Judea and Samaria

The arrows indicate the distances of some major Israeli townsfrom the borders of the proposed Palestinian AutonomyAlthough the nature of warfare has changed, strategic depth is still critical. Even in this age of missiles, the final determinant is what happens on the ground.Witness the Gulf War. Despite weeks of bombing by planes and missiles, the Iraqis were not defeated until the land war began. Moreover, because of strategic depth, since America limited the extent of its penetration, even when his armies were defeated, Saddam Hussein’s power was not shaken totally.Maintaining possession of the lands taken in the Six-Day War is necessary not only to prevent attack, but also to protect against terrorism. There is no question that the presence of the Arab population in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza presents security problems. It is, however, far easier to control those problems when the jurisdiction over these regions is under Israeli control. First of all, life-saving intelligence about impending terrorist activity can be gathered far more easily. Secondly, preventive measures and response to terrorism can be more thorough and more efficient. Even today, before any further “redeployment” has taken place, terrorist killers simply flee to any of the nearby Cities of Refuge in the Palestinian Autonomy, secure in the knowledge that their sympathizers will grant them hospitable anonymity out of the reach of Israel’s security and intelligence personnel.For these reasons, when considering solely the security perspective, no military expert has ever counseled return of the lands Israel conquered in ’67. On the contrary, military men from the US and other countries have been amazed that Israel has spoken about making any concessions.Who have offered such concessions? Politicians, including some military experts who have become politicians.Why are they willing to consider these concessions? – Because they feel that peace will resolve all these difficulties, that once peace is established security considerations will be unnecessary. If these people are asked what is required from a strictly security perspective, they answer that these lands should not be returned. Nevertheless, they explain that they are willing to take a risk for the sake of peace.When questions of life and death are involved, one does not take risks based on what may or may not happen in the future. How can lives be risked because the situation will perhaps change in the future? Whose lives are being taken so lightly?How can we know what will happen in the future? Supposing that an Arab leader would be willing to enter into a full and complete peace treaty with Israel. Should security considerations be relaxed because of such an offer?Absolutely not. The Arab regimes are for the most part totalitarian dictatorships prone to coups and unpredictable changes of heart. What would happen if the leader who made peace fell? Would his successor keep up the agreement? In such a scenario, Israel would have compromised its security, and brought an enemy closer, without having any guarantee of her future safety.And if this is true when complete peace is being offered, how much more so is it true at present when the Arab leaders have trouble making public offers of even a “cold” peace with Israel?The future is always uncertain. Weaponry is becoming more sophisticated. What is a slight security risk today may become a major risk tomorrow. Jewish law states that a person should not endanger his own life – and of course, not that of others – when there is only a possibility that his actions will save the life of another person. By contrast, everything should be done to avoid the possibility of danger arising.The Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 329:6) states:When there is a [Jewish] city close to the border, then, even if [enemies mount an attack, although they] come only for the purpose of [taking] straw and stubble, we should [take up arms] and desecrate the Sabbath because of them. For [if we do not prevent their coming] they may conquer the city, and from there the [rest of the] land will be easy for them to conquer.What is the law saying? That even when an enemy attack does not pose an immediate danger to life, since allowing them control of a border city puts the entire land in danger, we should take up arms to prevent that danger from arising.This is precisely the situation in Israel today. Every inch of territory in Israel is like a city on the border; it is vital for her security. Giving it away to the Arabs exposes all her inhabitants to the possibility of attack.This is why so many Jewish leaders are saying that not one inch of land should be returned. This reason is unconnected with the holiness of the land or the fact that they love it.Yes, the land is holy, and yes, there are people who love it, but the reason the land should not be returned is not this holiness or this love. Instead, this is a life-threatening issue; the lives of millions of our people are at stake. To sum it up: Security provisions should never be sacrificed in order to achieve what appears as diplomatic success.

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