Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank in order to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution with the Palestinians and prevent terrorist attacks like that which occurred at the Barkan Industrial Zone from occurring again, says former deputy national security adviser Charles Freilich in his book Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change.
After 70 years and countless bloody wars, as well as enemies with vast rocket and missile arsenals, Israel still does not have a formal national security strategy, because “prime ministers have intentionally avoided doing it.” And while there have been efforts to adopt such a strategy, notably the 2006 Meridor Report, it remains classified.
In his book, Freilich delves into and combines an analysis of the military, diplomatic, demographic and societal challenges that Israel faces, as well as making recommendations for policy changes.
He then presents a detailed proposal for a long-term Israeli national security strategy with the most important policy recommendation being for Israel to find a way to reach an agreement with the Palestinians and lay the groundwork for a two state solution by Israel unilaterally withdrawing from where their state would be.
According to Freilich, Israel’s control over the West Bank was to be a buffer zone between the Jewish State and Arab armies, but instead “Israel in effect annexed it and brought terrorism closer to Israel.”
That terror struck Israel on October 7 when two citizens were shot to death by a 23-year-old Palestinian at the Barkan Industrial Zone
near the West Bank city of Ariel.
“That’s what a one-state solution looks like. That’s what happens when you mingle two sides who hate each other together,” Freilich told the Post
. “We have to bring Jewish Israelis back into Israel so that they aren’t walking around with threats around them.
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“It’s not a political statement but a strategic and Zionist recommendation. If we want to remain a Jewish and democratic state we need to separate from them,” he said. “We need to stop building settlements, and declare that Israel has no claim to the eight to ten percent of the West Bank which remains on the other side of the separation barrier.”
BUT EVEN with pulling Jews out of the West Bank by means of incentives, Freilich stressed that unlike Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the IDF would temporarily remain deployed in the West Bank.
“Maybe once that is out there, maybe Palestinians will come to the table. I am not banking on them, but this lays the groundwork for a two-state solution.”
According to the author, if Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, it would no longer be a Jewish state – and that, he told the Post, is an existential threat “which we are creating with our own hands.
“I don’t care about politics, but the right is creating a one-state reality,” he said. Unfortunately, the circumstances to restart peace negotiations “couldn’t be worse” right now, explaining that while there is no negotiating partner other than the United States, the current administration “is fundamentally dysfunctional at the moment.”
“We have to convince Palestinians that we are serious and that we are [making] some moves to improve the situation and stop making it worse,” he said.
The second most important recommendation, he said, focuses on restraint, defense and diplomacy as a way to address the challenges that Israel faces, as well as the IDF’s ability to deter and defeat Israel’s enemies.
“Today Israel is a strong country – we’ve never been more secure in our entire history. We have the strength today to show restraint,” he said, adding that, nevertheless, Israel must still increase its deterrence against groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Four years after Operation Protective Edge, Hamas decided to change the equation with violent “Great March of Return” riots along the security fence with Israel, with Gazans planting and throwing explosive devices with the intent to harm troops and launching incendiary and explosive aerial devices into southern Israel.
The first killing of an Israeli soldier on the Gaza front occurred during one of these protests when a sniper shot him with a high-powered rifle. Another IDF soldier was badly injured by a sniper in the same area days later in an ambush. Lately, mass infiltrations into Israel have also occurred during these riots, which have become a nightly affair.
ISRAEL HAS also been ineffective in fully deterring Hezbollah, which has increased its rocket arsenal, having some 14,000 rockets in 2006. While the IDF states that its intelligence capabilities have increased dramatically since the Second Lebanon War – with five times the number of targets in the North if another war were to break out – Hezbollah’s arsenal is now believed to have close to 150,000 rockets, many of which could strike deep inside Israel.Hezbollah
is also developing precision missiles, which according to Freilich, puts them close to the top of the threat list.
“We don’t have a strong enough defense to deal with the threat Hezbollah poses,” he said. “And what happens after we destroy Hamas or Hezbollah? Do we occupy their territory? What then? What happens after we leave those areas? Who takes over? It can be much worse and what would we achieve? We would lose hundreds for nothing.”
According to Freilich, Israel must invest more money into defense and more effort into diplomacy – and “because we aren’t fighting for our lives anymore, we can take a somewhat longer-term view.”
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