Finance Minister Yair Lapid delivered a scary speech on Wednesday. At the Institute of National Security Studies conference, Lapid warned that if we don’t accept US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework for negotiations, the Europeans are going to take away our money.
Lapid claimed that Israel’s economic future is dependent on surrendering Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the PLO. If we don’t, he said, the EU will abrogate its economic association agreement with us. And such a move on Europe’s part will cause serious harm to our economy.
According to Lapid, “If negotiations with the Palestinians stall or blow up and we enter the reality of a European boycott, even a very partial one, the Israeli economy will retreat, the cost of living will rise, budgets for education, health, welfare and security will be cut [and] many international markets will be closed to us.”
On the other hand, if we give up Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Lapid promises that we will all get rich.
It took less than 10 minutes for Lapid’s remarks to be exposed as utter nonsense.
The EU delegation to Israel flatly denied that the EU is considering abrogating the association agreement.
“There has been absolutely no consideration in the EU of the abrogation of the association agreement. It is not in the cards,” a statement by the delegation said.
As for the economic benefits Lapid promised Israel would reap from giving in to the PLO, here too, his claims do not withstand scrutiny.
First of all, Israel’s economy will be dramatically weakened, not strengthened, by a deal with the PLO.
As Economy Minister Naftali Bennett explained last week, the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem would cause unprecedented damage to the economy. Like the de facto Palestinian state in Gaza, such a state would serve as a launching ground for missile attacks against Israel. And from Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians would have the capacity to destroy Israel’s economy with just a few, relatively primitive projectiles.
As Bennett out it, “Imagine if just one missile per day fell on [Israel’s technology hub in] Herzliya Pituah, what that would do to Israel’s economy. If even one plane which was supposed to land at Ben-Gurion Airport crashes [due to terrorism] per year, it would crush the Israeli economy.”
Beyond what the Palestinians would do, there is no reason to believe – and every reason to doubt – that Europe would reward Israel in any way for giving its capital and heartland to the PLO.
In remarks last week meant to counter Bennett’s statement, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni inadvertently explained the true situation Israel faces from Europe.
In Livni’s words, “Europe is boycotting [Israeli] products. And, true, it is starting with the settlements, but their problem is with Israel, which is perceived as a colonialist state, so it won’t only stop with the settlements but will [reach] Israel as a whole.”
As we learned from our experience with the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Israel’s actions play no role in Europe’s perception of the Jewish state.
Europe will not cease to perceive Israel as “a colonialist state” even if we remove ourselves, lock, stock and barrel to the 1949 armistice lines.
In the lead-up to the Gaza withdrawal, Livni promised that once Israel quit Gaza, its diplomatic position would improve dramatically. By ending the so-called occupation of Gaza, she argued, Israel would prove its good will, and the Europeans would stop attacking us and take our side against the Palestinians at the UN and other arenas.
In the event, not only did this not occur, but the EU refused to acknowledge that the so-called occupation of Gaza even ended. To this day, Europe castigates Israel for its mythical “occupation” of Gaza.
As Livni accidentally explained, as far as Europe is concerned, Israel’s size is not the issue. Israel is the issue. True, Israel surrendered Gaza to Palestinian terrorists and removed every Israeli civilian and soldier from the territory. But since Israel is still stronger than the terror state in Gaza, Israel is still the “occupier.”
By the same token, even if Israel were to quit Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem completely, as long as Israel remains more powerful than the Palestinians in the areas, Europe will castigate Israel as the “occupier.”
And since the Palestinians and their allies will destroy Israel if it is ever less powerful than they are, Europe will stop condemning Israel as “a colonialist state” only if Israel ceases to exist.
At any rate, since the EU is not considering abrogating the economic association agreement, and since Israel will be economically worse off if it quits Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, why is the finance minister trying to scare us?
First, he’s doing it because everyone else is doing it.
Peace Now has joined the boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign.
Livni threatens Israelis so often with economic ruin that Foreign Ministry officials are complaining that she’s giving foreigners ideas.
In Washington, the Obama administration has added the threat of Israeli economic devastation to its list of plagues that will befall the Jewish state if we don’t give up our national heartland to the PLO.
In his remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Israel’s economic juggernaut is a wonder to behold…. But a deteriorating security environment and the growing isolation that could come with it could put that prosperity at risk.”
In other words, “Nice economy you got there Israel. It’d be a real shame if anything happened to it.”
The second reason that Lapid is threatening us – along with Livni, Kerry and so many others – is that he has nothing else to say in support of the fake peace process.
Kerry’s framework for Middle East peace offers neither anything new nor anything positive for the Israeli public to support. Were Israel to follow him down his garden path, we would receive neither peace, nor demographic security, nor national security nor national prosperity.
We will not receive peace because there is no Palestinian leadership interested in making peace, and there is no significant Palestinian constituency that supports peace. As Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said at the INSS Wednesday, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas is “the world’s number one anti-Semitic leader.”
Steinitz elaborated, “There is an anti-Semitic subtext prevalent throughout the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum and the children programs. The subtext is very clear – the State of Israel and the Jews should be destroyed.
“Abbas does not actively finance terror, but he who denied the Holocaust now denies the existence of a Jewish nation and its right to a state.”
In this context, no negotiations will lead to peace. In Steinitz’s words, “There is no peace process. If an agreement is signed with the Palestinian Authority, it will be a diplomatic agreement, not a peace agreement.”
And the vast majority of Israelis know this. And Livni, Lapid, Kerry and their ilk know we know this. So all they can do is threaten us.
The first place they went, after the promise of peace was blown up at cafes and bus stops countrywide, was demographics.
For 17 years, the Left has been relying on a falsified 1997 Palestinian census that exaggerated the Palestinian population by 50 percent, as a means of scaring Israelis into going along with its phony peace process.
Still today, Kerry, Livni, Lapid and their fellow travelers seek to intimidate us by constantly telling us that continued Israeli control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem will bring about Israel’s demographic demise.
But the lie at the heart of their argument is no longer possible to ignore.
As demographic expert Yoram Ettinger wrote last week in Yisrael Hayom, Jewish Israeli fertility rates are higher than Palestinian fertility rates in Judea and Samaria. In 2013, the Palestinian fertility rate was 2.91 children per woman and the Israeli Jewish fertility rate was 3.04 children per woman.
Today Jews make up 62-66 percent of the population in Judea, Samaria and sovereign Israel. With a two to one majority, a higher birthrate, and positive immigration rates, far from being a strategic threat to Israel’s national viability, demographics are one of Israel’s strategic assets.
The only threat to Israel’s demographic stability is the two-state formula. A Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem would permit the unlimited immigration of millions of foreign Arabs into its territory. Rather than securing Israel’s Jewish majority, a Palestinian state would place millions of hostile Arabs on the outskirts of a rump Israel’s major cities.
With their threat of demographic ruin losing its traction with the public, purveyors of the two-state plan now raise the threat of economic strangulation and ruin at every opportunity.
They understand that given the public’s refusal to be drawn into their fantasies about “peace dividends,” the only path before them is a mix of intimidation and political subversion. They hope that together these two tactics can force Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to submit to Kerry’s dictates for Israeli territorial surrenders.
Regarding political subversion, last week Eli Lake at the Daily Beast reported that the Obama administration is appealing to retired Israeli security brass to lobby the public against the government, in support of Kerry’s plan for Israel to surrender the Jordan Valley to the PLO.
According to senior defense sources, administration lobbying is not limited to retired generals. The US is also recruiting currently serving IDF commanders to work on behalf of Kerry’s plan.
The idea is to rally a large enough cadre of security brass in favor of surrendering the Jordan Valley to undermine the authority of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who has rejected Kerry’s plan.
Beyond frightening the general public, the economic threats are geared toward subverting the economic leadership of the country. Until now, Israel’s business leaders have been supporting Netanyahu’s economic leadership.
The campaign’s largest success to date came last week when a large delegation of Israeli business leaders joined the Kerry bandwagon and called for the partition of Jerusalem and surrender of Judea and Samaria in order to avoid economic penalties.
Clearly we are getting to crunch time.
Kerry is waiting for Netanyahu to agree to his framework. Until he does, Kerry, his allies and agents will escalate their threats and subversion.
So far, Netanyahu, Bennett and Ya’alon have competently exposed the lies behind the threats. And they must continue on this course.
As we learned from Oslo and Gaza, nothing good comes from surrendering our rights and our land. And with Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem hanging in the balance, the stakes have never been higher.