How the Changing Nature of Threats to Israel Affects Vital Security Arrangements

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland - In 1999-2000 Israel held fairly detailed and advanced negotiations with the Syrians and the Palestinians simultaneously. It was clear that Israel would have to give up land in both cases - the Golan Heights in order to reach an agreement with Syria, and a large area, perhaps even most, of the West Bank in favor of the Palestinians, while security arrangements were supposed to compensate Israel for the loss of territory. This approach was partially correct for the time on both tracks, but it was also very short-sighted. Today's threats come from rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-tank missiles. The common denominator among all of these is the ease of smuggling and clandestine manufacture. The term "demilitarized state" is an almost meaningless concept, if not accompanied by a monitoring system. The only way to monitor the prevention of smuggling of such types of weapons into the West Bank, or prevent their manufacture within it, is control. Accordingly, only effective control of the Jordan Valley along the Israeli-Jordanian border can prevent the smuggling of these types of weapons. If Israel were to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, then the area to the east of the Israel-Palestine border would be home not only to the Palestinian Authority, but to other potential enemies too, including Hizbullah and Syria. "Line of visibility" offers a significant tactical advantage to an enemy's firing ability. Flat-trajectory weapons are simpler, more efficient, and available in larger quantities. For that reason it is vital to prevent the enemy from having control of the line of visibility by moving the border several kilometers further to the east so that, for example, the Palestinians will not be able to control Israel's major highways with flat-trajectory weapons. In order to deploy Israel's anti-missile defense systems effectively, a minimum range is needed. These systems need a range of several kilometers in order to detect firing and deal with it. Hence, Israel must maintain a tactical distance that will permit this. Finally, a minimum distance is needed in order to deploy Israel's land and air forces. Such a minimum requisite distance does not exist in Israel's narrow, 9-mile-wide "waistline" along the 1949 cease-fire lines. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland chaired Israel's National Security Council from 2004 to 2006. Prior to that he served as head of the IDF's Operations Branch and its Planning Directorate.

2010-10-26 09:46:46

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