Israel’s Defensible Borders: An American Military View

Col. (ret.) Irving Kett was sent to Israel in 1974 by the US War College to survey Israel’s security needs. What he wrote then upset the US State Department element at the college.

Irving Kett,
Jerusalem Post,
April 20, 1990

In the Fall of 1982, I was retired as a colonel from the US Army. During the last nine years of my military career, which extended back to World War II, I became involved with the problems of the Middle East and particularly with the security of Israel.

A propitious appointment to the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, in 1973, just prior to the Yom Kippur War, resulted in my attention being directed toward Israel’s security needs in a highly professional military environment.

In 1974, I went to Israel to gather material first-hand for a War College study. The aim of the visit was to analyze the territorial requirements of Israel with a view toward providing it with the minimal security necessary to reduce the probability of armed confrontation in the Middle East.

Prior to the Six Day War, Israel’s boundaries were of such a precarious nature as to constantly tempt its Arab adversaries to deliver a quick, conclusive ground assault. This compelled Israel to launch preemptive strikes since it could not possibly survive an initial Arab assault.

The US foreign policy objective for decades had been to discourage conflict in the region. Peace in the Middle East serves the US national interest economically because of the huge oil reserves there and militarily as the southeast flank of the Nato alliance. At the moment, the latter concern seems to have diminished. However, for many years that has been the principal reason for the massive US support of Israel and the development of the impressive strategic relationship between the two nations during the Reagan presidency.

The study I prepared, “A Proposed Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” was presented to the War College in October 1974. Subsequently, it was placed on the recommended reading list for US officers assigned to the Middle East. My sole objective was to present a factual, professional military assessment of Israel’s security situation as arrived at by American officers. I consider it highly immoral to pressure any nation to adopt a particular course of action that could potentially result in dangerous consequences.

In 1974, I had the opportunity to discuss these matters with a wide spectrum of Israeli military and political leaders. I think they were all aware of the fatal consequences that could result from an error in judgment. Despite Israel’s impressive military power they were keenly aware of the potential fragility of the country’s existence. Probably no other people in history has had to face so much implacable hostility.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Six Day War in June 1967, then-president Lyndon Johnson directed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Earle Wheeler, to prepare a study of Israel’s territorial requirements for a minimal defence posture that would discourage aggression against her. The study was so highly classified that I did not get to see a copy of it or even know of its existence in 1974 when I was preparing my own analysis of Israel’s security needs for the US Army War College.

The study resulted in a memorandum dated June 29, 1967, which was sent by Wheeler to then-secretary of defence Robert McNamara. The memorandum analyzed Israel’s defence needs from the viewpoint of minimally defensible borders. It was declassified in April 1983, exactly one year after the final phase of Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. The accompanying map illustrates the conclusions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I find it very strange that a document of this nature has rarely been seen in print or ever referred to by the protagonists in the current “land-for-peace” struggle between Israelis and Arabs.

A glance at the map clearly indicates the strong support that disinterested professional military people offer Israel’s claim to Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and even to sizeable chunks of the Sinai Peninsula. Wheeler’s memorandum concludes as follows: “From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders.”

Despite the clear message of the Joint Chiefs’ memorandum, the stated policy of the US has always been that it could justify and support only minor changes to Israel’s 1967 boundaries. For most Israelis and those who have addressed themselves to Israel’s survival, secure borders are a matter of critical importance. With reference again to the 1967 memorandum to McNamara, the most experienced officers in the US military establishment agree that Israel requires far more than minor modifications to her pre-1967 boundaries for minimal defence needs.

It is interesting to note that Israel has already violated the basic strictures of the top US military brass by:

— Returning to Syrian control in 1974 all of the strategic high ground on the Golan Heights, running in a north-south direction from Kuneitra.

— Relinquishing all of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt even though it had also long been Israel’s intention to retain portions of the strategically important Eastern Sinai Peninsula.

It is important to emphasize that the sole objective of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff study and memorandum was to propose a model of Israel that would discourage Arab aggression. The Joint Chiefs clearly spelled this out both in the body and the appendix of that document which is a part of the public record. As an instrument solely to carry out US policy, the Joint Chiefs approached the Arab-Israeli imbroglio as non-political professional soldiers.

The abstract from the study which I completed for the US Army War College in 1974 reads as follows:

... The purpose of this study was to develop a basis for resolution of the conflict that would serve as a basis for permanent tranquillity rather than merely another period of armed truce. The three crucial issues were identified as the disposition of Jerusalem, satisfying the nationalist aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs, and defensible boundaries for Israel. The recommendations are that the old walled section of Jerusalem be placed under tripartite religious control, the Palestinian Arabs be resettled in their own state in the Sinai Peninsula, and Israel be constituted as a compact state with natural boundaries on all sides. Much of the background material was obtained by interviewing political, military and academic figures in Israel. However, the conclusions included herein generally do not reflect Israeli opinion.

Before a study is accepted by the War College it must be approved by a committee of experts for that particular region of the world, both civilian and military. My study was somewhat broader in scope than the one addressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1967 since it included the key political problems posed by the wholely new phenomenon of Palestinian nationalism as well as the disposition of Jerusalem. However, with regard to the question of what boundaries of Israel would best contribute to peace between it and the Arab hostile states, my conclusions and those of the Joint Chiefs were quite similar.

There were, however, certain differences, and one of them in particular landed me in some difficulty with the US State Department element at the War College. The latter requested that I delete all references in my study to Lebanon and revise my recommendations accordingly. However, I was then and I still remain of the opinion that the only possible secure northern border of Israel is the Litani River. The military people at the War College accepted my rationale and conclusion in this matter.

It was my studied opinion in 1974 that Israel could afford to vacate the entire Sinai Peninsula. It is, after all, a fairly large piece of territory, practically devoid of population, yet possessing considerable economic potential for a nation of millions of people.

The Israel that I proposed was smaller in area than the one set forth by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They advocated that Israel maintain control of two sizeable areas in the Eastern Sinai Peninsula. My reasoning in this regard is that Israel needs 48 to 72 hours to mobilize the civilian reservists that make up the bulk of her armed forces. In withdrawing from the Sinai Peninsula, Israel would have to accept a number of calculated risks. However, none of these, in my opinion, could immediately jeopardize its existence. For if Egypt would again elect to attack Israel, several days would be required for the bulk of the Egyptian forces to cover the approximately 240 kilometres from the Suez Canal and then to deploy along the Israeli border.

By contrast, the distance from the Jordan River to Jerusalem is a mere 32 kilometres. Were Judea and Samaria vacated by Israel, massed Arab armour could traverse this distance in a few hours. Topographically the high ground along the spine of Judea and Samaria tactically dominates Israel’s coastal plain which contains at least two-thirds of her population, the bulk of her industry, and vital defence and communication centres. Given the present state of military technology, any hostile force controlling the ridge line of Judea and Samaria militarily dominates Israel.

Gen. Yigal Allon, probably the most outstanding senior field commander in the history of the IDF, also considered the Jordan Rift to be the essential eastern boundary of Israel. Allon’s assessment of what constitute secure boundaries for Israel is contained in a document which he authored shortly after the Six Day War. The Allon Plan, as it came to be known, identified two key strategic defence lines on Israel’s eastern border: the Jordan Rift, extending from the Sea of Galilee to Eilat; and the mountain ridge line that runs through Judea and Samaria.

While not differing from the US military consensus, Allon nevertheless recommended that Israel establish and maintain a strong defensive line east of the strategic Judea/Samaria ridge for political reasons connected with the existence of a large Arab population in the mountainous region. Allon’s plan became the basis for the settlement activities of Israel in Judea and Samaria during the 10 years that the Labour Party remained in power after the Six Day War.

In October 1988, 100 retired US generals and admirals signed a full-page advertisement in the Washington Times urging Israel not to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, under the headline “Retain the Israel Asset.” Among the signatories was a former chief of naval operations and other officers of four-star rank. Their statement read in part:

If Israel were to relinquish the West Bank, 80 per cent of its population and most of its industry would be within the range of light artillery, mortars and even rifles positioned on the high ground of the Samarian and Judean ridges. These ridges cannot be effectively demilitarized or adequately inspected. Before 1967 they served as bases for terrorists, whose cross-border activities cost Israel over 700 dead and thousands injured. Since then, the natural barrier and the short border provided by the Jordan River have enabled Israel to control raids and infiltration and to prevent the country from turning into another Lebanon.

Military control of the Jordan River line is aided by Israeli observation posts on the range overlooking the river from the west. Israel has installed extensive early warning and Elint and Sigint stations there. If Israel loses this line, it would have virtually no warning of attack. Its borders would be three times longer than the present one. In the midsection of the country it would be 14 to 29 kilometres from the Mediterranean. Virtually all the population would be subject to artillery bombardment. The Sharon Plain north of Tel Aviv could be riven by an armoured salient within hours. The quick mobilization of its civilian army – Israel’s main hope for survival – would be disrupted easily, and perhaps irreversibly.

In 1968 [should read 1967], a then-secret report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff asserted that Israel’s borders were indefensible without the mountain ridges of the West Bank. With the Arab armies at least four times the size they were 20 years ago, this assessment is even more valid today. To expect that Israel can repeat the miraculous military feat it performed in 1967 when it was attacked from these borders is to tempt fate.

It is often argued that the introduction of missiles to the region makes strategic depth irrelevant. After all, almost all of Israel is within the range of Soviet IRBMs and SRBMs now in the arsenals of Syria, Iraq and Iran, and the distance from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean can be crossed by supersonic aircraft on a final attack profile in less than three mintues. But missiles, artillery and aircraft can cause devastation. They cannot occupy. Only infantry and armour can overrun a country – and those are still vulnerable to natural barriers.

Defensible borders are not impregnable borders. Rather, they are borders that give early warning time and provide some strategic depth. In the face of unremitting hostility to Israel’s existence by Syrians, Iraqis and the PLO, Israel must have such borders. Having repelled continued attacks on its population from this territory, and having acquired it in a defensive war in 1967, Israel has no legal, political or moral obligation to relinquish it.

A strong Israel has served America’s interests. To remain strong it must retain the Jordan River line as its eastern border. Pressing Israel to withdraw from this line will neither bring peace nor serve America’s interests.

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Understanding Israel’s Obsession With Security

Irving Kett,
Jerusalem Post,
April 22, 1990

In analyzing Israel’s basic security needs, I have cited studies and opinions that are based upon some of the highest echelons of professional US military sources. While there are certain differences between the various documents, all are in absolute agreement upon one crucial issue: retention of Judea and Samaria is a non-negotiable defence asset for Israel. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1967 devoted a good part of its memorandum to the secretary of defence to both of these areas. The same holds true for the study that I submitted to the US Army War College in 1974 after my return from Israel.

Those armchair strategists who claim that modern military technology has made obsolete the need for Israel to retain critical terrain and some minimum defence in depth are simply spouting ignorance. In fact the very reverse is true. As weapons of war become more sophisticated these factors assume a greater and not a lesser importance for survival in times of armed conflict.

Very few people outside of Israel have made the effort to really comprehend her obsession with security. This in all likelihood applies to the bulk of American Jewish leadership.

It is important to understand the unique topography of Judea and Samaria, together with Israel’s very meagre territorial and population resources to understand why objective studies of Israel’s minimum security needs emphasize their retention by Israel. Further complicating factors are the huge Arab investment in armaments since the Six Day War, and Israel’s consequent inability to treat the Arab world on a piecemeal basis.

Running through the centre of Judea and Samaria like a spinal column is a mountain range, extending from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south. This high terrain composes a continuous ridge approximately 54 kilometres long, 19 kilometres wide, and reaches heights of about 1,100 metres. There are three well-defined military axes of approach or invasion routes through these areas into the heartland of Israel from the Jordan Rift:

— The northerly approach via Bet She’an and Afula to Hadera.

— The central approach via Ariel to Tel Aviv.

— The southerly approach via Jericho to Jerusalem.

Control of the mountain range in the centre of Judea and Samaria stands as a shield between Arab forces, massed from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in the Jordan Rift, and the vulnerable coastal plain along the Mediterranean coast.

Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria have been sited as blocking positions to delay such an armoured thrust from Jordan that would threaten Jerusalem and cut Israel in several locations before reserves could be mobilized, married up with their equipment and deployed to meet the enemy forces.

A number of other militarily destabilizing consequences would result from the loss of Judea and Samaria. A few years after Israel signed the armistice agreement with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in 1949, the Defence Ministry concluded that Israel could not repel an Arab assault from the perilous borders that existed prior to the 1967 war. As a result, the country’s defence policy was predicated on the pre-emptive strike.

In two major critical situations, in 1956 and 1967, and countless minor ones, the IDF chose this course of action when threatened by Arab armies. Because of the defensive depth resulting from the Six Day War, Israel was able to withstand the simultaneous massive Arab assaults in 1973 and still survive, albeit suffering heavy casualties.

Air defence radar, situated on the heights of Judea and Samaria, affords the Israeli Air Force approximately 15 minutes’ warning time in the event of an Arab air attack. Without these installations, the IAF would only have about four minutes in which to scramble its fighters to meet an attack. Even as compact and efficient a fighting force as the IAF could not protect cities from devastating bombardment or probably even their own air bases, given four minutes’ warning time.

Another almost certain consequence of Israel relinquishing Gaza, Judea and Samaria would be the return of widespread terrorist attacks upon targets within Israel. No amount of electronic gadgetry could possibly substitute for the control of artillery positions and in-place defences against massed armour and infantry moving against Israel along logical avenues of advance from the Jordan River as well as against guerrilla forces infiltrating across torturous borders. Between 1949 and 1967 the IDF devoted much of its resources against terrorist infiltration. That these efforts were essentially not successful is clearly attested to by the large number of Jews killed and wounded and property damage sustained during this period.

That vulnerability of Israel’s borders prior to the Six Day War was such that a single, well-coordinated Arab surprise attack would have destroyed her. During the Six Day War the IDF brilliantly carried out the army’s contingency plan in the event of Arab aggression. It called upon the army to force an adjustment in Israel’s borders. The relatively small standing army of Israel stands little chance of repelling an Arab invasion. Israel can only fight a war when fully mobilized. A mobilized IDF can defend the nation from certain annihilation since it constitutes a force six or seven times the size of the standing army. If Israel were to return to any approximation of the pre-June 1967 borders, its major cities could be conquered before mobilization could even take place.

In the military studies referred to in this article, the factors enumerated were considered from a strictly military viewpoint. The matter of the huge investments in armaments, made by all of the Arab countries since their collective defeat in 1967, has only lightly been touched upon.

The Arabs today possess the largest and most modern arsenal of weaponry in the world aside from the US and the Soviet Union. They have acquired this vast arsenal at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars ostensibly with one paramount objective – the destruction of the State of Israel. In critical-weapon categories Israel has not been able to maintain a balance of three-to-one in favour of the combined Arab armies that are arrayed against her. This disparity is continuing to widen and it is questionable whether Israel is not also losing its qualitative edge.

In time of war, the possession of critical blocking positions, some minimum defensive depth in which to be able to marshall and deploy friendly forces, and the retention of key terrain are of paramount importance. Israel’s continued possession of Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights can be militarily equated to significant numbers of battle-ready divisions, squadrons of modern combat aircraft, and above all to countless thousands of Israeli military and civilian casualties, and destroyed cities.

Certain powerful groups in the US Jewish community propose a policy of appeasement of the Arabs and the Third World at the expense of Israel. There is an echo of this sentiment among a small minority of Israeli Jews who are searching for an immediate solution without regard to ultimate consequences.

The bankruptcy of a policy of appeasement was tragically demonstrated in the events leading up to World War II. Moral turpitude can never result in peace, friendship, or protection from would-be aggressors. The millions of Jews killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust were guilty of a grievous, fundamental, historical condition – they were powerless.

Any American Jew advising Israel to surrender Judea and Samaria is no friend of Israel; any Israeli who does likewise is simply suicidal. Never in history has weakness been respected and the Arabs have certainly not shown themselves to be exceptions to this unfortunate rule of human behaviour.

It is precisely Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria that has compelled the Arabs to resort to the intifada rather than to an all-out conventional war to destroy Israel. The intifada can only be viewed as a continuation of the Arab armed struggle against Israel by unconventional means.

The Arabs waged a similar war against Jewish existence in what was called Palestine in 1920-1921, in 1929, and again from 1936 to 1939. In those earlier intifadas many hundreds of Jews were killed and in some cases brutally massacred. A strategically stronger Israel not only deters a far bloodier conflict but makes an eventual modus vivendi between Israel and the Arab world more likely.

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No Room For Error on the Golan

Irving Kett,
Jerusalem Post,
October 26, 1992

I came to Israel in the summer of 1974 to conduct a study of the country’s territorial needs for the US Army War College. This investigation, one of three high-level studies commissioned by the US military establishment, was published by the War College. It is still in its archives, and was for many years on the recommended-reading list for US military officers stationed in the Middle East.

With the incredible amount of misinformation and dangerously wishful thinking currently being bandied about on the subject of the Golan Heights, I believe that a summary of these professional opinions should again be brought to the attention of the Israeli public, to say nothing of the political leaders here who seem to operate mainly on the basis of their own political agendas. I shall only briefly address my comments to those concerning the Golan Heights.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Six Day War, President Johnson directed the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earl Wheeler, to prepare a study of Israel’s boundary requirements to discourage aggression against it. The very emphatic recommendation of these professional military officers was that Israel must retain all of what it seized in the Six Day War, except for a large part of the western Sinai Peninsula which in their opinion could prudently be returned to Egypt.

It is interesting to note that Israel has already violated two basic strictures of the top US military brass by:

— returning to Syrian control, in the 1974 disengagement agreement, all of the strategic high ground on the Golan Heights, running in a north-south direction from Kuneitra;

— relinquishing all of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt even though it had also long been an integral part of Israel’s strategic thinking to retain portions of the Eastern Sinai.

Despite the clear message of the Joint Chiefs’ memorandum, and every subsequent study thereafter, the consistent, stated policy of the US government has always been that only minor changes to Israel’s pre-Six Day War boundaries would be supported by the US. The obvious assumption from this dichotomy is that the US has legitimate and more important interests in the Middle East than the security or even continued existence of the State of Israel.

One of the vital borders that I gave careful attention to in preparing the War College study in 1974 was with Syria. All of what is euphemistically referred to as “Greater Israel” is hardly more than a postage-stamp size area. The Golan Heights (1,190 sq. km.) is little more than half of one percent of Syria’s area (184,030 sq. km.) which is nine times the size of “Greater Israel” (21,960 sq. km.) We are, therefore, dealing with a minute yet vitally important bit of terrain from the viewpoint of Israel’s survivability.

Israel’s defense in the north is now based on its presence on high ground dominated by the terrain emanating from Mount Hermon along a watershed that feeds a number of small rivers, including the Hatzbani, Dan and Banias that eventually empty into the Jordan; on the south, its defense line is anchored on the Rakad Gorge. As a result of Israel’s (in my opinion, very ill-advised) withdrawal from Kuneitra in 1974 in the wake of intense pressure fromy the US, the IDF simply has no additional fallback position. From the present defense line, the Golan slopes gently to the escarpment overlooking Galilee.

Prior to the Six Day War, Syria converted the Golan Heights into a very effective offensive base. From these positions, all of the farming communities and towns of northern Israel were under almost constant military attack for 19 years. The many brave Israeli soldiers who lost their lives in the last desperate day of the Six Day War wresting the Golan Heights from the Syrians must surely be turning over in their graves as they watch the leaders of Israel debating its return to what is no doubt the most brutal regime in the entire Middle East.

Given the opportunity, I rather doubt that the dictator of Syria, Hafez Assad, would deal much more kindly with the Jews of Israel than he did with his own Arabs in February 1982. At the city of Hama, in northern Syria, the gentle Mr. Assad wiped out 20,000 essentially defenseless civilians in the space of three days by merciless artillery and aerial bombardment.

In 1988, a study of Israel’s defensive situation, prepared by more than 100 retired US generals and admirals, was published in Washington, DC. I take the liberty here of quoting a few extracts from that distinguished paper.

Defensible borders are not impregnable borders. Rather, they are borders that give early warning time and provide some strategic depth... Having repelled continued attacks on its population from this territory, and having acquired it in a defensive war in 1967, Israel has no legal, political or moral obligation to relinquish it...

... Missiles, artillery and aircraft can cause devastation. They cannot occupy. Only infantry and armor can overrun a country – and those are vulnerable to natural boundaries... With the Arab armies at least four times the size they were 20 years ago, this assessment is even more valid today. To expect that Israel can repeat the miraculous military feat it performed in 1967, when it was attacked from these borders, is to tempt fate.

Shortly after the Six Day War, one of the most eminent military thinkers of this century, the British tactician Sir Basil Liddell Hart, in the strongest possible terms enjoined Israel from ever giving up any part of the territory it seized.

For the people of Israel to ignore the studied opinions of some of the most eminent military professionals is to play Russian roulette with the very continuance of the state and the lives of their children. This country has little or no margin for military error or miscalculation.

No other nation lives in a comparable environment of such implacable hostility. Despite its present apparent military strength, there is a shocking fragility to Israel’s existence which must never be lost sight of or underestimated.

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A Logical Look At Land

US military studies emphatically agree that Israel cannot survive the surrender of any of its territory.

Irving Kett,
Jerusalem Post,
March 3, 1993

There are probably no more spurious and dangerous opinions being bandied about than those which claim that defensible borders, terrain and maneuver areas are no longer critical for protecting Israel.

These opinions defy both logic and the fundamental laws of physics that govern modern weapons systems. Sensors and antennas, today’s primary elements of advanced weaponry, communication and control systems, are all dependent upon the transmission of electromagnetic rays. Without high ground for line-of-sight locations, these complex assemblages are worthless.

The sole locations in Israel’s possession that furnish platforms for these devices (so indispensable for defensive operations, or for offensive operations against Israel if in Arab hands), exist in the spinal column that runs through the center of Judea and Samaria, and on the Golan Heights.

Since 1967, the mountain range running through the center of Judea and Samaria, from Jenin in the north to Hebron in the south, comprising a continuous ridge approximately 55 kilometers long, 20 km wide and reaching heights of about 1,100 meters, has become Israel’s front line for air defense. Airborne radars cannot effectively replace it.

To comprehend what it would mean to the ground defense of Israel to surrender Judea and Samaria, one must examine its topography from a military overview. The width of the center of the country, where most of its population and industry is concentrated, would be reduced to a mere 15 to 25 km.

Many Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria have been sited as blocking positions to delay armored thrusts from the east. Without them, Israel could be severed in several locations before reserves could be mobilized. The relatively small standing army stands little chance of repelling an Arab invasion, and it requires about 48 hours for reserve forces to muster for combat.

Non-political US military experts have investigated the challenge to Israeli security from a viewpoint of deterrence, defense and terrorism. An aggressor will only attack if confident of victory. Therefore, the key question is, “Under what conditions will the Arabs be more likely to attack Israel?” Obviously, the more vulnerable Israel is, the more likelihood of war.

In three major US military studies, in one of which I was an active participant, boundaries, terrain and maneuver area were determinant factors in evaluating Israel’s defensive and deterrent capabilities.

It is a total denial of reason by those Jews, especially Israelis, who advocate that Israel return to the “death-trap borders” (Abba Eban) that existed prior to the Six Day War, or any facsimile thereof.

Like the Communists for over 70 years, beginning in 1917, the Arabs mask their designs with such noble verbal expressions as human rights, self-determination and secular democracy, concepts that are in total contradiction to everything they and their society represent.

In their yearning for tranquillity, some Israelis have lost sight of a fundamental factor: security must take precedence over peace. These people have become infected by the malaise of defeatism. The reality of the situation dictates that Israel cannot have peace without security.

In 1990, the Institute for Advanced Strategic Studies in Jerusalem analyzed the implications to Israeli security of an Arab entity comprising Gaza, Judea and Samaria. The conclusion was that it would represent “an unthinkable strategic risk to the State of Israel, to regional stability, and to any chance of finding a lasting comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.”

I believe that even those Israelis who are prepared to accept a further partition of their country would insist that Israel retain its present defense lines on the Jordan River and other military installations in approximately a third of the Arab area. Such an approach is the maximum risk that the most accommodating Israeli government may conceivably agree to.

It would envision the permanent positioning of the IDF within the new Arab state, together with electronic installations, demilitarization of the remainder, free lines of communications through, and unlimited air rights over, the entire 6,000-plus sq km of any new Arab entity. However, in the final analysis, these convoluted schemes will prove neither feasible for Israel’s minimum defense needs, nor will they remotely satisfy Arab demands.

In all of its various packages and guises, history has shown that demilitarization cannot be considered a long-term panacea. Nations will simply not accept long-term restrictions upon their sovereignty.

In the entire debate over territory there is one fundamental question: can Israel survive the surrender of any of its existing borders and territory? The various professional US military studies have emphatically answered that question with “No.”