Landau's service as chairman of the Foreign and Security Committee of the Knesset, the committee was briefed by intelligence officers that the Palestinian coast guard had acquired the character of a small navy and that the Palestinian police had established a commando unit undergoing rigorous training. Intelligence officers as well as attentive settlers related that during the night, in the wadis, the Palestinians were conducting regular firing exercises. But reports are one thing -- action something else.
The Netanyahu government, elected in 1996, not only did nothing to stop Palestinian armament, but graciously turned over to the Palestinians 200 Ingram submachine guns as part of the withdrawal agreement from Hebron. Incidentally, after their distribution, the Ingrams disappeared from Hebron, apparently to go into a Palestinian emergency storage depot. To Netanyahu's credit, two years later he pulled himself together enough to demand in the Wye conference that the illegal weapons be collected. Clinton proposed establishing a mechanism administered by the CIA to supervise the process. The Palestinians agreed to Clinton's proposal. They only had a small condition. In return they demanded that the CIA train their forces in the most up-to-date methods of combat etc. Netanyahu did not oppose this. In practice, as usual, only the paragraphs benefiting the Palestinians were carried out. They received the CIA training and kept the weapons. The CIA training and support, whose precise nature remains secret, continued until the last possible moment. The last truckload of American supplies crossed the Karni crossing point for Gaza on the third day of the breakout of the current uprising.
Under Barak, further Israeli support was of course given for building up Palestinian forces. Only eight months ago, just one month before the earlier "Naqba" riots by the Palestinians, Barak approved turning over to them 300 additional Kalachnikovs. A senior officer of the army defended this decision before the Foreign and Security Affairs Committee of the Knesset. Thus the Palestinian forces have reached the point where they are now. They possess enormous reserves of ammunition. In September of 2000, on the Jewish New Year, they began to downsize these reserves through precise fire on the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and the inhabitants of the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The eyes that were glued shut for seven years have opened in horrified amazement.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the December 2000 issue of the Israeli monthly Nekuda.
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Outpost - 6 - February 2001