New book proposes a unilateral withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank
Israel must unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank in order to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution with the Palestinians and prevent terror attacks like Barkan from occurring again, says former deputy national security adviser Charles Freilich in his new book Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change.
After 70 years and countless bloody wars as well as as enemies with vast rocket and missile arsenals, Israel still does not have a formal national security strategy, because âprime ministers have intentionally avoided from doing it.â And while there have been efforts to adopt such a strategy, notably the 2006 Meridor Report, it remains classified.
In his new book Freilich delves into and combines an analysis of the military, diplomatic, demographic a nd societal challenges that Israel faces as well as recommendations for policy changes.
He then presents a detailed proposal for a long-term Israeli national security strategy with the most important policy recommendation is for Israel to find a way to reach an agreement with Palestinians and lay the groundwork for a two state solution by Israel unilaterally withdrawing from them.
According to Freilich, Israelâs control over the West Bank was to be a buffer zone between the Jewish State and Arab armies, but instead âIsrael in effect annexed it and brought terrorism closer to Israel.â
That terror struck Israel in early October when two Israeli citizens were shot to death by a 23 year-old Palestinian at the Barkan Industrial Zone outside the West Bank city of Ariel.
âThatâs what a one-state solution looks like. Thatâs what happens when you mingle two sides who hates the other together,â Freilich told The Post. âWe have to bring Jewish Israelis back in to Israel so that they arenât walking around with threats around them.â
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âItâs not a political statement but a strategic and Zionist recommendation. If we want to remain a Jewish and democratic state we need to separate from them,â he told The Jerusalem Post. âWe need to stop building settlements and declare that Israel has no claim to the eight-ten percent of the West Bank which remains on the other side of the separation barrier.â
But even with pulling Jews out of the West Bank by means of incentives, Freilich stressed that unlike Israelâs unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the IDF would temporarily remain deployed in the West Bank.
âMaybe once that it out there, maybe Palestinians will come to the table. I am not banking on them, but this lays the groundwork for a two-state solution.â
According to the author, if Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, Israel would no longer be a Jewi sh State and that, he told The Post, is an existential threat âwhich we are creating with our own hands.â
âI donât care about politics, but the right is creating a one-state reality,â he said. Unfortunately, the circumstances to restart peace negotiations âcouldnât be worseâ right now he said, explaining that while there is no other negotiating partner than the United States, the current administration âis fundamentally dysfunctional at the moment.â
âWe have to convince Palestinians that we are serious and that we are taking some moves to improve the situation and stop making it worse,â he said.
The second most important recommendation, he told The Post, focuses on restraint, defense and diplomacy as a way to address the challenges that Israel faces, as well as the IDFâs ability to deter and defeat Israelâs enemies.
âToday Israel is a strong country, weâve never been more secure in our entire history. We have the strength toda y to show restraint,â he said, adding nevertheless that Israel must still increase its deterrence against groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Four years after Operation Protective Edge, Hamas decided to change the equation with violent âMarch of Returnâ riots along the security fence with Israel, with Palestinians planting and throwing explosive devices with the intent to harm troops, launching incendiary and explosive aerial devices into southern Israel.
The first Israeli soldier to be killed on the Gaza front occurred during one of these protests when a sniper shot him with a high-powered rifle believed to have come from Iran. Another IDF soldier was badly injured by another sniper in the same area days later in an ambush. Lately mass infiltrations into Israel have also occurred during these riots which have become a nightly affair.
Israel has also been ineffective in fully deterring Hezbollah, which has increased its rocket arsenal, wh ich in 2006 had some 14,000 rockets. While the IDF states that itâs intelligence capabilities have increased dramatically since the Second Lebanon War-with five times the number of targets in the north if another war were to break out- Hezbollahâs arsenal is now believed to have close to 150,000 rockets, many of which could strike deep inside Israelâs homefront.
Hezbollah is also developing precision missiles, which according to Freilich, puts them at close to the top of the threat list.
âWe donât have a strong enough defense to deal with the threat Hezbollah poses,â he said. âAnd what happens after we destroy Hamas or Hezbollah? Do we occupy their territory? What then? What happens after we leave those areas? Who takes over? It can be much worse and what would we achieve? We would lose hundreds for nothing.â
According to Freilich, Israel must invest more money into defense and more effort into diplomacy and âbecause we arenât fighting for our lives a nymore, we can take a somewhat longer-term view.â
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