an interview with Yossi Sarid
Member of Knesset Yossi Sarid is the outgoing chairman of the Meretz Party.
bitterlemons: What is your trusteeship plan for the conflict?
Sarid: The Meretz platform uses the term "international
trusteeship." The concept is not that far from the one proposed in the
supervision, control, judging performance and involvement of the Quartet,
but at a different scope.
The plan has two dimensions, civil and security. We believe the civil
dimension is more important. Everything has been destroyed in the
territories, 60 percent are in need of food aid, the infrastructure is gone,
and we need massive rehabilitation if there is to be any chance for
improving the security situation. Israel cannot and will not do the
rehabilitation. The Palestinians may want to, but they cannot. Therefore the
international community must be present in order to carry out the
bitterlemons: What are the dimensions of the force you anticipate?
Sarid: We're talking about a force several thousand civilians and
soldiers strong, with the emphasis on the civilians. We've been asked if we
believe that someone will endanger their people, say, in Ramallah. Well, if
they send forces to Baghdad, Ramallah is certainly less dangerous.
bitterlemons: Will the force be based on prior agreement?
Sarid: I don't believe in a process of agreeing, because there is
a problem of violations and it's impossible to judge who's at fault. So we
do not have to do this based on agreements whose advantages are doubtful.
bitterlemons: From an Israeli standpoint, aren't you concerned
about complications like those Israel feels it had with the United Nations
Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)? There will be terrorist attacks, the
Israel Defense Forces will respond, the international force will blame
Israel, there will be clashes between Israel and the force, etc...
Sarid: I don't have a definitive answer. The assumption is that
over time there will be fewer attacks, Israel behind the fence will be
better protected, the Palestinian Authority will be more motivated, and
there will be more supervision. In any case Israel will have to continue
responding in a pinpoint manner according to need. Apropos, that danger is
an argument for the necessity of prior agreement between us and the
international military trusteeship.
bitterlemons: Will the trusteeship be territorial or virtual? With
or without Israeli withdrawal? Former US Ambassador Martin Indyk, for
example, has proposed integrating deployment of the trusteeship force with
Israeli unilateral withdrawal.
Sarid: De facto, the trusteeship will replace the PA [Palestinian
Authority], with its diminished capacity, and the occupation. Officially,
the trusteeship will work with the PA. As a consequence, Israel will
certainly return in the first stage to the September 28, 2000 lines, and in
the second stage to the '67 lines. Indyk's proposal is more or less the
bitterlemons: Let's turn to other types of international forces.
How do you see the idea embodied in the roadmap, for a supervisory or
Sarid: That is an open plan, which explains its advantages and its
drawbacks. I support giving the force the authority to judge the degree to
which the two sides fulfill their obligations. I'm for a four-sided
force--not only American, but with American leadership. In general, these
[members of the Quartet] are responsible actors who are not automatically
anti-Israeli. I'm not paranoid about this.
bitterlemons: And a separation force as part of a final status
Sarid: This is an important contribution. The force would patrol
the borders between us, and would put itself at the disposal of the
bilateral supervisory and control mechanisms.
bitterlemons: Finally, does the difficult experience of the past
two years, preceded by the collapse of the peace process, point to a greater
or a reduced necessity for international involvement?
Sarid: Greater. Without international intervention and pressure I
don't believe there will be progress.