One of the most prevalent memes among those who defend the Occupation, settlements and oppose a Palestinian state (that is, the entire Israeli cabinet and much of the Knesset) is that Israel can’t possibly return to 1967 borders because the past perfidy of the Arab states has proven that they’re indefensible. Another version of the concept is what Abba Eban so colorfully and falsely depicted as “Auschwitz borders.” Demagogues like Alan Dershowitz have taken up the cry as well.
None other than Israel’s “knife-in-the-teeth” former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, has told (Hebrew) the “war session” at Shimon Peres’ Presidential conference that Israel defended its border quite well up to 1967 and could do so again. He added that the current borders are not ones that must be maintained in order to protect Israel’s security. He even made this bold statement:
Borders don’t matter.
By which he meant that security is guaranteed not by borders, but rather by secure relations with Israel’s frontline neighbors. He offered the example of Jordan, saying the Jordan Valley was important until 1991, when Israel signed a peace agreement with Jordan. Now the Jordan border is quiet and secure.
Curiously, Haaretz’s English edition article about this session missed the story entirely by omitting any reference to the 1967 borders comment.
Dagan added, in absolute contradiction to Netanyahu and the current government, that the unrest that resulted from the Arab Spring offers Israel a tremendous new opportunity to forge different sets of alliances. With Iraq no longer in a position to threaten Israel (as it did when Saddam ruled) and Syria facing its own internal conflict, now is the time to resolve the Palestinian conflict and build better relations with neighbors like Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Gulf States. Doing so would offer Israel security in the future should any single state threaten it. Those states with which it had built solid relations could be expected to come to Israel’s aid in keeping the peace.
Though Dagan said he wasn’t especially enamored by the borders specified by the Arab League initiative, it would serve well as a starting point for discussions. This contrasts with the disdain with which Israel’s current leaders greeted the renewed peace initiative offered by the Arab states only a month ago.
Dagan agreed with those who reject the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. He said the solution would be to work with Arab states to create areas in which these refugees could be resettled permanently. This reminds us that even Israelis who can see certain aspects of the conflict clearly, continue to have blinders about others. Contrary to Dagan’s claim, it is not the responsibility of Arab states to resolve the Palestinian conflict on Israel’s behalf. That burden lies with Israel itself, which created the refugee crisis to begin with during the Nakba. Israel cannot be a state that abandons its moral obligations in order to prop up a continuing Jewish supremacy.
On a different matter related to Dagan, Israeli reporter Amir Rappoport reported recently that there was an intelligence dust-up in London, in which MI5 believed the Mossad may’ve been involved in spying. It turns out that after closer inspection, it wasn’t the Mossad that was responsible, but rather former Mossad agents working for a private entity investigating the failure of one of Iceland’s major banks. The Israelis were engaged in surveillance and rummaging through documents. MI5 for a time believed this might be official government sponsored espionage. So they turned to the Israeli embassy to determine what was going on. The embassy informed the Brits that the operation wasn’t security-related, but economic espionage, involving a failed commercial transaction.
The Brits politely informed the Israeli government that if former Mossad agents want to operate in the UK they should do so with more discretion. The embassy was not pleased with this development.
The agents, it turns out, were working for Meir Dagan who, since he left the agency, has begun consulting for several energy firms, among them Arcanum Global (there is a promised boom developing in exploiting Mediterranean energy reserves, which no doubt has something to do with Dagan’s new endeavor). Arcanum was founded by prominent Arab-American, Ron Wahid. It has consulted for parties to several contentious energy-related disputes in places like Kazakhstan and the Emirates.
Though the UK affair could’ve involved virtually any sort of commercial matter, it seems likely the intrigue would be energy-related.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.