The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has opposed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for pressuring the Israeli government of Ehud Olmert to ease vital security measures that save Israeli lives. Rice reportedly applied pressure on Israel this week to remove 50 roadblocks in Judea and Samaria, which she called “a very good start” to improving Palestinians’ freedom of movement, which she regards as a key element in the peace process designed to lead by year’s end to a Palestinian state. Rice had been pushing Israel to remove some barriers as a show of good faith and had said the United States would be monitoring Israel‘s efforts to make sure it followed through. Israeli officials said the 50 roadblocks that will be eliminated are primarily dirt mounds. It was also reported that a U.N. agency, which monitors the number of Israeli security barriers like roadblocks, checkpoint, trenches and the like, numbers 580 at present (‘Israel to Remove 50 West Bank Barriers,’ Washington Post, March 31, 2008).
A former senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander, Maj.-Gen. Yacov Amidror, has said that the Palestinian terrorism that developed as a result of the failed Oslo peace process created the need for Israel to build roadblocks. Amidror, now director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs and the former commander of the IDF’s National Defense College, said the roadblocks wouldn’t exist if the Palestinians hadn’t started using terrorism. He said that because terrorists cannot be distinguished from civilians, the only way to block an infiltration into Israel is by using physical barriers. Amidror also recalled that when he was a young army officer serving in Ramallah in the 1970s, there was not a single roadblock in Judea and Samaria. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians worked freely inside Israel every day without passing any checkpoints or roadblocks, he said. Also, in the early 1990s, before the Oslo Accords were signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, there were only 10 to 20 percent of the roadblocks that exist today: “[The roadblocks] were needed only after Oslo, when the Palestinians became rulers of themselves [as a] consequence of the way they acted.” When the Palestinians were not using terrorism, the roadblocks were not needed, he said. (Julie Stalhl, ‘Palestinian Terrorism Created Need for Roadblocks, Expert Says,’ CNS News, March 31, 2008)
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We strongly oppose Secretary Rice applying pressure on Israel to ease life-saving security measures in order that a foredoomed peace process can proceed. This process, launched at last year’s Annapolis summit, aims to simply cast aside the original commitments and benchmarks of the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan that condition American support for a Palestinian state and Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.
“These commitments and benchmarks include an end to terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques and youth camps that feed terror. Yet, instead of standing true to these positions and backing Israel’s efforts to protect her citizens, instead of demanding that the conditions of terrorism and hatred emanating from the PA be ended by the PA leadership before Israel undertake any concession of her own, Secretary Rice has simply pressured Israel again to reward the PA with unmerited concessions and thus has presented another reward for terror. Israelis may yet pay with their lives for these concessions.
“Secretary Rice has a record of pressuring Israel into disregarding its own vital and legitimate interests. She was a key advocate of Palestinian elections that included Hamas and which led to Hamas’ electoral victory. She pressured Israel into ceding control of the Philadelphi Corridor on the Gaza/Egypt border, leaving security in Palestinian and Egyptian hands. The results has been an unprecedented smuggling of weapons and terrorists into Gaza for which Israelis will, once again , pay with their lives when, at some future date, an Israeli government is obliged to enter Gaza and deal with increasing security risks and terror originating there.
“As we have documented before, both President Bush and Secretary Rice have also misled the American and world publics by constantly proclaiming that the party to which Israel has made and is to make concessions Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah are ‘moderates’ and ‘peacemakers.’ Rice has also, made an offensive and false comparison of the Palestinian cause to that of the American founding Fathers. Taken together, the result is pressure on Israel to engage in a peace process that is foredoomed and which will only result in costly concessions leading to more bloodshed and war.”