A case for preemptive action

It must be said clearly: After Israel’s withdrawals during the Oslo process and the Gaza disengagement, we don’t have anything more to give (territorially) and we have no one to give it to.

Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah includes $800 million in annual financial support, the supply of 130,000 rockets and missiles (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah includes $800 million in annual financial support, the supply of 130,000 rockets and missiles
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s security challenges have again been at the center of the public debate over the last several days. Nonetheless, the public debate has been lacking a conversation about how to prevent the force build-up of our enemies in bordering countries and territories.
It is clear that the capabilities of Hamas (and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza) are getting stronger from one military round to the next one. This has been the reality over the last 13 years, since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Still, the main threat is actually from the North.
Hezbollah significantly upgraded its capabilities during the 12 years since the end of the Second Lebanon War, despite the fact that for about half of this period the group has been deeply involved in the internal war in Syria. The actions taken by Israel from time to time against the force build-up of Hezbollah has delayed this process, but has not stopped it.
About a year and a half ago, in an article I wrote together with Ron Tira in the journal of the Institute for National Security Studies, we presented Israel’s redlines in regards to the Syrian-Lebanese context. We presented, in all its severity, the Iranian effort – through its proxy Hezbollah – to develop the capability to make a qualitative strike on Israel’s military and civilian infrastructures.
The objective of Hezbollah’s precision missile factories in Lebanon is to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles. These missiles will be able to target “deep inside Israel, with an accuracy of 10 meters,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained in his last speech at the UN, two month ago.
If Hezbollah will achieve such capabilities, it will be able to cause extremely significant damages to Israel during a confrontation. This is why, in our article in the INSS, we clearly marked it as a redline.
In my opinion, we are now approaching the point of no return.
If an Israeli preemptive strike is not carried out in the near future, the window of opportunity may close. This means that future attacks might be far less effective and will involve a much heavier price. The gain will be lower and the price will be higher.
A preemptive strike might cause a response, but Israel will pay a much heavier price in the next round of confrontation if we don’t act.
Hezbollah’s goal to achieve qualitative strike capabilities on Israel’s civilian and military home front is a part of their broader strategy, which is to constrain Israel’s strategic freedom of action, including in the context of a possible future Iranian nuclear breakthrough.
I call for a preemptive strike against precision missile factories in Lebanon and other strategic threats that Hezbollah is developing in Lebanon and I will back up and stand by such a decision.
At the same time, a new approach is also required to deal with the Iranian attempt to establish itself in Syria. So far in this arena, the Israeli pattern of action has been “shipment hunting” while the Iranian strategy has been to adamantly stick to its goal. It has been careful not to divert from its goal in any way, to the extent that it does not even react to attacks carried out by Israel. The Iranians have built an infrastructure in Syria that includes, among other things, intelligence systems, surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-air missiles.
Israel should not be deterred and should continue its attacks in Syria. The restriction of activity on the part of Israel for an extended period of time (as has been the case during the last eight weeks) is likely quickly limiting the freedom of action needed for us to achieve our goal.
The reality in Syria after the country’s long civil war will make it more difficult for us to act there in the future. Israel must ensure, by whatever means necessary (including by military means), that the threat of a qualitative Iranian military buildup in Syria is entirely removed before the window of opportunity closes. This will probably require more intense Israeli activity.
ON THE political front, we hear that the American administration intends to publish the so-called “deal of the century” plan. The coordination between the current US administration and the Israeli government today is at an all-time high.
We do not know the details of the plan, but I can only hope that the current American administration – which has so far excelled in dealing with the issue – will avoid repeating the same mistakes made by previous administrations. 
Previous administrations were wrong to place at the center of the “solution” the idea of establishing a new Arab state in the heart of our land. This miserable idea is not only not part of the solution, it only takes us further from peace and security. It will exacerbate instability in the region and, along with it, Israel’s security problems. This is why many Israelis have expectations that our greatest friend will now bring a fresh and new approach, as it did during the last two years.
It must be said clearly: After Israel’s withdrawals during the Oslo process and the Gaza disengagement, we don’t have anything more to give (territorially) and we have no one to give it to.
Future directions for any political process must be detached from the Oslo concept and be based on regional arrangements that include Jordan and Egypt. In the future, the Arab autonomy in Judea and Samaria (the Palestinian Authority) should be connected to Jordan. Until 1988 the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria were Jordanian citizens. A new tiny Arab state in the heart of our land cannot and will not be viable. Israel should not return to the Oslo paradigm.
In conclusion, the upcoming period will include difficult and bold decisions. As stated, I will run in the 2019 elections in order to return and represent my party – the Likud. I will do so in order to strengthen my party based on our path, founded on the firm conviction and protection of our rights and interests in our country.
The text is based on the speech Gideon Sa’ar gave at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference.