Finally, the Palestinian Authority has agreed to resume direct peace negotiations with Israel starting next week.
Israel has demonstrated the willingness and the ability to make post-1967 territorial compromises with its neighbors to achieve peace. Anwar Sadat rejected war, went to Jerusalem and gained the return of the Sinai Peninsula for Egypt. In 2005, Israel painfully uprooted its population along with a vibrant agricultural infrastructure to unilaterally evacuate the Gaza Strip, which sadly has resulted in what many describe as “Hamastan.”
Israel has also demonstrated a willingness to make territorial compromises in the West Bank. However, the Palestinian Authority has chosen the path of “no compromise” and in fact rejected peace deals, including Yasser Arafat’s infamous no deal in 2000.
It’s easy for those living comfortably in Western democracies to declare that the key to peace is Israeli withdrawal. However, defensible borders for Israel are a pre-requisite for any viable and lasting peace.
Here is a three-part primer from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on why defensible borders are so vital for Israel and for the prospects of a lasting peace.
Israel’s Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace
Back to Basics on Israel’s Security Needs
by Elliott Abrams
Published August 2010
Vol. 10, No. 7 – 19 August 2010
Elliott Abrams is former Senior Director for the Near East on the U.S. National Security Council, and Deputy National Security Adviser handling Middle East affairs in the George W. Bush Administration. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his presentation at a conference on “Israel’s Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace,” held in Jerusalem on June 2, 2010.
Similarly, those who back away from the idea of defensible borders are making a huge mistake. Presumably they think defensible borders are too much to ask for. But there will be no peace with the ’67 lines, as has been understood since 1967. Clarity about the fact that those lines will change actually promotes peace. The point is to reflect the reality on the ground and establish the basis for a peace that can last. We need to stick to the basics and what is most basic is security.
President of Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN
Defensible borders entered the U.S. diplomatic lexicon for Arab-Israeli peacemaking over several administrations. Today, Israel must provide further details about the territorial meaning of defensible borders and seek to reach a more specific understanding with the Obama administration regarding its commitment to the durability of this longstanding component of American diplomacy in the Middle East.