A week after his historic White House summit with United States President George W. Bush in April, 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stood before a packed Knesset plenum. A sense of triumph could be heard in his voice as he presented a list of American assurances that he had secured in a letter from the president. The letter was offered as a quid pro quo for Sharon’s promise to withdraw all Israeli troops and civilians from the Gaza Strip, known as the “disengagement plan.” Sharon recited the key components of the Bush letter: (i) U.S. support for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees to a future Palestinian state only, and not to Israel; (ii) an American commitment that Israel would retain large population centers in the West Bank and would therefore not be asked to ret! urn to the 1949 armistice lines, Israel’s de facto border until June 1967; (iii) a U.S. promise that there would be no other peace plan put forward except the previously agreed-upon “roadmap,” which made Israeli concessions contingent upon a complete halt to Palestinian terror and incitement.
This was a crucial moment for Sharon. Since he first announced his disengagement plan in December 2003 at a speech to the Herzliya Conference, he had been sharply criticized by opponents both within his Likud party and among the more hard-line Knesset factions who accused him of giving up tangible assets in exchange for nothing, not even a commitment to peaceful coexistence, from the Palestinian side. By presenting these American commitments, Sharon was making the case that he had in fact gained something momentous: Assurances from the world’s most powerful nation that Israel’s vital interests would be maintained.
The ensuing debate focused on the merits of such a deal--how much stock could one place in American commitments, and would they be worth giving up the economic, strategic, and civilian assets of the Gaza Strip. Yet perhaps the letter’s most important achievement, and a key element of Sharon’s address that day, went largely unnoticed. For the first time since the collapse of the 1993 Oslo accords in September 2000, an American president had formally committed to the idea that Israel must have “secure and recognized borders”--a signifier for the central strategic doctrine that, until the Oslo accords, had governed Israel’s own perception of its minimal defense requirements, and that had formed the basis of the prevailing doctrine governing UN Security Council resolutions concerning Israel in the wake of the 1967! and 1973 wars: The doctrine of defensible borders. Sharon himself invoked this doctrine in its original English form from the podium of the Knesset, both to underscore its importance as a central component of the Bush assurances, and to emphasize its firm foundation in international law.
According to the doctrine of defensible borders, Israel’s 1949 armistice lines presented the Jewish state with critical vulnerabilities, and therefore could not be sustained as permanent borders. Yigal Allon, Israel’s then-foreign minister and the architect of the defensible borders doctrine, put it this way in a 1976 essay in Foreign Affairs:
One does not have to be a military expert to easily identify the critical defects of the armistice lines that existed until June 4, 1967…. The gravest problem is on the eastern boundary, where the entire width of the coastal plain varies between 10 and 15 miles, where the main centers of Israel’s population, including Tel Aviv and its suburbs, are situated, and where the situation of Jerusalem is especially perilous. Within these lines a single successful first strike by the Arab armies would be sufficient to dissect Israel at more than one point, to sever its essential living arteries, and to confront it with dangers that no other state would be prepared to face. The purpose of defensible borders is thus to correct this weakness, to provide Israel with the requisite minimal strategic depth, as well as lin! es which have topographical strategic significance.1
In Allon’s view, Israel was founded in order to allow the Jewish people to live without relying for their security upon the benevolence of foreign powers. The defensible borders doctrine insisted that Israel, as a sovereign state, had a right to maintain borders that provided for its citizens’ minimal security needs--and that therefore any final-status agreements concerning the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights would necessarily have to involve the annexation of at least some territory as a correction to the extremely unstable 1949 armistice lines, whose very vulnerability had invited Arab aggression and led to the perpetuation of conflict. Immediately after the Six Day War in 1967, Allon proposed a series of territorial adjustments that would incorporate into Israel key tracts of largely unp! opulated land, especially in the Jordan Valley, while maintaining territorial contiguity between the Palestinian population centers and the Kingdom of Jordan, which had held the West Bank until 1967 (see map on p. 60). In effect, what became known as the Allon Plan was meant as the antidote to a 1949 armistice whose frontiers were so perilous for the Jewish state as to move Israel’s venerable dovish diplomat, Abba Eban, to dub them “Auschwitz borders.”
The quest for defensible borders was the central axiom of Israeli policy in the West Bank through successive Israeli governments, and was recognized in international law through UN Security Council Resolution 242, which acknowledged Israel’s right to “secure and recognized” boundaries and the adjustment of the 1949 lines. Yet beginning with the Oslo accords of 1993, and culminating in the Camp David and Taba talks of 2000 and 2001, the doctrine of defensible borders was gradually eroded and ultimately replaced with a different way of thinking. The “security arrangements” school maintained that sovereign territory was no longer the crucial element in defensive requirements, now that long-range missiles, radar, and sophisticated aircraft easily crossed any boundary. Instead, security could be maintained through arrangements between previously warring parties, using demilitarized zones, early-warning stations, third-party security assurances, and the positioning of troops on territory that was formally under another country’s sovereignty. Most notably under the leadership of Ehud Barak, between 1999 and 2001 Israel abandoned the belief that its basic security needs necessitate the adjustment of borders beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
But the collapse of the Oslo agreements in September of 2000, and the hostilities that have raged since then, represent a major challenge to, if not an outright implosion of, the security arrangements doctrine as applied to the Palestinian issue. When Barak put on the table the handover of virtually the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip in exchange for such arrangements, the Palestinians rejected any proposal that would be perceived as an infringement on their sovereignty, including demilitarization, the limitation of airspace, or the presence of Israeli troops anywhere in their territory, and at the same time insisted on a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines. Refusing to accept either defensible borders or security arrangements to assure Israeli security, t! he Palestinians broke off talks and launched a campaign of violence that has cost the lives of thousands on both sides.
Although both Sharon and Bush have conditionally endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, their words and actions represent, at the same time, a return to the doctrine of defensible borders. Some might argue that these two positions are irreconcilable--that because it rejects the 1949 armistice lines, a return to the doctrine of defensible borders necessarily involves an end to Palestinian aspirations to statehood. Yet there is reason to think the reverse may be true. That is to say, Israel’s commitment to defensible borders, entailing the annexation of some of the land captured in the 1967 war, may well make the possibility of Palestinian independence and a peaceful resolution to the conflict more, rather than less, likely. Paradoxically, it may be the case that
only through the creation of full Israeli sovereignty in some of the sparsely populated parts of the West Bank, particularly the Jordan Valley and other strategically vital areas, is it possible to envision Israeli territorial compromise.
Regardless of one’s position on the merits of Sharon’s present disengagement strategy, the return to the defensible borders doctrine is a development of considerable moment. For only through the achievement of defensible borders will Israel be able to maintain an effective defense of its own citizens without positioning itself physically within the territory of a future Palestinian state or other entity that might eventually be federated with Jordan. Only through defensible borders, that is, is there hope for an elusive but still achievable peace.
The concept of defensible borders is not foreign to international diplomacy. Its roots date back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which introduced the modern notions of sovereignty, clearly defined borders, and the inalienable right of a state to defend itself through force. Following both World War I and World War II, significant frontier changes were made that generally entailed improving the security of states that had been repeated victims of aggression.2
The UN charter signed in 1945, together with previous international conventions, sought to prohibit wars of aggression or territorial aggrandizement. Israel has no exceptional rights in this regard: Small states are capable of acting aggressively towards larger neighbors, and for this reason small states hold no inherent right to seize land under the pretext of reducing their vulnerability to attack. In the absence of Arab hostility, Israel’s narrow width within its pre-1967 boundaries would not in itself have been sufficient grounds for the capture of the territories in the Six Day War. Indeed, for this reason, jurists have distinguished between aggressive and defensive conquest.3! /> In 1970 Stephen Schwebel, who would become the legal adviser to the U.S. State Department and later president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, specifically noted this idea with regard to Israel’s legal position following its capture of territories from which the Jewish state had been attacked in the Six Day War. In a path-breaking 1970 essay in the American Journal of International Law, Schwebel noted that,
A state acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense…. [W]here the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title.4
Israel was forced to enter the West Bank only after coming under attack by Jordan, which in turn had conquered the very same territory in 1948 in what then-UN secretary general Trygve Lie termed “the first armed aggression which the world has seen since the end of the [Second World] War.”5 Israel, Schwebel concluded, had an internationally sanctioned right to seek modification of its borders with respect to the territories from which it was attacked.
Israel’s right to territorial modification was especially significant given the status of the West Bank and Gaza, which were taken from states which had no right under international law to hold them. (Egypt, like Jordan with respect to the West Bank, had taken the Gaza Strip by force during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.) This was clearly understood by the Security Council in the drafting of Resolution 242, which was approved in November 1967. There had not been a legal sovereign over these areas since the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, Israel was lawfully asserting its territorial claims to create defensible boundaries in lands in which there was an internationally recognized vacuum of legal state ownership. The language of Resolution 242, painstakingly drafted by its British sponsors, purposefully calls f! or Israel to pull back from “territories,” and specifically not from “the” territories, or “all the territories,” captured in the Six Day War. This point was made clearly by the principal author of Resolution 242, Great Britain’s UN representative at the time, Lord Caradon, who noted in 1974 that, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967…. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to.”6
Indeed, former U.S. under secretary of state Eugene Rostow, a primary drafter of 242, emphasized Israel’s legal administrative rights in the territories until it obtained “secure and recognized boundaries” and a mutually acceptable solution was negotiated between the parties.7 Rostow also noted that Israel should not be considered an “occupier” of the territories, because there had been no legal sovereign over either the West Bank or Gaza at the time. This position was also adopted by former Israeli Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, who noted following the Six Day War that there is no de jure application of the Fourth Geneva Conventio! n of 1949 in the case of Israel because the territories had been taken from Jordan, which was not a legal sovereign but rather an occupier itself.8 In fact, the Palestinians, whose legal claims to the West Bank have long been supported by many third world states, were not even mentioned as a party to Resolution 242.
Israel’s international legal right, as well as its pressing defense requirement to modify its borders, would not be lost on Yigal Allon, one of Israel’s heroic pre-state commanders who served as Israel’s deputy prime minister beginning in the months following the Six Day War, and as foreign minister under the first government of Yitzhak Rabin. Within a month of the cessation of hostilities of the Six Day War, Allon provided the first coherent conceptualization of how to draw defensible borders for Israel using the territories that the Israeli army had captured in the war. Allon, who had commanded the pre-state Palmah strike force, and during the 1948 War of Independence successfully led Israeli army operations in the eastern Galilee and on Isra! el’s central and southern fronts, understood from firsthand experience that it would be impossible for Israel to return to the June 4, 1967, lines. In defending his proposal, Allon cited the comments of United States ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg to the UN Security Council preceding the adoption of Resolution 242. Goldberg had explained that the 1949 armistice lines were defined as provisional military boundaries by both Jordan and Israel, and therefore did not constitute the “secure and recognized boundaries” called for in Resolution 242.9
Allon emphasized Israel’s need to retain a topographical barrier to defend itself from attacks from the east, a move that would also provide an additional defensive measure beyond the proposed demilitarization of Palestinian areas.10 He was particularly concerned by the prospect of hostile forces seizing the West Bank mountain ridge that overlooks Israel’s narrow coastal plain, which holds 70 percent of the country’s residents and 80 percent of its industrial capacity. Allon determined that Israel should retain the eastern slopes of the hilly terrain, facing Jordan, and almost the entire Jordan Valley.11 Specifically, he said that Israel’s new defensible borders would mean “retaining absolute control of the 700-square-mile strategic Jordan Rift Valley east of the major Arab population centers,” a zone that lies between the Jordan River to the east and the eastern slopes of the Samarian and Judean mountains to the west, as well as greater Jerusalem and certain relatively unpopulated sections of the Judean Desert.12 Allon’s recommendation for annexing the Jordan Valley was supported by the fact that this area was--and continues to be--largely unpopulated, aside from the approximately thirty thousand Arab residents of Jericho, which would not be part of the annexed territory.13 This demographic reality would remain true over the following 38 years, thereby, as Sharon has noted in recent interviews, preserving the plan’s relevance for 2005.14 All told, the Allon Plan, which underwent several revisions between 1967 and his presentation of the plan in Foreign Affairs in 1976, envisioned Israel retaining about one-third of the West Bank’s 2,100 square miles.
Allon dismissed claims that in a new era of border-defying technologies, territorial depth had no meaning. “With all the heavy damage that warheads and bombs can inflict,” he wrote, “they alone cannot be decisive in war, as long as the other side is resolved to fight back.” Recent precedents in military history reinforced the lesson:
The German air “blitz” did not knock England out of World War II, nor did the heavy Allied air bombardments bring Germany to its knees. This happened only when the last bunker in Berlin fell. Even the massive American air bombardments did not defeat North Vietnam, which, in the final analysis, proved to be the victor in the war. At least as far as conventional wars are concerned, the following basic truth remains: Without an attack by ground forces that physically overrun the country involved, no war can be decisive.15
Allon also called for new Jewish settlements to be built in the territories that would be annexed to Israel in any peace agreement, plus the addition of permanent military bases according to security needs.16 In handwritten explanations of his original defensible borders plan he first presented to the government on July 13, 1967, Allon noted that “Israel’s refraining from establishing settlements… in the territories beyond Israel’s borders can only be interpreted in the rest of the world as if we are reconciling ourselves to giving up these territories…. And this would be the worst option for Israel.”17
But Allon opposed retaining the entire area of Judea and Samaria, including its one million Arab inhabitants, whom he feared would create the demographic conditions that might result in a bi-national state.18 Allon assumed, rather, that Israel would reach an agreement with Palestinian leaders and neighboring Jordan over the final status of the West Bank that would be a contiguous, autonomous, demilitarized Palestinian entity within the Hashemite Kingdom, rather than a fully empowered independent Palestinian state.19 ! />
Though it was never formally adopted by the Israeli government, the Allon Plan and the defensible borders doctrine it represented became the guiding vision through successive Israeli governments between 1967 and 1993. In February 1969, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was asked if Israel would return to the pre-1967 lines. “The armistice agreements are dead and buried,” he answered. “We don’t want any part of the settled area of the West Bank--Nablus, Jenin, and so on. What we say is that the Jordan River must become a security border for Israel with all that that implies. Our army shall be stationed only on the strip along that border.”20
Defensible borders would also become the strategic baseline for Prime Ministers Golda Meir and her successor Yitzhak Rabin. Meir emphasized the idea while presenting her government in March 1974, immediately following the Yom Kippur War. A peace agreement with its neighbors, she said, “should assure Israel of defensible borders.”21 Rabin, too, would continue the defensible borders tradition begun by Allon, who was Rabin’s commanding officer and mentor. Rabin, who upon becoming prime minister in June 1974 named Allon his foreign minister, would reassert the importance of defensible borders at every opportunity. In February 1975, Rabin was asked on Israeli radio about the idea o! f a U.S.-Israel defense treaty. Rabin dismissed the idea out of hand: “In our understanding we have always seen the necessity, the need, for the State of Israel to defend itself under its own power. Hence our demand for defensible borders.” Rabin then added: “I would on no account want a situation to be created, which those proposing the defense treaty intend: A substitute for defensible borders.”22 If anything, Rabin’s map for defensible borders was even more ambitious than Allon’s in establishing new settlements in western Samaria.
And as for Prime Minister Menachem Begin, there is reason to think that he, too, privately accepted the idea of defensible borders, despite his public insistence that Jewish history and tradition demand that no part of Judea and Samaria be given away. According to Begin’s foreign minister, Moshe Dayan, Begin was willing to consider shared sovereignty over the West Bank with neighboring Jordan. While Both Labor and Likud leaders recognized the strategic importance of the territories for Israel and agreed on Palestinian autonomy and not statehood in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, the nationalist Likud rejected any foreign sovereignty on West Bank soil,
including Jordanian annexation. However, Dayan, who had served as foreign minister in the first Begin government, reported t! o the Knesset plenum toward the end of its term that Begin was not completely closed to compromise on that point.23
While the idea of defensible borders was achieving unprecedented recognition during Rabin’s first government in the mid-1970s, its intellectual erosion in some Israeli circles was by then already beginning, largely because of the powerful impact which the near-disaster of the Yom Kippur War had had on the thinking of military planners. Israel had had extraordinary strategic depth when the 1973 Yom Kippur War began, it was now argued, but even the post-1967 defensible borders had not prevented the coordinated attack by Egypt and Syria. After the war, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin argued that Israel would have to settle for the status quo until the Arab states were ready to accept the concept of defensible borders. The new critics, however, argued that the status quo was too dangerous as it might well lead to yet! another full-scale Arab-Israeli war. This logic led to an effort to seek an alternative to defensible borders, so that peace treaties with the Arab states would be easier to conclude.
Ironically, in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, it was Begin’s “hard-line” Likud government that gave the new school of thought its greatest boost. Until Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in November 1977, Israel’s concept of peace with Egypt had been based on retaining Sinai territory to create defensible borders to Israel’s south. The signing of the Camp David accords in 1978 represented a major turning point. According to the agreement, Egypt would conclude a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 boundary. Israel’s vital interests would be maintained through the use of security arrangements, including partial demilitarization of the Sinai and Negev, the restriction of airstrips in the Sinai to civilian use, and the deployment of international pea! ce monitors there. But Yitzhak Rabin, then in opposition, was reluctant to turn away from defensible borders to embrace security arrangements, especially if this doctrine were applied to other fronts. Rabin said at the time, “Theoretically, Israel today has the possibility of reaching a full peace treaty on the basis of an overall withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 lines with minor modifications and perhaps a readiness for an Israeli military presence. If I were asked if we should sign an agreement of this sort, I would answer in the negative.”24 Begin and his negotiating team, however, eventually dropped the demand for defensible borders in Sinai in view of the real possibility of peace with Egypt, which they realized would require an alternative security concept if they wanted to close a deal with the Egyptians quickly. !
The architect of the security arrangements school for Sinai was Major-General Abraham “Abrasha” Tamir. Instead of new defensible borders, Tamir worked under the assumption of a full Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, but with the provision that security arrangements would make it difficult for the Egyptian army to pose a threat to southern Israel following an IDF pullout. Tamir created two limited-forces zones and a demilitarized zone across the 120 miles of Sinai territory, which severely reduced the number of forces the Egyptians could deploy. Yigal Allon, who was part of the Labor opposition in 1979 when the Egyptian-Israeli treaty was brought to the Knesset, actually voted against ratification of the treaty. He was unwilling to see Israel forgo its fundamental right to secure frontiers.
Within a few years of Israel’s final withdrawal from Sinai in 1982, it became clear that despite the lack of Allon-style defensible borders with Egypt, the peace treaty appeared to be holding, and even facilitating the significant scaling back of Israeli troops in the southern part of the country. It was not long before proposals were aired that would apply the security arrangements concept to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well. These became increasingly popular after the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, in 1987. In this context, it is impossible to overstate the impact of the special report published in 1988 by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies’ Study Group, entitled The West Bank and Gaza: ! Israel’s Options for Peace, on the substitution of “security arrangements” for defensible borders in the Palestinian context.
Since its founding in 1977 at Tel Aviv University, the Jaffee Center had been perceived as a central fixture of the Israeli security establishment. It was directed by General Aharon Yariv, the head of Israeli military intelligence in the Six Day War. When it issued its report, the staff included another former head of military intelligence, General Shlomo Gazit, who had played a key role in negotiating the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords. Gazit, together with the Jaffee Center’s deputy director Joseph Alpher, would be involved in back channel contacts in 1993 with the PLO over security issues that ran parallel to political negotiations at Oslo.25
The Jaffee study comprised two parts: A long study that analyzed six options for the future of the West Bank, and a short study examining a seventh option--a Palestinian state that would be established in virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Jaffee team determined that this seventh option was the only workable solution. “All of the six standing options on the Israeli political agenda that have been investigated,” they wrote, “either cannot be implemented or are undesirable. Therefore, to achieve political progress, Israelis and Palestinians will have to change their most basic conceptions.”26
Almost immediately, their proposal advocating a phased yet eventually full-fledged Palestinian state received major press coverage in Israel and internationally, including coverage in the New York Times and the Washington Post. And since the Jaffee team had an international partner--the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, headed by Martin Indyk--its overseas impact was assured.
The Jaffee study promoted the post-1973 idea of “security arrangements” in any final settlement over the West Bank. In the longer, six-option study, these arrangements included two types: First, there were limitations on Palestinian armed forces in the West Bank. Second, the study proposed “security arrangements” involving a long-term (20 to 25 years or longer) Israeli military presence inside a future Palestinian state, including: (i) Substantial IDF presence along the axes ascending from the Jordan Valley to the top of the West Bank mountain ridge; (ii) IDF surface-to-air missile systems; (iii) IDF early-warning and intelligence facilities along the mountain ridge itself; (iv) full Israeli control of the airspace over the West Bank; and (v) freedom of movement for Israe! li military forces moving along agreed West Bank axes.27 The Jaffee team argued that at the end of a negotiating process, these security arrangements would necessarily prevent a newly formed Palestinian state from either constituting a strategic threat to Israel or acting as a platform for terror assaults.28
In hindsight, it is clear that the Jaffee Center study was deeply flawed. The principal error was its assumption that the security arrangements doctrine, which appeared to be working in the Egyptian case, could be readily applied to the case of a Palestinian state. This was the view of Dore Gold, later Israel’s ambassador to the UN, who was the one Jaffee analyst who participated in the longer six-option study but refused to sign its smaller policy paper recommending a Palestinian state with concomitant Israeli security arrangements.29 It is one thing, Gold argued, to insist that security arrangements like troop limitations, demilitarized zones, or international peacekeepers be implemented in a relatively barren and peripheral part of Egypt such as the Sinai Peninsula; it is quite another to imagine Egypt agreeing to such arrangements in Cairo and the Nile Valley.30 Yet this is precisely what security arrangements would mean in the case of a “demilitarized” Palestinian state, which would be expected somehow to maintain a semblance of sovereignty--despite strict limitations on its military power--over the entirety of its territory. Perhaps one could argue for such an arrangement in the West Bank if it were part of a larger Jordanian state, thereby creating a parallel to the Sinai model. But what sort of sovereignty would a demilitarized Palestinian “state” genuinely enjoy? Moreover, the Jaffee team was not willing to accept demilitarization alone as a sufficient! security arrangement. It also insisted on maintaining an ongoing IDF troop presence on what was to become sovereign Palestinian soil. This was an unprecedented demand; Israel had not even succeeded in maintaining a security presence in Sinai following the evacuation from the peninsula.
Second, even from Israel’s own perspective, it seems evident that in the absence of early-warning stations or Israeli troops on Egyptian soil, the idea of a demilitarized Sinai is a far more plausible kind of security arrangement for Israel than would be a demilitarized West Bank. This, for two reasons: Sinai is a comparably vast area distant from Israeli population centers, whereas the West Bank is a populated region which overlooks both Tel Aviv and the narrow strip of land between the border and the sea. Furthermore, there is little reason to think that a Palestinian state would honor any demilitarization agreement. The Palestinian Authority, which has repeatedly flouted the limits on the size and weaponry of its police force to which it committed in the Oslo agreements in 1993, has shown little willingness! to demilitarize, and there is no reason to think a sovereign Palestinian state would act differently. Thus without Israel’s control of the Jordan Valley to prevent the flow of illegal weaponry into the rest of the West Bank--a key demand of the Allon Plan--there is little chance that Palestinian demilitarization would ever happen.
Finally, it is far from clear that peace with Egypt succeeded as a result of, and not despite, the security arrangements promised in the Camp David accords. Although Israel gave up completely on the Allon Plan’s call for territorial adjustments in Egyptian territory, reverting to the 1949 lines everywhere except the Gaza Strip, it is also the case that in the actual peace treaty signed with Egypt in 1979 Israel was forced to give up on any presence in Sinai whatsoever--such as its early-warning station at Umm Khashiba--and thus some of the most important components demanded by the security arrangements school were in fact never implemented. Indeed, it is a significant distortion to describe the peace between Israel and Egypt as resting on the security arrangements of the treaty of 1979; it seems more likely th! at not security arrangements but rather something else--such as Egypt’s desire to be perceived as a treaty-abiding country, allowing it to continue to receive the billions of dollars in American aid each year--has helped maintain the peace between the two countries. Furthermore, while it is true that the Egyptian troop limitations in Sinai appear to have held up, these very limits have now become an excuse for Egyptian inaction in the face of weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists. And finally, it is crucial to note that security arrangements in Sinai after 1956, including the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, did nothing to prevent the outbreak of the Six Day War itself, which happened only after Egypt had evicted the UN forces and begun pouring divisions of its army into the Sinai. Thus it does not seem realistic to think that security arrangements are likely to succeed with a Palestinian state where they have not in the Egyptian case.
For this reason, it is important to recall that both the Jaffee Center’s plan and the Allon defensible borders plan depended on the possibility of Israel’s stationing a major armored presence in the Jordan Valley. The security arrangements school argued that an Israeli brigade could be placed on the soil of a Palestinian state, while the defensible borders school insisted that Israel seek sovereignty in the Jordan Valley as part of any territorial compromise. They disagreed, rather, over the question of whether sovereignty was required in the areas where Israeli forces would be kept. The key problem with the security arrangements school’s proposals for extraterritorial military presence was that unlike Israel’s sovereign control over security zones, these military po! sitions would likely be eroded by the Palestinians over a few years, if they were ever implemented to begin with. As a result, Israel would be stripped of both territorial buffers and security arrangements. Nonetheless, a new generation of Israeli leaders seized upon the Jaffee study’s willingness to abandon sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, rather than its insistence on a permanent Israeli military presence there--a fact that found potent _expression in the Oslo accords in September 1993.
Israel never formally conceded its policy of defensible borders when it signed the Oslo accords, which after all left final-status issues like boundaries for a future negotiation. But the defensible borders doctrine did suffer a major diplomatic blow, stemming principally from complete confusion over whether Israel had given up on its demand for sovereignty in parts of the territories of Judea and Samaria. This confusion was due mainly to the vastly differing visions of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin--an acolyte of Allon who never gave up on the defensible borders doctrine--and Shimon Peres, a believer in an extreme form of security arrangements who intentionally underplayed Israel’s defensive requirements in favor of unprecedented political flex! ibility toward Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Although he did not explicitly endorse the Jaffee study’s security arrangements proposals, Peres--in advocating the notion that trans-nationalism and “soft borders” made sovereignty unnecessary--nonetheless opened the door for the abandonment of the defensible borders thinking and the advent of the security arrangements school. In fact, Peres and his deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin often seemed to be less interested in defending Israel’s vital territorial interests than they were in supporting PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s rehabilitation as a legitimate leader, and the Palestinians as a legitimate peace partner. For Peres, the goal of the peace process would be ultimately to integrate Israel and an eventual Palestinian entity into a “New Middle East” based on an integrated regional economic and political system modeled on the EU.
31 According to this view, territorial protections for Israel would be less important in an era of peace, since borders themselves would no longer be significant under a regional security arrangement. “‘Strategic depth’ may no longer have the same meaning when peaceful relations and reciprocal control systems are in effect,” he wrote. “Strategic areas do not have the same value in peacetime as they do in war. The significance of military campaigns and tactical considerations changes when armed conflict is replaced by equable, amiable relationships.”32
Peres’ imagination was captivated by the European Union’s economic and political arrangements, and he wanted to transplant the system to the Middle East in general and to relations between Israel and the Palestinians in particular. This, Peres reasoned, was a necessary result of the changing nature of human needs, the gradual obviation of nations, and the advent of higher, border-piercing technologies:
Establishment of a regional security system depends on recognition of the one fact that distinguishes the final years of the twentieth century: National political organizations can no longer fulfill the purpose for which they were established--that is, to furnish the fundamental needs of the nation…. In light of contemporary technological developments--those both for construction and for destruction--a nationwide organization is not sufficient to ensure this security. The social group has expanded, and today our health, welfare, and freedom can be ensured only within a wider framework, on a regional or even an ultra-regional basis. One day our self-awareness and personal identity will be based on this new reality, and we will find that we have stepped outside the national arena. Western Europe is already s! howing signs of this new age.33
In sharp contrast to Peres’ enthusiasm for a new, “borderless” Middle East, Rabin never abandoned his commitment to defensible borders as envisioned by Yigal Allon--although he endorsed and actively promoted the Oslo agreement as an interim step.34 In October 1995, in his last Knesset address, seeking approval for the Oslo II interim agreement, Rabin set out his vision of defensible borders: “The borders of the State of Israel during the permanent solution,” Rabin affirmed, “will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the June 4, 1967 lines.”35 Rabin emphasized that Israel would retain sovereignty in the same territories advocated in the Allon Plan. “The security border of the State of Israel,” he asserted, “will be located in the Jordan Valley in the broadest meaning of that term.” But like his former Palmah commander, Rabin insisted on much more than the Jordan River itself as a defensive barrier to possible attacks from the east. He intended for Israel to be protected by the total 4,200-foot incline from the Jordan riverbed up the eastern slopes of the West Bank hill ridge.36 Rabin added that Israel would also maintain a united Jerusalem, and keep settlement blocs east of the 1967 lines.37
The Allon Plan also served as a point of reference for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office in 1996. Netanyahu used the term “Allon Plus” in 1997 to outline his vision for permanent status.38 Despite Rabin’s and Netanyahu’s firm commitment to Allon’s vision of defensible borders, Oslo’s unprecedented focus on Palestinian claims in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Jerusalem sent a disconcerting message to Israel’s supporters. It also reinforced the belief among Israel’s detractors that its traditional security demands, which had always guided its peace policies, were far less significant than the growing international consensus that Israel needed to end its role as a “fo! reign occupier of Palestinian land.”39 This claim, aggressively marketed by the Palestinians, despite lacking any grounding in Resolution 242, gained currency in the media and would further undermine Israel’s international case for defensible borders.
Ironically, prior to Oslo, because of the awareness of the Palestinian covenant’s call for the destruction of the Jewish state, Israel had enjoyed greater world sympathy for its requirements for defensible borders. But Israel’s failure to advance its own security first, its active promotion of the Palestinian Authority, particularly between 1993 and 1996, and its failure to protest effectively the PA’s continued incitement to violence and delegitimization of Israel--a violation of one of Oslo’s founding principles--undermined Israel’s case to the world, even before negotiations collapsed at Camp David, and especially once the Palestinian violence began in Sep-tember 2000.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s determination to reach an “end ofconflict” agreement with Arafat at Camp David in July 2000 and then at Taba in early 2001 was the driving force behind his idea of creating security arrangements on the territory of a future Palestinian state. Barak’s security arrangements proposals, an heir to the legacy of the Jaffee Center report, reflected the final abandonment by the Israeli government of the notion of defensible borders in the West Bank. Barak believed it would be possible to secure Israel by settling for 12 percent or less40 of the West Bank, as opposed to the approximately 33 ! to 45 percent required by a classic defensible borders strategy.41
Like the Jaffee Center recommendations twelve years earlier, Barak also proposed a sovereign Palestinian state with the proviso that it be based on a demilitarized West Bank and the placement of Israeli early-warning stations and IDF troops on Palestinian soil. And following United States president Bill Clinton’s own “bridging proposals” at Taba, which reflected, in part, many of Barak’s concessions to the Palestinians, Israeli control of the Jordan Valley was finally conceded and replaced with the more politically flexible counterproposal of an international force.
Despite Barak’s unprecedented offer, Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan categorically refused to accept the idea of such Israeli security arrangements. As former U.S. special Middle East envoy Dennis Ross writes, “Mohammed Dahlan was dead set against any Israeli or foreign presence in the border crossing and rejected the idea that the Israelis should have guaranteed access routes into the West Bank.”42 In fact, the main security issues were not resolved at Camp David, including early-warning stations, control of airspace, demilitarization, Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, and management of border crossings. Even on the issue of Israeli emergency access to the Wes! t Bank, Ross writes that the parties faced “basic disagreements.”43 During the Taba talks, Israeli chief negotiator Gilad Sher noted that on security issues, “the main disputes remained.”44 The security arrangements school was tested at Camp David and Taba and found to be completely unacceptable to the Palestinians.
Barak’s final abandonment of the defensible borders doctrine, and the advancement of security arrangements in its stead, whittled down and even delegitimized Israel’s longstanding demands to retain the Jordan Valley and other vital areas in Judea and Samaria in any future negotiation. Moreover, even Israel’s desire to maintain the status quo in the West Bank would be severely compromised by Barak’s far-reaching concessions. Under such conditions, the international community, particularly the Europeans, would feel more empowered to impose a solution on Israel on the basis of the problematic 1949 armistice lines. Israel therefore would be in a much compromised position if it decided to pursue a unilateral option or demand defensible borders in future diplomacy over the West Bank. Barak’s last-ditch effort to sec! ure an end-of-conflict agreement with Arafat led Israel’s most decorated military man to concede the very hawkish security principles that he had embodied as a protégé of Rabin and a student of Allon, and that had characterized his opposition to Oslo both as IDF chief of staff in 1993 and as interior minister in 1995, when he abstained in the Oslo II Knesset vote.45 As recently as March 2005, Barak explained to this author that his abandonment of defensible borders was based on his feeling that “Allon is a wonderful plan, but it can’t be implemented due to Palestinian opposition.”46
Yet this, it seems, is precisely where Barak has it wrong. For indeed, neither defensible borders nor security arrangements have found a receptive ear on the part of the Palestinian leadership, neither under Arafat’s leadership nor since his death. Yet unlike security arrangements, which require from the outset the full cooperation and goodwill of Palestinian counterparts, a defensible borders strategy, in the extreme case, does not. Israel has the power to maintain its military presence in the key areas of the West Bank more or less indefinitely. It is entirely possible to envision, in the absence of Palestinian flexibility, an international community led by the United States accepting the idea of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank. ! Indeed, this process has already begun with the Bush letter of April 2004 recognizing that Israeli sovereignty will ultimately extend to major Jewish population centers there, a commitment that the Americans reaffirmed this summer. One might reasonably argue that only by convincing Palestinian and European leaders of Israel’s unwavering commitment to defensible borders will final-status negotiations have a serious chance of preserving Israel’s vital security interests.
In any event, it does not appear that Israel’s abandonment of the defensible borders doctrine in the early 1990s succeeded in moving the region any closer to ending a century of bloodshed. On the contrary, it may have caused significant damage to Israel. It encouraged Israel’s enemies who long for the day when Israel gives up all rights to land; it obfuscated Israel’s minimal needs for any final-status agreement; and it fostered the sense that the 1949 armistice lines constitute the final sovereign borders of the Jewish state.
It is time, therefore, for a return to the idea of defensible borders for Israel. Like any state under international law, Israel has a right to a sovereign reality that will ensure that it can defend itself against external aggressors. And this requires borders which are indeed “secure and recognized,” which can be defended by Israel’s troops without dependence on foreign armies, stationing troops on foreign soil, or technological means that can be derailed at the whim of a foreign power. This is a right that is sanctioned in international law, a right enshrined in Israel’s case in UN Security Council resolutions, and an imperative inherent in the basic idea of the State of Israel--the provision for the fundamental security needs of the Jewish people, in its own sovereign state, without dependence on others.
Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip planned for this coming fall has raised uncertainties among senior defense officials regarding Israel’s future security. Ariel Sharon is the first Israeli prime minister to recognize the goal of a sovereign Palestinian state, and the first since the evacuation of the Sinai to decide to dismantle Jewish settlements. At the same time, both in his explicit statements and in the actions of his government, there is reason to think that his plan contains a second plank: The combination of contiguous Palestinian statehood in the most populous West Bank areas with a return to the idea of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and other strategic areas. In a pre-Passover interview in Haaretz last April, Sharon said, “The Jordan Rift Valley is very important and it’s not just the Rift Valley. We’re talking about up to the Allon Road and a step above the Allon Road. In my view, this area is of supreme importance.”47 Sharon and his senior advisers have also expressed the goal of reaching a long-term interim solution with the Palestinians that would guarantee defensible borders for Israel.48
But we should not underestimate the forces militating towards a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines. While the Bush administration made clear to Israeli diplomats in 2001 that the Barak-Clinton proposals were off the table, the expectation among European countries was that Israel would continue to pull back, after Gaza, from the entire West Bank or close to it in line with the Clinton parameters of 2000. EU representative Javier Solana, for instance, has backed Israel’s return to the 1949 borders as part of an overall political settlement.49
Moreover, Israel faces a string of precedents that involve a full Israeli withdrawal to a recognized international boundary: The 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, the withdrawal from Lebanon in the summer of 2000, and Sharon’s own 2005 disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. Adopting a defensible borders position will entail rejecting such precedents where the West Bank is concerned. It is a position that will be supported by a significant majority of Israelis, but will require strength of heart on the part of Israel’s leaders in the face of major international and Palestinian opposition.
Israel needs defensible borders, particularly in the West Bank, to guarantee a political settlement that will not be undermined by the combination of Israeli vulnerabilities and the hostile intent that is still expressed by several of Israel’s neighbors, including the Palestinians.50 If Israel is to arrive at a solution to the conflict that will end its military presence in Palestinian population centers, provide for the country’s long-term security, and maintain its deterrent capability against aggression from both the future Palestinians state and its Arab neighbors, it will have to take a firm stand with regard to its frontiers. If it does so, Israel will contribute more to! the long-term stability of the region than any set of agreements based on security arrangements. Indeed, defensible borders are a vital guarantor of a peace that will be lasting and durable.
Dan Diker is a senior policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and project director of its Defensible Borders Initiative.
The Allon Plan for Defensible Borders Map
1.Yigal Allon, “Israel: The Case for Defensible Borders,” Foreign Affairs vol. 55 (October 1976), pp. 41-42.
2.The Soviet Union received large territories from Poland, Rumania, and Finland in the period 1945-1947. Germany ceded huge territories to Poland at the same time. Many of these decisions on boundary changes were finalized between the Big Three Powers at Potsdam in 1945. Elsewhere in Europe, Italy ceded territories to Yugoslavia after World War II.
3.Stephen Schwebel, “What Weight to Conquest,” in Justice in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge, 1994), pp. 521-525.
4.Schwebel, “What Weight to Conquest.” As cited in Eli E. Hertz, Reply: Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (New York: Myths and Facts, 2005), p. 95.
5.As cited in Dore Gold, Jerusalem in International Diplomacy (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2001), p. 24. See also Dore Gold, Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos (New York: Crown Forum, 2004), p. 103.
6.Eugene V. Rostow, “The Future of Palestine,” Institute of National Strategic Studies, November 1993, cited in Hertz, Reply, p. 94.
7.See Dore Gold, “From Occupied Territories to Disputed Territories,” Jerusalem Viewpoints, 470 (January 16, 2002), p. 3. Former U.S. under secretary of state Eugene Rostow also went on record in 1991 to clarify this point, saying: “Resolution 242, which, as under secretary of state of political affairs between 1966 and 1969, I helped to produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved…. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines [of 1949], but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries, agreed! upon by the parties.” See the citation in Hertz, Reply, p. 94.
8.Dore Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel,” Jerusalem Viewpoints no. 500 (June 15-July 1, 2003), p. 2. See also Eugene V. Rostow, “Resolved,” The New Republic (October 21, 1991), www.tzemachdovid.org/Facts/islegal1.shtml. Professor Ruth Lapidot confirmed these points in a meeting with the author on February 23, 2004.
9.Allon, “The Case for Defensible Borders,” p. 41.
10.Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel,” p. 3.
11.Allon, “The Case for Defensible Borders.” See also Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel.”
12.Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel.”
13.See Chaim Gwirtizman, “Maps of Israeli Interests in Judea and Samaria: Determining the Extent of Future Israeli Withdrawals,” www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/publications/maps/oslo2map.htm.
15.Allon, “The Case for Defensible Borders,” p. 42.
16.Michael Widlanski, ed., Can Israel Survive a Palestinian State? (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Advanced Strategic Studies, 1990), p. 139.
17.Widlanski, ed., Can Israel Survive a Palestinian State?, p. 135.
18.It is important to note that the demographic argument embraced by Allon and other leaders of the Labor camp at the time stemmed only from the possibility of Israel’s annexation of all of Judea and Samaria, a move that would cause the necessary assignment of democratic rights to the territories’ Arab residents. In contrast, today’s opponents of Israel’s presence in the territories after the Oslo peace process, in which 98 percent of Palestinians live under PA administrative authority, misleadingly claim that any Israeli settlement presence in the disputed territories today requiring Israeli military protection automatically creates the same demographic problem as pre-1993 discussions of Israeli annexation, likening Israel to apartheid South Africa. This false comparison is particularly misleading in view! of the fact that Israel initiated the Oslo accords to rid itself of the widely undesirable situation of Israel’s military administration of the West Bank and Gaza that existed between 1967 and implementation of the Oslo II accords in September 1995.
19.Allon, “The Case for Defensible Borders.”
20.Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, in an interview with Newsweek (February 17, 1969), as included in a study for the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, Lee Hamilton, chairman, Congressional Research Service (December 19, 1979), p. 186. See also Michael Oren, “Levi Eshkol, Forgotten Hero” (Azure 14, Winter 2003), pp. 25-72.
21.Prime Minister Golda Meir in a speech to the Knesset, March 10, 1974.
22.Interview with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Israeli radio, February 21, 1975.
23.According to Dayan, Begin even indicated that he was prepared to “consider seriously any reasonable peace proposal from Jordan on the basis of territorial compromise in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.” Moshe Dayan, On the Peace Process and the Future of Israel (Tel Aviv: Israel Ministry of Defense and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1988), p. 257. [Hebrew]
24.Dayan, On the Peace Process, p. 94. It should also be noted that according to some IDF assessments, the 1973 Yom Kippur War resulted in part from the overdependence of the IDF on approval from Golda Meir’s government to launch a preemptive strike against Egypt, a strike that would have required Israel to violate Egyptian sovereignty.
After the war, former IDF intelligence assessment chief, General Yaakov Amidror, then a young intelligence officer, developed a new assessment model that measured the military’s dependence on Israel’s political echelon for approval in advance of military action. Amidror’s model, which has not previously been published, concludes that the least problematic actions by the IDF are those that involve no Israeli violation of the sovereignty of Israel’s neighbors and are therefore least dependent on government approval.
According to Amidror, the following four-level model has influenced Israeli military planners since the 1973 debacle, and has resulted in a much stronger IDF regular force structure than Israel had maintained before 1973:
1. Deployment of IDF regular forces along Israel’s borders. This is the least problematic decision, since it involves a minimal intervention on the political level and has minimal diplomatic repercussions in that it involves no violations of foreign territorial sovereignty.
2. Call-up of reserve forces. This decision requires a greater political involvement as it implies a more serious state of alert, but does not involve international diplomatic consequences.
3. Launch of a pre-emptive air strike. This requires a high level of domestic political intervention, which Israeli leaders would be reluctant to approve, since it involves a violation of the sovereignty of a neighboring country and risks international diplomatic implications.
4. Launch of a pre-emptive ground strike. IDF actions requiring violations of foreign sovereignty are the least desirable because they require the highest level of dependence on prior political approval, which according to Amidror is unlikely in cases of this category.
25.See David Makovsky, Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government’s Road to the Oslo Accord (Colorado: Westview, 1996), p. 17: “Even as Beilin and the Norwegians were trying to negotiate indirectly with the PLO through Husseini, senior Israeli security and political officials were receiving reports from another secret back channel to the organization: meetings in London and later Rome on the security aspects of peace that were being conducted between former PLO and Israeli security officials. Participating in the meetings were Nizar Amar, at one time a senior member of the PLO’s Force 17 commando group; Ahmed Khalidi and Yazid Sayegh, two UK-based Palesti! nian academics with PLO affiliations; Shlomo Gazit, former head of Israeli military intelligence; Joseph Alpher, deputy head of Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies; Aryeh Shalev, a senior research associate at the Jaffee Center; and Haaretz military commentator Ze’ev Schiff, who eventually replaced Shalev.”
26.Report of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies Study Group, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza: Towards a Solution (Tel Aviv: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 1989), p. 17. The six standing options as analyzed by the Jaffee Center were as follows: Option I: Maintaining the status quo of Israeli military administration of the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Option II: Palestinian autonomy. Option III: Israeli annexation of the West Bank and Gaza. Option IV: Immediate establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Option V: Unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Option VI: Palestinian-Jordanian federation in the West Bank and Gaza. For the longer study see “Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Ways to a Peace Process,” Jaffe! e Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv, 1989. [Hebrew] The seventh option as outlined in the shorter Jaffee study proposed a staged Palestinian state based on mutual confidence building measures.
27.See appendix of the longer Jaffee Center Study in: The West Bank and Gaza: Israel’s Options for Peace, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, p. 151.
28.Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, p. 18.
29.Dore Gold, “Security and Sovereignty,” Jerusalem Post, March 17, 1989. Gold wrote, “In short there is every reason to believe that a Palestinian state stripped of its airspace, with most of the attributes of military sovereignty highly constricted, and suffering with continuing long-term deployments of the Israeli army on its sovereign soil will not be much more attractive to the Palestinians than some of the [six other] options they are viewed as finding unacceptable in [the longer Jaffee study,] Israel’s Options for Peace. There is a fundamental gap between the attributes of Palestinian Arab sovereignty and the requirements of Israeli national security that cannot be bridged by an exte! nded period of mutual confidence-building….”
30.Gold, “Security and Sovereignty,” p. 3.
31.Shimon Peres with Arye Naor, The New Middle East (New York: Henry Holt, 1993), chs. 6 and 7.
32.Peres, The New Middle East, pp. 77-78.
33.Peres, The New Middle East, pp. 80-81.
34.Yossi Beilin, Touching Peace, trans. Philip Simpson (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999), p. 137. Beilin called Rabin the hero of Oslo because he ultimately took responsibility for it, even though he noted that Rabin neither initiated the process nor was enthusiastic about it. Beilin added that Peres steered the process, playing an irreplaceable role.
35.See full text of Rabin’s speech to the Knesset on the ratification of the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement (October 5, 1995) at www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1990_1999/1995/10/PM+Rabin+in+Knesset-+Ratification+of+Interim+Agree.htm.
36.Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel.”
37.Rabin, in his speech to the Knesset on the ratification of an interim agreement, listed the following as components of a permanent solution with the Palestinians: “i) First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev--as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths. ii) The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term. iii) Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the ‘Green Line,’ prior to the Six Da! y War. iv) The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.”
38.Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel,” p. 3. “In that sense,” observed Dore Gold (Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser at the time), “an updated Allon Plan became the basis of an Israeli national consensus regarding the contours of a permanent status solution.”
39.Dan Diker, “Why Are Israel’s Public Relations So Poor?” Jerusalem Viewpoints, no. 487, October 15-November 1, 2002, pp. 7-8.
40.Barak was reported to have approved an offer of between 93 percent and 95 percent at Camp David and 97 percent at Taba. He also was believed to have offered the Palestinians a compensatory 3-percent land swap from pre-1967 Israel at Taba, although this was denied by MK Danny Yatom, Barak’s national security adviser, during a Knesset conference on defensible borders on October 19, 2004, sponsored by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
41.The Allon Plan was based primarily on Israel retaining the Jordan Valley, a full third of the West Bank. The Allon-plus doctrine adopted by prime ministers Rabin and Netanyahu would also include other strategically vital settlements that would constitute approximately 45 to 49 percent of West Bank lands. This assessment is based exclusively on Israel’s defense needs and does not include other national security interests such as the West Bank aquifers from which Israel draws a third of its potable water.
42.Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), p. 703, cited in Dore Gold and David Keyes, “What If Bush Invited Sharon and Abu Mazen to Camp David?” Jerusalem Viewpoints 526 (January 2-16, 2005), p. 10.
43.Ross, The Missing Peace, pp. 702-703, as cited in Gold and Keyes, “What If?” p. 10.
44.Gilad Sher, Just Beyond Reach: The Israeli Palestinian Negotiations, 1999-2001 (Tel Aviv: Yediot Achronot, 2001), p. 406. [Hebrew]
45.Yoav Peled, “Was Barak Telling the Truth?” Guardian, May 24, 2002, p. 2.
46.Ehud Barak, interview by author, Jerusalem, March, 2005.
47.Benn and Verter, “Even King Solomon Ceded Territories.”
48.Several conversations with senior Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin, most recently on May 25, 2005. This point was also confirmed by a very senior Likud official who is also close to Prime Minister Sharon on May 30, 2005. Gold noted that Sharon believes the Israeli retention of security zones and defensible borders would be more acceptable in the context of a long-term interim agreement. Gold, “Defensible Borders for Israel,” p. 5.
49.Javier Solana, cited in “A stronger EU is a better partner,” Der Speigel, October 25, 2004. [German] Solana called for Israel to leave all “occupied territories” conquered in 1967, including eastern Jerusalem.
50.Yuval Steinitz, “Introduction: Defensible Borders for Peace,” in Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2005), p. 15.
According to this model, Israel is most secure when it is able to defend itself from territories under its control. This is precisely the model of defensible borders. The Yom Kippur War proved not that defensible borders had failed Israel, but that for a successful national defense system, Israel requires the highest level of accurate intelligence--which it had not had prior to the 1973 attacks--so that counter measures can be taken on the basis of the political will of civilian leadership to take military action in cases of clear and present threat. By occupying the expanses of the Sinai Peninsula, Israel was nonetheless able to hold back the Egyptian offensive with regular and reserve forces (steps 1 and 2) and eventually win the war. But by surrendering its defensible borders in the future, Israe! l would become more dependent on a future civilian leadership ready to take action outside of Israel’s borders (in accordance with steps 3 and 4), which is extremely unlikely. 14.As recently as April 2005, Sharon underscored in interviews with Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post the critical importance of Israel’s retaining the entire area of the Jordan Rift Valley. See Aluf Benn and Yossi Verter, “Even King Solomon Ceded Territories,” Haaretz, April 22, 2005.