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Posts Tagged ‘Dayan Forum’

The Oslo Accords/Road Map Were Always A Deathtrap For Israel (Part I)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Some military and diplomatic failures should come as no surprise. One of these is surely the so-called “Peace Process” in the Middle East. From the imperiled beginning, from the start time of “Oslo,” the entire genocidal enterprise has effectively been framed from the standpoint of Israel’s phased destabilization and, ultimately, its elimination. To be sure, this grotesque outcome has never been the deliberate objective of assorted American presidents, or even of most Europeans – leaders and ordinary citizens − but the de facto implications and consequences were always easy to discern. Indeed, the probable results of these inherently asymmetrical agreements should always have been obvious.

Oslo I − known generally as the Declaration of Principles − was concluded and signed in Oslo on August 19, 1993, and re-signed in Washington D.C. on September 13, 1993. Oslo II was signed in Washington D.C. on September 28, 1995. As expressed in a steadily enlarging Palestinian terrorist movement against Israel, and in the staggering numbers of Israelis killed and maimed by suicide bombers and other terrorists since August 19, 1993, the Middle East Peace Process has certainly been a resounding failure. There is not a single dimension of evaluation that could reasonably be used to suggest otherwise. It follows that the currently still-fashionable Road Map warrants exactly the same negative judgment.

Let us be clear. From Rabin onwards, all of Israel’s prime ministers seemingly felt obligated, under international law, to honor the Oslo Accords. Significantly, from the standpoint of an informed jurisprudence, this obligation was never supported by authoritative norms or expectations, but only by the popular notion that such signed documents were simply valid and binding ipso facto. From the start, in fact, the law of nations actually required abrogation, not compliance, with what were invalid and illegal agreements. Moreover, as Israel’s position on Oslo has affected its overall nuclear security posture, I will – in these three continuous columns for The Jewish Press − also explain the relevant interrelatedness of law and power.

The Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO were always in violation of incontrovertible international law. Israel, therefore, has always been obligated to abrogate these non-treaty agreements. A comparable argument could be made regarding PLO/PA obligations, but this would make little jurisprudential sense in light of that non-state party’s intrinsic incapacity to enter into an equal legal arrangement with Israel.

Taken by itself, the fact that the Oslo accords do not constitute authentic treaties under the Vienna Convention − because they link a state with a non-state party − would not necessarily call for abrogation. But as the non-state party in this case just happened to be a terrorist organization whose leaders must be punished for their egregious crimes, any agreement with this party that offered rewards rather than punishments was null and void. Significantly, in view of the peremptory expectation known in law as Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment,” the state party in such an agreement − here, the State of Israel – actually violated international law by honoring the agreement.

How little has been understood by politicians and pundits. According to Principle I of the binding Nuremberg Principles: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.” It is from this principle − which applies with particular relevance to Hostes humani generis (“Common enemies of Humankind”) and which originates in three separate passages of the Torah − that each state’s obligation to seek out and prosecute terrorists derives. Hence, for Israel to honor agreements with terrorists − agreements that sometimes required, among other pertinent violations, the release of thousands of other terrorists − was to dishonor the very meaning of international law. There is also considerable and additional irony here, since Israel, as recently as August 2008, has released large number of terrorists utterly by volition.

During his later years, after Oslo had “entered into force,” considerable attention was focused on Yasir Arafat. Was Arafat a terrorist? Although the answer is perfectly plain to anyone who thinks, permit me to also support this judgment in formal legal terms: In the U.S. case of Klinghoffer v. Palestine Liberation Organization (1990), the court unambiguously answered the question of Arafat as a terrorist, in the affirmative.

In the Israeli courts, a petition to charge Yasir Arafat with terrorist crimes had been submitted to Israel’s High Court of Justice in May 1994. This petition, filed by Shimon Prachik, an officer in the IDF reserves, and Moshe Lorberaum, who was injured in a 1978 bus bombing carried out by the PLO, called for Arafat’s arrest. The petition noted that Arafat, prima facie, had been responsible for numerous terror attacks in Israel and abroad, including murder, airplane hijacking, hostage-taking, letter-bombing and hijacking of ships on the high seas.

The petitioner’s allegation of Arafat’s direct personal responsibility for terrorism was seconded and confirmed by Dr. Ahmad Tibi, then Arafat’s most senior advisor: “The person responsible on behalf of the Palestinian people for everything that was done in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is Yasir Arafat,” said an uncharacteristically truthful Dr. Tibi on July 13, 1994, “and this man shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin.”

But what of the argument that international law may permit insurgent force that is directed toward support of fundamental rights and rules? It is certainly correct that international law has consistently proscribed particular acts of terrorism. Yet, it has, at the very same time, entitled insurgents to the right to use certain levels and types of force against a regime that represses their peremptory human rights, especially “self-determination,” “independence,” and “national liberation.” Wasn’t Fatah, therefore, an authentic national liberation movement, one that had therefore been operating within the boundaries of permissibility under international law?

To answer this question, two essential criteria must be examined: just cause and just means. These criteria allow us to distinguish a lawful insurgency from terrorism, in all cases. The principle of just cause maintains that an insurgency may exercise law-enforcing measures under international law. To qualify as lawful insurgents, however, this group must also display appropriate respect for humanitarian international law − i.e., just means. It follows that in order to determine whether a particular group actually satisfies the requirements of a lawful insurgency, its resort to force must be tested against the expectations of discrimination, proportionality and military necessity.

Terrorism is underway whenever a group engages in campaigns of force directed against broad segments of the general population − campaigns that blur the essential distinction between combatants and noncombatants. Similarly, the group becomes terroristic once it begins to apply force to the fullest possible extent, restrained only by the limits of available weaponry. The implications for any proper evaluation of Palestinian insurgency are clear.

National liberation movements that fail to meet the settled and codified restraints of the laws of war are not protected as legitimate or permissible. The ends do not justify the means. As in the case of war between states, every use of force by insurgents must be judged twice: once with regard to the justness of the objective, and once with regard to the justness of the means used in pursuit of that objective. This translates that even if we were to concede to Fatah a just cause (a concession that this writer would certainly not offer), Arafat’s disregard for just means necessarily made his organization a terrorist group.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, December 12, 2008. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and international law. In the United States he has worked for over thirty-five years on international law and nuclear strategy matters, both as a scholar and as a lecturer/consultant to various agencies of the United States Government. In Israel he has lectured widely at various academic centers for strategic studies, at the Dayan Forum and at the National Defense College (IDF). He was Chair of Project Daniel, and is the Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Israel’s Security After The Oslo Agreement (Second of Two Parts)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

The following is the original text of an important lecture delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres to the Dayan Forum, Israel, on March 11, 1994 (Ambassador Zalman Shoval, presiding). It remains entirely relevant today, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s: (1) recent release of Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture;” (2) the Prime Minister’s equally incomprehensible support of one murderous terrorist faction (Fatah) against another (Hamas); and his corollary commitment to the altogether twisted cartography of a markedly one-sided “Road Map.”

Sharing the Dayan Forum podium with Professor Beres on that March day in 1994 was Major General Avihu Ben-Nun, then Israel Air Force Commander.

March 11, 1994

Formal Remarks Delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres/Tel-Aviv

(Second of Two Parts)

With respect to the recent Gulf War (1991), Israel may feel, generally, that absorbing 39 scud attacks without direct reprisal – that is, letting the Americans do the job for them – was smart. Yet it seems to me that while recognizing full well the military code constraints of that moment, that this deferral to Washington – a deferral reinforced by the demeaning acceptance of minimally-capable patriot missiles – will have longer term ill effects. I daresay this is the case even though I speak together today with the distinguished commander of the Israel Air Force, Maj. Gen. Avihu Ben-Nun.

Israel’s enemies understand Cicero. Israel does not.

What, precisely, am I suggesting? The peace process, of course, is misconceived and potentially catastrophic. Associated efforts at so-called “confidence building measures” and “security regimes” are the foolish inventions of academics, of the professors, trapped as usual in their hermetically sealed world of erroneous assumptions and political correctness. In the academic world, Cicero is not in fashion. Clichés are the rage, especially when they are well funded. Euphemisms are proper. Forthrightness is unforgivable. Incrementally, Oslo will fail; Israelis will suffer increasingly numerous and more indiscriminate terror attacks; young Palestinians will be recruited to blow up Jews as a ticket to eternal life amidst 72 virgins. What is only metaphor to the sophisticated Westerner will be altogether literal to a 17-year-old Arab boy from Jenin.

There is, of course, one more arena of prospective war, an arena of particularly great importance to Israel. I refer to Iran; especially the development of Iranian unconventional weapons and the threat of Iranian nuclear attack. This threat is becoming very real indeed. Regarding this threat, Israel has essentially two options: (1) do nothing other than rely on strategic deterrence, deliberately ambiguous or disclosed (a problem because of willingness, capability, and rationality components of a credible deterrence posture); or (2) strike preemptively against Iranian hard targets and/or associated infrastructures, a strike that would necessarily reflect the permissible use of force known as “anticipatory self defense” in international law.

Here an unfortunate synergy must be noted. Now that the “peace process” is underway, Israel’s effective capacity to preempt has already been diminished. It is true that Iran is not a part of this process, but surely the global community (a community not usually known for its good feelings toward Israel or, for that matter, toward Jews in general) would see a post-Oslo defensive strike against Iranian hard targets as evidence of continuing Israeli “aggression.”

But again, what is done is done. The only question that remains is: what is Israel to do now? I have written widely about preemption and anticipatory self-defense by Israel, with special reference to Iran.

The tactical/operational requirements of such actions are somewhat beyond my domain and can be handled more adequately elsewhere (especially by my fellow speaker today, IAF Maj. Gen. Ben-Nun). What Israel does need to keep in mind is the essential time factor. Once Iranian unconventional or even nuclear weapons are fashioned and deployed, Jerusalem’s preemption options will be severely reduced. In essence, when Iran has already “gone nuclear”, they will have disappeared.

Of course, Israel continues to place substantial hopes in ATBM (Anti-Tactical Ballistic Missile) defenses, principally the Hetz or Arrow project, but the limitations of such defenses are significant and well-known, primarily because a largely “leak proof” system is required, and such a requirement is well beyond technical possibility. Moreover, the success of deterrence is entirely contingent upon assumptions of enemy rationality. Should the leadership in Iran prove willing to absorb massive Israeli counterstrikes to achieve the allegedly Islamic benefits of a first strike attack against the “Zionist cancer”, Israeli nuclear deterrence would be immobilized.

Is such Iranian willingness likely? Probably not- but are you prepared to bet the country on it? And if you are not so prepared, timely preemption by Israel emerges as the only alternative to waiting patiently for annihilation. This is the case even where preemption would succeed only partially.

Israel, like Biedermann in Max Frisch’s ominous play (“The Firebugs”), lives in a bad neighborhood. Like Biedermann, Israel can pretend that everything will be alright, that the “arsonists” will disappear on their own accord, or at least that they will be deterred from doing harm if they are indulged in their every whim and expectation. Like Biedermann, self-delusion for Israel will result in “fire,” in an assortment of harms that threaten survival and that should have been averted.

Israel must act unlike Biedermann, choosing not the path of “reasonableness” in an unreasonable region, but of determination, self-reliance and appropriate forms of forceful self-defense. Rejecting the “disassociating” professors for whom Jewish history might just as well have never happened, Jerusalem must now base its policies upon a sober awareness of what has already been and upon a full consideration of what is still possible. Should Israel choose such an awareness, as indeed it must, acknowledging protracted, even permanent conflict, the short-term will be markedly unpleasant (hasn’t it always?), but the long-term will at least remain a foreseeable possibility.

Thank you for your attention.

Copyright The Jewish Press ©, August 17, 2007. All rights reserved

Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli and Middle Eastern security issues. His work is well known to Israel’s senior military and intelligence communities. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Israel’s Security After The Oslo Agreement (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The following is the original text of an important lecture delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres to the Dayan Forum, Israel, on March 11, 1994 (Ambassador Zalman Shoval, presiding). It remains entirely relevant today, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s: (1) recent release of Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture;” (2) the Prime Minister’s equally incomprehensible support of one murderous terrorist faction (Fatah) against another (Hamas); and his corollary commitment to the altogether twisted cartography of a markedly one-sided “Road Map.”

Sharing the Dayan Forum podium with Professor Beres on that March day in 1994 was Major General Avihu Ben-Nun, then Israel Air Force Commander.

March 11, 1994

Formal Remarks Delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres/Tel-Aviv

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Oslo agreement has made a bad situation for Israel even worse. Should it prove “successful,” resultant Palestinian autonomy will slowly transform itself into a Palestinian state, a condition that would be intolerable for all the already well-known reasons. Should it “fail,” Arab bitterness – paralleled to some extent by unhappiness and frustration on the Israeli Left -will accelerate the intifadah and enlarge cyclical acts of violence. This, too, will undermine Israeli security, with steadily expanding and barbarous acts of terror against Israeli women and children, again for all the well-known reasons.

Clearly, it would have been better (in Voltaire’s satirical “best of all possible worlds”) for the Oslo agreement never to have happened. It is a terrible agreement, one that will occasion terrible casualties for Israelis. But what is done is done, and (although I plan to argue differently in the coming months) cannot be undone.

Where, therefore, should Israel go from here? This is all that we can ask today.

To answer this overriding question, Israel must first decide, by itself, how seriously it wishes to endure, as a state. This may seem an almost silly bit of advice, gratuitous and perfectly obvious. After all, every Israeli seeks preservation of the Third Commonwealth. But it is time for Israelis to be reminded that states are not necessarily forever and that the Jewish State is always especially fragile.

Building Israel’s peace prospects upon erroneous assumptions of enemy reasonableness and rationality would be a misfortune. From the Arab and Iranian perspective generally, Israel is an enemy state because it is a Jewish state- period! The only step Israel could now take to reduce enemy belligerence in the face of growing Islamicization (“Palestine” and Iran in particular) would be to disappear. Right now, after Oslo, the government of Israel is, in fact, cooperating in such a suicidal step.

Significantly, the Arab and Iranian worlds have been strikingly honest in identifying their goals. They have made it clear again and again that their overall war with Israel is a war with “The Jews,” and that it is a war that will continue until all of “Palestine” is “returned.”

A good portion of the Jewish world, however, in Israel and in the Diaspora, refuses to act upon these strikingly honest expressions of belligerent intent. Instead, learning nothing from 2,000 years of a murderous history, they create their own reality – a nicely balanced, finely-tuned reality of diplomatic bargaining, negotiation and incremental settlements – and assume that Syria, Iran, the Palestinians, etc., will be grateful.

The result, of course, is predictable. Israel’s enemies call for more and more. Israel, the individual Jew in macrocosm, asks for less and less. Taken together, these calls portend a shrinking and enfeebled Israel in an expanding Islamic sea. It is not a pretty picture.

Right now, Israel reminds me very much of Gottlieb Biedermann, the cautious Swiss businessman in the brilliant play by Max Frisch, “The Firebugs.” Biedermann contends with a neighborhood epidemic of arson by implementing a series of self-deceptions. Ultimately, Biedermann invites the arsonists into his home, lodges them, feeds them a sumptuous dinner and even provides them with matches. Not surprisingly, the play ends for the protagonist (read Israel, in this parable) on an incendiary note. It also ends, predictably, with a pathetic and revolting disclaimer from an academic observer who has counseled capitulation all along. Removing a paper from his pocket, as the sky reddens from fire, the all-too-familiar “professor” disassociates himself from the calamity. He is, he exclaims, “not responsible.”

In his letters, the Roman statesman Cicero set the foundations for realist thinking in world affairs. Inquired Cicero: “For what can be done against force without force?” It is time for Israel to ask itself this same question. At one time, it already knew the answer. Today I am not so sure.

International law is not a suicide pact. Israel, in the fashion of every state in world politics, has a right to endure. With respect to Judea/Samaria/Gaza, Israel has eroded this right by itself. The ongoing territorial surrender of the “peace process” was preceded by linguistic surrender. By accepting, incrementally, the use of the term “occupied,” a term that is challenged almost nowhere in the world – it was inevitable that events would come to where they are today – in March 1994.

In this country (Israel), an academic journal – a distinguished law review – recently refused to publish an article of mine dealing with Israel’s rights under international law because I did not accept that the disputed territories were “occupied.” The irony gets worse. The article was subsequently accepted by a distinguished American law review sponsored by the Jesuits. A “no” from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to a manuscript supporting Israel; a “yes” from the Catholic University of Notre Dame.

(To be continued)

Copyright The Jewish Press©, August 10, 2007. All rights reserved

Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli and Middle Eastern security issues. His work is well known to Israel’s senior military and intelligence communities. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

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