The price of moderation

Op-ed: Supporters of two-state solution have sown seeds for the de-legitimization of Israel

Martin Sherman

“…The maximum that any government of Israel will be ready to offer the Palestinians … is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian leader can accept.” Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Febuary 2009   The foregoing citation from the former chairman of Israel‘s National Security Council underscores the essential futility of pursuing what has become to be regarded as the sine qua non for a resolution of the Palestinian issue and hence a lasting Middle East Peace – and by implication for eradicating the basic cause of friction between the West and Islam: The two state solution. Future historians will be baffled as to how such a manifestly disastrous and unworkable concept came to be so widely and warmly embraced – not only by those who had a vested interested in feigning support for it, but by those who had a vested interest in exposing it as the duplicitous subterfuge it is. They will be mystified as to why – despite the fact that it entailed devastatingly detrimental consequences for all involved – both Arabs and Jews – it became the acknowledged hallmark of refined reason. An instructive example was the recent defense, by prominent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, of Israel’s right to present its case which focused on the February 2010 incident at UC, Irvine, when Ambassador Michael Oren was prevented from addressing students by Palestinian hecklers. What made this particularly egregious in Dershowitz’s eyes was the fact that Oren was “a moderate supporter of the two-state solution”, thus, inadvertently perhaps, hinting that this would not be so had he opposed such an approach. The point that many well-intentioned pro-Israeli advocates seem be to missing is that it is precisely “moderate supporters of the two-state solution” that have in large measure sown the seeds for the de-legitimization of Israel. While initially this contention may appear somewhat counter-intuitive, the logic behind it is unassailable. For, once the legitimacy of a Palestinian state is conceded, the de-legitimization of Israel cannot be avoided. The chain of reasoning for this is clear: If the legitimacy of a Palestinian state is accepted, then necessarily any measures incompatible with its viability are illegitimate. However, Israel’s minimum security requirements necessarily obviate the viability of Palestinian state.

Israel’s security requirements

Ever since Abba Eban’s characterization of the 1967 Green Line as “Auschwitz Borders” it has been generally accepted that such a frontier cannot afford Israel acceptable levels of security – except under wildly optimistic and unrealistic assumptions. Iconic Labor party moderates such as Yigal Allon declared that “One does not have to a military expert to easily identify the critical defects of the armistice lines that existed until June 4, 1967,” warning that for Israel they could herald “the physical extinction of a large part of its population and the political elimination of the Jewish state.” Shimon Peres concurred that the 1967 lines “constituted almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions …” and warned that “without a border which affords security, a country is doomed to destruction in war.” Significantly, both Allon and Peres derided the oft-aired claim that modern weaponry largely diminished the strategic value of geographical expanse and topological structures. Allon observed that it “… not only fail to diminish the value of strategic depth and natural barriers, but in fact enhance their importance; while Peres again concurred that with the advances in modern military prowess “the defensive importance of territorial expanse has increased.” This view has been endorsed by US military experts. A study conducted by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to inform the president on the security concerns of Israel advised that “the security of Israel required Israel to receive parts of the territory of the West Bank as essential to its defense….(including) the prominent high ground running north-south.” Eugene Rostow, who as under-secretary of state was the senior US diplomat involved in the formulation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and hence clearly familiar with the its intent, remarked that “all the studies of the Israeli security problem reached the same conclusion – from the security point of view, Israel must hold the high points in the West Bank and areas along the Jordan River.” The position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was reaffirmed by a 1974 US Army Command and Staff College study which also concluded that Israel must control the high ground east of the central axis along the West Bank’s mountain ridge. In a recent study by a host of senior Israeli military and diplomatic figures – including a former IDF chief of staff, a former head of Military Intelligence and the National Security Council, and ambassadors to the UN, US and France – concluded that to maintain minimum security requirements Israel must retain control of the mountain range in Judea and Samaria that commands the coastal metropolis, the Jordan Valley, and the air space up to the Jordan River So what do these minimum requirements, which require Israeli control of wide swathes of territory in the “West Bank,” entail for the viability of Palestinian statehood?

Solomon’s wisdom

The answer is provided by an article, The Myth of Defensible Borders, in the January edition of Foreign Affairs. In it, the authors Omar Dajani and Ezzedine correctly point out that: “A policy of defensible borders would…perpetuate the current sources of Palestinian insecurity, further delegitimizing an agreement in the public’s eyes. Israel would retain the discretion to impose arbitrary and crippling constraints on the movement of people and goods… For these reasons, Palestinians are likely to regard defensible borders as little more than occupation by another name.” Recent events in the Mid-East, with the specter of an ascendant Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Egypt, are hardly likely to contribute to reducing Israeli threat perception and thus serve only to heighten the incompatibility between a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel. Thus, by accepting the admissibility of a Palestinian state, one necessarily admits the inadmissibility of measures required to ensure Israeli security. Conversely any measures required to ensure the viability of Israeli security, necessarily negate the viability of a Palestinian state. Accordingly for Israel to regain legitimacy, the notion of a Palestinian state must be discredited and removed from the discourse over the resolution of the Israel-Arab conflict. This of course easier said than done. For rolling back the accumulated decades of distortion, deception and delusion that have become entrenched in the collective international consciousness will be a Herculean task. But the immense scale of the task cannot diminish the imperative of its implementation. For the unpalatable – and unfashionable – truth is that between the (Jordan) River and the (Mediterranean) Sea, there can prevail (and eventually will prevail) either total Jewish sovereignty or total Arab sovereignty. The side that will prevail is the side whose political acumen is the sharper and whose political will is the stronger. Indeed, never has the biblical wisdom of Solomon been more apt: Whoever agrees to divide that which is dear to him, will – at the end of the day- lose all of it. The Jews must realize that they can either be master of all the land west of the Jordan or none of it – and sooner that the better.

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