Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said for the first time publicly that the IDF must maintain a presence along the future eastern border of a PA state, preventing arms smuggling into Judea and Samaria. He noted that Israel gave up its military presence along the Gaza-Egyptian border smuggling route four years ago, a situation that he said should not be repeated.
At a recent meeting of all Israeli ambassadors and lower-level diplomats, the Prime Minister noted that Israel’s security dangers are not at the borders of Gaza and Lebanon but rather beyond the borders. He said Israel cannot depend on paper agreements, signed or not, and broadly hinted that the IDF must maintain a presence along the eastern borders of any future Palestinian Authority state in Judea and Samaria in order to fight terrorism and prevent arms smuggling.
A third terror platform?
“Iran Is creating a base [in Lebanon] for weapons that are used in areas adjacent to Israel with the intention of attacking Israel," according to Prime Minister Netanyahu. "The problem in Lebanon is not the border. The problem of security is Syria. The same thing is happening in Gaza. The problem is not the border with Gaza….but with the 12 kilometers (eight miles) into Sinai" adjacent to the Philadelphi smugglng route.
He declared that “agreements, signatures and texts have left us with the same problem. We will not have a situation where Judea and Samaria become a third platform for rockets from Iran." The Prime Minister explained that the smuggling of weapons into Judea and Samaria would create a problem far worse than Israel faces on the northern and southern borders.
Preventing arms from entering Judea, Samaria and Gaza is a condition for peace, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued. Without directly calling for an IDF presence in territory that might be part of future PA state, he stated, "I doubt whether anything except a real presence of the State of Israel, of Israeli forces, can accomplish [a halt to importing weapons]. The problem of demilitarization must be resolved effectively and this entails effectively blocking unauthorized entry, first and foremost from the east [of Judea and Samaria], wherever the border is defined.”
'No' to another 1701
He previously has called for a future PA state to be demilitarized, but his speech was the first time that he said that Israeli forces will be stationed on its borders. The Prime Minister dismissed the option of again signing agreements such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War three year ago.
The resolution included a clause that called for United Nations UNIFIL forces to disarm Hizbullah terrorists, but the commanders of the international force said at the outset they would not and could not enforce it. Hizbullah has used the absence of control to stockpile at least three times as many missiles as it possessed before the outbreak of the 34-day war.
Israel, under the guidance of then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, agreed last year to end the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign with a signed agreement that the United States would ensure that technological installations and foreign monitors would be placed in Egypt to stop smuggling.
However, Hamas has continued to smuggle into Gaza advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles as well as long-range Iranian-made rockets that can strike as far away as metropolitan Tel Aviv. The IDF has foiled some, but far from all, of the attempts to smuggle weapons, including rockets, into Judea and Samaria.