Like his supporters, US Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently been asleep for the past 20 years.
Kerry has proffered us security arrangements, which he claims will protect Israel from aggression for the long haul. They will do this, he argues, despite the fact that his plan denies the Jewish state physically defensible borders in the framework of a peace deal with the PLO.
There are several serious problems with Kerry’s arrangements. But in the context of Kerry’s repeated claims that his commitment to Israel’s security is unqualified, their most glaring flaws are rooted in their disregard for all the lessons we have learned over the past two decades.
Kerry’s security arrangements rest on three assumptions. First, they assume that the main threats Israel will face in an era of “peace” with the Palestinians will emanate from east of the Jordan River. The main two scenarios that have been raised are the threat of terrorists and advanced weaponry being smuggled across the border; and a land invasion or other type of major aggression against Israel, perpetrated by Iraqis moving across Jordan.
It is to fend off these threats, Kerry argues, that he would agree to a temporary deployment of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley even after Israel expels all or most of the 650,000 Israeli civilians who live in Judea, Samaria and eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem.
We will consider the strategic wisdom of his plans for defending Israel from threats east of the Jordan River presently. But first we need to ask whether a threat from across the border would really be the only significant threat that Israel would face after surrendering Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem to the PLO.
The answer to this question is obvious to every Israeli who has been awake for the past 20 years, since Israel started down the “land for peace” road with the PLO.
The greatest threat Israel will face in an era of “peace” with the Palestinians will not come from east of the Jordan. It will come from west of the Jordan – from the Jew-free Palestinian state.
The Palestinians don’t give us peace for land. They give us war for land. Whether they support the PLO, Hamas or anything in between, the Palestinians have used every centimeter of land that Israel has given them as launching bases for terrorist and political attacks against Israel.
There is no peace camp in Palestinian society. There are only terrorist organizations that compete for power and turf. And to the extent there are moderates in Palestinian society, they are empowered when Israel is in control, and weakened when Israel transfers power to the PLO.
Back in halcyon 1990s, Israeli supporters of “land for peace” told us, “It’s better to be smart than right.”
By this they meant that for peace, we should be willing to give up our historical homeland, and even our eternal capital, despite the fact that they are ours by legal and historic right. That peace, they promised, would protect us, neutralize the threat of terrorism and make the entire Arab world love us.
Over the past 20 years, we learned that all these wise men were fools. Even as the likes of Tom Friedman and Jeremy Ben Ami continue to tell us that the choice is between ideology – that is, Jewish rights and honor – and peace, today we know that they are full of it.
Our most peaceful periods have been those in which we have been fully deployed in Judea and Samaria. The more fully we deploy, the more we exercise our legal and national rights to sovereign power in those areas, the safer and more peaceful Israeli and Palestinian societies alike have been.
The only way to be smart, we have learned, is by being right. The only way to secure peace is by insisting that our rights be respected. We won’t get peace for land. We will get war – not from the Iraqis or anyone else to our east, but from the Palestinians. And since the Palestinians are the people Kerry is intending to empower with his peace plan and his security arrangements, both his peace plan and his security arrangements are deeply dangerous and hostile.
As for the threat from east of the Jordan, here too, Kerry’s security arrangements are absurd.
Kerry and his supporters claim that by enabling Israel to maintain a limited force along border with Jordan for a period of 5-15 years, he will build, in the words of Jeffrey Goldberg, his biggest fan, “an impregnable security system.”
But this is ridiculous. When Israel withdrew from the international border between Gaza and Egypt, it wrongly assumed two things – first, that the regime of Hosni Mubarak would always be in power, and second, that Mubarak’s regime would secure the border.
In the event, Mubarak, Israel’s peace partner, did not secure the border. According to then Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, in the three months after Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, the Palestinians smuggled more weapons into the Gaza Strip from Egypt than they had in the previous 38 years, when Israel controlled the border.
And of course Mubarak did not remain in power. He was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood.
While it is true that for now, the Egyptian military has wrested control over the country from the Muslim Brotherhood, and is reportedly cooperating with Israel in the Sinai, there is no reason to assume that the present conditions will prevail.
Kerry’s security arrangements along the Jordan Valley are predicated on two similarly dim-witted notions. First, that the Hashemite regime will remain in power forever. And second, that the Hashemites will want to protect the border forever.
Given the instability of the Arab world as a whole and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Jordanians are Palestinians, the most likely scenario is that the Hashemites will be overthrown at some point in the eminently foreseeable future. Moreover, even if King Abdullah II manages to remain in power, his children are half Palestinian. So even if the Hashemites remain in power, there is no reason to believe that their commitment to peace with Israel will be maintained over time. This is doubly true given the rise of jihadist forces aligned with Iran and al-Qaida battling for power in Syria and Iraq.
The third foundation of Kerry’s security arrangements is that Israel can trust America’s security guarantees.
This position of course was completely discredited by the nuclear deal that Kerry and President Barack Obama have concluded with Iran, which paves the way for the genocidal Islamic Republic to acquire nuclear weapons. After the Iran deal, only the most reckless and irresponsible Israeli leaders could take American security guarantees at face value.
Israelis frustrate the land-for-peace processors from Washington because we have actually been awake for the past 20 years. And we refuse forget what we know.
Land for peace was killed by Palestinian terrorists.
Jordan is not forever.
And US security guarantees are about as useful as a three dollar bill.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.