I read with some interest this morning comments made by former Mossad Head Meir Dagan who at the Presidents Conference said Israel needs to start “serious” negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, in which the Arab League should be involved. He claims Israel could pull out of the Jordan Valley; its much less important than it was in the 1990’s.
Dagan speaking on Wednesday at the Presidents Conference in Jerusalem says that Israel needs to recognize the present upheaval in the surrounding Arab States and the Middle East more generally. There are processes taking place that will continue to develop and that nobody really knows where they are going. But nonetheless the results will mean dramatic on-going change.
He went on to say that he believes Israel can pull back to the Green Line (pre-1967 Borders with Jordan) and still be able to defend itself. “The Jordan Valley had importance in 1991,” Dagan said. “At that time, there was a threat from Jordan, Syria and Iraq, but now it is of less importance.” His view is that the withdrawal, which he proposes would form part of the peace process with the PA.
Dagans comments come in contrast to statements made two weeks ago by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, who called the 1967 borders “Auschwitz Borders.” Dagan also said that the current situation in the region provides “unique opportunity for Israel to seek different alliances” and asserted that renewing peace negotiations with the PA is necessary.
Dagan qualified his comments “I don’t like every aspect of the Arab peace initiative, but the need to negotiate is crucial,” Dagan said. “The Arab League today is less hostile to Israel. The Arab initiative should form the basis of renewing negotiations. We have more opportunities than we realize. If we don’t take initiative, the change might be imposed on us and the price will be heavy.”
However, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said Dagan was behaving irresponsibly, and that the former Mossad chief had backed the disengagement from Gaza.
As an interested outsider I think Dagan brings experience to the table and has some valid contributions. I will continue to watch with real interest.