Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yes, There Are Defensible Borders and They Are Required

This perspective seems to be going around and so I'll deal with it.

Israel's security, it is claimed, is in a peace agreement. Borders are secondary.

Here's from a letter published on the issue as an example:

There are no defensible borders

The claim that "the 1967 borders are indefensible" sounds so correct and is so deeply ensconced in media discourse that no one tries to examine this mantra and confront it with reality...It is therefore appropriate to ask: If the 1967 borders are indefensible, which borders can be defended? Can any physical border today defend a country if a strong enemy is determined to attack it?

...Can defensible borders protect Israel from an Iranian threat? If there were people who hoped that the borders of the Greater Land of Israel, fences or walls would stop terrorist attacks, the first and second intifadas proved that no obstacle can stand in the way of determined terrorists - certainly not in the way of suicide bombers. The suicide bombers who blew themselves up in buses and cafes did not cross borders. They came from territory under Israeli control.

...What was applicable to conflicts and wars between countries 60 or 100 years ago is no longer applicable today.

It is not defensible borders but rather agreements and cooperation with the Palestinian state that will bring us security. This will also bring us the support of world public opinion and a return to the family of civilized nations.

Michal Paneth-Peleg
Mevasseret Zion

A. If borders are redrawn that invite future hostility, no peace agreement will hold. So the first obligation is to assure, for example, that the hill country overlooking Israel's belly from Hadera to Gedera is not threatened by missiles and that Ben Gurion Airport is not open to shoulder-held rockets.

B. If the future proposed Palestinian state is not demilitarized, based on past experience in broken promises and violated agreements, better borders are needed, not only "peace".

C. The suicide bombers of the post-2000 period, even though we suffered a few cases previously, developed because territory was surrendered and the geographical advantage fell to the Pals. after the creation of A & B areas which made it more difficult for the IDF and the GSS to work.


Barry Rubin alerted me to his post, excerpts:

Why Borders Matter

A reader asks whether there are any defensible borders in the modern world because it is possible to fire missiles or rockets across a border.  Well, yes, but even in ancient times it has always been possible for an army to cross--or try to cross--a border. That isn't what defensible borders means.

Example, rockets can hit Sderot from the Gaza Strip but not hit Tel Aviv because the latter city is too far for Hamas to hit from its side of the border. Can they get bigger ones? Yes but the bigger they are the easier they are to spot and the longer--even seconds count--a defensive missile has for shooting them down.

The further the border, the longer it takes for a terrorist squad to get to where there are a lot of people to kill. It's best to stop them either before they cross the border or while they are on the way.

Geography matters also. It is far easier to attack or shoot downward from the Golan Heights than from the flat plain below. It is far easier to do so also from the Judean Hills. An army holding that terrain has an advantage, even when it comes to firing rockets

It is far easier to cut a narrow corridor like that leading to Jerusalem in the pre-1967 borders and thus surround, beseige, and capture that city than it would be if the border was further away. The same applies to the fact that pre-1967 Israel's narrowest point is half the width of the Washington Beltway...Depth of defense is a basic strategic consideration. The deeper your territory the more time and space you have to maneuver and to create multiple lines and defenses, each of which the enemy must face and defeat for advancing.

Israel has a small standing army. Its defense depends on mobilizing reserves, civilians, who must get the word, go to their assigned stations, get their equipment, and go into action. That can be done quickly but it still takes time. And it is much harder to do if attacking forces are within range of their homes, assembly points, and armories.

...But isn't peace better than a good defensive situation?

Of course it is. Not being attacked at all is better than being attacked and winning...Yet that's precisely the point. It is because Israel CANNOT ASSUME AND HAS GOOD REASON NOT TO ASSUME that an agreement with the Palestinian Authority would lead to lasting peace...It isn't a great idea to be a country the size of Delaware surrounded by enemies who daily boast of how they're going to wipe you off the map, have broken almost all of their previous agreements, and who outnumber you by a ratio of about twenty to one.

Now...is not the time for Israel to weaken its defenses...

And read this.


1 comment:

NormanF said...

Idiots living in Jerusalem haven't a clue.

I bet if Palestinian terror reached Mevasseret Zion, Ms. Peleg would have second thoughts.

Apparently she doesn't know how the civilized world reacted when Egypt tore up the monitoring agreement with Gaza this past weekend. With silence.

Israel cannot rely on a piece of paper or on world goodwill to ensure its security and existence.