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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister Sharon’

Olmert’s Unspoken Existential Imperative Taking Israel’s Bomb Out Of The ‘Basement’

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Now that Israel is again being pressured to follow a self-destructive “Road Map,” a 23rd Arab state called Palestine is again in the process of being born. One serious but largely unforeseen effect of this grotesque birth (one in which only a gravedigger could wield the forceps) is greatly diminished “strategic depth” for Israel. Consequently there is a heightened probability of both conventional and unconventional war.

It follows that Israel will soon have to rely more explicitly upon its still undeclared nuclear deterrent. In the popular parlance of military planners and strategic scholars, this will mean taking the country’s nuclear “bomb” out of the “basement.”

Since its beginnings, Israel’s nuclear capacity and doctrine have remained hidden and undeclared, “buried,” and located far beyond accessible mechanisms for appraisal and verification. To an extent, this makes considerable sense, as the Jewish State has not wished to give its many relentless enemies any possible pretext for condemnation or for “defensive” first-strikes. Nor has Jerusalem sought to embarrass Washington, which has reliably cooperated in obscuring Israel’s strategic posture.

Presently, however, especially as an openly genocidal Iran continues to progress with its own program for nuclear weapons, there are several compelling reasons to argue for an end to Israel’s nuclear opacity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, avery selective disclosure of Israel’s nuclear assets and doctrine could soon prove to be manifestly gainful for Israel’s increasingly imperiled security.

For years, Israel has been the object of multiple demands to acknowledge that it even has nuclear weapons. Now it seems there is good reason for Prime Minister Olmert to comply, albeit for obviously different reasons.

Let him now prepare to release (in very broad outlines, to be sure) certain of his country’s nuclear capabilities and intentions. The net effect of such a release, particularly if it were to come immediately before Iran had actually crossed the nuclear “Rubicon,” would be beneficial.

Among other things, selective disclosure could reveal conclusively that Israel’s nuclear weapons are there not to execute a “Samson Option” – not for an apocalyptic “End of the Third Temple Commonwealth” reprisal – but rather for very complex and nuanced functions of existential deterrence and national defense.

To protect against major enemy attack, possibly one with biological and/or nuclear weapons, Israel must now systematically prepare to exploit its still-latent nuclear assets. Here, the success of Israel’s efforts will depend not only upon its actual shape of “counter-value”/counter-city operations. “Counterforce” or war-fighting postures could never help Israel. Therefore, they should be rejected out-of-hand.

But success is also based upon the extent to which this shape is made known in advance.

Before any enemy state is deterred from striking first, and before it can be deterred from launching retaliatory strikes following an Israeli non-nuclear preemption, it will not be enough that it merely “knows” that Israel has nuclear weapons.

It will also need to recognize that these Israeli weapons are sufficiently invulnerable to first-strike attack and/or that these weapons are targeted on their own cities.

It could also be vital that these would-be aggressor states fully recognize that their individual national leaders would die themselves in any expected Israeli atomic reprisal.

Israel must now strengthen its nuclear deterrence so that an enemy state will always reason that a first-strike attack would be irrational. To accomplish this critical objective, Israel must convince would-be attackers that it maintains both the willingness and the capacity to retaliate with certain nuclear weapons.

Wherever an enemy state considering an attack upon Israel would be unconvinced about either one or both of these elements, it might choose to strike first.

Ultimately, Israel’s physical survival will depend upon its nuclear weapons and doctrine. Although an immediate end to deliberate ambiguity is probably unnecessary, this would change the moment that Iran were seen as irrevocably nuclear.

Under the best of circumstances, Israel and/or the United States would soon prevent a nuclear Iran by fully lawful expressions of “anticipatory self-defense” – indispensable preemptions under longstanding customary international law.

But if (as expected) these countries should fail to seize the strategic moment on the Islamic Republic of Iran, a moment made even more critical by the distinct possibility of an irrational Iranian leadership armed with nuclear weapons, Israel will have absolutely no choice but to promptly remove its own bomb from the basement.

Copyright The Jewish Press, March 2, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the Chair of “Project Daniel,” a private group, which presented its once-confidential report on Israeli nuclear doctrine and strategy to former Prime Minister Sharon. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Israel Releasing Arab Terrorists – Again

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

It is a familiar story. Israel, with nary a hint of meaningful reciprocity (reinforcing standing government policy of “Land For Nothing”), releases Palestinian terrorist prisoners. This time, in fact, Prime Minister Sharon even threw in amnesty for terrorists not yet apprehended. One must wonder here why the Prime Minister failed to ask an essential antecedent question: If Palestinian Authority “President” Abbas authentically seeks an orderly society that is at peace with Israel, why then should he welcome child murderers back into the Palestinian Arab community? Indeed, he even welcomed them back as heroes.

On February 3rd, 2005, the Prime Minister received senior Cabinet approval for the release of 900 prisoners and the handover of Jericho to Palestinian control. But perhaps all is not as strange or calamitous as it would seem. After all, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, did state that “prisoners who killed Israelis could not be freed in the near term.” For their part, in a signal that things might have gone even worse for Israel, the Palestinians expressed resentment that Sharon had resisted “broader concession.” Presumably they were disappointed that Israel’s government-inflicted auto-suicide was no longer sufficiently impassioned and needed more outside encouragement. And, let us not forget, Israel’s release of Arab terrorists and sacrifice of Jewish lands was carried out for the sake of “good will.”

Irony aside, Mofaz plainly left open the unforgivable prospect that restrictions on releasing terrorists with Israeli blood on their hands could be lifted in the future. Moreover, who – exactly – are such terrorists? Is a prisoner who did not actually kill an Israeli with his own hands, but “only” made such killings possible in a variety of support positions, less guilty – or less dangerous?

Under long-standing international law, every state has a primary obligation to protect its citizens. Yet, the government of Israel has also announced that it might end its search for dozens of terrorists responsible for carrying out or planning future attacks. The ostensible rationale for this announcement was the utterly-unsupported hope that Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas now seeks real peace with the Jewish state. Israeli government spokesman David Baker said the Israeli concessions were made “despite scores of terror-related incidents in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority has not made one meaningful arrest.”

“…not made one meaningful arrest.” A core element of all civilized legal systems is the rule of “No crime without a punishment.” This principle, drawn originally from the law of ancient Israel and strongly reaffirmed at the post-War Nuremberg Trials, is conspicuously a part of all international law. In this regard, a particularly blatant Israeli violation of international law now lies in Sharon’s growing unwillingness to press the Palestinian Authority to arrest those terrorists who recently murdered three American citizens in Gaza.

To the extent that President Bush concurs in such an unwillingness – effectively an American act of complicity with terrorists – our own country is in violation not only of international law, but also the law of the United States. Patently self-defeating as we continue to wage “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” this is a two-fold violation because all international law is made part of U.S. law (the “supreme law of the land”) by Article 6 of the Constitution and by a number of landmark Supreme Court decisions.

In June 2003, the “Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center” – in astute anticipation of then-impending terrorist releases, properly condemned Israel’s planned freeing of 100 Palestinian prisoners. Later, almost five times that number were actually processed by Prime Minister Sharon. In her letter to the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet, Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner wrote that releasing terrorists as a “goodwill gesture” would reignite Arab terrorism against defenseless Jewish men, women and especially children.

Sadly, she was correct. Very soon thereafter, at least two newly-released terrorists went on to launch suicide bomb attacks in Israel. In these attacks, as is so often the case with Palestinian terror, the announced “military target” was a cafe filled with mothers and young children.

Every state has an obligation under international law to prosecute and punish terrorists. This obligation derives from nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment.” It is codified directly in many different authoritative sources, and is also deducible from the binding Nuremberg Principles (1950). According to Principle 1: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.”

Terrorism is an established crime under international law; incontestably one of the most serious. The precise offenses that comprise this crime can be found at The European Convention on The Suppression of Terrorism. Notwithstanding disingenuous Israeli government assurances to the contrary at the time, some of the Palestinian terrorists previously released were also guilty of related crimes of war and crimes against humanity – crimes so egregious that the perpetrators are known in law as hostes humani generis, “Common enemies of humankind.”

International law presumes solidarity between states in the fight against all crime, including the crime of terrorism. This presumption is mentioned as early as the 17th century in Hugo Grotius’ The Law of War and Peace. Although Israel has clear jurisdiction to punish crimes committed on its territory (the primary basis of jurisdiction under international law is determined by location of the offense), it also has the right to act under broader principles of “universal jurisdiction.” Its case for such universal jurisdiction, which derives from an expectation of interstate solidarity, is found at the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949. These conventions unambiguously impose upon the High Contracting Parties the obligation to punish “Grave Breaches” of their settled rules.

NO government has the legal right to free terrorists as a “goodwill gesture,” as was the case earlier in apparent deference to the “Road Map,” and, as is now at least partially, the case in Prime Minister Sharon’s search for improved relations with Mahmoud Abbas. Terrorism is a criminally sanctionable violation of international law not subject to ad hoc nullification by individual countries. In the United States, it is manifest from the Constitution that the President’s power to pardon does not encompass violations of international law, and is always limited to “Offenses against the United States.” This limitation stems from a wider prohibition that binds all states, namely the claims of a “Higher Law.” These claims are the very basis of American law. Their roots lie directly in the Torah.

In originally apprehending and punishing Arab terrorists, Israel acted – wittingly or unwittingly, it doesn’t matter – on behalf of all states. Moreover, because some of the terrorists had committed crimes against other states, Israel cannot possibly pardon these offenses against other sovereigns. Although Sharon’s latest terrorist release does not, strictly speaking, represent a “pardon,” it will have exactly the same effect. So, too, will the announced “amnesty” have the effect of a pardon.

No state possesses any sort of authority to pardon violations of international law, especially the uniquely cruel violations persistently generated by Arab terrorism. No matter what might be permissible under its own Basic Law, any political freeing of terrorists by Israel is legally inexcusable. Further, the fundamental principle is well-established in law that, by virtue of such releases, the releasing state itself must assume responsibility for past criminal acts and even for future ones. Is this the sort of responsibility sought by Prime Minister Sharon?

Such a fundamental principle is known formally in law as a “peremptory” norm. Codified at Article 53 of The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, it means a rule that “permits no derogation.” It means a rule that is both binding and altogether unyielding.

Under international law, Prime Minister Sharon’s newest release of terrorists and associated amnesty – effectively analogous to a mass pardoning of criminals – will necessarily implicate the Jewish State for a “denial of justice.” This could have profound practical consequences. Although it is arguable that punishment, which is central to justice, does not always deter future crimes, this Israeli freeing of terrorists and amnesty will surely have the following chilling effect: It will undermine the Jewish state’s general obligation to incapacitate certain violent criminals from the commission of new acts of mass murder. Simply stated, it means many more mutilated and murdered Israelis and (recognizing growing ties between Palestinian terror groups and al-Qaeda) Americans.

Copyright © 2005, The Jewish Press. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is author of many books and articles dealing with international criminal law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Project Daniel: Israel’s Preemption And Nuclear Warfighting Doctrine (Part Eight)

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

‘For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war’
(Proverbs 24:6)

My prior column in this special series dealt with the existential threat to Israel. To best deal with this multifaceted threat, Project Daniel recommended to Prime Minister Sharon that Israel do everything possible to prevent a coalition of enemy states from coming into possession of mass destruction weapons, and that this effort be undertaken while Israel continues with its longstanding policy of nuclear ambiguity. An earlier column in this series, however, pointed out that if Israel should ever fail for any reason, to prevent enemy states from acquiring certain mega-weapons, it would then need – immediately – to end its nuclear ambiguity.

Here, Israel would proceed to enhance its nuclear deterrent with selective “leaks” regarding its relevant strategic forces. This is because a policy of continued ambiguity could cast lethal doubts upon the survivability and penetration-capability of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Regarding preemption, international law has long allowed for states to initiate forceful defensive measures when there exists “imminent danger” of aggression. This rule of “anticipatory self-defense” has been expanded and reinforced by President George W. Bush’s issuance of The National Security Strategy Of The United States Of America. Released on September 20, 2002, this document asserts, inter alia, that traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against an enemy “whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents….” As Israel is substantially less defensible and more vulnerable than the United States, its particular right to resort to anticipatory self-defense under threat of readily identifiable existential harms is beyond legal question.

Following the Bush doctrine expansion of preemption, the Group suggested to Prime Minister Sharon that such policy pertain as well to certain nuclear and/or biological WMD threats against Israel; that this policy be codified as doctrine; and that these actions be conventional in nature. Such preemption may be overt or covert, and range from “decapitation” to full-scale military operations.

Further, the Group advised that decapitation may apply to both enemy leadership elites (state and non- state) and to various categories of technical experts who would be essential to the fashioning of enemy WMD arsenals, e.g., nuclear scientists. In this connection, we may all recall that Israel followed similar policy in the early years of the Jewish state, when German scientists who had worked for Hitler had moved on to help Egypt and Syria. Some of these ex-Nazis who persisted with their work toward a “Final Solution” were made to “disappear.”

The Group reminded Prime Minister Sharon that any forcible prevention of enemy nuclear/ biological deployment would be profoundly different from an Israeli preemption of an existing enemy nuclear/biological force. Attempts at preemption against an enemy that had already been allowed to go nuclear/biological may be too risky and could invite an existential retaliation. It was also recommended that any preemptions be carried out by conventional high-precision weapons, not only because they are likely to be more effective than nuclear weapons, but also because preemption with nuclear weapons could be wrongly interpreted as Israeli nuclear first-strikes. If unsuccessful, these preemptive strikes could elicit an enemy’s “countervalue” second strike; that is, a deadly attack upon Israeli civilian populations.

The Group advised emphatically that Israel should avoid non-conventional exchanges with enemy states wherever possible. It is not in Israel’s interest to engage these states in WMD warfare if other options exist.

Israel’s Strategic Future does not instruct how to “win” a war in a WMD Middle-East environment. Rather, it describes what we, the members of Project Daniel, consider the necessary, realistic and optimal conditions for nonbelligerence toward Israel in the region. These conditions include a coherent and comprehensive Israeli doctrine for preemption, warfighting, deterrence and defense.

The Group advised the Prime Minister that there is no operational need for low-yield nuclear weapons geared to actual battlefield use. Overall, we recommended that the most efficient yield for Israeli deterrence and counterstrike purposes be a “countervalue” targeted warhead at a level sufficient to hit the aggressor’s principal population centers and fully compromise that aggressor’s national viability. We urged that Israel make absolutely every effort to avoid ever using nuclear weapons in support of conventional war operations. These weapons could create a seamless web of conventional and nuclear battlefields that Israel should scrupulously avoid.

The Group considers it gainful for Israel to plan for regime-targeting in certain instances. With direct threats employed against individual enemy leaders and possible others, costs to Israel could be very much lower than alternative forms of warfare. At the same time, threats of regime targeting could be even more persuasive than threats to destroy enemy weapons and infrastructures, but only if the prospective victims were first made to feel sufficiently at risk.

The Group advanced a final set of suggestions concerning anticipatory self-defense. Israel must be empowered with a “Long Arm” to meet its preemption objectives. This means long-range fighter aircraft with capability to penetrate deep, heavily defended areas, and to survive. It also means air- refueling tankers; communications satellites; and long-range unmanned aerial vehicles. More generally, it means survivable precision weapons with high lethality; and also considerably refined electronic warfare and stealth capacities.

My next column will deal with Project Daniel’s more precise recommendations regarding deterrence and defense. Following that column, the tenth and final article in this special series will discuss our various conclusions.

Readers can access the full report of “Project Daniel” online by going to the website of the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel) – www.acpr.org.il – or by requesting the printed monograph from the Ariel Center. It is ACPR Policy Paper No. 155 (May 2004) and can be ordered by contacting: info@acpr.org.il.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law. He is Chair of Project Daniel as well as Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at: Beres@polsci.purdue.edu.

Do We Really Have To Hear From Mr. Netanyahu?

Saturday, November 3rd, 2001

We are dismayed at the carping against Prime Minister Sharon by former Prime Minister Netanyahu about kowtowing to the Bush administration. He should give it a rest.

Mr. Netanyahu is the guy who lost his reelection bid by the largest ever margin. He is the one who gave up on reciprocity, Hebron, and surrendered larger tracts of Judea and Samaria than Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, Barak and Sharon ever did. And his performances at Wye and in the Pollard debacle surely do not entitle him to pontificate about the choices facing Mr. Sharon.

Indeed, Mr. Netanyahu faced a president with an arbitrary, one-dimensional messianic vision of the Middle East. Mr. Sharon must work with a president facing a multi-dimensional, exquisitely complicated set of problems.

Now is really not the time for offensive political grandstanding.

The Policy Of Restraint: The Controversy Continues

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2001

Debate over Prime Minister Sharon's so-called policy of “restraint” continues to swirl. Among other things, our editorial last week expressing support for his measured responses to the escalating Palestinian terrorism drew more reaction than any Jewish Press editorial in recent memory. The letters from readers on the subject which appear this week are only a sampling of what we actually received, besides some really animated phone calls.

Of course we respect the heartfelt concerns of those ? especially residents of the areas under terrorist siege ? who have the most serious doubts about the efficacy of anything short of a broad military retaking of Judea and Samaria and Gaza. And, in all candor, we may well be moving in that direction. Without question, Israel is at war, and there are lessons to be learned from the American experience in Vietnam and later in the Gulf War about the relative merits of measured responses and the employment of overwhelming force.

However, we still cling to the hope that Mr. Sharon's approach will, in any event, pay critical dividends. It is not, as some have suggested, to “worry about what the goyim think,” to seek to do all that is prudent to keep President Bush's confidence. America's support is indisputedly critical for Israel at this point in its history. This is not to say that Israel should woodenly follow the dictates of a foreign government at the cost of its own interests. It is to say that it is in Israel's best interest to seek to cultivate the support of the United States in pursuit of its goals.

It continues to be clear to us that Israel's quest for peace is materially aided if the Palestinians come to believe that they have no alternative but to work out their differences with Israel. That is, when they realize that the United States has no intention of pressuring Israel to accede to Palestinian demands, Israel's prospects are enhanced. And over the last few months, the only times the United States seriously objected to Israeli actions was when there was a declaration by an Israeli general that an incursion into Gaza was to last indefinitely, and when it used American-supplied F-16's to attack a terrorist enclave when other means had not been exhausted. Significantly, on other occasions, when Secretary of State Powell was critical of Israel, President Bush and Vice-President Bush sent a very different message.

The implication is plain. America will go along with Israel as long as Israel has no other apparent option. That is, Mr. Bush accepts the notion that Israel is the aggrieved party and that it is entitled to do what is unavoidable at particular junctures in order to deal with the Palestinian threat. No more, but also no less.

It should not be lost on anyone that Israel has now taken over Orient House, the Palestinian “White House,” and has also seized several Palestinian strongholds on the outskirts of Jerusalem, to the great dismay and chagrin of the Palestinians. Israel also now moves at will into Palestinian enclaves and destroys terror cells and Palestinian infrastructure. These actions are not as dramatic as an all-out invasion. But they are very, very big deals. And this is all happening with nothing other than perfunctory negative comments from the State Department.

In sum, we here in America should not make the mistake of thinking that Israel's not doing all that it could militarily, amounts to appeasement and inaction. It is one thing to criticize a Prime Minister Barak for pulling his punches in blind pursuit of a discredited “peace process.” It is quite another to similarly criticize a Prime Minister Sharon who keeps upping the military ante in an effort to avoid all-out war. The number of people already killed by terrorist shooting and bombings is an unspeakable tragedy. But there will be a lot more than that number of 19 and 20 year-old Israelis who will die on the battlefield if Mr. Sharon's strategy fails. For now, he is the one to make the exquisite judgment as to when the time has come to go for broke.

Setting The Stage

Friday, August 17th, 2001

Prime Minister Sharon is not without his thoughtful critics over his policy of restraint. Those of us who have regularly argued that it is folly to signal to Arafat & Co. that there will be anything but horrible consequences to terrorism, can certainly understand the clamor for massive retaliation and an uprooting of the terrorist infrastructure. And those of us who have relentlessly pointed to the cynicism of the international approach to the Mideast conflict ? which is concerned more about how events fit into the prism of national interest than about notions of justice and truth ? can certainly understand the cry that public opinion be damned. Yet we still strongly believe in the appropriateness of the Prime Minister's course to this point.

There is no denying that the spectre of a massive strike against the Palestinian Authority ? one that even leads to the destruction of its infrastructure and the expulsion of Yasir Arafat ? is upon us. Each terrorist attack seemingly brings us closer to a large-scale Israeli move into the West Bank and Gaza designed to uproot the safe harbors for terrorists. Indeed, one now regularly reads of Israel's expanding military preparations. And there is also no denying that there is a distinct difference between the submissiveness of prior governments and the policy of restraint. Surely, no one can seriously believe that Prime Minister Sharon is simply accepting the murderous attacks out of a lack of resolve.

In fact, the policy of restraint has overnight rallied the Bush administration and much of world opinion to Israel's side. For how long, no one knows. But there is no mistaking the general sense now that Israel is granting the Palestinians every opportunity to avoid a wider conflict, even in the face of great provocation.

Of course, President Bush's goodwill is key. And everything one hears from the President and Secretary of State Powell ? which is in full support of Israel's determination that a total cessation of violence must precede any resumption of talks ? seems to point to the wisdom of Prime Minister Sharon's strategy.

Solidarity And The Left

Saturday, August 4th, 2001

The almost universal calls for ?solidarity? with Israel following in the wake of Reform leader Eric Yoffie?s announcement of the suspension of youth trips to Israel has underscored a curious dimension to the politics of the left. While the Sarid and Beilin crowd talk about American Jews demonstrating their support for the Jewish state, they continue to rail against Prime Minister Sharon for not agreeing to an immediate resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians despite the continuing violence, and for not ordering an immediate end to all construction on the so-called ?settlements.? Despite the lessons of the collapse of Oslo and the obvious and cynical refusal of Yassir Arafat to end the violence, the left persists in attacking Mr. Sharon for insisting that the violence must stop as a precondition to renewed talks. They would reward violence with political concessions while the prime minister would not.

So pardon us for asking what they mean by solidarity? Solidarity with what? Are they suggesting that it would be ?pro-Israel? if the world once again lined up to force Israel to ignore Palestinian duplicity?

We would be the last ones to suggest that following the leader is always a simple matter. But this time it is really a no brainer.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/solidarity-and-the-left/2001/08/04/

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