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1. US and/or international guarantees – including peacekeeping forces on Israel’s borders with Arab entities – have been proposed as a means to convince Israel to retreat from the historically and militarily critical and irreplaceable mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, contending that Israel’s national security would be guaranteed by US and/or international guarantees and forces on its border in the most violently intolerant and unpredictable region in the world.

2. While Israel’s retreat is Israeli-controlled, precise, certain and irreversible, the political and military viability of these guarantees and their potential benefits are top-heavy on escape routes, uncontrolled by Israel, imprecise, uncertain, open to various interpretations, doubtful, reversible and subject to multitude of changing circumstances, which are sometimes uncontrollable by the guarantor.


3. Notre Dame University Prof. of international relations, Alan Dowty, conducted a thorough study of “the role of great power guarantees in international peace agreements,”  concluding that: “The effectiveness of a guarantee depends upon the willingness of the guarantor to react to a  threat, and upon his ability to react with sufficient force…. [For instance,] fear of disrupting American relations with Arab states was a factor in the 1967 US decision not to force open the Red Sea Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships [contrary to the US commitment in 1957, in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula]…. The effectiveness of a commitment depends on the underlying interests and capabilities of the guarantor, [not the guaranteed!]….”

4. According to Prof. Dowty, “Great Powers’ guarantees are generally effective only when their own dominant or strategic position is involved.  In general, the credibility of their promises and commitments is continuously vitiated by inadequate power, lack of means or sustained interest, multiple and conflicting interests, changes in relative might, changes in international alignments, rapprochement between former rivals, the breakup of guaranteeing coalitions, or by changes of government in the guaranteeing state.  No international guarantee is more stable than the international and internal combinations that produced it…. Guarantees are by no means universally reliable even after they have been promulgated by formal or informal means [guarantees, alliances, defense pacts and peace accords]….The frequency with which weak states reject offers of protection is striking and shows that guarantees are not unambiguous blessings….”

5.  Prof. Dowty concludes that “in the past, nations seeking to evade their commitments to support another state’s independence and territorial integrity have never failed to find the means of doing so. Either commitment had changed, or the commitment was reinterpreted, or the failure of others to act was cited as excuse, or prior commitments were invoked, or failure of the guaranteed state to heed the guarantor’s advice was held to release the latter from its commitment.  Or, the commitment was simply ignored. The question of who will guarantee the guarantor remains unresolved.”

6. US peacekeepers would be targeted by terrorists – such as Hezbollah, which murdered 300 Marines in 1983 in Beirut – who are proxies of anti-US rogue regimes – such as Iran – intimidating Washington, constraining the US capability to respond to provocations elsewhere (e.g., the Persian Gulf), and extort political concessions by targeting US servicemen, while preserving the element of deniability.

7. Against the backdrop of the US public reaction to US military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Lebanon, another peacekeeping undertaking would not be politically/militarily sustainable, leading to a prompt withdrawal in response to casualties and/or hostage-taking.

8. A US peacekeeping force on Israel’s borders would, inadvertently, shield terrorists by constraining Israel’s capabilities to preempt – and react to – Arab terrorism and aggression. It would also deny the US the benefits of Israel’s military operations, which are not coordinated with the US, such as the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, which spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991.

9. The stationing of US peacekeepers on Israel’s borders would demolish Israel’s posture of deterrence and US public and congressional support of Israel, which would be transformed from a country defending itself and a strategic asset, extending the strategic hand of the US, to an American dependent and liability, relying on US soldiers. Most Americans support military aid to Israel, but not sending troops to protect Israel.

10. A tenuous US military force on Israel’s borders – in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from the dominant mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria – would have a short life expectancy, undermining US-Israel relations, further eroding US reliability and posture of deterrence, dramatically limiting Israel’s power-projection, which would exacerbate regional instability and injure US interests, causing another setback to the cause of peace.

11. US-Israel defense cooperation should be driven by the enhancement of the mutually-beneficial, win-win, two-way-street ties, not by the re-introduction of one-way-street relations, which would burden the US and increasing the dependency of Israel upon the US.


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Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators, and lecturer in the U.S., Canada and Israel on Israel’s unique contributions to American interests, the foundations of U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian threat, and Jewish-Arab issues.