Former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has announced his support for a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, on the condition that the current peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority aren’t successful. He is justifying his position by citing the threats from the PA leadership to go back to the United Nations with their statehood bid. In a curious nod to the failures of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Oren goes on to qualify his stand by emphasizing that this time, Israel should protect its security interests.
One has to wonder what planet Oren is living on when he speaks of protecting security interests. Handing over the strategic Judea-Samaria mountain ridge to the Fatah-Hamas-led PA is nothing short of the abandonment of Israel’s security interests, bordering on national suicide.
I hereby challenge Oren to answer the following questions: As a nation that cares about its citizens and hopefully has learned the sad lessons of the hasty retreats from Lebanon and Gaza, can we afford to take the risk of surrendering the Western Samarian hills with their bird’s-eye overview of Israel’s only international airport? Does the esteemed former ambassador really want to turn the strategic hilltop communities of Samaria into missile launching pads – learn the lessons of Gaza – for Hamas and Islamic Jihad?
Once the State of Palestine is established and unilaterally given control and sovereignty over those high points, how does he plan to stop the missiles from flying? Furthermore, once we withdraw, how does he intend to prevent the reestablishment of bomb and weapon factories in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Kalkilya and all the others which, unlike Gaza, are in close proximity to Israel’s largest cities? This is not some theoretical guessing game in the halls of academia. We have been in this movie before and it’s not a good one. Such a plan endangers Israel’s very existence as a sovereign nation in its land and it would be the epitome of suicidal naiveté to implement such a plan of retreat.
As I propose in the last chapter of my most recent book, Peace for Peace: Israel in the New Middle East, a unilateral peace plan doesn’t have to include Israeli retreat. We are a vibrant, growing nation in which the Jewish rate of population growth is increasing, while the Arab growth rate is dropping. That doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria who choose to accept Israeli sovereignty. We can offer a challenging path to loyal citizenship for all non-citizen residents that would include a comprehensive course in Zionist history and civics, culminating in national service and an oath of loyalty with hand on Tanach.
All those who would reject this option would be given a stipend, with a limited amount of time to leave peacefully for another country.
The foolish land for peace formula, otherwise known as the two-state solution, whether bilateral or unilateral, is a recipe for the destruction of Israel. Protecting our national interests means safeguarding our territory, protecting the low points, protecting the airports, and protecting all of the citizens of our nation. Any other approach, including Oren’s plan, is simply irresponsible.
The author is former mayor of Shiloh. He is founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund and the author of several books, including Peace for Peace and The Islamic Tsunami. He can be found at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com or at www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org.