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Saturday, August 16, 2008

The 'Palestinians' are winning

In the weekend JPost, editor David Horovitz argues that the 'Palestinians' continuing intransigence is defeating Israel's inability to articulate its claims to land beyond the 'green line.'
But Israel has gone from Gaza. And the extraordinarily costly West Bank security barrier - constructed at as profound an investment as any national boundary anywhere - represents an immense, undeniable declaration of Israeli intent to retreat from the overwhelming proportion of the West Bank as well, with the settlements on the "wrong" side of the fence necessarily rendered second class and vulnerable.

In its original conception, the barrier, which has proved so effective a defense against the bombers, was planned to place about a seventh of the West Bank on the "safe side," the Israeli side, and was lambasted as such by the Palestinians and, indeed, by many Israelis. Serially petitioned by Palestinian landowners, the Supreme Court relentlessly forced it westwards, so that the final route will take in only about half the intended West Bank territory. The Palestinians continue to oppose the very fact of its construction, with considerable overseas backing. The mainstream international community, meanwhile, recognizes the security imperative behind the barrier, but wishes it were constructed along the Green Line.

And so, as the demonstrators of Nil'in and their supporters spend the next year or so waging their weekly or even daily struggle against the building of these final few kilometers, a more accurate assessment, I think, is that the Palestinian employment of intifada violence has rid them of Israel's presence in Gaza, and produced, in the shape of the barrier, physical evidence of Israeli readiness to relinquish almost all of the West Bank. And this has been achieved in the absence of genuine Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and amid a rise of Islamic extremism resolutely committed to using all means to achieve Israel's destruction.

Far from alienating Western support for the Palestinians, furthermore, the last two decades of conflict have produced an increasingly overt consensus even among Israel's friends that the final route of the barrier - which would then be acknowledged as the border - must run pretty much along the pre-'67 lines.

Today, we don't merely have familiarly hostile individuals and forums and nations demanding our retreat to the parameters of 41 years ago, but the likes of France's markedly pro-Israeli president and Britain's son-of-an-Israel-loving-clergyman telling us the same. And we have a US presidential contender, Barack Obama, making only his second brief visit here, who is certain enough that he understands the historical flux as to boil down Israel's claims in Judea and Samaria to a "buffer zone," and declare, as a friend, that if Israel wants to maintain all or part of it, it needs to take into account the "antagonism" this will cause on the other side.

HOWEVER MUCH we might wish to agonize and indulge in internal recriminations as to the cause, the fact is that Jewish biblical and historical claims on Judea and Samaria, though they might be recognized in theory, are of little practical consequence even to Israel's friends these days. And even the security argument - Israel's right to sufficient territorial depth to enable it to protect itself against proven aggressors - resonates increasingly narrowly.

The Palestinians and those who spoke for them rejected the UN's division of British mandatory Palestine, and they tried relentlessly to wipe out the State of Israel even in the 1948-1967 period when neither Gaza, nor the West Bank, nor east Jerusalem were in Israeli hands - facts which savagely undermine the argument that the conflict would be resolved if only Israel relinquished that same land. Israel has a profound historical connection to these territories, was acutely vulnerable to attack when it did not hold them, and captured them in a war forced upon it - strong arguments, all, against a subsequent return to the '67 lines.

And yet, in trying to keep it all, Israel is gradually losing all support for keeping any of this territory. There is still widespread international backing for Israel's right to exist, a widespread understanding that we deserve to survive. But there is far too little understanding of what dimensions are required for that survival, of what constitute defensible borders - in no small part because Israel has been unable to articulate them consensually and effectively, and then fight for them.

So, sure, the Palestinians might have waged their struggle differently, and the villagers of Ni'lin and elsewhere would have been spared the diggers fencing them in.

But is it not really we Israelis who should have waged our struggle differently, for what we deem are vital parts of this land... if we could only agree on where the barrier, the border, existentially needs to run? Is Palestinian inflexibility not bulldozing Israeli vagueness?
As you may recall, earlier this week the 'Palestinians' turned down an offer that essentially came to 100% of Judea and Samaria (93% plus the equivalent of 5.5% in Israeli territory that borders Gaza, plus 1.5% in a 'safe passage' corridor between Judea and Samaria and Gaza).

How much of Judea and Samaria does Israel have to retain in order to be secure? According to an American military study done shortly after the Six Day War - 100% (pdf link).
Within the 1967 lines, from a purely military standpoint, Israel loses the ability to defend itself. According to the principles of defense adopted by armies all over the world, an adequate defensive plan allows for sufficient depth to enable defensive forces to be deployed and to preserve a suitable distance between the front and the strategic interior of the country. Within the pre-1967 lines, Israel was only nine miles wide at its narrowest point. Most of its national infrastructure (airports, cities, industries, and inter-city highways) was fully exposed to hostile fire from military forces deployed along the adjacent West Bank hill terrain, which served as an ideal platform of attack for regional military forces.

After the Six-Day War, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded: “From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured Arab territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders.” Regarding the West Bank, they wrote that Israel should “control the prominent high ground running north-south.”

• Since the Joint Chiefs’ report, the range of effective weapons fire has grown with the advent of new military technologies, such as precision-guided munitions. Indeed, the minimal defensive depth defined by the U.S. Army as necessary for its own divisions has almost doubled in recent years. In a fully nuclearized Middle East in the future, in which deterrent forces are mutually neutralized, the importance of these conventional military considerations will only increase.

• According to the 9/11 Commission Report, radical Islamic terrorism is likely to threaten the West and Israel for decades to come. Even if Israel reaches an understanding with its immediate Palestinian neighbors, global jihadi forces are likely to continue to target Israeli civilians by infiltrating Palestinian areas and smuggling highly lethal arms. This process already began in Gaza, after Israel’s disengagement in August 2005. At present, it is unlikely that the Palestinians themselves will dismantle the terrorist arsenals that have accumulated in the areas under their jurisdiction. In fact, the demilitarization provisions of the Oslo Accords were fully violated by the Palestinian Authority throughout the 1990s.

• The current West Bank security fence cannot become a future eastern border for Israel. Israel’s security fence in the West Bank was only designed to neutralize the threat of infiltration by suicide bombers; it does not affect the threat from long-range sniper fire, mortars, and other high-trajectory weapons. The security fence would also not neutralize shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles that could pose a threat to all commercial aviation. Defensible borders in the West Bank must include adequate security zones that take into account this terrorist weaponry that has been used in the past and will likely be used in the future.

• Defensible borders must provide Israel with the capability to fight terrorism successfully, as well as to defeat a conventional military assault if Israel is once again attacked. For these reasons, defensible borders must include the following three elements:
• Control of the external border of the West Bank along the Jordan Valley “in the broadest meaning of that term,” as Israel’s late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asserted one month before his assassination. (This applies equally to the border between Gaza and Egyptian Sinai.)

• Broadening the narrow corridor connecting Jerusalem with Tel Aviv from both the north and the south, as well as establishing a defensive perimeter protecting Israel’s capital.

• Shifting Israel’s boundary eastward so that militarily vital territory does not end up under Palestinian control (e.g., the hills dominating Ben-Gurion International Airport and areas adjacent to Israel’s former narrow waist along the coastal plain between Tel Aviv and Netanya).
Read the whole thing (this may be the most important five pages you'll read this week).

Of course, people like Horovitz who can't live with the likelihood that we will never be able to reach an accommodation with the 'Palestinians' even by giving them 100% of Judea and Samaria - let alone at anything less than that - don't want to hear that we actually need to retain 100% of the territory to be secure. And that is why the 'Palestinians' are winning.

What Israel should do - but won't - is get up from the table and walk away and say no more 'negotiations' with the Falsestinians, and that the government will be happy to buy the property of any Falsestinian who wants to leave - permanently - for any other country that will take him. End of game.

But Israel won't do that. It won't even tell its own people that there is no such thing as a 'Palestinian.' And that's why the Falsestinians are winning.


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Daniel434 said...


hhhh :) I'll have to remember that one. hh :D

At 7:47 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Falsestinians are wining because they believe that left to its own devices, Israel will self-destruct.
They don't need to push the Jews into the sea. The Jews will do that for them.


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