In an Op-Ed ("Analysis" in Reuters parlance) about Israel's defense needs related to Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), correspondent Dan Williams first sneers at the suggestion that an international border drawn along the 1949 Armistice Lines is indefensible:
Williams then goes on to quote a number of military and political analysts, citing their views on the question of how much land Israel might require to provide for defensible borders and how that defense might be arrayed. Williams concludes with a second-hand citation from author and professor Martin van Creveld:But no one will map it out. For while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused any return to the "indefensible" lines held before the West Bank's occupation in the 1967 war, the Israelis themselves have no ready alternative to hand.
What Williams doesn't tell readers, is that in the same article, van Creveld also acknowledged that any future Palestinian state based in Judea and Samaria would have to be demilitarized and that Israel would only be able to defend itself against terrorism emanating from Palestinian territory by means of a wall coupled with offensive military campaigns, like that of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.Military historian Martin van Creveld credited Israel's current containment of Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria to its superior arms and said these could be brought to bear in turning the kidney-shaped West Bank into a "noose" for any Arab invader.
"It is crystal-clear that Israel can easily afford to give up the West Bank," he wrote in the Jewish Daily Forward.
"Strategically speaking, the risk of doing so is negligible. What is not negligible is the demographic, social, cultural and political challenge" of maintaining the West Bank occupation.
We don't claim to be military historians or experts in international law, but to our knowledge, no sovereign state has ever been long compelled to surrender the right to host a standing army. That means under any agreement, the Palestinians can be expected to arm themselves under the banner of "national defense".
It also means that to defend its citizens against missile attacks, Israel might be required at any time to invade (sovereign) Palestinian territory. As we recall, that was the situation in Gaza in 2008 and the international community did not exactly endorse Israel's campaign of self-defense. How realistic is it to expect a different outcome, particularly with a sovereign Palestine, the next time around?
Perhaps Dan Williams can find a military historian to answer that question.