The Dangers of a Unilateral Israeli Withdrawal from the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Hirsh Goodman - The stalemate in the Middle East peace process is leading some in Israel and elsewhere to claim that the status quo is untenable and to push for a new unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Yet while the current situation in the West Bank may not be desirable, unilateral moves represent a flawed and counterproductive response. The potential consequences of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal are likely to harm Israel's security rather than enhance it. The security cooperation Israel now has with the PA will dissipate and the security advantages provided by Israel's physical military deployment in the territories will be lost. Israel's ability to contain, pre-empt, or respond to threats effectively and surgically will be limited, and the intelligence benefits afforded by the current deployment will be adversely affected. Moreover, from an international legal perspective, a partial Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will not end Palestinian claims against Israel but is likely to intensify them. Any unilateral moves involving Israeli withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem is likely to cause much worse security problems for Israel, would clearly damage the existing urban fabric of Jewish-Arab cooperation in the city, and is likely to lead to a reduction in the city's Jewish majority. What the unilateralists propose is the creation of a festering wound, a pocket of Palestinians surrounded by Israel, pending a Palestinian decision to end the conflict. In all previous Israeli attempts at unilateralism, expectations, results and reality seldom coincided. "When standing on the edge of a cliff, it is wiser to keep still than step forward," Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, a former head of the Israel National Security Council, wrote in June 2016. "It is wiser to defer action than to take unilateral steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse." The writer established the program on media strategy at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. He was a former military correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report, and a strategic fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2017-01-24 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive