ZOA: President Bush Should Revoke U.S. ‘Benchmark Plan,’ Which Entails Dangerous Israeli Concessions To PATerror Regime
May 4, 2007

Plan Harms U.S. War On Terror

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has written to President George W. Bush, urging him to revoke the so-called ‘benchmark plan’ presented by U.S. officials, an 8-month timetable which includes a series of steps by Israel that resemble the “confidence-building measures” laid out in the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. In its letter, signed by National President Morton A. Klein, Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt, Chairman of the Executive Committee Dr. Alan Mazurek, and Treasurer Henry Schwartz, the ZOA points out that the ‘benchmarks’ plan entails major Israeli concessions to the unreformed Hamas/Palestinian Authority (PA) terrorist regime and will thus endanger Israeli lives.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to arrive in Israel on May 15 to discuss implementing the plan ( Israel National News, May 4, 2007). Rice is insisting on proceeding on the plan for new Israeli concessions to the PA, even though the Speaker of the Palestinian legislature, Ahmad Bahar, made a recent televised appeal to Allah to kill every Jew and American on earth saying, “Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies… Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don’t leave even one”

The ZOA also expresses its alarm that this plan does not even mention the need for the PA to fulfill its commitments under the signed Oslo agreements and the Roadmap to jail terrorists, close the weapons factories and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism. None of these commitments have been fulfilled by the PA. The ZOA is urging Israel to reject the plan.

The ‘benchmark plan’ demands of Israel include:

  • Providing arms, ammunition and equipment to PA security forces in an “immediate and ongoing” manner, whenever by the U.S. Security Coordinator Maj.-Gen. Dayton “requests” it.

  • Allowing PA bus and truck convoys to shuttle between Gaza and PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria from July 1.

  • Removing security roadblocks in Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and other areas in Judea and Samaria.

  • Extending operating hours at the major border crossings with Gaza.

Israeli officials are deeply concerned about the viability of the plan, prepared by Dayton, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones and U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles and approved by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said it could not commit to some of the demands, like permitting convoys between Gaza and Judea and Samaria, citing security concerns. Since Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in September 2005, Palestinian terrorists have smuggled into Gaza over 30 tons of illegal, offensive weaponry. Convoys would permit these weapons to reach terrorist groups in Judea and Samaria, where the security situation has not deteriorated as badly as Gaza. Israel has not responded officially to the document and an inter-ministerial discussion on it was postponed on Thursday.

Israeli officials also raised concerns that Israel was being asked to ease restrictions on Palestinian movements without assurances that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has completed his own commitments on security. Israel’s security establishment emphasizes that these moves would dramatically endanger an already vulnerable Israeli civilian population constantly facing missile launchings from Gaza, suicide bombings, and other terrorist attacks ( Haaretz, May 4, 2007).

In return for these far-reaching concessions, the PA is merely required to increase deployment of security forces and merely to “begin curbing rocket fire” into Israel by Palestinian terrorist groups, something that has skyrocketed since the Islamist terrorist group Hamas took control of the PA. As an unnamed Israeli official pointed out, “There is not [sic] conditionality. Even if they don’t complete their obligations, we’ll have to complete ours.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ‘benchmark plan’ is simply a dangerous mistake that rewards the PA’s promotion of terror and refusal to comply with their signed commitments. It not only fails to hold them accountable for their horrific actions but sends a message that we are not serious about their compliance with past agreements. It seeks to launch Israel along the road to major concessions to the PA regardless of the on-going non-fulfillment of PA commitments under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. As such the plan is divorced from reality and is dangerous to the security and welfare of Israel and its citizens as well as America and its citizens. Consider: it is a horrible mistake to send the message to al-Qaeda and Islamist terrorists worldwide that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah may join Hamas in government and be rewarded with Israeli concessions while fulfilling none of its basic obligations under signed agreements. Such a situation not only makes a mockery of Israel and America, but sends the message to Al-Qaeda and others murdering Americans in Iraq and elsewhere that terrorism pays. That is simply the path of unilateral concessions to terrorists.

“The dangers for Israel in this plan include, for example, Israel repeating the mistake made in the past of transferring weapons, or allowing others to transfer weapons, to the PA. Such weapons have never gone to PA forces fighting terrorism, only towards murdering Jews , like the weapons given in May last year to the PA that were later used in terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of one Israeli and the wounding of another. In December, at the time of the last weapons transfer, a Palestinian Arab terrorist leader stated frankly, ’ We promise to show Israelis very soon that the weapons brought for the Presidential Guard and [PA] security forces will be used against the occupation’ (Israel National News, December 28, 2006). We therefore agree with the former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz, who said at the time that ‘a lot of IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians will be killed with these weapons’ ( Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2006). The idea that Israel should continue giving the PA such weapons in an ‘immediate and on-going’ manner is an insult to Israeli sovereign discretion and a danger to Israeli citizens.

“Israel has taken huge risks for peace in the past, handing over all of Gaza and half of Judea and Samaria to the PA, as well as money, assets and even arms, all of which were simply used to murder and maim more innocent Jewish men, women and children. The very existence of this new timetable for further, dangerous Israeli concessions to the PA, which has done nothing to jail and arrest terrorists or end incitement to hatred and murder within the PA, shows that these realities are simply being ignored by Secretary Rice and her advisers.

“There is therefore absolutely no logic or justification for this plan, which in present circumstances can only lead to more Palestinian Arab terrorism and loss of innocent lives. The Israeli government should decisively and utterly reject this plan and the ZOA also urges President Bush to disown it. The ‘benchmarks plan’ is simply incompatible with the President’s insistence that he is ‘the best friend Israel ever had.”

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