The only bank this Rothschild ever owned was the West Bank. Danny Rothschild, an Israeli general and one-time coordinator of all government activities in the occupied territories, and now one of 1,200 former intelligence officers in Israel's Council for Peace and Security, says the Palestinians should be allowed to have their capital in Arab East Jerusalem.
The very thought of allowing Palestinians to set up a government where 200,000 Israeli settlers moved in since the 1967 war, when Israeli forces "liberated" East Jerusalem from Jordanian rule, is sacrilegious. But Rothschild, speaking at the New America Foundation, was not afraid of geopolitical apostasy.
For Rothschild, governments, including his own, are suffering from tunnel vision. Everyone sees light at the end of the tunnel, but few seem to realize this could be the search party looking for survivors. Islamization threatens the secular regimes of the Middle East, he says. Extremists are moving into gaps the governments themselves, including Israel's, create by their short-term thinking. Israel's political leaders are more concerned with their next election than in broadening their horizons to the needs of regional peace over the next decade.
Egypt, adds Rothschild, has to find work for 1 million additional people every nine months. By holding the reins of power since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, and serving as vice president for seven years before that, President Hosni Mubarak is simply allowing the radical Muslim Brotherhood to consolidate its hold on the future of Egypt. "It won't be tomorrow," says the former military intelligence general, but "the trend is unmistakable and inevitable."
Rothschild also believes failure to anticipate the future means Israel is now walking eyes wide shut to 2022 when the population between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will be half-Jewish and half-Arab. Today, 50 percent of Palestinians are under the age of 13. And it doesn't take an overwhelming effort of imagination to see how radicalized they will be if they don't have a proper homeland. This, in Rothschild's mind, means that several hundred thousand Jews will have to be uprooted from West Bank settlements and brought back to live in Israel.
The general, once in charge of the entire West Bank, sees some 30,000 settlers out of 300,000 who will physically resist any attempt by the Israeli Defense Force to remove them. Some 70,000 to 100,000 (many of them U.S. citizens) moved to the West Bank "for ideological reasons" because they believe it is part of the ancient land of Israel. Rothschild concludes the Israeli government "must absorb some 200,000 settlers, a material effort that will require two to three years to work out." But he concedes, "I'm not optimistic this will happen." If, on the other hand, the army and the police are ordered to remove them, "they will do it."
"We can cry about the past," says the general, "and quote from here to eternity, but the real issue is, where do I want to be in 10 years?" Former Sen. George Mitchell, the U.S. Middle East negotiator, has been sucked into a debilitating game of "freezing" new construction in the settlements. That, clearly, is not the problem. Dismantling, not freezing, settlements is the issue. The Israeli public must also see how and when it is getting full normalization with the Arab world — e.g., Israel concedes something and the Arabs then reciprocate, step by step.
Prince Turki al-Faisal was head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service for a quarter of a century. He was a key player in the U.S.-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia coalition that organized the resistance that defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Following Sept. 11, 2001, this youngest son of the late King Faisal, a brother of Foreign Minister Prince Saud and a nephew of King Abdullah, served as ambassador to the United Kingdom and then ambassador to the United States. He now runs the King Faisal Cultural Foundation — and behind the scenes remains a key emissary for the thinking of the powers that be.
In 2002 Crown Prince Abdullah got the entire Arab world, including Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi, to agree to total peace with Israel and full diplomatic and economic relations in return for the evacuation of all occupied territories. Turki's latest message to Israel and the United States is "land first, then peace."
Answering the Crown Prince of Bahrain who had urged greater communication with Israel and "joint steps from Arab states to revive the peace process," Turki's message is that normalization will follow, not precede, Israel's withdrawal from the lands it conquered in 1967.
Israeli leaders now hint they will return only a portion of these lands in return for military and economic concessions. But Turki says that's putting the chariot before the horse as Israel has yet to respond to the 2002 Abdullah peace plan. Step one, Turki makes clear on behalf of the 22 member nations of the Arab League, is the removal of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The refugee issue can wait.
When Israel agreed to evacuate the entire Sinai Peninsula, which is part of Egypt, Sadat went to Israel in 1977 and peace was agreed. Absent a similar pledge from Israel to evacuate all occupied territories, which President Barack Obama has urged Israel to do, Faisal wrote in the International Herald Tribune, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries could not offer what Israelis most desire — regional recognition.
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