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Arafat's Independent "Palestine":
Defense/Military Impact on Israel

Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto
Policy Paper No. 59, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


  • The probability of an appropriate conclusion of the "Oslo Peace Process" is assessed as very low, regardless of the Israeli political scene.

  • Were a "Palestinian" state to emerge in defiance of the aforementioned probabilities, the probability of a successful emancipation of its Arab population is also assessed to be very low, for want of an economic, geographic, etc. critical mass and a cohesive, people-oriented political culture and leadership.

  • Contrary to some Oslo expectations, the 1993-1999 trends point to the (possible) emergence of a "Palestinian" state, not as a result of a heartfelt understanding but, rather, as the result of a bitter, acrimonious, long drawn-out confrontation that deepens hatred and mistrust.

  • Over 30 years ago, in February 1967, the then Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon made a defense policy statement declaring that given its non-defensible borders, Israel can only win a war imposed upon it, or, in some cases, survive, if it can preempt by surprise (see June 1967).

Under 1999 conditions, given the increase in the pan-Arab (Moslem) threat intensity created by the enormous growth in order of battle, the comprehensive revolution of weapons technology, the permanence of asymmetry in aims of war and war potential, the lessons of the last 30 years of war, the geopolitical changes, etc., the reliance on preemption by surprise has become obsolete, nay, impossible.

  • Therefore, Israel has to maintain a higher deterrence level by holding onto defensible borders, i.e., onto some of the topographical assets, all of which are beyond the (1967) "Green Line".

  • An emerging "Palestinian" state will therefore be forced, by definition, to surrender its "rights": to maintain armed forces, to control its own airspace, to conclude pacts, etc., which may endanger Israel, in addition to its being criss-crossed by Israeli defense positions dictated by the present pan-Arab realities, all that in a very constrained area.

  • The obvious outcome of an emergence of a "Palestinian" state under such circumstances will be:

    1. A constant collision of will, a fight for elbow-room with Israel, acrimony.

    2. A permanent state of "twilight", i.e., a situation of alternating terror and relative calm, highly erosive over a lengthy period of time.

    3. A high certainty of "Palestine" joining any pan-Arab armed effort against Israel, using its "under the skin" proximity to Israeli targets to give guerrilla support to the joint effort.

    4. A Palestinian "Drang nach Osten" irredentist efforts or even open conflict to challenge Jordan for Palestinian hegemony.

Importantly, combining the results of ballistic missile attacks on Israeli urban concentrations with a determined "Palestinian" guerrilla effort may seriously endanger the mobilization, equipment and deployment of Israel's reserves, (main forces) that are counted upon to stem the tide when battle starts. This delay stresses the importance of natural defense and strategically important positions, i.e., topography. This scenario bears negatively on Israel's deterrence.

It needs to be noted also that since Israeli deterrence prevents war, it is as important a life saver to the Arab population as it is to the Jews, hence, logically if not politically, (the level of deterrence) needs to be given higher priority than the level of emancipation of what amounts to less that one percent of the Arab nation, even if the Arab despots subduing these populations may thereby be discontented.

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