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June 17, 2016 3:27 am

Imbecility Squared – Part 2

avatar by Martin Sherman

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A pro-Hamas rally in Ramallah. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A pro-Hamas rally in Ramallah. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

“A comprehensive Israeli policy declaration [a]ccepting, in principle, the Arab Peace Initiative (API), with requisite adjustments to accommodate Israel’s security and demographic needs, as a basis for negotiation.” — Key political measure in plan entitled “Security First,” proposed by “Commanders for Israel’s Security,” which claims to “Improve Israel’s Security and International Standing.”

“The Arab Peace Initiative does not need changing or adjusting, it is on the table as is…Why should we change the Arab Peace Initiative? I believe that the argument the Arab Peace Initiative needs to be watered down in order to accommodate the Israelis is not the right approach.” — Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Paris, June 3, 2016.

Last week, I began a critical analysis of a plan put forward by a group calling itself “Commanders for Israel’s Security” (CIS), comprised of over 200 former senior officers/officials from the IDF and other security services.

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I argued that the plan, which purports to offer a formula “to extricate Israel from the current dead end and to improve its security situation and international standing,” is a deeply flawed policy prescription, both in terms of the political principles on which it is based and the practical details which it presents. As such, it is highly unlikely to achieve the objectives it sets itself. Indeed, it is far more likely to precipitate precisely the opposite outcomes, exacerbating the very dangers it claims it will attenuate.

To recap briefly, the major political components which comprise the plan call for Israel to:

(a) Proclaim, unilaterally, that it forgoes any claim to sovereignty beyond the yet-to-be completed security barrier, which, in large measure, coincides with the pre-1967 “Green Line,” adjusted to include several major settlement blocks adjacent to those lines; but,

(b) Leave the IDF deployed there — until some “acceptable alternative security arrangement” is found – presumably the emergence of a yet-to-be located pliant Palestinian-Arab, who will pledge to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation-state; and

(c) Embrace the Saudi Peace Plan — a.k.a. Arab Peace Initiative (API) — subject to certain, but significantly unspecified, changes which the Arabs/Saudis recently resolutely refused to consider.

Learning lesson of Gaza; ignoring lesson of South Lebanon

CIS claims (pp.28-29) that it has learned the lesson of the unilateral Gaza disengagement, when the IDF evacuated the territory, allowing the Islamist Hamas to take over. Accordingly, their plan “calls for the IDF to remain in the West Bank and retain complete security control until a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians ushers in alternative concrete, sustainable security arrangements.”

So, while CIS may indeed have learnt the lesson of Gaza 2005, it seems to have forgotten the lesson of Lebanon 2000.

Indeed, as I underscored last week, the combination of the first two elements — the forswearing of claims to sovereignty over Judea-Samaria, on the one hand; and the continued deployment of the IDF in that territory, on the other — replicate precisely the same conditions that prevailed in South Lebanon until the hasty retreat by the IDF in 2000.  This unbecoming flight was orchestrated by then-PM, former IDF chief of staff and Israel’s most decorated soldier, Ehud Barak, under intense pressure from Left-leaning civil society groups such as “Four Mothers,” to extricate the IDF from the “Lebanese mud” and “bring our boys back home.” Thus abandoned to the control of Hezbollah, the area was swiftly converted into a formidable arsenal, bristling with weaponry capable of hitting almost all major Israeli cities.

Unsustainable political configuration

Today, after the poorly conducted military campaign by the mighty IDF against a lightly armed militia, left defiantly undefeated after five weeks of fighting, this arsenal has reportedly swelled almost 10-fold in quantity and improved immensely in terms of quality/precision.  Indeed, were not Hezbollah mercifully distracted by the need to support its erstwhile benefactor, the beleaguered Bashar Assad, it is far from implausible that this terrible stockpile would have already been unleashed against Israel.

For anyone with a modicum of foresight, it should be clear that CIS’s prescription of deploying the IDF for an indeterminate period in territory over which it lays no sovereign claim — and hence, by implication, acknowledges that others have such claims to it — creates an unsustainable political configuration, which sooner or later will generate irresistible pressure on Israel to evacuate it, leaving the country exposed to the very dangers the IDF deployment was intended to obviate.

Indeed, as pointed out last week, if implemented, CIS’s proposal would, in a stroke, convert Judea-Samaria from “disputed territory” to “occupied territory” and IDF from a “defense force” to an “occupying force.” Worse, it would do so by explicit admission from Israel itself.

Formula for open-ended occupation

Moreover, by conditioning the end of IDF deployment on the emergence of “a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians [which] ushers in alternative concrete, sustainable security arrangements,” what CIS is in fact promoting is a formula for open-ended occupation, whose duration is totally dependent on the Palestinian Arabs.

After all, according to CIS’s plan “the IDF [is] to remain in the West Bank and retain complete security control,” until some suitable Palestinian  interlocutor appears, sufficiently pliant to satisfy Israel’s demands for said “permanent status agreement and concrete sustainable security arrangements,” but sufficiently robust to resist more radical domestic rivals, who oppose any such agreement/arrangements.

And what if such an interlocutor fails to emerge? Clearly, CIS’s plan prescribes persisting with the Israeli military presence in the territory because, as CIS itself concedes: “The situation on the West Bank require …continued deployment of the IDF until satisfactory security arrangements are put into place within the framework of a permanent status agreement.”

Therefore, all the Palestinian-Arabs need to do to ensnare the IDF in what will inevitably become the “West Bank mud,” an easy target for guerilla attacks by a recalcitrant population backed by armed Palestinian internal security services, is…well, nothing. All they need to do is wait until mounting IDF casualties in a “foreign land” create increasing domestic pressure to “bring our boys back home,” and mounting international impatience with open-ended “occupation” create growing external pressure, which make continued IDF deployment no longer tenable — and withdrawal becomes inevitable, without any “permanent settlement” or “concrete sustainable security arrangements.”

Renege or replace?

But even in the unlikely event that some Palestinian partner could be located, who agrees, in good faith, to conclude a permanent status agreement and implement acceptable security arrangements that allows the IDF to evacuate Judea-Samaria, how could Israel ensure this agreement will be honored and these arrangements maintained over time? Clearly it could not!

Once the IDF withdraws, Israel has no way of preventing its Palestinian co-signatories to any accord from reneging on their commitments — whether of their own volition, due to a change of heart, or under duress from extremist adversaries. Even more to the point, barring intimate involvement in intra-Palestinian politics, Israel has no way to ensure that their pliant peace-partner will not be replaced — whether by bullet or ballot — by far more inimical successors, probably  generously supported by foreign regimes, who repudiate their predecessors pledges. Indeed, it is more than likely that it would be precisely the “perfidious” deal struck with the “nefarious Zionist entity” that would be invoked as justification for the regime-change.

But whichever of these outcomes emerges in practice, Israel is likely to be confronted with a situation where it no longer has security control in Judea-Samaria and a hostile regime perched on the hills overlooking the runways of Ben-Gurion airport, adjacent to the trans-Israel highway, and within mortar range of the nation’s capital.

It would be intriguing, indeed, to learn how CIS members, given their cumulative 6,000 years of experience in Israel’s various security agencies, see this situation as one that would  achieve their plan’s principle goal: “to enhance personal and national security.”

Resisting attrition; not repulsing invasion

To be fair, CIS do assure us that: The IDF [as] by far the most potent military force in the region… can provide effective security and address all challenges within … any future borderline as agreed-to by our government and endorsed by our people…”

But, of course, the question is not only whether the IDF can secure the borders, but at what cost in terms of both resources and casualties (both military and civilian).

It is of course true that, for over four decades, Israel has not faced a tangible threat of large-scale invasion by conventional Arab forces. However, today, with the changing pattern of Arab enmity, the major challenge to Israel’s existence as the Jewish nation-state is no longer repulsing invasion, but resisting attrition.
The Arab stratagem is no longer the cataclysmic annihilation of the Jewish state, but the ongoing erosion of Jewish will to maintain the Jewish state, by making Jewish life in it unbearable – both physically and psychologically.

Attrition vs Invasion (cont.)

Of course, the looming specter of a nuclear Iran may, on the one hand, reinstate the cataclysmic approach; on the other, it may “merely” provide a protective umbrella under which attrition can continue with greater intensity – and impunity.

Indeed, one of the most explicit expressions of this attrition-oriented intent came from Yasser Arafat in Stockholm, in an address to Arab diplomats, barely a year after being awarded the Noble Peace Prize: “The PLO will now concentrate on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps…We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare… I have no use for Jews. They are and remain Jews…”  This overt admission of malice, echoed repeatedly elsewhere by other Palestinian-Arab spokespersons, should have removed any doubt as to what lay ahead.

Now, imagine if after forgoing sovereignty beyond the security barrier as per CIS’s prescription, the IDF pulled out of Judea-Samaria – whether pursuant to some accord or a combination of domestic pressure and international chagrin. Imagine, if in the absence of any agreement or despite prior agreements, this territory falls — as it almost inevitably will — to the control of some radical regime with no commitment to any understandings, implicit or explicit, with the “Zionist entity.” Imagine how much more ominous and onerous that attrition would be along the almost 800 km frontier, abutting Israel’s heavily populated coastal plain  and from the heights commanding its urban and commercial centers.

Capitulation masquerading as “initiative”

No less disturbing is CIS’s embrace of what is perversely called the “Arab Peace Initiative” (API), which prescribes: (a) Complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines including the Golan Heights; (b) a “just solution” to the problem of Palestinian refugees, a clear allusion to the “Right of Return”; (c) the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on “the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Alarmingly, on its website, CIS declares: “We believe that the government of Israel can and should formulate a regional initiative based on an appropriate response to the positive potential encapsulated in the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Sadly, the growing acceptance of the API does not, as CIS would have it, reflect faith in military strength but rather psychological weakness. It is not a sign of confidence but a symptom of resignation, even desperation. Indeed, its acceptance is driven by the fact that the API is the only thing that the Arabs do not reject. Thus, to reject the API is to admit the unpalatable truth that there exists no path to a mutually agreed resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Indeed, for all intents and purposes, the API is a document of capitulation. It reflects acquiescence to virtually all Arab demands that successive governments, over a decade and a half, have rejected as unacceptably hazardous. It forgoes virtually all the gains of the 1967 Six Day War, and imperils some of those of the 1948 War of Independence. Willingness to agree to it, even as a basis for negotiations, is a clear signal that every Israeli “No,” however emphatic initially, is in effect a “Maybe” and a potential “Yes” in the future.

Reservations rejected

Apparently aware that, as currently formulated, the API is too pernicious to be approved by the Israeli public, CIS tries to preempt criticisms of its acceptance of the so called “peace initiative” by adding a proviso that it should be adjusted “to accommodate Israel’s security and demographic needs, as a basis for negotiation.”
But suggestions that “adjustments” might be made were rapidly and resolutely rejected by both the Saudis, who authored the initiative and the Arab League, who endorsed it. And why wouldn’t they? For as CIS’s proposal clearly shows, continued Arab intransigence is sure to engender further Israeli compliance…

To be continued.

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  • Ronnie. Pleet

    Always in total agreement with you !!!

  • Debby lurya

    Basically the Arab Plan for peace is to weaken the Jewish will to continue to exist– war of attrition. The Arabs are smart enough to know Israel can beat them in a classic ground and so war. But the Arans also the Jews cannot win a pernicious war of psychological means. Israel csm never trust giving up security to the Arabs. They are untrustworthy and unstable. A decent peace partner on Wednesday may be some other leader of cruelty in Thursday. The article leaves my conclusion as the only solution which is to annex the land. Will it bring war ? Most likely but at least Israel will be prepared and on the offensive. As for a hostile population? It’s quite possible that the so called occupied Palestinuans will at last be liberated fro the real occupiers: Palestinian Authority. In a interim period there must be intensive reeducation of the inhabitants particularly the young. Education is integral to a successful annexation. Of those who refuse to be under Israeli rule they can be given money to leave and go elsewhere. Perhap they can leave for the USA where the leadership under Obama and soon Hillary Clinton will warmly receive them. The bottom line is that the world is hostile to the Jew and we as a people must prepare for dark days to come. The land known as Judea Sanaria must be at all times uber Israeli protection.

  • Basically the Arab Plan for peace is to weaken the Jewish will to continue to exist– war of attrition. The Arabs are smart enough to know Israel can beat them in a classic ground and so war. But the Arans also the Hews cannot win a pernicious war of psychological means. Israel csm never trust giving up security to the Arabs. They are untrustworthy and unstable. A decent peace partner on Wednesday may be some other leader of cruelty in Thursday. The article leaves my conclusion as the only solution which is to annex the land. Will it bring war ? Most likely but at least Israel will be prepared and on the offensive. As for a hostile population? It’s quite possible that the so called occupied Palestinuans will at last be liberated fro the real occupiers: Palestinian Authority. In a interim period there must be intensive reeducation of the inhabitants particularly the young. Education is integral to a successful annexation. Of those who refuse to be under Israeli rule they can be given money to leave and go elsewhere. Perhap they can leave for the USA where the leadership under Obama and soon Hillary Clinton will warmly receive them. The bottom line is that the world is hostile to the Jew and we as a people must prepare for dark days to come. The land known as Judea Sanaria must be at all times uber Israeli protection.

  • Basically the Arab Plan for peace is to weaken our will to continue to exist– war of attrition. The Arabs are smart enough to know Israel can beat them in a classic ground and so war. But they cannot win a pernicious war of psychological means. Israel csm never trust giving up security to the Arabs. They are untrustworthy and unstable. A decent peace partner on Wednesday may be some other leader of cruelty in Thursday. The article leaves my conclusion as the only solution which is to annex the land. Will it bring war ? Most likely but at least Israel will be prepared and on the offensive. As for a hostile population? It’s quite possible that the so called occupied Palestinuans will at last be liberated fro the real occupiers: Palestinian Authority. In a interim period there must be intensive reeducation of the inhabitants particularly the young. Education is integral to a successful annexation. Of those who refuse to be under Israeli rule they can be given money to leave and go elsewhere. Perhap they can leave for the USA where the leadership under Obama and soon Hillary Clinton will warmly receive them. The bottom line is that the world is hostile to the Jew and we as a people must prepare for dark days to come. The land known as Judea Sanaria must be at all times uber Israeli protection.

  • Juanita

    Sheer plain common sense. What is happening to Israel? Will we look back in 50 years and say: “What happened to Israel?”

  • rafi dobrin

    Martin Sherman is one of the most sensible, knowledgeable voices in Israel, that should be heeded by everyone who cares about Israel and a modicum of quiet in the Middle East — which for the foreseeable future is the best anyone can expect.

  • I have never seen laid out, with such clarity and wisdom, the utter folly of continuing to pursue the nonsense of the “Two State Solution.”

    Here, in one concise essay, the madness of that path is laid bare for all to see.

    Saddest of all, is to see that this proposal comes from within those who have maintained Israel”s defence. Of all the communities in the world, it should be this one that understands the madness of Two State.

    But also no! What this proves is that Israel’seems elites aerial still not willing to absorb the hard lessons of Israel’s turbulent history since her independence.

    The evidence is all there, that any part of the Land that Israel does not control, will inevitably be controlled by her enemies.

    When she pulled out of South Lebanon, the International community said that they would maintain a buffer zone to protect Israel.What did they actually do? They presided over the massive reequipping of Israel’seems enemies.

    And when Israel appealed for help with Iran, what happened then? Israel’seems plans to deal with the reactors were leaked to the media, the US refused logistical backup, and they deceitful lydie allowed Iran to go nuclear, abandoning all “red lines.”

    Therefore, any suggestion that some benign force might, in the future, maintain security in Judea and Samaria, is the height of folly.There is simply no will within the international community to ensure that such a force does not become malignant. Gaza remains the solid testimony to that truth.

    Martin is right. I strongly suspect that that PM would completely agree with his analysis, but the emergence of this initiative, coupled with the attitude of Israel’s Supremember Court proves to him that were he to propose annexation of Judea and Samaria, his own people would still not support him.

    What then is he to do? He must continue to hold Israel together as best as he is able to do so, until she comes to her senses!

    And when will that be? Sadly it seems that only another major war will provide the shock treatment that is necessary.

    Thank you.

  • Renanah Gemeiner

    I completely agree with Dr. Sherman.
    I recently wrote about the conference organized by Ambassador Danon under the title: “Surrended Disguised as Anti-BDS Conference.” To me there is a scary fear that the Israeli government is secretly planning to give away our heritage and security in Judea and Samaria – trying to fool us to not realize this is happening.
    G-d help us!
    Renanah Gemeiner

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