September 6, 2011 Tuesday
The Israeli newspapers are almost unanimous in leading their Tuesday
editions with the continued fallout from the crisis in relations
between Israel and Turkey. Only Haaretz leads with a different story:
The lockout of 160 students of Ethiopian origin from their school in
According to the lead headline in Yedioth Ahronoth, Turkish authorities
at Istanbul airport – who, it was reported yesterday, had meted out
humiliating treatment to Israelis arriving in the country – were
looking for former members of frontline army units. The paper’s
reporter, who landed in Istanbul on Monday evening, says that he
was asked specifically whether he had served in the territories,
raising concern that the Turks are making good on their threat to
seek international legal action against Israelis they believe may
have committed war crimes.
The Jerusalem Post, also responding to the humiliation of Israelis
arriving in Turkey, says that it is not clear whether the order to
treat the arrival in this way came from the Foreign Ministry in Ankara,
or whether it was the initiative of some mid-ranking local official.
Maariv leads with an opinion piece by Ben Caspit, which presents the
position of both sides of the argument within the Israeli cabinet
over whether Israel should now apologize to Turkey for the deaths
of nine of its nationals aboard the Mavi Marmara and, hopefully,
end the crisis. According to Caspit, those ministers who are still
adamant that Israel should not apologize believe that Turkey has made
a strategic decision to disengage from Israel.
Israel Hayom reports that senior diplomatic sources in Jerusalem
say that the United States is trying to persuade Turkey to stop the
deterioration in relations with Israel. According to the sources, the
contacts with Ankara are to continue also with European involvement.
In other news, Army Radio reports that military and defense
establishment sources say there is no assessment foreseeing a
comprehensive war in the near future. The comments came in response
to a speech yesterday by the head of the IDF Home Front Command,
Major-General Eyal Eisenberg, who claimed that the risk of all-out
war in the region has increased. The sources said that while changes
have occurred among Israel’s neighbors, this does not mean there is
a greater likelihood of a comprehensive conflict in the near future.
In a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel
Aviv, Eisenberg warned that the so-called Arab Spring could turn into
a radical Islamic winter, raising the likelihood of an all-out war in
the region. He was quoted saying that weapons of mass destruction could
be used in such a conflict. Eisenberg also said that the deterioration
of Israel-Turkey ties could also contribute to a possible regional
On the Palestinian front, a top adviser to Palestinian President
Mahmoud ‘Abbas, Nimr Hamad, says that the Palestinians would drop the
United Nations statehood bid, if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
were to halt settlement activity during negotiations, and if he is
prepared to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 lines. Hamad told
Israel Radio that the Palestinian leadership is still waiting for a
compromise proposal that would deem the UN bid unnecessary.
‘Abbas is due to meet on Tuesday with the Middle East international
quartet envoy, Tony Blair. The New York Times reported over the
weekend that Blair was expected to brief the Palestinian leadership
on a new American proposal aimed at reviving direct talks between the
Palestinians and Israel, and heading off the Palestinians’ expected UN
statehood bid. Along this line, Washington has dispatched two envoys,
Dennis Ross and David Hale, for talks in the region.
According to Haaretz, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke by
telephone with ‘Abbas about developments in the region. The Palestinian
news agency Wafa reported that ‘Abbas reiterated his intention to seek
United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state and membership in
the world body. Hamas, meanwhile, announced it does not plan to show
support for the Palestinian Authority initiative at the UN. A Gaza
spokesman for the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, called it a ‘cosmetic and
useless’ move that was not agreed upon among the Palestinian factions.
Should violence erupt in the aftermath of the UN vote, however, the
chief IDF infantry and paratroop officer says military forces are now
better equipped and trained to deal with unrest in the Palestinian
territories and along the northern border with the overall aim
of reducing casualties. Brigadier General Michael Edelstein told
a foreign media briefing that the new riot gear includes accurate
tear-gas launchers, high-powered loudspeakers that emit an intolerable
buzzing noise, water cannons, and a foul-smelling liquid. He said the
objective is to be able to handle riots while diminishing casualties
on both sides.
Edelstein said IDF troops will be able to show ‘much more tolerance’
should Palestinians turn out to demonstrate following an anticipated
UN vote on Palestinian statehood. He added that the IDF policy is to
let the Palestinian people demonstrate as long as they remain within
their cities and are contained by the Palestinian Authority. He
added that Israeli commanders would try to contact protest leaders
in advance to try to prevent friction.
In other news, the Israel Air Force targeted a weapons making workshop
in the central Gaza Strip overnight Tuesday. The IDF spokesman said
the strike was in response to a Qassam rocket attack on the Shaar
Hanegev region. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
Finally, the head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General
Motti Almoz, has ordered a halt to enforcement against illegal
construction by Palestinians in the West Bank, and to instead step
up enforcement against construction by Israelis in Judea and Samaria,
until equality is achieved. This according to an email that the head
of the Civil Administration sent about two months ago to the various
heads of different branches of the Administration. In it, Almoz said:
‘We are very far from equality.’
In reaction, the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities
in the Territories released a statement maintaining that there is no
difference in enforcement policy between Israelis and Palestinians.
According to the statement, the email was meant only for internal
use, and was dealing with specific cases, and was not referring to
the overall policy.
THE TURKISH DISENGAGEMENT FROM ISRAEL: Writing in Maariv, Ben Caspit
gets into the minds of senior officials on both sides of the divide
and presents their different takes on the crisis with Turkey.
“Senior Israeli officials, speaking in closed-door discussion on
the crisis with Turkey, claim that ‘the Turks have made a strategic
decision to disengage from Israel and to use the crisis to become an
Islamic regional superpower. They are deliberately trying to fool
us by sending mixed messages. One day they are willing to accept
such-and-such an apology, the next day they want something different.
It’s clear that Erdogan wants to make the most of this crisis and
that’s why there is no point in Israel agreeing to Ankara’s demands.’
Comments such as this are being heard not only in meetings of the
forum of eight ministers, but in other forums too. ‘The Turks have
no intention of rectifying relations with Israel in any case; this
whole affair is being used for demagogic and foreign consumption. The
crisis began when Israel stopped using Turkey as a mediator in peace
talks with Syria. They were furious with Ehud Olmert, who visited
Ankara a few days before Operation Cast Lead and promised them that
the indirect talks with Assad would very soon be upgraded to direct
negotiations in the Turkish capital. Instead, he attacked Gaza. That
infuriated and humiliated them.
‘Now they are incensed that the Palmer Report has determined that the
blockade on Gaza is legal. They simply cannot accept that. Turkish
foreign policy is collapsing; they put their lot in with the Iran-Syria
axis and now that’s falling apart; they sold Assad up the river without
batting an eyelid and now relations with Tehran are tense, too. The
U.S. Congress recently passed resolutions recognizing the Armenian
genocide, the European Union doesn’t even want to discuss upgrading
Turkey’s status and then there’s the great gamble that Turkey took
in Libya, by investing billions in Qadhafi. That money has gone down
the drain. Turkey even has a problem with Greece and Cyprus, and even
the Kurdish front is deteriorating. Turkey has failed on every front
and now they are taking out their frustrations on Israel.
Even within Turkey there is much criticism of the crisis with Israel
and Erdogan wants to silence the critics by humiliating Israel. At a
conference of opposition leaders in Turkey yesterday, there was harsh
criticism of Ankara’s handling of the crisis with Israel. If Israel
were to apologize now, it would make it harder for the opposition
to regain power and that would make it almost impossible to restore
relations. Erdogan is using Israel as the ladder which will carry
him to a third term of office and Israel cannot allow itself to be
used in this way.
In the Middle East, the message is everything: the images of Mubarak
in the defendant’s cage are hugely powerful and, in this context,
an Israeli apology for the aggression used against it would be seen
as a sign of weakness and a sign that we cannot be relied on.’
That, more or less, is the argument being put forward by those
Israeli officials who still believe that Israel should not apologize
to Turkey. None of this has been said in public, however; instead,
it is only raised in closed forums. And when they are certain that
the forums are genuinely closed – when they are sure that nothing will
leak out – the comments are even harsher, including accusations that
Turkey is relaying Israeli and American know-how to hostile elements.
In response to these arguments, there are those who present the
opposing case. This, in precis, is what they are saying: ‘Israel has
finally become integrated into the Middle East: we have become like
the Arabs. Suddenly, Israel’s foreign policy is based on honor. If
we continue the way we’re going, the Knesset will soon pass a law
legalizing honor killings within the family. What would be so damaging
about expressing regret for the deaths of Turkish nationals? Would it
cost us anything? Would it endanger national security? Even if it’s
true that Turkey has no intention of restoring relations to how they
were, how is that relevant?
Israel is about to end the diplomatic whirlwind of September without
a single ally in the Middle East or in the world. Erdogan does not
hate Israel. He has proved many times that he is pragmatic. Yes,
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is an ideologue who can’t
stand us, and President Abdullah Gul is no Zionist, but Erdogan is
keen to restore ties. He is most concerned about Turkish honor.
Now everything is about to fall apart: the Israeli embassy in Ankara
is almost empty, tourism between the two countries will be harmed. The
crisis could damage commercial ties and cost the economy dearly. And
we haven’t even begun discussing what’s likely to happen here in
September and October. We need to keep an eye on the strategic
picture, on Israel’s overall interests – and not on which words we
say or refuse to say. Do we really need to convene the inner cabinet
to discuss apologizing for the death of so many foreign citizens? All
that was needed was for the prime minister to apologize in person and
this whole crisis could have been avoided. The Turkish representatives
who went to Washington had a mandate from Erdogan to put this whole
affair to bed, but they were negotiating with Moshe Ya’alon, who had
to interrupt talks every few minutes to call Netanyahu and get his
approval. We are turning Erdogan into an enemy. He went out of his
way to mediate between Israel and Syria, he was the first leader to
offer to send firefighting planes to help with the fire on the Carmel –
but Netanyahu didn’t even bother to pick up the phone to congratulate
him when he was reelected’.”
OTTOMAN NOSTALGIA: Writing in Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth says that
Turkey is making Israel pay the price for its failed foreign policy
and that the government was right not to apologize for the Mavi
“Relations between Israel and Turkey suffered another blow yesterday.
The Turks are making good on their threats, and there are already some
Israelis who are quick to blame the crisis on the government’s refusal
to apologize. Those who believe so can take some comfort in the fact
an Israeli apology would only have delayed the summoning yesterday of
Israel’s deputy ambassador in Ankara to the Foreign Ministry and the
announcement that she and most of the rest of the Israeli diplomats in
Turkey had until Wednesday to leave the country. Turkey does not want
to restore relations with Israel; it wants to humiliate Israel. Some
Israelis who landed yesterday in Istanbul can testify to this.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu can ‘take credit’ for the deterioration of the relationship.
He managed to sabotage the relationship with the same aplomb with
which he restored the Turkish economy. Long live the balance.
‘I see no difference between Israel and a terrorist organization,’
Erdogan has been quoted as saying. He did not say this in Davos, in
the presence of President Shimon Peres, in 2009, when the campaign
of vilification against Israel began in earnest. He said it in
May 2004, when he was the newly elected prime minister of Turkey
and was criticizing the IDF operation in Rafah. Erdogan actually
understands a thing or two about terror. So much so, in fact, that
he knows the difference between the Kurdish PKK organization, which
his government is waging war against, and Hamas, which his government
will do everything in its power to protect.
For those who believe that Israel should have apologized – even if
that meant taking a risk – we should remind them that there is such
a thing as national pride. And in the Middle East, national pride
has a special meaning.
Those calling for Israel to apologize appear to be misreading the
regional map. Let’s face it: This is not a good time for Israel.
Instead of David Ben-Gurion’s historical Alliance of the Periphery,
we are left with an Alliance of the Thugs. Two historical superpowers
– Persia and the Ottoman Empire (Iran and Turkey) – have decided to
flex their regional muscles at our expense. Both, incidentally, now
combine religion (one Shiite and one Sunni extremist) with nostalgia
for being an empire. Both, incidentally, have ambitions to become
the leader of the Arab world. Both, incidentally, are delaying the
inevitable conflict between them to a later date. Israel even allows
them to flirt with each other. Tell me: what would all these Middle
Eastern countries do if Israel did not exist?
There was a time when Turkey controlled much territory – both on land
and at sea. Perhaps we should remind Erdogan that, during the time of
the Ottoman Empire, the Foreign Ministry employed Jews who knew the
language of the Europeans. The Sultan was so sure of himself that he
felt that he didn’t need to study other cultures, while the Europeans
were busy studying Orientalism.
What a pity that Erdogan has chosen to move forward by looking
backwards. And what a pity that as Europe turns its back on Turkey,
Israel is paying the price.”
WHAT DOES PALMER MEAN?: Writing on the website of the Institute
for National Security Studies, Galia Lindenstrauss examines the
significance and ramifications of the spat between Israel and Turkey,
both in terms of bilateral relations and the broader regional context.
“The leak of the Palmer Report to the New York Times and its
subsequent publication in that organ led to a series of Turkish
measures against Israel. Most of these steps were known in advance
– such as the downgrading of diplomatic relations and the freeze
imposed on military cooperation (which in any case was limited),
but the range and impact of the measures is a major blow for Israel.
At a press conference given on Friday by Turkish Foreign Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu and on more than one occasion thereafter, the Turks
reiterated that they do not accept the legality of the Israeli
blockade on the Gaza Strip and that they would be referring it to
the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They also said that
Turkish warships would act to ensure freedom of movement for aid
vessels in the Mediterranean.
The harsh Turkish response must be analyzed against the backdrop
of Ankara’s dissatisfaction with the leaking of the report, its
disagreement with many of the conclusions of the report and its
frustration at Israel’s refusal to apologize. It would appear that the
Turks have moved from the anger stage to the revenge stage. The steps
that they have announced are not linked directly to the flotilla deaths
or the demand for an apology; they could, in and of themselves, lead
to further deteriorations in relations and even to a direct conflict
between the navies of the two countries. In light of the fact that
relations between Ankara and Jerusalem were already at an all-time
low, Turkey’s ability to pressure Israel on the bilateral level was
already limited. That is why Ankara is seeking to take its complaints
to international bodies and why it is portraying the issue of freedom
of movement in the Mediterranean as a key issue. Its goal is to put
pressure on Israel in forums where the Jewish state has traditionally
found it harder to record successes and where the damage caused would
have far wider ramifications.
Turkey is applying pressure on several levels: supporting the legal
claim being put forward by families of the Mavi Marmara fatalities;
asking the International Criminal Court to examine the Gaza blockade;
and the planned visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
to Gaza, in an effort to reawaken the international public criticism
of Israel over the situation there. Turkey’s decision to emphasize
the issue of free movement in the Mediterranean is also linked to the
belief that the eastern Mediterranean has natural gas reserves far
in excess of previous estimates. If this is the case, Cyprus stands
to gain handsomely and the issue has ramifications for the conflict
between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
The failure of the Palmer Commission to meet its main goal – getting
the sides to compromise, thereby paving the way to the rehabilitation
of relations – and the American failure to end the crisis (despite
intense pressure by Washington on both sides) stems, in part, from
the strength of feeling over the flotilla affair among the Israel
and Turkish general public. If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had
decided to apologize, he would have gone against the wishes of the
majority of the Israeli public. The Turkish response to the crisis
will, of course, do nothing to soften the position of the Israeli
public. On the contrary: it will probably increase Netanyahu’s
room for maneuver on the issue. Given the report’s conclusion that
neither country wanted the flotilla affair to end up as it has,
this is particularly unfortunate.
The Israeli government was well aware of the price it would likely
have to pay for its refusal to apologize and this was the root of the
disagreement within the government ranks over whether or not to agree
to Turkey’s demands. Despite his refusal to apologize, Netanyahu is
trying to highlight Israel’s desire to end the crisis with Turkey
and to get relations back on an even keel. While the overall line of
restraint is the right one, it would nonetheless be right to stress
three main issues. Firstly, the fact that Turkey is refusing to
accept the findings of a committee set up by the secretary general
of the United Nations – a committee on which it was a full and active
member – while Israel has accepted it and is acting to implement its
recommendations, primarily in that it has expressed regret for the
way the flotilla raid ended.
Secondly, Israel should highlight the important differentiation that
the report makes between the naval blockade of Gaza and the limitations
that Israel places on goods entering the Strip by land.
This is the basis to the finding that the naval blockade does not
violate international law and that anyone who tried to break the
blockade is acting rashly.
Thirdly, some of the challenges facing Israel are the same as the
challenges facing Turkey and the recent upturn in Kurdish terror and
the Turkish bombardment of northern Iraq merely go to prove that the
two countries have many problems in common, including problems of
In the period between the flotilla raid and publication of the Palmer
report, there have been far-reaching changes across the Middle East.
These changes have the potential to restore Israeli-Turkish relations,
even if, at the current time, it is hard to see how this can happen.
These developments have brought Turkey closer to the West and distanced
it from Iran and Syria. From an Israeli perspective, this is a positive
development, even if it has not yet had a positive impact on relations
with Ankara. Similarly, the recent rapprochement between Turkey and
Egypt should be seem as a positive development, since Turkey, in this
respect, acts as a counterweight to any possible Iranian influence
While it is true that warmer relations between Ankara and Cairo
could benefit Hamas, they also have the potential to decrease Iranian
influence over the Palestinians. That said, the fact that Egypt is
in the midst of a transitional period makes it much harder to gauge
whether Turkish efforts to restore ties with Cairo will bear fruit.
Regional developments alone have not managed to persuade Israel and
Turkey that it is in their interests to settle the spat between them,
but one can hope that these developments will help the sides avoid a
further escalation of tensions, which have already reached worrying
SUPPORTING PALESTINIANS TO FAIL? Writing in The Jerusalem Post,
Gabriel Bacalor says that Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas’
inefficiency in developing infrastructure is an impediment to the
future sovereignty of the Palestinian people.
“While the Palestinian Authority has been steadily widening political
support for the upcoming UN vote, the international community has
diverted attention from a central issue: the economic and social
sustainability of the future state.
Anyone viewing the bonanza of a West Bank economy growing at a yearly
rate of 9% cannot be anything but surprised. However, a recent World
Bank report warns that the remarkable growth, reflected in the real
estate boom in Ramallah today, should be considered a matter of
concern come September.
It so happens that the economy has been fueled for years by external
funding aimed to counter the high levels of public spending by Hamas
in Gaza, andFatah in the West Bank.
It is noteworthy that through the Palestinian Reform and Development
Plan, approved three years ago, the Palestinian Authority was allowed
access to grants of $7.7 billion, but Abu Mazin’s inefficiency in
developing the infrastructure for economic independence has led to
this support becoming an impediment to the future sovereignty of the
Since 1948, the Jewish state has faced and overcome existential
challenges characterized by huge regional disparities. As enunciated
by Golda Meir, Israel’s secret weapon in its fight against the Arabs
was to have no alternative.
In contrast, Israel today has an historic opportunity to take an active
role in the creation of a Palestinian state, by helping to improve
its institutions and reducing economic asymmetries. The failure of
neoliberal theories shows that market mechanisms are insufficient for
this task and that correcting asymmetries to ensure a non-belligerent
status quo with the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza will depend
largely on the role to be adopted by Israel.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the per capita
income in the West Bank and Gaza in terms of purchasing power parity
(PPP), which is used to compare the economic variables of different
countries in terms of cost of living, was $3,351 in 2010; almost
nine times lower than the per capita income in Israel, which stood
Although the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Palestinian Authority
reports that unemployment in its territories has been declining since
2008, official sources in the United States assert that at the end
of 2010 the unemployment rate, given by the percentage of unemployed
persons looking for a job in relation to the active population in
the labor market, was 37.4 percent in Gaza and 16.5% in the West Bank.
These levels of unemployment are considered extremely high,
accounting together for 254,310 unemployed workers. While Israel,
for the same time period, had an estimated 192,740 unemployed workers,
the unemployment rate of the Jewish state was estimated at only 5.8%
and explained largely by frictional unemployment, which reflects
workers transitioning from one job to another.
The scourge of unemployment is of course highly correlated with
poverty, and data provided by the CIA is consistent with estimates of
the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), indicating that over
70% of the population of the Gaza Strip and 46% of the population of
the West Bank is under the poverty line, so that the estimated total
of poor in both territories is nearly two and a half million people.
Israel claims a 23.6% poverty rate, but the basis of calculation –
$7.30 per person per day, as compared to the standard set by the
World Bank of $1.25 PPP – prevents a quantifiable comparison with
its Palestinian counterpart.
The declaration of independence of a Palestinian state is likely
to respect a territorial criterion based on 1967 borders, but the
economic and social development plans in favor of coexistence are
The relative inability of the Abbas Government to confront these
urgent challenges, and the impossibility of envisioning the scene
with a new moderate Palestinian partner, requires reformulating the
approach to the upcoming Arab state.
The magnitude of the asymmetries between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority favors the position of political fundamentalist groups
funded by Iran. To counter this and have a mutual chance of survival,
Palestinians and Israelis must stop the current game of ‘chicken’,
and see themselves as indispensable parts of a common solution, that
would honor the words of Prophet Isaiah, ‘I will make peace your
governor and righteousness your ruler.'”
UNFORESEEN RISKS: Writing in Haaretz, Louis Rene Beres says that any
Palestinian state would have an obviously injurious impact on U.S.
strategic interests, as well as on Israel’s sheer physical survival.
“Very soon, in mid-September, Palestinian Authority leaders will
seek statehood at the United Nations. There, the basic strategy will
be to secure a presumably authoritative acceptance of Palestinian
sovereignty. In essence, as this plan to circumvent both the original
Oslo Agreements and the more recent ‘Road Map’ would not succeed in
the Security Council, where the United States has veto power, the PA
will quickly bring the sensitive matter before the larger and more
sympathetic General Assembly.
Legally, this strategy would mock all codified expectations of the
governing treaty on statehood, the Convention on the Rights and
Duties of States (1934). But the main danger for Israel would lie
latent in Palestinian statehood itself. Once accepted by the UN,
whether lawfully or unlawfully, a Palestinian state would increase
the risks of both mass-destruction terrorism and regional nuclear
war. These generally unforeseen risks of Palestinian statehood could
ultimately dwarf the more routinely expressed fear that ‘Palestine’
would systematically displace Israel in ‘stages.’ A Palestinian state
would itself be non-nuclear. This incontestable fact is unrelated
to the expanded post-Palestine nuclear threat to Israel. Concerning
this threat, what only matters is that after Palestine, the resultant
correlation of armed forces in the region would be cumulatively less
favorable to Israel, something that could lower the general threshold
of resort to nuclear weapons.
Any new state of Palestine would be carved out of the still-living
body of Israel. Promptly, this 23rd Arab state would embark upon
territorial extension, occasionally, in unopposed and audacious
increments, well-beyond its UN-constituted borders, and deep into
the now-porous boundaries of Israel proper.
At that point, despite the obvious new Arab aggression, the
‘international community’ would almost certainly look away. By then,
after all, Israel will already be widely regarded as an alien presence
in the otherwise neatly homogeneous Dar al Islam, the Middle Eastern
‘world of Islam.’
Any Palestinian state would have an obviously injurious impact on U.S.
strategic interests, as well as on Israel’s sheer physical survival.
After Palestine, Israel would require greater self-reliance in all
existential military matters.
In turn, such self-reliance would demand: (1) a more comprehensive
and explicit nuclear strategy involving refined deterrence, preemption
and war fighting capabilities; and (2) a corresponding and thoroughly
updated conventional war strategy.
The birth of Palestine could affect these two interpenetrating
strategies in several important ways. Immediately, it would enlarge
Israel’s need for what military strategists call ‘escalation dominance’
– namely, the capacity to fully determine sequential moves toward
greater destructiveness. By definition, as any Palestinian state
would make Israel’s conventional capabilities far more complex and
problematic, the Israel Defense Forces’ national command authority
would now need to make the country’s still-implicit nuclear deterrent
Taking the presumed Israeli Bomb out of the ‘basement,’ could
enhance Israel’s overall security for a while; but over time, ending
‘deliberate ambiguity’ could also heighten the chances of nuclear
With a Palestinian state in place, a nuclear war could arrive in
Israel not only as a ‘bolt-from-the-blue’ surprise missile attack,
but also as a result, intended or inadvertent, of escalation. If an
enemy state were to begin with ‘only’ conventional and/or biological
attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem might respond, sooner or later,
with fully nuclear reprisals. Alternately, if this enemy state were
to begin with solely conventional attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem’s
conventional reprisals might still be met, in the uncertain strategic
future, with enemy nuclear counterstrikes.
It follows that a genuinely persuasive Israeli conventional deterrent,
at least to the extent that it would prevent enemy-state conventional
and/or biological attacks in the first place, could significantly
reduce Israel’s eventual risk of an escalatory exposure to nuclear war.
Why should Israel need a conventional deterrent at all? Even after
Palestinian statehood, wouldn’t rational enemies desist from launching
conventional and/or biological attacks upon Israel for well-founded
fears of an Israeli nuclear retaliation? Not necessarily. Aware
that Israel would cross the nuclear threshold only in extraordinary
circumstances, these enemy states could be convinced, rightly or
wrongly, that as long as their own attacks remained non-nuclear,
Israel would respond ‘proportionately,’ in kind.
The only credible way for Israel to deter large-scale conventional
attacks after any UN creation of Palestine would be by maintaining
visible and large-scale conventional capabilities. Naturally, those
enemy states contemplating first-strike attacks on Israel using
chemical and/or biological weapons would be apt to take more seriously
Israel’s nuclear deterrent. Whether or not this nuclear deterrent had
remained undisclosed or ‘ambiguous’ could seriously affect Israel’s
credibility, as could perceptions of Israel’s corollary capabilities
for anti-missile defense and cyber-warfare.
A continually upgraded conventional capability is needed by Israel to
deter or to preempt conventional attacks, enemy aggressions that could
lead, via escalation, to assorted forms of unconventional war. Here,
Palestine’s presence would critically impair Israel’s strategic depth,
and thereby its capacity to wage conventional warfare.
Finally, both the United States and Israel should assume that recent
and ongoing revolutionary events in Libya and Syria will enlarge the
theft and black-market trafficking of chemical and biological weapons
stocks in the region. Depending upon where these dangerous materials
would wind up, in the Middle East and North Africa, or even in North
America, they could exacerbate the already-expected harms of any
UN-declared state of Palestine.”