JERUSALEM (May. 2)
Israel’s policy of deporting Palestinian activists has not succeeded in curbing the uprising in the administered territories, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin admitted this week.
He also acknowledged that the Israel Defense Force to date has not achieved its goal of restoring calm in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
His remarks, made in an address to members of Kibbutz Hadati, the religious kibbutz movement, appeared to be the first public acknowledgment by government officials that Israel has failed in its efforts to thwart the so-called intifada, which will mark its 17th month next week.
Deportation orders are currently pending for 13 Palestinians, four of whom have already lost their appeals. But no deportations have been carried out so far this year.
Rabin did not say, however, that the defense establishment had abandoned deportation as a punitive measure.
Defense Ministry officials have long complained that legal obstacles undermined the effectiveness of deportations.
Deportees have the right of appeal, first to a military appeals board and, if that fails, to Israel’s High Court of Justice.
Although both bodies have rarely, if ever, failed to uphold a deportation order, the appeals process is time-consuming. The long interval between issuing a deportation order and implementing it reduces its effectiveness, defense officials say.
TOWN COUNCILS NOT FUNCTIONING
“When you want to deport a certain personality, you cannot, and when you can, it is no longer worthwhile,” one senior official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The IDF has not found a way to prevent rock-throwing attacks, which account for 85 percent of the violent incidents in the territories, Rabin said.
It has also failed to attain two of its most important goals: restoring general calm and ensuring “satisfactory functioning” of the Arab municipalities, the defense minister said.
Many local town councils resigned in the early days of the Palestinian uprising and replaced themselves with outlawed “popular committees” backed by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Israeli civil administration appointed new mayors, but most of them soon resigned because of threats to their security.
One of the few remaining in office, Mayor Hassan a-Tawil of El-Birch, was the victim of arson at his home last week.
Rabin’s frank comments were seen as an attempt to set the stage for general elections in the territories, He Implied that was the only way to achieve minimal normalcy.