US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro believes in "Land for Peace" and echoes the US Administration pressure on Israel to retreat to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines: an 8-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, towered over by the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria. Thus, the US Administration -- unlike the US public and Congress - ignores the centrality of Judea & Samaria in Jewish history, religion, culture and nationalism, and provides another victory to wishful-thinking over the 1,400- year-old reality of inherent Mideast/Arab violence, unpredictability, tyranny, doublespeak and hate- education.
If Israel would have caved under US pressure to retreat from the Golan Heights -- a site of Jewish battles against the Roman Empire - ISIS and other terrorists would be there, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, traumatizing northern Israel and beyond.
Israel's former, dovish, Foreign Minister, Abba Eban stated (Der Spiegel, Nov. 5, 1969): "The map will never be the same as on June 4, 1967... [which is] for us something of a memory of Auschwitz...."
Mideast peace agreements are as durable as are Arab regimes, policies and accords, which have been - since the 7th century - the globe's most shifty, intolerant, violent, volatile and treacherous, as currently reflected by the Arab Tsunami (gullibly known as the Arab Spring). The latter yielded abrupt power and ideological shifts in Egypt and Tunisia, transformed Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen into chaotic terror platforms, and lethally threatens all moderate Arab regimes. A regime change in Jordan would transform Israel's most peaceful -- to the most threatening - border.
Pressuring Israel to accept "Land for Peace" assumes that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea & Samaria would convince Arabs to accord the "infidel" Jew that which Muslim "believers" have denied one another for 1,400 years: peaceful coexistence and systematic compliance with agreements.
"Land for Peace" urges Israel to concede land in return for peace, while not allowing Israel to retrieve land after if/when peace is violated in the violent, non-compliant Mideast.
"Land for Peace" enhances security when the parties display long term adherence to agreements, which is a Mideast rarity. However, it undermines the security of the land-conceding party, once agreements are violated. For example, the 1993 (Oslo Accord) and 2005 (uprooting all Jews from Gaza) "Land for Peace" agreements were summarily violated, intensifying terrorism dramatically.
"Land for Peace" would usher the Arab Tsunami into Judea & Samaria, which towers over 80% of Israel's population and infrastructure, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel's only international airport. It also overlooks the Jordan Valley, Israel's longest border.
The width of pre-1967 Israel (8-15 miles) is equal to the length of DFW Airport in Texas, the distance between JFK and La Guardia Airports, Wall Street and Columbia University, the Kennedy Center and RFK Stadium, less than the distance between downtown London and Heathrow Airport. The area of Israel (0.2% of the Arab World) is smaller than the gunnery range at Nellis Air Force Base, NV. While pressuring Israel to retreat to an 8-15 mile "straight jacket", the US declared a 15 mile radius area in Bosnia, as a "killing zone," in order to ensure the safety of its soldiers.
Israel's vulnerable dimensions, in the endemically unstable, unreliable, violent Mideast, provide Israel with a minimal margin of error, requiring a uniquely high threshold of security in the face of reality- driven worst case scenarios.
Former Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the late General Earl Wheeler told President Lyndon Johnson: "The minimum requirements for Israel's defense include most of the West Bank, the whole of Gaza and the Golan Heights." 100 retired US Generals and Admirals cautioned Israel against withdrawing from Judea & Samaria, stating that is would be impossible to demilitarize the area effectively. The late Admiral Bud Nance :" The eastern mountain ridge of the West Bank is one of the world's best tank barriers.... The western mountain ridge constitutes a dream platform of invasion to Israel's narrow [8- 15 miles] coastal plain. Control of the West Bank provides Israel the time [50 hours] to mobilize reservists [75% of Israel's military], which are critical to Israel's survival during a surprise Arab attack." Most reservists reside in the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa area, which is dominated by the Judea & Samaria mountain ridge.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, ground barriers are critical in the era of sophisticated missiles. According to the US Army Institute of Land Warfare: "Land force [is] the cornerstone of deterrence.... Ground units can both destroy and occupy.... During the Afghan campaign of 2002, precision air strikes were critical, but they neither annihilated opposition nor finished the enemy...." General (ret.) Al Gray, former Commandant, US Marine Corps: "Military success requires more than a few hundred missiles. To defeat Israel would require the Arabs to deploy armor, infantry and artillery into Israel and destroy the IDF on the ground."
In 1973, the Sinai, the Golan and Judea & Samaria were the cushion, which enabled Israel to overcome technological, intelligence and operational fallibility, sparing Israel from oblivion. Military high tech today will be low tech tomorrow, but high ground always remains high ground. Moreover, any technology can be jammed, but one cannot jam the mountainous topography of Judea & Samaria.
Should the Sinai concession to Egypt apply to Judea & Samaria? The Sinai borders the Negev, which is topographically similar to the Sinai, sparsely populated, a platform for much of Israel's military. In contrast, Judea & Samaria borders topographically inferior, densely populated and most vulnerable coastal plain. 50 hours are required to violate Sinai's demilitarization (22,000 sq mi), only 10 hours in Judea & Samaria (2,200 sq mi). The Sinai concession was a calculated risk; a Judea & Samaria concession would be a lethal gamble. The geographic depth of Judea & Samaria, the Golan Heights and the Sinai enabled Israel to survive the 1973 surprise Arab offensive.
"Land for Peace" is actually "Land for Appease," rewarding serial Arab aggressors and punishing the intended Israeli victim. It fuels belligerence, undermines stability and the pursuit of peace, demolishing Israel's posture of deterrence, which is an irreplaceable life insurance policy in the most violent region in the world, which has never tolerated "infidel" entities, especially those which succumb to pressure.
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The Ettinger Report
"Second Thought: A US-Israel Initiative"
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First published in "Israel Hayom" newsletter, January 22, 2016