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UN Plan for ‘Palestine’: Israel’s Deterrence Power

If Israel acquiesced to Palestinian statehood, this could encourage regional players to wage conventional war against Israel.

Louis Rene Beres

Louis Rene Beres

This article appeared in the print edition of the Jewish Press under the title “The UN Plan for ‘Palestine’ and its Aftermath (Second of Four Parts).” Find part one here

After further codifications of Palestinian statehood, conditions in the Middle East would become markedly less favorable to both Israel and the United States. The only credible way for Israel to deter large-scale conventional attacks following additional Palestinian progress toward full national sovereignty would be by maintaining visible and increasingly large-scale conventional capabilities.

Naturally, enemy states contemplating first-strike attacks upon Israel using chemical and/or biological weapons would be apt to take more seriously Israel’s nuclear deterrent. Whether or not this nuclear deterrent had remained undisclosed (the so-called bomb in the basement) could also affect Israel’s deterrent credibility and, thereby, U.S. security.

A strong conventional capability will always be needed by Israel to successfully deter and/or preempt enemy conventional attacks. However, any Oslo Agreement and “Road Map” expectations related to Palestinian statehood would critically impair Israel’s strategic depth, and thus the IDF’s indispensable capacity to wage conventional warfare (possibly in more than a single theatre at a time).

If, after the creation of “Palestine,” any frontline regional enemy states were to perceive Israel’s own growing sense of expanding weakness, this, ironically, could strengthen Israel’s nuclear deterrent. If, however, these enemy states did not identify such a “sense” among Israel’s pertinent decision-makers, they could, animated by Israel’s presumed conventional force deterioration, be encouraged to attack.

The logical result, spawned by Israel’s post-“Palestine” incapacity to maintain reliable conventional deterrence, would be: (1) defeat of Israel in a conventional war; or (2) defeat of Israel in an unconventional chemical/biological/nuclear war; or (3) defeat of Israel in a combined conventional/unconventional war; or (4) defeat of Arab/Islamic state enemies by Israel in an unconventional war.

Ironically, for Israel – hence, also, for the United States – even the “successful” fourth possibility could prove intolerable. The probable consequences of any regional nuclear war, or even a chemical/biological war in the Middle East, would be calamitous for the victor as well as the vanquished. Here, President Obama should take special note: Traditional notions of “victory” and “defeat” would likely lose all reasonable meaning.

All major Palestinian groups, directly or indirectly, are still committed by their various charters and covenants to both genocide and crimes against humanity. This is hardly an exaggeration, as the published expectations of all Palestinian terror groups plainly call for the physical destruction of Israel. According to the Hamas covenant, the Islamic Resistance Movement is “universal.”

All Palestinian groups, whether the Palestine Liberation Organization and its subunits or any other “revolutionary” faction, share an understanding that “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad….” As for Israel, all Palestinians have a firm and unchallengeable obligation to “obliterate it.” The PLO charter mirrors the Hamas covenant, calling the “nucleus” of the Palestinian movement only those who are “fighters and carriers of arms.”

In unassailable Islamic parlance, all war dictated by the shari’ah is necessarily “holy.” Yet the Arabic word jihad, which has the literal meaning of “effort,” “striving,” or “struggle,” ought to be approached and understood by President Obama and other world leaders with the greatest seriousness. A basic commandment of Islam, jihad is in an obligation imposed upon all Muslims by Allah, and it is now patently military in intent.

Derived from the universality of Muslim revelation, jihad calls upon those who have accepted Allah’s message and his word to strive (jahada) relentlessly to convert, or, at a minimum, to subjugate, those who have not been converted. Regarding the state of Israel, this obligation is imposed without any limits of space or time. Indeed, this incontestable obligation must continue until the entire world has accepted Islam, or has submitted to the deified power of the Islamic state.

The Palestinian Authority and its allied organizations are obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel not only by the general body of pertinent and peremptory international law (law so fundamental that it can “never permit any derogation”), but also by the Interim Agreement (Oslo II). Here, at Article XXII, it states precisely that Israel and the PA “shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance, and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other….” In the Note for the Record that accompanies the Hebron Protocol of January 15, 1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding “Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement.”

President Obama and other world leaders are standing by the Oslo and Hebron agreements, and by the corollary “Road Map.” Whichever codification is in preferential force, these leaders seem not to understand that the binding Genocide Convention criminalizes not only various acts of genocide but also (Article III) conspiracy to commit genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

For the Conventionto be invoked, it is sufficient that any one of the state parties call for a meeting, through the United Nations, of all the state parties (Article VIII). Although this has never been done, President Obama should consider taking this very step. Israel, too, could become an obvious co-participant in this law-enforcing call, but it is unlikely that Prime Minister Netanyahu would ever proceed to do this without first seeking American approval.

Continued Next Week

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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