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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why a 'Palestinian state' was a bad idea in 1989 and is a worse one today

In February 1989, Professor Louis Rene Beres wrote an article in which he discussed why a 'Palestinian state' is a bad idea for Israel. The article was positively prescient (well, maybe except for the part about Iraq which no one could have foreseen). Arutz Sheva reprints it with two small updates in brackets.
The following article appears exactly as it was written by Professor Louis René Beres more than 23 years ago, except for two editor's comments in brackets. It is important to reconsider at this particular moment, in late November 2012, when the Palestinian Authority leadership, in a diplomatic end-run around still-binding international legal obligations to Israel, expects to receive formal U.N. recognition as a nonmember observer state.
A pair of prominent Israeli commentators has recently pointed out that continued control of the "territories" – that is, Judea and Samaria - would have grave consequences for Israel's security. In this connection, Yehoshafat Harkabi, a former chief of military intelligence (AMAN), argues, in his newest book, ISRAEL'S FATEFUL HOUR, that a refusal to end “occupation” of West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza will produce escalating terrorism and further incentives for war by neighboring Arab states. Abba Eban, Foreign Minister of Israel from 1966 to 1974, insists in a January 2, 1989 editorial in The New York Times ("Israel, Hardly the Monaco of the Middle East"), that Israel would have nothing to fear from an independent “Palestine.” Such a state, he claimed, "would be the weakest military entity on earth."
In these assessments, Harkabi is certainly correct, but nowhere does he compare the risks to Israel of an ongoing "occupation" with those of a Palestinian state. If he had offered such a comparison, perhaps he would have understood that continuing Israeli administrative control of Judea/Samaria/Gaza would certainly have its risks, but that a bordering state of Palestine would be far worse. As for Mr. Eban, he is wrong altogether.
If there were to be an Arab-ruled state in Judea/Samaria/Gaza, its particular danger to Israel would lie less in its own army, than in the assorted insurgents that would soon shelter themselves in "Palestine." To suggest that the principal risks to Israel could be ascertained by simply comparing the Israeli army to the far more modest forces of this 23rd Arab state, would assume an incorrectly static condition in the new enemy country, one that would offer only the "best case" scenario for Israel.
These suggestions, therefore, are hardly in Jerusalem's best interests. Israel is not "the Monaco of the Middle East," but neither would Palestine be as benign a mini-state as Abba Eban suggests. Before Israel can reasonably conclude that the so-called "occupation" is intolerable, its leaders will first have to determine whether it is actually less tolerable than Palestinian statehood. If it isn't less tolerable, then rationality would require continuing administrative control, however painful, costly and unfortunate.
And such rationality would not even take into account the overwhelmingly all-important fact that Judea and Samaria are inherent parts of the Jewish State under authoritatively binding international law.

...
It follows from all of this that Palestine would pose a very serious security risk to Israel, and that this risk could become far greater than that of maintaining Israeli control of "the territories." This does not mean that Israel and the Palestinians should steer clear of meaningful negotiations, or that Israel should neglect concerning itself with protecting the peremptory human rights of Arab populations under its control.
But it does mean that any reasonable assessments of Israel's security must always compare the expected costs of both principal options for Judea/Samaria/Gaza: IDF military administration versus independence.
In the absence of such an essential comparison, Israel could go from bad to worse, from a situation that is conspicuously debilitating and demoralizing, to one that is utterly intolerable.

Read the whole thing.

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