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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, February 10, 2006

Israel Insists on Need for Defensible Borders

Jerusalem - Given all the political and security threats it faces from hostile neighbors, Israel's borders must be determined based on its strategic security interests, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations said.

"One of the problems still [to be] addressed by the next Israeli government is the line of defense," said Dr. Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.N.

"Defensible borders are one of the most integral parts of Ariel Sharon's legacy," said Gold, a former senior advisor to Sharon.

When Israel decided to pull out of the Gaza Strip, it obtained a letter from President Bush confirming U.S. backing for Israel's right to establish defensible borders.

"The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders," Bush wrote in his April 14, 2004 letter to Sharon. Two months later, both houses of Congress backed up what the president wrote.

Israel traded Gaza for defensible borders in the West Bank, said Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which is spearheading the initiative to promote Israel's need for defensible borders.

Israel is fewer than nine miles wide at its narrowest point near the country's largest population center. An Israeli withdrawal from the entire West Bank would return Israel to that position, a condition that Israeli and some U.S. military officials have said is untenable.

Israel is bordered on the north by Lebanon and Syria, on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and on the south by Egypt. The current argument with the Palestinians mainly concerns Israel's eastern front - the West Bank, and the Jordan Valley beyond that.

Israel has come under international condemnation for the route of its security barrier, which it credits for a dramatic reduction in suicide attacks in the center of the country.

According to Gold, Israel's "defensible borders" must also include the Jordan Valley as a buffer zone to stave off conventional attacks from the Arab world and to prevent terror infiltration from al Qaeda, which could link up with Hamas.

The Jordan Valley also would act as a buffer to prevent Palestinian smuggling of advanced weapons into the West Bank.

"Given the strategic situation emerging at present with Hamas, with al Qaeda moving closer to Israel's border and Iran seeking a nuclear umbrella over international terrorism -- for Israel to relinquish the Jordan Valley is an act of national irresponsibility," Gold said.

Palestinians consider the Jordan Valley as part of the West Bank, so-named by Jordan when it occupied the area from 1948-1967. The West Bank referred to the west bank of the Jordan River. The Palestinians want it to become part of a future Palestinian state.

The sparsely populated section of the Jordan Valley in question runs about 35 miles north to south and is about three to seven miles wide at various points and includes hills on the Western side.

Militarily, Israel needs this area to protect itself from conventional armies invading from the east and to put a boundary between the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world, said retired Maj. General Jacob Amidror, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the JCPA.

"Israel cannot build [its security] on the assumption that the Middle East will look the same in the next 20 years," said Amidror, a former commander of the Israeli army's Military College and former head of the army's research and assessment division, which prepares the national intelligence assessment.

No one can guarantee that the next Iraqi regime will not be closer ideologically to Iran; and that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which is more than 60 percent Palestinian, will not be taken over by the Palestinians; or that the radical Muslim Brotherhood, which made gains in recent elections won't rise to power in Egypt and be in control of the most sophisticated (U.S. supplied) weapons in the Middle East, said Amidror.

Therefore, Israel must be able to defend itself in the case of a conventional war with its neighbors, he said.

The second threat is terrorism -- the possibility of al Qaeda entering the Palestinian areas and Palestinians smuggling more advanced weapons through the Jordan Valley, he said.

Full article at CNS NEWS.


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