In a speech at the opening of Herut’s National Council in October 1948, Menachem
Begin attacked the government’s foreign policy at the time, which blindly relied
on the assurances given by the United Nations to guarantee our national
Begin believed that “the directors of our foreign policy do not
see... not the actual international reality, not our strategic position and not
the state of our enemies. Since these blind people believe in the UN, its army,
and its decisions, they have not prepared the power of the Jewish
Throughout the history of our region, we have repeatedly witnessed
the establishment of “peacekeeping forces,” which are ostensibly to serve as a
buffer between parties in the Middle East conflict and help keep the peace.
However, in reality these forces have repeatedly acted against their established
purpose and mandate.
Since the War of Independence, no international
forces have intervened, not even once, to prevent attacks emanating from Arab
nations or by terrorist organizations against the State of Israel. On the
contrary, each time there was concern of an escalation, the international forces
pulled back their troops and avoided any friction, especially when the State of
Israel was attacked.
In certain instances, these forces turned a blind
eye or even collaborated with those Arab nations in violation of signed
Such was the case of the peacekeeping force, the United
Nations Emergency Force, established in November 1956. UNEF’s mandate included
monitoring the IDF withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip and
ensuring freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. In May 1967, the
Egyptians called on the commander of UNEF to withdraw part of his forces from
the area. Then-UN secretary-general U Thant, in a puzzling decision, decided to
withdraw all UNEF forces. This almost immediately resulted in the Six Day
The fear or inability of the international forces to confront
breaches of peace in the region is also currently in evidence.
Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), established after the Yom Kippur
War, has authority for “intervention in cases of entry to the separation area by
military personnel from either side, or attempted operations.” Following an
escalation in the Syrian civilian war, the Croatian parliament decided in March
to withdraw around 100 of its soldiers. This month the Austrian government also
announced the withdrawal of its forces.
On our southern border, after the
signing of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt, the Multinational Force and
Observers (MFO) was mobilized.
Its mandate was “to supervise the
implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of
Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.”
helpless forces have been mere spectators to the increasing anarchy in Sinai,
which is a real danger to Israel. In recent years, we have witnessed terrorist
attacks, kidnapping attempts and the launching of rockets at Eilat.
further example is the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, created in
1994, As the IDF discovered in 2001, some of the TIPH observers transferred to
Fatah’s Tanzim photographic and written information regarding the actions of the
IDF and the Jewish residents of Hebron. In 2010, a Foreign Ministry report
stated that it is clear that the monitors almost solely dealt with criticizing
On our northern border, after the Second Lebanon War, the mandate
of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was expanded by UN Security
Council Resolution 1701. The new mandate determined that UNIFIL has the power to
“take all the necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces... to ensure
that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind,”
and its duty is to protect civilians from the threat of violence.
forces did not release one report criticizing Hezbollah for fear of retaliation,
even while it continues to massively rearm.
While there is much talk
about it, there is no question that any international forces stationed in the
Jordan Valley would not be in the least effective.
The area would merely
become another Gaza or southern Lebanon.
The notion that we can rely on
others was wrong in 1948 and remains erroneous today, in 2013. There is no
operational value to international forces, and frequently they act in a biased
and one-sided manner in violation of their mandates.
The State of Israel
cannot remain blind to this history of failure, and should use all available
means to defend our people and borders by ourselves.
As the saying goes,
God only helps those who help themselves.
The writer is chairman of the
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.