Establishing Defensible Borders for Israel

After the Gaza Disengagement: Establishing Defensible Borders for Israel (American Enterprise Institute)

On June 27, 2005, Dr. Dore Gold and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs unveiled their study of Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Dore Gold: President George W. Bush on April 14, 2004, gave a number of assurances to the State of Israel about future stages of the peace process. One of the most important is the assurance that Israel, at the end of the day, will get secure, defensible borders.

This assurance of President Bush has been at the heart of a consensus in U.S. foreign policy that dates back to UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967. There was a broad U.S. consensus that Israel wasn’t going back to the ’67 lines, or what is sometimes called the 1949 armistice lines.

Defensible borders are not borders created by U.S. security guarantees or by NATO troops. They relate to Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself.

Gen. Yaakov Amidror: The meaning of “defensible borders” is a very technical question related to topography. The fact is that the West Bank is higher than the strategic heart of the State of Israel, which is located along the Mediterranean coast. If you lose the high ground, your capability to defend is not as good as when you have the high ground.

Israel cannot build its defense system on optimistic scenarios of the future. We must take into consideration some more realistic scenarios, such as the possibility that Egypt will be under the influence of radical Islam, or that Jordan will become a Palestinian state, or that Iraq will be a Shiite country hostile to Israel under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.

Gen. John Foss [former commander of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division]: As a soldier I would tell you that the pre-’67 borders are not defensible in the long run for Israel. They absolutely cannot live with those borders with those distances.

Richard Perle [former Assistant Secretary of Defense]: There has been far too little discussion of the physical realities of the State of Israel in relation to those who would destroy it. Most of the population of Israel is within artillery range of the West Bank. This is a threat that no country relying on its own defense could begin to contemplate.

I believe that it is fundamentally in the interests of the U.S. that we not bear responsibility for the defense of Israel. And therefore, Israel has to be able to defend itself and that means borders that can be defended.

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