Shaul Arieli, born in Ashkelon (1959), is considered to be an ‘encyclopedia’ of the Israeli-Palestinian political process, and is one of Israel’s leading experts on the demarcation of the future Israeli-Palestinian border and the route of the Separation Barrier. Arieli served as commander of a brigade in the Gaza Strip As part of his military service he was responsible for the preparation of the official negotiations with the Palestinians, as head of the Interim Agreement Administration under the Rabin government, and head of the Peace Administration in the Barak Government. Since retiring from the IDF in 2001, Arieli has dedicated himself to advancing an Israeli-Palestinian permanent status agreement, and was amongst the leading negotiators in the process that brought about the Geneva Initiative in December 2003.
In recent years, Arieli has been active in a wide array of activities aimed at renewing the political process and upholding ethical standards in the IDF’s actions in the Palestinian territories. He assists by advising in legal campaigns and providing expert opinions to different organisations and authorities. In a number of petitions to the High Court of Justice against the delineation of the separation barrier, Arieli has acted as a “Friend of the Court” in his capacity as a board member of the Council for Peace and Security. In this capacity, he has managed to convince the court to obligate the Security apparatus to alter the delineation in a manner which would provide the necessary security to Israelis whilst ensuring the least possible damage to the Palestinian population, as well as safeguarding the prospects of renewal of the peace process.
Lately, Arieli has embarked upon a public campaign against the “Leiberman Plan” and the idea of including a “population exchange” in a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians. Arieli’s work on this issue presents detailed and logical arguments, backed up by relevant statistical data, which expose the idea as being not only inhumane and in contravention of human rights and democratic principles, but also legally impossible, impractical and inefficient even according to the approach of those who propose it.
Arieli has made dozens of appearances in the media, and has conducted hundreds of lectures and field tours for close to 30,000 people from different sectors of Israeli society, mainly public figures, academics, security officials and journalists.
Arieli undertook his academic studies at Tel Aviv University, including a BA in Political Science and an MA in Management Studies. He completed both degrees with distinction.
Arieli has published dozens academic articles in both Hebrew and English, in the fields of Management and the Israeli-Palestinian political process, and has also published many newspaper opinion pieces. In 1996, he published a collection of articles entitled “Quality and Excellence from Theory to Practice”, which analyse management developments implemented in IDF field units. In 2004, Arieli, together with Ron Pundak, published a book entitled “The Territorial Aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian Permanent Status Negotiations”. This book was published by the Peres Center for Peace. In March 2006, together with Doubie Shwartz and Hadas Tagari, Arieli published “Injustice and Folly”, a Floresheimer Institute publication, which analyses and critiques proposals to cede Arab neighbourhoods from Israel to the future Palestinian State. In June 2006 Arieli published a work of prose, “The Journey of Solo” (Saar Publications). In September 2006, his book documenting the various approaches in the struggle for Israel’s borders was published, entitled “Going for all, Leaving with Nothing” (Carmel Books).His last book, “The Wall of Folly”‘ came out in 2008 .
In the course of his army service, Arieli served in various commanding posts in the Paratroopers Unit, was the Commander of the Northern Brigade in Gaza (at the level of Colonel), and was responsible for the evacuation and transfer of Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in 1994. He served as Deputy Military Secretary to the Minister of Defence and Prime Minister, and headed the Interim Agreement Administration in the West Bank and was later head of the Peace Administration.
Shaul was the seventh and youngest child to his parents who emigrated to Israel from Iran. He is married to Or, and is father to Lehet, Eshed and Ofek, who all live in Reut. Shaul is a man of the written word, and “swallows” books. He is also an amateur tour guide, and is highly familiar with the various scenic routes and spots of the country, which he enjoys traversing both on foot and by bicycle, and learning about through study of the history of the land of Israel. In his youth Shaul served as the director of the municipal student council and played handball in the Israel youth team and in the national league.