The Israeli daily Maariv reported on May 30, 2012 Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s warning that “Unless the Palestinians come back to the negotiating table Israel may have no choice but to take unilateral actions to protect its own interests.” Should Israel decide on unilateral action it must consider annexing the combined elements of the Allon Plan and Area C of the Oslo Interim Agreement.
A comparison between the map generated by Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon on July 26, 1967, presented to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol for a settlement with the Palestinians, and the map showing area control under the Oslo Interim Agreement of September 28, 1995, reveals significant similarities. There is, however, a difference. The Allon Plan, promulgated after the Six-Day War, was unilateral, inasmuch as Israel did not have a partner for peace – albeit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was the intended party to the negotiations. The Oslo Interim Agreement on the other hand was negotiated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
The thrust of the Allon Plan was to provide security for Israel. At the time there were no Israeli settlements to be considered and Allon was bent on securing for Israel what military strategists called the “back of the mountain,” and control of the Jordan Valley. Israeli military strategists agreed that this was needed in order to control the West Bank militarily. Moreover, this area was mostly desert and virtually no Palestinians were living there. Under the plan, Israel would control Palestinian access to Jordan.
Allon designated the Jordan River as Israel’s eastern border, thus enabling Israeli forces to prevent the armies of Iraq, Jordan and Syria from coming in from the East, crossing into the West Bank and attacking Israel’s main population centers. He also proposed the annexation of areas in the Jerusalem corridor in order to secure the approaches to the city. During the 1948 War of Independence the Arabs controlled the approaches to the city and were in command of the Jerusalem corridor resulting in the besieging of the city and the near starvation of the city’s Jews.
According to the Allon Plan, the Palestinians would be given control over three densely populated enclaves: A northern enclave that included Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, and Ramallah; a southern enclave that took in Hebron and Bethlehem; and, a special enclave designated for the Jericho area, which also included a crossing into Jordan. These enclaves would be connected by specially constructed access roads.
The principle that guided the late Yigal Allon was “maximum strategic territories, minimum control over Palestinian population.” Area C of the Oslo Interim Agreement similarly provides Israel with the same guiding principle. It takes in approximately 50,000 Palestinians, who will be given Israeli citizenship should the Israeli government resolve to annex the area on which Israel has currently both military/security responsibility as well as civilian control.
Area C consists primarily of sparsely populated desert regions including the Jordan Valley in the east, and the area southeast of Hebron, as well as Jewish settlement blocs, Israeli military bases, and access roads. Area C is the largest of the three areas specified under the Oslo Interim Agreement.
The Oslo Interim Agreement, much like the Allon Plan, provides for areas A and B – encompassing the main Palestinian urban centers (Jenin, Tulkarem, Nablus, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho) and the surrounding villages — to be administered by the Palestinians. In area A, Palestinians control both the civil and security administration, and in area B (Palestinian villages) Palestinians control the civil administration while Israel controls security.
Since area B includes the strategic high ground, and mountain ridges, Israel might be compelled to add portions of area B into Israel.
In a number of ways, the situation on the ground today has not changed much since Yigal Allon devised his plan in 1967. There is still no consensus among the Palestinians about the kind of state they hope for. The only thing that unites the Palestinians is their hate for Israel, and their wish to eliminate it. In the meantime two Palestinian regimes exist in mutual distrust and deep animus towards one another. Hamas in Gaza is Islamist in orientation and it has declared unambiguously that it will never recognize the Jewish State. Fatah, the leading party within the PLO that dominates the West Bank, is largely distrusted by the population in the West Bank, and if open, fair and democratic elections were to be held in the two areas, Hamas would probably win a majority because it is less tainted with corruption and incompetence.