In my last post, I pointed out one of the reasons that peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is not just around the corner. Here’s another:
From “How the Changing Nature of Threats to Israel Affects Vital Security Arrangements,” by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland:
…events over the past ten years have revealed a marked change in the types of threats to be expected from a Palestinian state, if such a state comes into being, or from the existing Palestinian entity. This involves a switch to three types of weaponry that create problems that are very difficult to handle:
- Rockets and missiles of different varieties, positioned throughout the West Bank, would be easily able to cover the entire area of the State of Israel.
- Advanced anti-aircraft missiles would be capable of shooting down not only large passenger aircraft flying into Ben-Gurion International Airport, but also helicopters and even fighter planes.
- Anti-tank missiles that are highly effective up to a range of 5 km. can easily cover not only strategic positions such as Israel’s north-south Highway 6, but well beyond, including other sites that are crucial to Israel’s defense.
The common denominator among all three types of weaponry is that they all fundamentally contradict the guidelines discussed for security arrangements in any agreement with the Palestinians.
The Necessity of Controlling the Territory
Ten years ago it was said that the answer to coping with the Palestinian threat to Israel was a demilitarized Palestinian state. But what does this mean? If such a state is stripped of tanks, artillery, and aircraft, it is probable that a detailed agreement to that effect will be signed and a monitoring system will be instituted to oversee its enforcement.
However [today], the real threat comes not from tanks but from rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-tank missiles. The common denominator among all of these is the ease of smuggling and clandestine manufacture, as is taking place today in Gaza. No monitoring system that may be established will be able to prevent this.
For instance, in a convoy of tens or even hundreds of trucks carrying crates of agricultural produce, there is nothing to prevent missiles from being concealed. Nor would there be any problem in storing such weapons in houses and cellars in built-up neighborhoods of Tulkarm, Kalkilya, or Nablus in the West Bank, nor any way of knowing of their existence until they are used against Israel. The threat that these weapons pose to Israel is much more significant than that of tanks or airplanes. On the contrary, there are various excellent means of combating tanks and artillery, but no effective way of combating smuggling or the local production of missiles. That being so, the term “demilitarized state” is an almost meaningless concept, if not accompanied by a monitoring system. It is well known that even in the best possible scenario, the existing systems are able to monitor only standard military weapons. The only way to monitor the prevention of smuggling of such types of weapons into the West Bank, or prevent their manufacture within it, is control…
If Israel were to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, then the area to the east of the Israel-Palestine border would be home not only to the Palestinian Authority, but to other potential enemies too, since an agreement with the Palestinians provides no guarantee of an agreement with Hizbullah or peace with Syria. The question of whether Israel is able to defend itself is relevant not only in relation to the Palestinians, but should also be examined in the not unreasonable scenario of a war with Syria, Hizbullah, and the Palestinians.
Until the definition of the Palestinian Cause (see my previous post) changes radically, the only guarantee of security is the practical ability to prevent or repel an attack.
Discussions about the ‘peace process’ seem to revolve mostly about what the Arabs will get. What will the borders be? How much of Jerusalem will Israel give up? Lately, to a much smaller extent, there is talk about an Israeli demand for recognition. But the questions raised by Eiland are much more fundamental.
Maybe we should stop worrying so much about the political issues and more about the physical security of Israel.