Moty & Udi: Contingencies

One of the things they stay up nights to do in the kiriya, the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, is contingency planning. What if Hizballah and Hamas launch their missiles in a coordinated attack? What if the new Egyptian government allows Hamas to get even more sophisticated weapons (this one appears to be moot already)? And so forth.

I hope that the policy people are doing similar planning. For example, what if the UN — in the form of the Security Council or the General Assembly — recognizes the state of ‘Palestine’ according to the 1949 lines?

Actually, I don’t think the question is a ‘what if’ — it’s a ‘when’. And when is probably before the end of 2011.

Although a UNSC resolution could have ‘teeth’ that a GA resolution normally wouldn’t, like the imposition of sanctions on Israel if it doesn’t agree to dismantle settlements within some time frame, even a GA resolution can be used as a justification for action by member states, even military action, as Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz explains here.

But, you say, they can’t do that — the territory is disputed, it is part of the original Palestine Mandate, there are numerous resolutions calling for agreement between all concerned parties, etc.

Forget it. It doesn’t matter. Nations will do what they want and create legal justifications afterward. This is always how it has been. And Palestinian statehood is a (really bad) idea whose time has clearly come.

As I’ve said before, this would be very disadvantageous to Israel compared to the status quo or even to a negotiated pullout — which would be bad enough. It would include no concessions to Israel’s security needs, such as control of the Jordan Valley, a demilitarized ‘Palestine’, control of airspace, etc. And it would not force an end to further Arab claims on Israel, such as the demand to resettle ‘refugees’ in Israel. Even if lip service were given to these issues, that’s all it would be — there would be no concrete guarantees.

Another possibility is that the UN might not impose the ‘solution’ itself, but rather give the job of working out the messy details to another entity, like the Quartet. The difference between this and the Road Map would be that this new Mandatory Power would have the ability to force the parties to accept its dictates.

Ehud Barak has suggested that it’s still possible to prevent this by getting the Arabs to agree to bilateral negotiations now:

“Israel’s de-legitimization is in sight. It’s very dangerous and requires action,” Barak stated. He warned against an attempt to push Israel into the same corner South Africa once occupied.

“A political initiative will minimize the chances along the way. We have not tried to put all core issues on the table in the past two years. Israel must say it is ready to discuss security borders, refugees and Jerusalem and it will get a chance. If it fails, responsibility will be placed on the other side.” — YNet

The problem with this is that from the Arab point of view there’s no reason to make a bilateral agreement. If the objective were the rational maximization of benefits to both sides, the kind of “New Middle East” that Shimon Peres envisaged, then this would be the way to go. But the objective of the Arab side is different. In fact, they are prepared to make significant sacrifices in almost every area in order to bring about the end of the Jewish state. They don’t want to maximize their benefits, they want to weaken Israel as much as possible.

They know that in areas related to Israel’s security they will get a better deal from the UN, the Quartet or anyone else than they will from Israel. So the probability of meaningful negotiations is zero.

It’s likely that the UN will want to ‘unify’ the Palestinians, and certainly both factions will pretend to get along well enough to permit this. My guess is that without the IDF to protect it, Fatah is history, unless perhaps it gets new leadership. But as I argued recently, it really doesn’t matter which faction ultimately gets control of the Palestinian entity — both are committed to the elimination of the Jewish state.

Right now the question is what to do about Hamas. Should Israel exercise restraint, knowing that Hamas will ramp up terrorism? Or should it invade Gaza again to re-establish deterrence?

It’s not an easy question. The precedents of Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara show that international pressure to stop before Hamas is completely neutralized will be immense, and condemnation afterward will be severe. It would certainly reinforce the movement for the UN to establish a Palestinian state. In fact, regardless of how careful the IDF is to prevent civilian casualties, accusations of massacres and war crimes will be made loudly and immediately. These could even conceivably be used to justify intervention according to the model of Libya, that is, the need to ‘protect’ Arabs from Israel. It’s also been suggested that Israeli action against Hamas would strengthen the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

On the other hand, Hamas is getting stronger every day, thanks to the porousness of the Egyptian border, and fully intends to use its weapons against Israel. Maybe it’s a good idea to nip them in the bud before they become a part of ‘unified Palestine’.  War with Hamas is unavoidable. If not now, when?

Of course, any such campaign would have to be carried to completion. Do Israel’s leaders have the guts to do this in the face of pressure from the US? How far would the US and Europe go to stop it? Can Hizballah be deterred from joining in?

Lots of questions.

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2 Responses to “Moty & Udi: Contingencies”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I have a question which I do not myself have a real answer to. A unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians is in direct opposition to the U.S. position which advocates a negotiated settlement. Obama might surprise in a very bad way and support the unilateral declaration but it is more likely that he will not. How much influence does the U.S. have on its allies, and can its opposition to this step mean that the step essentially changes nothing?

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    The Obama Administration is a very loose cannon. As far as Europe is concerned, they all voted for the UNSC resolution against settlements. My crystal ball is not so good, but I know that every day I trust the Obama Administration less and less to support Israel.