Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
A Palestinian state would be a deadly threat to Israel. This is not an empty political slogan, but a well-founded strategic truth. Accordingly, any sign of support for - or even reluctant resignation to - the eventual establishment of such a state is inconsistent with the preservation of Israel's vital national interests. Any ambivalence on this issue - any policy other than resolute rejection of the very notion of an Arab state on the fringes of the greater Tel Aviv area, having total topographical control over the urban sprawl in the coastal plain, and full hydrological control over a third of the country's water resources - is a grave strategic error.
The approach that Israel should refrain from repudiating the idea too sharply - lest it be branded "extremist" by world opinion - is badly misguided. For this means sacrificing long-term strategic values for short-term tactical expediency. It means subordinating vital security considerations to diplomatic convenience. It means transferring the burden and the responsibility for safeguarding the national interest from diplomatic representatives in well-pressed suits in foreign capitals, to the combat soldiers in sweaty battle fatigues on the front line. This is a total inversion - indeed perversion - of the proper order of things. After all, diplomacy is supposed to be a tool to serve and promote national policy, not a constraint that dictates this policy.
In this regard, there is ample reason for severe reprimand of those who have administered Israel's foreign policy in recent years. The grave dangers involved in the transfer of Judea and Samaria to sovereign Arab rule are so stark, so tangible and so blatant that it seems inconceivable that any foreign service worth its salt (and taxpayers' money) could not be capable of conveying to the world that the establishment of a Palestinian state would constitute an unreasonable, and hence unacceptable, risk for Israel. No country that wishes to survive can be expected to acquiesce to such a measure; no leader who cannot repel pressures for its implementation should be allowed to continue to govern. The fact that the idea of a Palestinian state has gathered widespread international support does not testify to the merits of the idea or the inevitability of its eventual implementation. Rather it testifies to the quality - or the lack thereof - of the performance of those charged with promoting Israel's interests abroad and the necessity for their rapid replacement.
The deadly threats that would confront Israel in the event of the establishment of a Palestinian state manifest themselves along every conceivable dimension: width, length, height and depth. Width - because Israel will be left with less than the minimum territorial depth required for the deployment of a modern military defense system to protect the coastal plain, in which 80 percent of the country's population and 80% of its economic activity are located; length - because Israel will have to contend with the creation of a permanent border hundreds of kilometers long on the very approaches of the Dan region and adjacent to the nation's major urban centers; height - because from the highlands of Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians will have total topographical control over all the infrastructure (civilian and military) in the low-lying coastal strip, including airfields, seaports and power plants; depth - because the Palestinians will have hydro-strategic control over crucial groundwater sources, creating a situation in which Israel's water problem could be transformed from a grave but manageable crisis, to an insoluble catastrophe.
Detailed explication of these dangers goes beyond the above points. However, it was none other than Shimon Peres, who encapsulated their essence in the following apt, articulate and accurate warning (in his book, Tomorrow is Now): "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 not only random passersby, but also every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the coastal plain." (my translation - M.S.)
Is it possible the present leadership of the Likud has forgotten what the past leadership of the Left once knew?
Indeed, in this regard, the "national camp" would do well to adopt the proud, assertive position expounded in the past by a prominent member of the left wing, Prof. Amnon Rubinstein. In a 1976 Ha'aretz article, Rubinstein, a foremost expert on constitutional law, said: "The claim that the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael have the right to determine for themselves how to organize their political life must be rejected. Israel has a right and a duty to state its own position - and to take measures to have this position adopted."
His words were valid then. They are still valid today.
Martin Sherman is a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post. Reprinted with permission of the author.