Kalandiya is a refugee camp located on the other side of the separation wall in the West Bank. The entire area is Palestinian.
On Tuesday, August 27, The Jerusalem Post’s front-page headline was “IDF attacked in Kalandiya.”
I actually did a double take when I saw the headline; Kalandiya is not in the middle of Tel Aviv. Kalandiya is a refugee camp located on the other side of the separation wall in the West Bank. The entire area is Palestinian. (Actually, on one side of the road, beyond the wall, the area is still part of the Jerusalem municipality, annexed to Israel in 1967, but all of the residents there are Palestinians.)
Being beyond the wall, the Jerusalem municipality, the Israel Police and all other Israeli government services are no longer found there. The area is defined as Area C under the Oslo accords, which means under full Israeli control – civil and militarily – territory to be negotiated in permanent status talks between Israel and Palestine.
Inside the refugee camp, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees provides social services and runs the schools.
The Kalandiya checkpoint, the largest and most active checkpoint between Israel and Palestine, is a disaster in every sense of the word – from a transportation point of view, environmentally, planning and security. Thousands of people and vehicles cross there every day. There is no doubt that if the crossing had to serve Israelis the disastrous physical state of place would have been repaired years ago. The entire place should be leveled and rebuilt with human beings in mind.
In Area C the Palestinian authority has no ability or right to function. Nonetheless, non-uniformed Palestinian Authority traffic police direct traffic there, by agreement with Israel, because without it, traffic would be at standstill most of the hours of the day. Israel and Palestine maintain a very high level of coordination of security issues. This coordination goes on all the time and everyone involved from the Israeli side in the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) have very positive attitudes on its importance and effectiveness.
Any future Israeli-Palestinian agreement is going to have to revolve around increasing the quantity and quality of Israeli-Palestinian security coordination and cooperation.
The IDF and Shin Bet will not always be allowed to enter Palestinian territory at will, at any time of the day or night. Amira Hass, the Haaretz correspondent who lives in Ramallah, reported on Tuesday that in 2012 the IDF engaged in more than 6,000 incursions into the Palestinian areas for the purpose of arresting people wanted for questioning. That is what they were doing on Monday, August 26, in Kalandiya.
Most of the time when the incursions take place the wanted person is picked up and IDF forces leave the area.
When it is done in Area A which is under full Palestinian jurisdiction it is a violation of the Oslo agreements. When it is done in Area B and C it is “legal” under the terms of the agreement. Usually it happens with little or no resistance.
Monday was quite different, though.
If the peace talks are aimed at reaching an agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel, understanding that security is a foundation for the entire agreement, the parties are going to have to develop mechanisms that meet the highest standards of fighting terrorism in order for any agreement to be implemented.
The security coordination and cooperation that already exists will have to be upgraded and together with a thirdparty monitoring and verification mechanism ensuring that agreements are implemented, will have to form the basis of security arrangements.
It is best to begin to put into practice this model prior to any future Israeli territorial withdrawals. Based on the commitment of the Palestinian authority to fight terrorism, which is what they claim, and according to the Shin Bet are capable of doing, Israel should be able to provide intelligence information to the PA police to apprehend those people wanted by Israel for questioning. If the Palestinian police respond and apprehend the wanted individuals, the task will be done and Israel will be able to follow up. Even if the questioning is done by the Palestinians and the individual is incarcerated in Palestine and not in Israel, the terror threat will be removed.
The third-party monitoring and verification mechanism will be able to provide Israel with full reports on the actions taken by the PA police. If appropriate actions are not taken, if the wanted person is not apprehended, Israel will able to continue to enter into the area and undertake the actions toward the arrest of the suspects. This can continue until there is an agreement to change the current arrangements. If the Palestinians undertake the actions satisfactorily, then there is a positive basis for continuing with negotiations and bringing them to a positive conclusion. If the Palestinians fail to undertake their responsibility to really fight terrorism, this is invaluable information and input for the negotiations as well.
The fact that under the current reality the Palestinian security forces are not allowed to function in Areas B and C should be irrelevant to Israel allowing them to undertake security responsibilities there. In the interest of dealing with security, Israel can allow them to enter those areas. In the “good old days” of the beginning of the peace process, PA security even worked in the Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and even on the Temple Mount. During the days of the premiership of Salam Fayyad, he was escorted by Palestinian police into villages in Areas B and C with Israeli permission and the Israeli army and police kept their distance. If there is a good reason to allow the Palestinian police to function in Areas B and C Israel can always allow it.
It is essential to expand the security coordination and cooperation now while negotiations are taking place both to ensure that a workable security apparatus is in place that can be depended upon and so that events like those that took place in Kalandiya on Monday won’t return.
The author is co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.
Originally Published in the Jerusalem Post
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.