Original Thinking: No going back

Why should Israel give in to international pressure without a guaranteed right to regain land if it is attacked from the territory it gives away?

An IDF soldier at  the West Bank security barrier. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An IDF soldier at the West Bank security barrier.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
You know what the one major problem would be should Israel foolishly agree to surrender territory to an aggressive new Palestinian state? There is no going back. The world will never allow Israel to reconquer any territory.
Why should Israel give in to international pressure without a guaranteed right to regain land if it is attacked from the territory it gives away? Mark Langfan, expert on national security, has not been able to get a proper answer from any of Israel’s top national security experts to the “what ifs” of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
For example, say Israel agrees to surrender land back to 1967 lines, including minor land swaps? What if the Palestinian leadership make good on their threat to eliminate what is left of the “Zionist regime”? What if the next Arab Islamic state, Palestine, is taken over by radical forces that then choose to target Israel? What then? What if rockets are fired into Ben-Gurion Airport and no airline dares fly to Israel? What happens when missiles start landing on sensitive targets in Tel Aviv from the West Bank heights overlooking the slim coastal plain of rump-state Israel – where 70 percent of our population is cowering in fear? As US Senator Lindsey Graham said at a press conference at the King David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, after meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on January 3, 2014, “Once you withdraw the ability to go back is almost impossible.”
Are we allowed to invade a sovereign state in self-defense? Yes, under the right conditions – but international law will require that we retreat within a very limited timeframe. So we would be in the same situation we are now in with respect to Gaza, where neither invading nor responding to aggressive acts give us any permanent quiet.
We will be suspended in a state of limbo, between bouts of nervous tension as our enemies build up stockpiles of ever-improving and more deadly weaponry, as we see with Hezbollah in Lebanon and with Hamas in Gaza, until they feel the time is ripe to, once again, launch deadly attacks against our exposed belly in the central heartland of our reduced state.
Langfan questioned Amos Yadlin, head of the Institute of National Security Studies. Yadlin is considered one of Israel’s top security advisors. He has the ear of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Yet even Yadlin couldn’t adequately answer Langfan’s puzzle of what would be Israel’s military and political answer to a life under threat following aggressive action, slaughter and destruction of infrastructure? What would be permissible, and what would be forbidden, for an Israel under attack? Dr. Menachem Klein, Senior Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, addressed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on “A New Approach to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict” in which he laid out the parameters of Israeli concessions.
But nowhere did he outline Israel’s legitimate responses should a new Palestinian nation launch war or terror against a reduced Israel.
Ziad Asali, the founder of a pro-Palestinian think tank and advocacy group in Washington, said an independent Palestinian state would end the conflict so Israel needn’t worry about security. Can we believe him with Hamas waiting in the wings? US Secretary of State John Kerry assures Israel of America’s commitment to Israel’s security, but will he be around when short-range missiles start falling on Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Haifa? What exactly would America’s role be under such a scenario? The Israeli public has not been given any satisfactory answer to such a potential scenario, not by our politicians, not by our generals and certainly not by our national security experts. In fact, they haven’t been given any answer at all.
We, the public, have not heard one leader openly address this issue, save to say that any Palestinian state will be demilitarized.
Not good enough.
Israelis absolutely deserve to have our leaders come up with clear answers to this critically important scenario before being asked to expose themselves to life-threatening danger. This is, after all, the prime fear that prevents so many Israelis from accepting the notion of a two-state solution.
Those I have spoken to who approve of surrendering land for peace seem not to have thought deeply about the potential downside of such a deal. They blithely leave that headache to those in power. This is naïve, wishful thinking.
Certainly, the world would accept an Israeli response to any aggressive act from another country, but to what extent? Would it allow Israel to declare that we have the right, based on agreements that a new Palestinian state would not indulge in future violence, to reinvade and retake territory if it infringed on such an agreement? Would the international community agree to such a move? It is highly unlikely.
If a future Palestinian state is controlled by Hamas or worse, democratically elected or otherwise, and they begin to take violent actions against Israel, would the Jewish state have the right, under international law, to invade and remove this enemy leadership? Almost certainly not.
The international community would ensure that any response be strictly limited in power and length and be within acceptable norms. We can be sure that the United Nations Security Council will quickly insist that “all violence will cease immediately.”
Foreign “peace keeping” forces, be they United Nations or NATO, would step aside when conflict begins. So they would not be there to protect any party, neither Israel nor a new Palestine.
There is a total lack of commitment or guarantee by the international community on how they will protect Israelis and Israeli sovereignty should the new Palestine they are pressuring Israel to accept become a rogue state.
Should an essential condition of any peace agreement be that any Palestinian state would jeopardize and forfeit its right to exist if it continues the radical terror tactics that endanger the Jewish State of Israel? A two-state solution is essential for any Palestinian leader to initially push for their self-determination, but where is the Israeli self-defense element should a Palestinian regime continue a staged plan for Israel’s destruction? Whichever way you look at it, the vast majority of Israel’s population will endure a future of fear given a new Palestinian state on the heights above the exposed Jewish state’s central plain.
The author is the special consultant on delegitimization issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College in Israel. He is also the author of the book
Israel Reclaiming the Narrative. www.israelnarrative.com.