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Why Demilitarization is Not the Remedy:
Israel, Palestine and International Law

Louis René Beres

Policy Paper No. 67, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


Although former Prime Minister Netanyahu sought to deny it, a Palestinian state was almost certain. Conceived at Oslo and codified at Wye River, this state will confront Israel with overwhelming security problems. In order to play down these problems, and to obfuscate the full extent of his Government's validation of Israeli national self-destruction, the Israeli Prime Minister will likely make the case for Palestinian demilitarization. Here, in solemn agreement with Yassir Arafat and the Palestine Authority, Netanyahu's successor will assure Israelis that there is nothing to fear from a "demilitarized" Palestine. But, as the following paper makes clear, the jurisprudential foundations of Palestinian demilitarization would be weak and shaky. Even if the government of the new state of Palestine were determined to act lawfully, there would be multiple bases for its permissible abrogation of pre-independence commitments to demilitarization. It follows that Israel should not proceed with Oslo-mandated territorial surrenders because it believes that the emergent state of Palestine would lack armed force. On the contrary, Israel's leaders must now understand that Palestine would never remain demilitarized, and that its expectedly prompt and far-reaching militarization could be altogether consistent with pertinent international law.

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