Jewish Voice

October 21st, 2014
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Opinion Op-Ed


Analysis: Misunderstanding Palestine

Analysis: Misunderstanding Palestine

Oddly enough, especially as he quite willingly combats ISIS/IS Jihadist forces in Syria and Iraq, U.S. President Barack Obama still subscribes to the contrived Palestinian narrative of a "Two-State Solution." Somehow, in spite of so much evident deception on the Palestinian side, Mr. Obama remains convinced that this particular Middle East struggle - unlike all the others - is about two equally valid claims. Accordingly, at least in the President's own unsupportable variant of deductive logic, each side is entitled to its own separately sovereign state.

Here, however, there emerges a specific and still-unexplained difference in presidential expectations. For one reason or another, a clarification yet to be disclosed, the Jewish State must keep its almost 1.7 million Arab citizens (approximately 20% of the total population), but "Palestine" is entitled to be Judenrein, or "free of Jews."  For anyone who can recall pertinent history from 1917 (Balfour Declaration) to the present, this openly asymmetrical recommendation is conspicuously discriminatory and unjust.

Plainly, if left unrevised, it is apt to foster exceptionally dangerous new Arab alignments, and could bring rapidly expanding levels of sectarian violence to an already chaotic region. Moreover, at some still indeterminate point, such violence could "spill over" into the American homeland, most obviously, in the form of "Palestine"-spawned Jihadist terrorism. From the explicitly preferred endpoints of ISIS/IS terror and Hamas/Fatah terror - that is, presumptively obligatory transformations of the Dar al Harb ("World of War") into the Dar al Islam ("World of Islam") - there is no meaningful difference.

As soon as the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas can smooth over the most refractory and residual points of their internal disagreements, these two factions will proudly announce Palestinian statehood for 'West Bank' (Judea/Samaria), Gaza, and East Jerusalem. This announcement, possibly with full or at least partial support from President Obama, would mock relevant international law, specifically the several bilateral agreements still in full force between Israel and the PA, and also the authoritative multilateral treaty on statehood, known generally as The Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, 1934 (aka, Montevideo Convention).

The main problem, however, would not concern formal "Montevideo" compliance.  It is, rather, that any Palestinian state would immediately enlarge the intersecting risks of  worldwide terrorism, area conventional conflicts, and regional nuclear war.

In early October, the Palestinian Authority asked the U.N. Security Council to set a deadline of November 2016 for full Israeli withdrawal from all so-called Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. This PA draft resolution would affirm the Security Council's presumed determination "to end the Israeli occupation without delay," and  to fulfill the vision of two states - "an independent, sovereign, democratic, continuous and viable state of Palestine," allegedly side-by-side with a secure state of Israel. Earlier, in 2012, the General Assembly had already approved the PA as a "nonmember observer state."

It is time, however, to affirm what has until now been conveniently swept under the rug. Any state of Palestine would aggressively seek territorial extensions, far beyond its lawfully constituted borders. More than likely, the "civilized" world would cheerfully look away. After all, according to the orthodox Palestinian narrative still accepted by this U.S. president, such extensions would be required in the reasonable interests of continued "fairness."

Even now, the official PA map identifies Israel as a mere part of Palestine. The official logo of PA Television still shows all of Israel as Occupied Palestine, with only the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. Fatah's official insignia remains Israel smothered  by a grenade, bayoneted rifle, and submachine gun. All PA school textbooks use a map of the Middle East in which Israel does not  even exist, and has been replaced in its entirety by a state called Palestine.

Ironically, the United States, long aware of these defamatory descriptions, had recently supported the military training of “Palestinian security forces.” Of course, as these forces were mainly Fatah fighters, we Americans had been diligently and expensively training yet another generation of anti-American terrorists. Although Mr. Obama still refuses to acknowledge these mistakes, Fatah's Charter declares unambiguously: "Our struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished, and Palestine is completely liberated."

What could be more clear? Any Palestinian state would have a deeply injurious impact on American strategic interests, and on Israel's physical survival. After Palestine, to compensate for a now-deteriorating correlation of forces in the region, Israel would require substantially greater dependence upon enhanced conventional weapons and strategies.

It would also require a partially revised strategic doctrine, one that could suitably integrate all essential elements of deterrence, preemption, cyber-defense, missile defense, and war fighting.

Because creating a Palestinian state would immediately make Israel's conventional capabilities more problematic, Israel's national command authority would likely consider making the tiny country’s implicit nuclear deterrent less ambiguous. Then, taking the Israeli bomb out of the  “basement"  might stabilize Israel’s existential security for a while longer, but ending “deliberate ambiguity” could also heighten the chances of nuclear weapons use. Moreover, if Iran were allowed to “go nuclear,” as now seems to be the case, nuclear violence might not be limited to the immediate areas of Israel and Palestine.

Nuclear war could arrive in Israel not only as a "bolt-from-the-blue" surprise missile attack, but also as a result, intended or inadvertent, of escalation.  If  an enemy state 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, in the future, with enemy nuclear counterstrikes.

This would become possible only if a still-nuclearizing Iran were spared any forms of Israeli or American preemptive attack. A persuasive Israeli conventional deterrent, to the extent that it could prevent enemy state conventional and/or biological attacks in the first place, would tangibly reduce Israel's greater risk of exposure to nuclear war. Palestine itself, of course, would be non-nuclear, and could not represent any direct source of nuclear aggression.

After Palestine, however, a stronger conventional capability would be needed by Israel to deter or to preempt conventional attacks, attacks that could lead, via escalation, to an unconventional war.  By definition, President Obama’s  Road Map would impair Israel's strategic depth, and, upon recognition  by enemy states, Israel’s associated capacity to wage conventional warfare. These critical consequences should quickly be understood in Washington, as well as in Jerusalem, not only for Israel’s sake, but because a Palestinian state could readily become hospitable to myriad other Jihadist preparations for launching anti-American terror.

Looking ahead, a Palestinian state could even find itself collaborating with assorted al-Qaeda or ISIS/IS forces, either willingly, or as the unwanted result of certain utterly new and probably unanticipated forms of "occupation."

President Obama's Road Map continues to represent a twisted and ill-fated cartography. However the PA might now go about declaring statehood, the corollary security costs of Palestine could severely impact world peace and regional security.

Ultimately, these starkly corrosive costs could include even nuclear war or nuclear terror.


LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli security matters.  He is the author of ten major books and several hundred journal articles on international relations and international law, including several early books on nuclear war and nuclear terrorism. His most recent professional publications appear in The Harvard National Security Journal(Harvard Law School); The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs; The Brown Journal of World Affairs; The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College; and Oxford University Press. The Chair of Project Daniel  (Israel,2003), Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.


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