After the UNESCO vote
After the UNESCO vote

Taken by itself, the recent UNESCO vote denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall may seem unrelated to any "Two-State Solution."[1] After all, it is at least conceivable, in principle, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) could still tender a reasonable offer on Palestinian statehood to the State of Israel. In fact, however, the vote was simply one more deliberately-fashioned plank in the Arab platform for a One-State Solution, a structured plan wherein "Occupied Palestine" (i.e., Israel proper, not just Judea/Samaria) is systematically dismembered in increments.[2]

From the River to the Sea

From the beginning, Israel has been presented on all Palestinian maps as "Occupied Palestine." To be sure, this cartographic annihilation is not a literally tangible infringement of an existing state. It is, however, even as mere cartography, prohibited by authoritative international law.

From the plainly legal standpoints of the 1993 Oslo Agreements, and the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, this calculated excision displays a conspicuously genocidal “intent,” and, ipso facto, “incitement.” In essence, therefore, it offers codified "testimony" to certain assorted and still-contemplated Palestinian crimes against humanity.

Because Arab terrorism is always the flip side of the Palestinian statehood question, Fatah's designated insignia... still reveals Israel smothered by a grenade, a bayoneted rifle, and a submachine gun.
Unhesitatingly, in the PA's own words over time, any new state of Palestine would promptly seek territorial extensions beyond its newly constituted borders. At the same time, the "civilized" world would sheepishly look away, just as it did so recently on October 13, 2016.

ven now, after the start of the "Third Intifada" and additional Palestinian celebrations of terror-violence, this world is quick to overlook peremptory rules of the law of war (the law of armed conflict). These rules apply equally to non-state and state actors in global politics.[3]

Just as the official PA maps identify all of Israel as a part of Palestine, the official logo of PA Television shows all of Israel as Palestine, and the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. Significantly, because Arab terrorism is always the flip side of the Palestinian statehood question, Fatah's designated insignia remains unvarnished. Still, it reveals Israel smothered by a grenade, a bayoneted rifle, and a submachine gun.

Of course, all PA school textbooks continue to use a map of the Middle East in which Israel does not appear, and where it has already been supplanted by Palestine.

Ironically, even before the recent UNESCO resolution, Palestinian objectives had been stark and unhidden. Fatah's Charter has long stated unambiguously: "Our struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished, and Palestine is completely liberated."  Why, then, does the United Nations persistently doubt this genocidal intent? Can there still be any proper excuse for interpreting crimes of terrorism as "national liberation?"

Nuclearization and a "Palestinian State"

There are also pragmatic considerations. In geo-strategic calculations, some current assessments are perfectly clear and unassailable. As a pertinent example, a Palestinian state - any Palestinian state - would have a deeply injurious impact on Israel's physical survival, especially if established in "synergy" with ongoing Iranian nuclearization.

Although rarely discussed, Israel, after Palestine, would require even greater national self-reliance, and, accordingly, corollary refinements of its Order of Battle.  Such policy refinements, in turn, would call for (1) a substantially more nuanced nuclear strategy involving deterrence, defense, preemption, and enhanced war fighting capabilities; and (2) a corresponding and overlapping conventional war strategy.

As the establishment of a Palestinian state would make Israel's conventional capabilities more problematic, the IDF command authority in Jerusalem would then likely need to make the country’s nuclear deterrent less ambiguous. Taking the Israeli bomb out of the “basement” might assist Israel’s security for a while, but such a "withdrawal" could also heighten certain residual chances of actual nuclear weapons use.

When Iran is finally able to more expressly “go nuclear,” any resultant nuclear violence might not necessarily be limited to the immediate areas of Israel and Palestine.  Such catastrophic harms could also be unleashed in some form or other on the U.S. homeland, perhaps even as an authentic instance of nuclear terrorism.[4] Always, Israeli strategic planners will need to consider the expanding and intersecting risks of "hybrid" aggressions, that is, future attacks from various state-sub state alignment partners. An obvious example would be an Iranian-Hezbollah hybrid adversary.

For Israel, a nuclear war could arrive not only as a "bolt-from-the-blue" missile attack from Iran, but also as a result, intended or inadvertent, of escalation. If an enemy state such as Iran were to begin "only" conventional and/or biological attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem might then respond with fully nuclear reprisals.  If this enemy state were to begin with solely conventional attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem's conventional reprisals might still be met with enemy nuclear counterstrikes.

After Palestine, the regional correlation of forces would inevitably become more-or-less  unfavorable to Israel. At that point, the only credible way for Israel to deter large-scale conventional attacks would be to maintain visible and large-scale conventional capabilities, including what professional strategists would insightfully call "escalation dominance." Ironically, however, those particular enemy states (or hybrid foes) contemplating first-strike attacks upon Israel using chemical and/or biological weapons might also be inclined to take more seriously Israel's nuclear deterrent.

Will this deterrent still be intentionally obscured in Israel's "basement?" This is an absolutely core question. Whether or not the country's nuclear ordnance and doctrine had remained undisclosed could meaningfully affect Israel’s overall threat credibility.

Always, a strong conventional capability will be needed by Israel to deter or to preempt conventional attacks, non-nuclear infringements that could readily lead, via escalation, to an unconventional war. In these inherently unstable circumstances, a persistently misconceived Peace Process would impair Israel's already-minimal strategic depth, and, when fully exploited by enemy states, the Jewish State’s indispensable capacity to wage defensive conventional war.

Demilitarization is a danger

There is one important final observation concerning Israel and a Palestinian state. It is that the principal impediment to any forthcoming bestowal or continuance of Palestinian sovereignty will likely not be Israel, but rather one or another irredentist Arab actor (state or sub-state) in the region.  ISIS, as it ultimately begins to fight its way westward across a dismembering Jordan, could then be able to supplant PA/Hamas/Islamic Jihad forces in the 'West Bank' (Judea/Samaria). Should this takeover occur after a “Two-State Solution” had already been actualized, 'Palestine' could find itself turning to the Jewish State for existential protection against Jihadists.

Credo quia absurdum.  "I believe because it is absurd."

Equally odd, perhaps, any such turn to a sworn enemy could be rendered more likely if  Palestinian state authorities had decided to adhere to Prime Minister Netanyahu's original expectation of Palestinian demilitarization. In other words, a new Palestinian state that had unexpectedly acted in law-enforcing fulfillment of pertinent pre-state agreements with Israel could prove to be even more injurious to the Jewish State.

What this implies, among other things, is that under no circumstances should a proposed Two State Solution seem more readily acceptable in Jerusalem because of certain pre-state contingencies calling for Palestinian demilitarization.     


LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli security matters.  He is the author of many major books and articles on international relations and international law, including recent publications in Arutz Sheva; The Atlantic;Israel Defense; U.S. News & World Report;The Jerusalem Post; The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs; The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence;The Brown Journal of World Affairs; Oxford University Press; The Hill; and the Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School). Professor Beres’ twelfth book, Surviving Amid Chaos:Israel’s Nuclear Strategy,  was published this year by Rowman & Littlefield.  The Chair of Project Daniel (Israel, 2003), Dr. Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.


[1] On 13 October 2016, 24 states voted in favor of the motion, 26 abstained, and six voted against. The motion granted preliminary approval to a resolution that denies all Jewish ties to Judaism's most sacred religious sites. Prime Minister Netanyahu responded, saying: "The theater of the absurd continues at the UN."

[2] The origin of this annihilationist strategy is the so-called PLO "Phased Plan" of June 9, 1974.

[3] All combatants are bound by the law of armed conflict. This requirement is found, inter alia, at Article 3, common to four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and at the two protocols to these Conventions. Protocol 1 applies humanitarian international law to all conflicts being fought for "self-determination," which remains the stated objective of all Palestinian fighters. It is a product of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (1977).

[4] Professor Beres is the author of some of the earliest books on nuclear terrorism, including Terrorism and Global Security: The Nuclear Threat (1979).