The Rafah Agreement is against the law, common sense and prudence

by Ted Belman

Every since the Roadmap was introduced, I railed against the stipulations that Palestine be created and that it be viable and contiguous. These should be matters for negotiation.

More recently I admonished Israel to Reject the Link  [1] arguing only that she wasn’t obligated to provide it. Now that Israel has accepted the Rafah Agreement the land link appears more ominous.


David Hornik in his article Folly in Gaza:The Sequel, [2] reports,

“Since the disengagement, 35 Gazan export trucks have gone through it daily. Under the agreement, this will increase to 150 by the end of this year, and at least 400 by the end of 2006. But the agreement also stipulates that bus convoys, by December 15, and truck convoys, by a month later, will pass through Karni to the West Bank.

“The result is easy to see,” former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, noting that “Kassam rockets and mortars will be transported through Judea and Samaria to be launched at Israel. . . .  The biggest danger is that the Palestinians would be able to transfer the Strella [anti-aircraft] missiles, which are already in Gaza, to the area overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport and threaten planes landing and taking off.”
Aside from the obvious danger this represents it also represents an enormous erosion of Israel’s sovereignty particularly because it was imposed on Israel. There is a message here that is very frightening. If Israel couldn’t resist this, what can she resist?

I decided to look for the genesis of this idea and found that Ehud Barak had offered it at Camp David. I was astounded.


According to Dr Mitchell O Bard, {3}

“Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. In addition, he agreed to dismantle 63 isolated settlements. In exchange for the 5 percent annexation of the West Bank, Israel would increase the size of the Gaza territory by roughly a third.


Barak also made previously unthinkable concessions on Jerusalem, agreeing that Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new state. The Palestinians would maintain control over their holy places and have "religious sovereignty" over the Temple Mount.


According to U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross, Israel offered to create a Palestinian state that was contiguous, and not a series of cantons. Even in the case of the Gaza Strip, which must be physically separate from the West Bank unless Israel were to be cut into non-contiguous pieces, a solution was devised whereby an overland highway would connect the two parts of the Palestinian state without any Israeli checkpoints or interference.


The proposal also addressed the refugee issue, guaranteeing them the right of return to the Palestinian state and reparations from a $30 billion international fund that would be collected to compensate them.


Israel also agreed to give the Palestinians access to water desalinated in its territory. “

The Roadmap pockets these concessions and attempts to bridge the gaps by further appeasing the Palestinians. No thought is given to the Israel’s assertion after the talks that the offer is no longer on the table or that Arafat started a murderous terrorist onslaught which claimed many lives. It seems that anything offered by Israel cannot be withdrawn and any actions by the Palestinians cannot be penalized.

This suggests to me that we haven’t heard the end of the “right of return”, the letter from Bush notwithstanding.


This land link no matter why it was offered in the first place, is of such crucial importance to the Palestinians and the future of Palestine that it shouldn't be offered without a major something in return. In fact it was only offered as part of a final settlement. Apparently it is now being given away for nothing. Once again the signs are ominous.


Furthermore the Saudi Peace Plan  [4] which is referenced in the Roadmap and which has never been put into writing, addresses the border issue according to the BBC

“Israel is required to withdraw from all territories seized in 1967 - the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. [..]

The same reports suggest that the plan allows for the transfer of some areas of the West Bank to Israel in return for equivalent transfers to a Palestinian sate. (Equivalent has been interpreted to mean equivalent in value and not in size.)

We haven’t heard the last of this either.

According to Shibley Telhami in his article Camp David II: Assumptions and Consequences [5]

“Arafat offered remarkable concessions. He agreed that most Jewish settlers on the West Bank could remain in settlement blocks in portions of the West Bank that would come under Israeli sovereignty- as long as the Palestinians were compensated with new territories, probably near Gaza.

He also agreed to separate the issue of the "right" of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes from the actual settlement of claims to that right.

On Jerusalem, the Palestinians agreed that the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall, which were under Arab control until the 1967 war, would fall under Israeli sovereignty.”

On the other hand he reports,
“Clinton conveyed to Arafat an Israeli proposal: the Palestinian leader would be called "custodian" of Haram al-Sharif and would be able to fly his own flag on the mosques- but they would remain under Israeli sovereignty.”
Telhami goes on to explain that both sides had a different frame of reference. Israel started from the point of view of the present and thought what ever we give you is more then you’ve got and the Palestinians started from the pre ’67 lines arguing that anything Israel gets to keep is a concession by the Palestinians.

Ultimately he writes that the talks broke up because of Jerusalem.

“From Arafat's point of view, he offered much on Jerusalem: the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Haram al-Sharif was used almost entirely by Muslims and was under the control of the Islamic Waqf (Islamic Trust). Arafat did not seem to understand the importance of the Temple Mount to Jews, beyond the Western Wall.


Ultimately, however, Israel's own opening arguments on Jerusalem, which called for separating political from religious aspects, reinforced Arafat's position.


The Palestinians, whose frame of reference began with the assumption that East Jerusalem belongs entirely to them, were able to turn this around: if religion is removed from the political equation, what are the legal claims for Israeli sovereignty over Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount? Arafat thus saw no room for compromise on this issue and did not present a counteroffer, to the dismay of President Clinton.”

In other words, Arafat believed he had a better legal claim to Jerusalem.

By all accounts, Sharon doesn’t believe that this issue can be resolved and therefore prefers to avoid final status negotiations.


Meanwhile the Roadmap is putting in place all things that were offered at Camp David except, that is, for the end of incitement and violence. According to Rice these issues are to be addressed after the Palestinian elections in January.


Although she has argued in the past that all requirements of the first stage of the Roadmap must be taken in parallel, she has violated this principal by putting the Rafah Agreement ahead of the fundamental condition that violence and incitement must end. But more important she has moved an offer made in consideration of a final settlement to a precondition to progress and even to an obligation.


Israel agreed notwithstanding that the Disengagement Law passed by the Knesset, says that "Israel will oversee and guard the external land envelope." This agreement therefore violates this law.


If we accept at face value the words of our enemies, including the PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, and we should, violence will be stepped up. This is not intended to achieve a better deal for the Palestinians. Rather it is intended to keep Israel occupied while Iran develops the A-bomb and to keep the conflict going in order to have a rallying cry for Jihadists in their war against the West. The same goes for the “insurgency” in Iraq.


Even if Jerusalem could be solved, the conflict will continue as long as Iran wants it to continue. The Rafah Agreement will serve to increase the violence and make peace more difficult to achieve (if it was ever possible) rather then to lead to peace and security as Rice suggests.


There is no substitute for "utterly defeating" the terrorists (including the Palestinians) and those that support them.



Ted Belman is a retired Canadian lawyer and Editor of

Ted Belman
416-256 7597
Our special thanks to the author for submitting this article. A. G. S.