INTO THE FRAY: Land-for-peace-An historical perspective






For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column

Land-for-peace-An historical perspective  

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 “…a military defeat of Israel would mean the physical extinction of a large part of its population and the political elimination of the Jewish state. To lose a single war is to lose everything” –   Yigal Allon, 1976.

It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):


Several short excerpts:

One does not have to be a military expert to easily identify the critical defects of the armistice lines that existed until June 4, 1967. – Yigal Allon, commander of the Palmach and deputy Prime Minister (Labor), 1976.

Since the early 1990s, and certainly since the Oslo process (1993), the “Land-for-peace” principle  has been Israel’s dominant policy paradigm, particularly, but not exclusively, with regard to the “Palestinian problem”. This is something that is difficult to comprehend…

Land as a “red herring” in the pursuit of peace

Yitzhak Rabin

Indeed, the flawed rationale for the land-for-peace doctrine was forcibly articulated by the man who later embraced it—with calamitous consequences—Yitzhak Rabin. In an address before a joint session of the US Congress (January 28, 1976), he cogently underscored the irrelevance of territory as a cause of Arab enmity towards the Jewish state…




Predicting the perils of Palestinian statehood

Shimon Peres: “Tomorrow in Now”

… over three decades ago; it was none other than the late Shimon Peres, widely considered the principal protagonist in the Oslo process, who warned ominously:
If a Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. Within it there will be bases of the most extreme terrorist forces, who will be equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft shoulder-launched rockets, which will endanger … every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the coastal plain.

Underscoring the asymmetry of the conflict 

But Peres was not the only one of those who supported the land-for-peace doctrine and Palestinian statehood, having previously warned of the deadly perils this would entail:

Amnon Rubinstein

Thus, Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, Israel Prize laureate and former Education Minister for the far-Left Meretz party, wrote …: “[… The Arab world can exist, prosper, and develop not only if our artillery threatens Kalkilya, but even if it hits it. Israel, small and exposed, will neither be able to exist nor to prosper if its urban centers, its vulnerable airport and its narrow winding roads, are shelled. This is the fundamental difference between them and us, this is the terrible danger involved in the establishment of a third independent sovereign state between us and the Jordan River.”

Territory: The strategic value in the era of modern weaponry 

Allon took issue with those who argued that in era of modern weaponry, the value of territory has been diminished: “… this argument is certainly invalid regarding Israel, and within the context of the Middle East conflict, where the opposite is true. Precisely because of dramatic developments in conventional weaponry the significance of territorial barriers and strategic depth has increased…These sentiments were reiterated by Peres himself …

“…an almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel …”

Although he conceded that territory itself was not sufficient to deter attack, it was, in and of itself, necessary to do so. Underscoring the gravity of the lack of minimal geographical size, he wrote: “It is of course doubtful whether territorial expanse can provide absolute deterrence. However, the lack of minimal territorial expanse places a country in a position of an absolute lack of deterrence. This in itself constitutes almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions …”

Sharon on Gaza 1992 

Ariel Sharon

One of the most striking examples of the radical metamorphoses from an uncompromising hawk to champion of unilateral concessions was the late Ariel Sharon, who reneged on his election pledges and imposed unrequited withdrawal from Gaza, which soon afterwards fell to the Islamist terror group, Hamas, just as he had foreseen it would…In a 1992 opinion piece, Sharon recalled how Israel overcame the spate of terror attacks in the Jordan Valley following the Six Day War: These experiences prove not only that terror can be eradicated, but also the principle by which this is to be accomplished. It is imperative not to run from terrorism, and it will be smitten only if we control its bases and engage its gangs on their own territory.”  

“…Gaza will become a launching site for rockets…”

Presciently, he predicted the very perils he later precipitated by implementing precisely the very measures he warned should be avoided. “... If we abandon Gaza, it will be taken over by the terror organizations. Palestine Square [in Gaza] will become a launching site for rockets aimed at…Ashkelon and what will the IDF do then? Will it once again recapture Gaza? Shell and bomb the towns and refugee camps in the Gaza Strip?” 

Peres-on the importance of settlements

In the debate on how to achieve peace with the Palestinian-Arabs, the Jewish communities beyond the 1967 Green Line (a.k.a. “settlements”) are widely portrayed as an irksome “obstacle to peace”. It is thus intriguing to discover that Peres himself—in his pre-Oslo era—was one of their most fervent advocates—indeed, in important ways, their founding father…

Yigal Allon’s letter to Hebron settlers

He urged: “[We need] to create a continuous stretch of new settlements; to bolster Jerusalem and the surrounding hills, from the north, from the east, and from the south and from the west, by means of the establishment of townships, suburbs and villages – Ma’ale Edumin, Ofra, Gilo, Bet-El, Givon, and IDF camps and Nahal outposts…These settlements will be connected to the coastal plain and Jordan Valley by new lateral axis roads…No less noteworthy was the attitude of Yigal Allon to what is arguably the most controversial of all the “settlements”—that in Hebron…

Peres on the value of agreements with the Arabs

As the prime force behind the perilous Oslo Accords, it is noteworthy that Peres once totally dismissed the value of any agreement signed with the Arabs, writing: “The major issue is not [attaining] an agreement, but ensuring the actual implementation of the agreement in practice. The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than number which they have kept”.

“No greater lie than that which calls for Palestinian statehood…”

Allow me to conclude with the words of Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, former minister and MK on behalf of the dovish Meretz party, who proclaimed;  “Not since the time of Dr. Goebbels [Head of the Nazi Propaganda Machine] there has ever been a case in which continual repetition of a lie has born such great fruits… Of all the Palestinian lies there is no lie greater or more crushing than that which calls for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank…” 

There seems little need to add to that!

As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,

Best wishes,


Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies







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