The Habithonistim group, which focuses on Israel's security, sent a letter to members of the European Union (EU) regarding the application of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
In a letter, the group wrote: "A strong EU-Israel relationship is critical for Israel’s long-term security and for EU security as well. As retired senior Israeli military, intelligence, and law enforcement officers and commanders, we are committed to protecting Israel against external threats. Israel's security (IDF) benefits from the support of Israel's allies in the face of military and diplomatic conflicts. Your commitment to Israel’s wellbeing is not something we take for granted, and it is in this vein, that we would like to open a dialogue with you on the security necessity of Israel applying sovereignty in Judea & Samaria (West Bank)."
Introducing itself, the organization continued: "HaBithonistim – Protectors of Israel consists of more than one thousand reservists and retired senior IDF officers and commanders who have played prominent roles in Israel’s most recent battles, as well as many of the more formative conflicts in our history, dating back to before the Six Day War. Our movement brings together dozens of Generals, hundreds of Brigade Commanders, Battalion Commanders, and other senior officers in the IDF, Israeli Intelligence Services, Police and other national security officials."
"As leaders who have sworn to defend our country, who have made tremendous sacrifices and devoted our professional careers to this mission, we feel compelled to add our voice to the international debate on the impact of the American 'Vision for Peace to Prosperity' and to share our perspectives on the impact this plan will have on Israel’s national security."
"As a consistent supporter of Israel’s efforts to meet its security needs, we are certain that you will appreciate our assessment that the 'Vision for Peace to Prosperity' represents the most ambitious plan for securing the State of Israel," the letter added.
"Security does not have the luxury of fantasy – it is, and must be, grounded in reality. The revolutionary aspect of the 'Vision for Peace' is that it is based on the reality on the ground. It acknowledges the fact that during the 19 years that the West Bank was occupied by Jordan, Israel was constantly under attack and our major population centers remained extremely vulnerable. It further acknowledges that as the result of a defensive war in 1967, Israel found itself in a much stronger security position – a position we cannot afford to surrender.
"Resolving the ambiguity of Israel's status in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) will not only improve morale, it will provide our commanders with the necessary clarity to effectively secure the region. Every day that Israel does not clarify its long-term intentions in the region is another day that Israel comes under international pressure to retreat from the territory. Israel's security needs present an almost incomprehensible challenge without the additional uncertainty created by international actors who do not have Israel's best interests in mind. Hence, the immediate application of Israeli law to the communities in which Israelis live, in the context of the American peace plan, is among the highest national security priorities for the State of Israel."
Emphasizing the importance of Israel maintaining control of Judea and Samaria, Habithonistim emphasized: "The territory under discussion is inarguably critical to Israel’s security. Even the UN recognized that Israel's borders before the Six Day War were not defensible. The Jordan Valley and its highlands create a 4000-foot virtual wall that protects Israel’s eastern flank, not only against a traditional military attack, but also against the flow of terrorists and weapons into the region. The Samaria highlands overlook 70% of Israel’s population and economic output, located a mere 12 miles from Ben Gurion Airport, and at its narrowest point only nine miles from the Mediterranean Sea."
"No remote sensors, no matter how sophisticated, can protect Israel’s eastern frontier from invasion or infiltration. No system of security coordination with Palestinian or international forces can protect Israeli civilians from suicide bombers or missiles. And no paper peace can guarantee coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians so long as the Palestinians reject the existence of a Jewish People and its right to its State in its ancestral land of Israel.
"The Palestinian refusal to engage in good-faith negotiations should not be rewarded by providing them with the ultimate veto over the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria. For more than half a century, Israel has been willing to negotiate. Palestinian intransigence should be seen as the hostile act that it is, and Israel's pursuit of a resolution to the conflict should be encouraged, irrespective of Palestinian refusal to contribute to these efforts. This is not only in the best interests of Israel, it is in the best interests of the Palestinian Arabs living in this territory, and all residents of the region and in the best interest of Europe as well.
"The 'Vision for Peace' re-calibrates the approach to the peace process, from one that had been about creating a Palestinian state (which may or may not result in peace), to one concerned with achieving peace (which may, or may not, result in the creation of a Palestinian state).
"In that vein, the 'Vision for Peace' recognizes that long-term peace can only flourish if the Palestinians are demilitarized and that ultimately, Israel must retain control over all borders. This is an acknowledgement of reality with which HaBithonistim, a movement made up of security professionals, wholeheartedly concurs. Anything less would put the State of Israel at risk.
"In short, the 'Vision for Peace' represents the first realistic approach to actually creating a reality that guarantees Israel's security. For this reason, the 'Vision for Peace to Prosperity' is one of many catalysts that have brought about the recent warming of relations between Israel and an impressive number of Arab countries. With the necessity to unite against Iranian aggression, and as a result of new opportunities for economic cooperation and cultural cross-pollination, it has become clear that these countries will no longer allow their desire for strengthened ties with Israel to be impeded by Palestinian obstinance.
"We find ourselves at a rare and challenging juncture in our history, as we are amongst the first Jewish leaders in more than 2000 years tasked with the responsibility of protecting the Jewish Nation in the only Jewish State. We have returned to our historical homeland, the only land that has ever served as the place of Jewish sovereignty, and we are charged with ensuring that the Jewish People will not be exiled again. The 'Vision for Peace' acknowledges this history and this mission, and provides a roadmap that will enable our flourishing Jewish and democratic state to reconnect with our roots in a manner that transcends mere physical security.
"As men and women who have devoted much of our lives to defending and protecting the State of Israel, and who continue to do so now that we are no longer in active service, we are confident that the path laid out in the 'Vision for Peace' will bring a much greater level of security and much good will to Israel, will transform the entire Middle East, and help the Palestinians make progress towards their realistic goals and greatly enhance the EU-Israel relationship."
The letter was signed by Habithonistim's Board of Directors and Leading Team.