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(photo credit: REUTERS)
The 90 rockets fired at Israel by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Gaza on Wednesday are not just another round of the same old Middle East turmoil to which the world is unfortunately accustomed. Coming just as US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to conclude a deal to create a Palestinian state, the rockets offer 90 vivid demonstrations of why such a state must not be created.
For years, the international community badgered Israel to withdraw from Gaza. Israelis were told that if only the occupation ended, the Palestinians would embrace peace. That the presence of Israeli soldiers and the Jewish communities in Gaza were the obstacles to peace. That once Israel withdrew, the Gaza Palestinians would no longer have a reason to attack Israel. And that “if even a single missile were fired into Israel from Gaza,” the IDF would be justified in re-occupying the area.
At the time, Israeli military experts warned that withdrawal was dangerous.
That Gaza was a vital security belt for Israel’s southwestern frontier, and a buffer between Israel and unstable Egypt. That Gaza under Palestinian control would become a breeding ground for terrorists and one huge storage depot for weapons to be used against Israel.
But eventually, the international pressure became unbearable. The constant hectoring by State Department officials and New York Times columnists and European Union envoys wore down Israel’s leaders. They decided to gamble. In 2005, with no demands or preconditions, Israel withdrew all its soldiers from Gaza and forcibly evicted the area’s 10,000 Jewish residents.
For advocates of Israeli withdrawal, Gaza was supposed to set the precedent they hope will soon be repeated – thanks to the Kerry initiative – in the Judea-Samaria (West Bank) territories.
Instead, Gaza has become the most graphic illustration of why relinquishing Judea and Samaria to the perennially hostile and corrupt Palestinian Authority is a bad idea.
Last week, a shipload of advanced Iranian weapons would have reached its destination Gaza, were it not for the last-minute intervention of the Israeli Navy. And last week, 90 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel.
Now let’s imagine how the actions of the Gaza Palestinians would have looked if they had been West Bank Palestinians, acting from inside a Palestinian state.
Despite the felicitous turn of phrase, there is no such thing as “a de-militarized Palestinian state.” An independent state controls its own borders. “Palestine” would be free to open its borders to truckload after truckload after truckload of Iranian (and Syrian and North Korean) weapons.
If Israel tried to intervene, it would be accused of violating Palestinian sovereignty, denounced at the United Nations, and threatened with international sanctions.
Now about those 90 rockets. A Palestinian state in Judea-Samaria would mean that the border with Palestine would reach the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Those 90 rockets might have been aimed at the Western Wall, the Azrieli Towers, or airplanes landing at Ben-Gurion airport.
The shooters would quickly vanish behind the civilian shields of Palestinian orchards, tunnels and safe houses. The government of Palestine would declare that the attacks were “regrettable,” but “of course, we cannot control every extremist element.”
All the while, Palestine would continue to amass a huge arsenal of weapons – just as Hamas has done in Gaza and Hezbollah has done in southern Lebanon – and Israel would be helpless to stop it, without launching a pre-emptive war and inviting the wrath of the international community.
There are many other reasons to be opposed to the creation of a West Bank Palestinian state. There is the likelihood that a drastically shrunken Israel will be unable to prosper economically and have room for new immigrants, that its cities will become unbearably overcrowded and increasingly unlivable. There is the tragedy for the whole Jewish people of repudiating 2,000 years of Jewish longing to return to the ancient Land of Israel – longing expressed in our prayers for a return to the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron, and the Tomb of Rachel, in Bethlehem.
There is the danger that the mass, forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Israelis from those the territories could provoke all-out civil strife in Israel. But for now, let us be reminded that the national security of all Israel is at stake. Those 90 rockets tell us all we really need to know.
Mr. Phillips is president of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia Chapter; Mr. Korn, the former executive editor of The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, is chairman of the RZA-Philadelphia.