The Unintended Consequences of the UN's Latest Indictment of Israel

[New Republic] Yossi Klein Halevi - If a large part of the international community endorses the Goldstone report's conclusions and opts to put Israel on trial - symbolically or literally - the clear message to Israel will be the rescinding of its right to self-defense against Hizbullah and Hamas, both of which are embedded in civilian populations. In the decades following the Six-Day War, Israeli policy, upheld by successive Labor and Likud governments, was to deny terrorists a foothold along any Israeli border. Israel's two unilateral withdrawals - from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 - both resulted in the creation of terror enclaves on its borders. In both the 2006 operation against Hizbullah in Lebanon and this year's operation against Hamas in Gaza, Israel opted not to uproot the terrorist enclaves, hoping that the partial flexing of Israeli power would deter further aggression. The Goldstone report may well mark the end of Israel's limited wars against terrorist groups. Israel cannot afford to continue to be drawn into mini-wars against terrorists hiding behind their own civilians to attack Israeli civilians, given that each such conflict inexorably draws the Jewish state one step closer toward pariah status. Limited victories on the battlefield are being turned into major defeats in the arena of world opinion. That untenable situation may leave Israel no choice but to return to the policy of preventing altogether the presence of terror enclaves on its borders. Better, Israelis will argue, to deal decisively with the terror threat and brace for temporary international outrage than subject our legitimacy to constant attrition, even as the terrorist threat remains intact. The writer is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

2009-10-02 08:00:00

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