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Avoiding The ‘Road Map’ After Arafat


Beres-Louis-Rene

Arafat is gone, but the “Road Map” remains. Indeed, regarding Israel’s continuance in the Middle East, absolutely nothing has changed in the Palestinian Authority or in the Arab world generally. Notwithstanding President Bush’s explicit plea for a “Two State Solution,” the PA and its allies still see only one state. This State of Palestine would include all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and ALL of the rest of Israel.

So why should Israel follow the Road Map, a route leading directly to its own extinction? Cartographically, Israel is already the victim of an Arab genocide. Why, then, should the leaders and people of Israel now permit the Arabs to proceed from maps to flesh and blood annihilation?

Irony still surrounds the Road Map to peace in the Middle East. Should this deadly plan create the impression that it can put a halt to Palestinian terrorism – perhaps by carefully coordinated Arab orchestration of a temporary halt to terror violence – Israel would then be under increasing pressure to accept a Palestinian state. This is especially the case if Prime Minister Sharon should proceed simultaneously with his declared policy of “disengagement” from Gaza.

To be sure, once codified, the new enemy state of Palestine would move as soon as practicable to implement final stages of the never-withdrawn 1974 PLO “Phased Plan” for Israel’s dismemberment.

For Israel, the Road Map is a “lose-lose” proposition. If the post-Arafat Palestinian Authority cannot prevent further acts of anti-Israel terror (or remains itself actively committed to such acts), the Jewish state will still suffer inhumane attacks upon its civilians. If, however, the post-Arafat PA can and will reign in Hamas, Islamic Jihad and several militant Fatah factions ? that is, if it can be “successful” – a permanent Palestinian terror state will almost certainly be established in Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza. This state of “Palestine” will create several new levels of security nightmare for Israel, including a mobilizing point of hostility for “Israeli Arabs” and a launching point for future WMD aggressions against Jewish populations.

It would be very hard for Israel to deny claims for Arab self-determination in the West Bank/Gaza if the Palestinians were to show “good faith” by stopping their wanton murders of Jewish women and children. The world would never allow Israel to stand in the way of a Palestinian state in such seemingly conciliatory circumstances. Surely not when Israel’s Prime Minister himself continues to speaks openly in terms of uprooting Jewish settlements.

It is conceivable, of course, that Israel could somehow coexist with a Palestinian state, and that a “successful” Road Map might not necessarily finalize Israel’s demise. After all, the creation of this state would give Palestinian terrorists a precise and readily identifiable “address,” a situation wherein Israel would gain certain tactical benefits not presently available. In terms of worldwide public opinion, Israel’s counter-terrorism operations could then be mounted with fewer fears of condemnation as there could be reduced civilian Palestinian casualties. This would be the case if at least the new Arab government chose to comply with humanitarian international law. Here, optimistically, with enemy belligerents now in the identifiable uniform of a regular Palestinian army and no longer criminally secreted among Arab civilians, the Israel Defense Force could be freed from very dangerous and widely unpopular forms of counter-terrorism.

But there are other predictable aspects of a Palestinian state that must now be carefully understood. For one, Israel’s own Arab populations would surely begin to operate more vigorously as a fifth column, offering loyalty and more to their brethren in “Palestine.” It is altogether unlikely that Israeli Arabs would actually want to move to the new state, but Palestine would still provide an institutionalized focus for a new sort of intifada. This would be a steadily-expanding Arab rebellion within the Jewish homeland itself.

In living with “Palestine,” Israel would need to take various effective measures to ensure that an Israeli-Arab fifth column does not pose intolerable security costs. These costs would include not only direct terror violence against Israeli Jews, but also carefully calculated interference with IDF mobilization plans in any future war. The fifth column which would almost certainly be spawned by a Palestinian state could even endanger Israel’s physical survival. It follows that if a state of Palestine is declared, Israeli efforts at security would have to focus more fully not only on the new enemy country, but also on a significant fraction of Israel’s own population.

If one believes that we in the United States have a homeland security problem, it pales beside what would happen to Israel immediately following the creation of a Palestinian state. This issue could even pose the single most serious existential hazard of a Palestinian state to Israel. It could involve essential infringements on Israeli-Arab civil liberties and a resultant backlash of Israeli-Arab terrorism and/or still wider Arab/Islamic wars of aggression.

The Arab world is presently comprised of 22 states containing nearly five million square miles and 144 million people. The wider Islamic world contains 44 states with more than 1 billion people. These Islamic states comprise an area 672 times the size of Israel. The State of Israel, with a population of about five million Jews, would fit two times into Lake Michigan. The Sinai Desert, which Israel ceded to Egypt in the 1979 treaty in exchange for vague and still unfulfilled promises of “friendship,” is itself three times larger than the entire State of Israel.

Maps tell much of the story. Just a brief glance at maps of the Middle East reveal, on their face, the inherent contradictions of Palestinian claims and expectations. Nonetheless, it is probably too late for pointing out the obvious, and Israel will surely have to base its future security on the particular way it chooses to deal with the Road Map.

As outright rejection, the best way, is perhaps no longer possible, Prime Minister Sharon should now acknowledge that a “successful” Road Map would provide the very worst route for Israel and promptly re-think his own perilous plan for “disengagement.” From the standpoint of American interests in the region, it is clear that a Palestinian state would be entirely injurious and should now be opposed in all of its possible forms. Although such recognition would represent an abrupt about-face from existing policy, the indisputable alternative would be the birth of yet another anti-American terror regime in the Middle East.

Immediately after Arafat’s burial, a groundswell of Palestinian support emerged for mass-murderer Marwan Barghouti as his successor. Now serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail for masterminding the burning, maiming and slaughtering of defenseless Jewish men, women and children, Barghouti would bring to a Palestinian state the only leadership criterion cherished on every Arab street; that is, a relentless commitment to bring another “Final Solution” to the Middle East. Exactly what kind of people would want Barghouti as their “President?” The obvious answer speaks volumes about the Road Map and its inevitable destination.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.

Louis Rene Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue University. He lectures and publishes widely on Middle East strategic issues, and is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


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