- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009


The only bank this Rothschild ever owned was the West Bank. Danny Rothschild, an Israeli general and one-time coordinator of all government activities in the occupied territories, is one of 1,200 former intelligence officers in Israel’s Council for Peace and Security — and he says the Palestinians should be allowed to have their capital in Arab East Jerusalem. The very thought of allowing Palestinians to set up a government where 200,000 Israeli settlers have moved since the 1967 war, when Israeli forces “liberated” East Jerusalem from Jordanian rule, is sacrilegious. But Gen. Rothschild, speaking at the New America Foundation, was not afraid of geopolitical apostasy.

To Gen. Rothschild, governments, including his own, are suffering from tunnel vision. Everyone sees light at the end of the tunnel, but few seem to realize this could be the search party looking for survivors. Islamization threatens the secular regimes of the Middle East, he says. Extremists are moving into gaps the governments, including Israel’s, create by their short-term thinking. Israel’s political leaders are more concerned with their next election than in broadening their horizons to the needs of regional peace over the next decade.

Egypt, Gen. Rothschild adds, has to find work for 1 million additional people every nine months. By holding the reins of power since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 and serving as vice president for seven years before that, President Hosni Mubarak is simply allowing the radical Muslim Brotherhood to consolidate its hold on the future of Egypt. “It won’t be tomorrow,” says the former military intelligence general, but “the trend is unmistakable and inevitable.”

Gen. Rothschild also believes failure to anticipate the future means Israel is walking eyes wide shut to horizon 2022, when the population between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will be half Jewish, half Arab. Today, 50 percent of Palestinians are younger than 13. It doesn’t take an overwhelming effort of imagination to see how radicalized they will be if they don’t have a proper homeland. This, in Gen. Rothschild’s mind, means several hundred thousand Jews will have to be uprooted from West Bank settlements and brought back to live in Israel.

The general, once in charge of the entire West Bank, sees about 30,000 settlers out of 300,000 who will physically resist any attempt by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to remove them. About 70,000 to 100,000 (many of them U.S. citizens) moved to the West Bank “for ideological reasons” because they believe it is part of the ancient land of Israel. Gen. Rothschild concludes that the Israeli government “must absorb some 200,000 settlers, a material effort that will require two to three years to work out.” But he concedes, “I’m not optimistic this will happen.” If, on the other hand, the army and the police are ordered to remove them, “they will do it.”

“We can cry about the past,” the general says, “and quote from here to eternity, but the real issue is, where do I want to be in 10 years?” Former Sen. George J. Mitchell, the U.S. Middle East negotiator, has been sucked in to a debilitating game of “freezing” new construction in the settlements. That, clearly, is not the problem. Dismantling, not freezing, settlements is the issue. The Israeli public also must see how and when it is getting full normalization with the Arab world - e.g., Israel concedes something and the Arabs reciprocate, step by step.

Prince Turki al-Faisal was head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service for a quarter of a century. He was a key player in the U.S.-Pakistani-Saudi Arabian coalition that organized the resistance that defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Following Sept. 11, 2001, this youngest son of the late King Faisal, a brother of Foreign Minister Prince Saud and a nephew of King Abdullah, served as ambassador to the United Kingdom and then to the United States. He now runs the King Faisal Cultural Foundation — and behind the scenes remains a key emissary for the thinking of the powers that be.

In 2002, then-Crown Prince Abdullah got the entire Arab world, including Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi, to agree to total peace with Israel and full diplomatic and economic relations in return for the evacuation of all occupied territories. Prince Turki’s latest message to Israel and the U.S. is “land first, then peace.”

Answering the crown prince of Bahrain, who had urged greater communication with Israel and “joint steps from Arab states to revive the peace process,” Prince Turki’s message is that normalization will follow, not precede, Israel’s withdrawal from the lands it conquered in 1967.

Israeli leaders now hint they will return only a portion of those lands in return for military and economic concessions. But Prince Turki says that’s putting the chariot before the horse, as Israel has yet to respond to the 2002 Abdullah peace plan. Step one, Prince Turki makes clear on behalf of the 22 member nations of the Arab League, is the removal of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The refugee issue can wait.

When Israel agreed to evacuate the entire Sinai Peninsula, which is part of Egypt, President Sadat went to Israel in 1977 and peace was agreed. Prince Turki wrote in the International Herald Tribune that absent a similar pledge from Israel to evacuate all occupied territories, which President Obama has urged Israel to do, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries could not offer what Israelis most desire — regional recognition.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor-at-large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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