Actually, 67 borders are perfectly defensible

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Gil Maguire blogs at IrishMoses about Netanyahu’s claim that the 1967 borders are indefensible. Excerpt:

What are the legitimate security concerns of Israel, and what would be acceptable defensible borders?  Martin van Creveld, Israel’s preeminent military historian and theorist, recently analyzed this issue in the Jewish Daily Forward on December 15,
2010 in an article entitled: “Israel Doesn’t Need the West Bank to be Secure”.  He concluded that an invasion of Israel from Jordan through the West Bank would be suicidal for the attacker,

…since the West Bank itself is surrounded by Israel on three sides, anybody who tries to enter it from the east is sticking his head into a noose. To make things worse for a prospective
invader, the ascent from the Jordan Valley into the heights of Judea and Samaria is topographically one of the most difficult on earth. Just four roads lead from east to west, all of which are easily blocked by air strikes or by means of precision-guided missiles. To put the icing on the cake, Israeli forces stationed in Jerusalem could quickly cut off the only road connecting the southern portion of the West Bank with its northern section in the event of an armed conflict.

As his article demonstrates, Mr. van Creveld is not in any sense a hand wringing liberal Israeli with unrealistic views of Israel’s security concerns.

He approves of Israel’s security wall as well as the extreme violence of its invasions of both Lebanon and Gaza as effective means of deterrence.  Nonetheless, van Creveld views the Israeli settlement movement as the major threat to Israel’s security and feels Israel needs to withdraw totally from the West Bank as it is fast becoming an apartheid state.  His conclusion is both powerful and persuasive:

… it is crystal-clear that Israel can easily afford to give up the West Bank. Strategically speaking, the risk of doing so is negligible. What is not negligible is the demographic, social,
cultural and political challenge that ruling over 2.5 million — nobody knows exactly how many — occupied Palestinians in the West Bank poses. Should Israeli rule over them continue, then the country will definitely turn into what it is already fast becoming: namely, an apartheid state that can only maintain its
control by means of repressive secret police actions.

To save itself from such a fate, Israel should rid itself of the West Bank, most of Arab Jerusalem specifically included.

Van Creveld’s views are not unique.  In a January 24 article from the
Jerusalem Post entitled “Encountering Peace: What does Netanyahu want?” Gershon Baskin, head of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, concludes the

ALL THE security experts I have spoken with, including several US generals and senior NATO officers, have said there are real military and security answers that would effectively guarantee security along the Jordan River. The Palestinian leadership, including President Mahmoud Abbas, has said in public and in
private, that they are willing to find a way to meet all security demands, including direct IDF involvement in patrols and monitoring missions that would be established based on Israeli security standards.

… In other words, most security experts, including a significant number of current and former IDF officers, Mossad and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officials, believe that the security risks from peace – including a withdrawal from the West Bank based on the June 4, 1967 border with agreed-on territorial swaps in the order of around 3%-4% – pose no real strategic or security threat that cannot be answered.

On the other hand, failure to reach peace raises some real unanswerable existential threats that not only empower extremists locally and regionally, but also put an end to the
two-state solution, which is a death blow to the Zionist enterprise.

In early April, a group of former Israeli defense chiefs and heads of Israeli intelligence agencies including Mossad and Shin Bet, as well as former Israeli political leaders, created the Israeli Peace Initiative based on the 2002 Arab Initiative which calls for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders except for minor land swaps.  It is difficult to imagine that such a distinguished group of Israeli defense and intelligence officials would make such a recommendation if it would put Israel at risk by creating indefensible

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