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Shomron Warns Right of Painful Choices to End Unrest

June 17, 1989|NICK B. WILLIAMS Jr. | Times Staff Writer

JERUSALEM — Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, the Israeli chief of staff, has told pressuring rightist politicians that the Palestinian uprising cannot be resolved militarily, short of mass deportation, starvation or genocide, Israel Radio reported Friday.

The plain-spoken Israeli commander, who earlier this week disclosed that security officials were contemplating tougher measures to counter the 18-month-old insurrection against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, posed the question of military options in a speech to a business group Thursday night.

"People ask why we don't end the intifada ," he said, in remarks broadcast on national radio Friday. "Anyone who wants to end the intifada must remember that there are only three ways to achieve this: transfer, starvation or physical elimination--that is, genocide."

Challenge to Rightists

In citing extreme solutions and mentioning the word genocide , which painfully evokes the Jewish experience under Nazi Germany, Shomron appeared to challenge the rightist camp to think in terms of political solutions to the uprising.

Earlier this year, he had pointed out that the intifada is fueled by the fires of Palestinian nationalism, which, he said, could not be put out by military means alone.

The debate has sharpened in recent weeks as influential rightist ministers of Prime Minister Yit zhak Shamir's Likud Party have pressed for progress in suppressing the uprising in connection with Shamir's peace plan. That plan calls for elections in the occupied territories to find Palestinians with whom Israel would negotiate the territories' future.

Hard-liner Ariel Sharon, the minister of trade, has insisted that no movement be made on political peace talks until the intifada is put down.

Mitzna Wants Out Meanwhile, the military commander in the West Bank, Maj. Gen. Amran Mitzna, a moderate on the political question, has disclosed that he will seek a transfer to another post at the end of August. The issue of finding a replacement has also triggered a discussion about the tactics needed to handle the stone-throwing insurrection.

Sharon has advocated what Shomron called "transfer," which means specifically the deportation of the 1.7 million Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem to neighboring Arab countries. That would be a monumental undertaking and, according to its critics, create severe instability in the whole region.

Starvation--a food blockade and destruction of crops--would be equally extreme.

What Shomron, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and other military officials have tentatively endorsed are a series of actions designed to increase the squeeze on the leaders of the uprising without punishing the general Palestinian population. Among the proposals:

-- Doubling the length of administrative detention--imprisonment without trial or charge--from the present six months to 12 months.

-- Deportation of intifada leaders before their legal appeals have been adjudicated. "The deportee will be allowed in again if the high court upholds his appeal," Shomron said Tuesday in raising the proposal with the parliamentary defense committee.

At midweek, Rabin and Finance Minister Shimon Peres discussed a military request for an immediate infusion of more than $200 million to meet defense needs, most of it designed for operations against the intifada.

Increasing Violence

The debate has been charged with increasing violence in the territories, including controversial vigilante action by Jewish settlers, and by the political pressure of Shamir's peace plan. A response to political initiatives by Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization made over the past eight months, the Shamir plan has agitated Israeli rightists who opposed dealing with any Palestinians.

The military finds itself caught between political poles and fighting an uprising for which it is not trained. Bemoaning the diversion of men and resources, Chief of Staff Shomron put his position bluntly in his appearance before the parliamentary committee.

"The job of the Israeli Defense Forces is to prepare for war. At the end of the day, responsibility for the IDF's performance in the next war will fall on the shoulders of one man: the chief of the general staff."

Military analysts here and elsewhere, however, point out that politically led civil insurrections such as the intifada constitute an increasing percentage of conflicts in the world.

According to an Israeli human rights center that records reported incidents in the occupied territories, May was the most violent month of the intifada since March and April of last year.

The Israeli Information Center reported that 35 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed last month. According to unofficial counts, more than 500 Palestinians have been killed since the uprising began in December, 1987, including more than 40 slain as collaborators by other Palestinians. Israeli deaths are put at 22.

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