By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
1. Pressuring Israel to retreat to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines – which is an 8-15-mile sliver along the Mediterranean, dominated by the Judea & Samaria mountain ridge – ignores Jewish history and represents a victory of wishful-thinking over the 1,400-year-old reality of Mideast violence, unpredictability, doublespeak, tyranny and hate-education.
2. Mideast peace agreements are as durable as are Arab regimes, policies and accords, which have been, since the 7th century, the world’s most shifty, intolerant, violent, volatile and treacherous, as currently reflected by the intensifying Arab Tsunami from northwestern Africa to the Persian Gulf.
3. “Land for Peace” assumes that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea & Samaria would convince Arabs to accord the “infidel” Jew that which Muslim “believers” have denied one another for 1,400 years: peaceful coexistence and compliance with agreements.
4. “Land for Peace” would usher the Arab Tsunami into the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria, which tower over 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructures, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel’s only international airport. It also towers over the Jordan Valley, Israel’s longest border.
5. “Land for Peace” would doom Jerusalem to be an enclave connected to the coastal plain through a 4-mile-wide corridor, which would be dominated by mountains under Arab sovereignty.
6. The width of pre-1967 Israel (8-15 miles) is equal to the length of DFW airport in Texas, the distance between JFK and La Guardia airports in NY, Kennedy Center and RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. The area of pre-1967 Israel (0.2% of the Arab World) is smaller than the gunnery range at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
7. Former Chairman of the US Joint C-o-S, the late General Earl Wheeler told President Lyndon Johnson: “The minimum requirements for Israel's defense include most of the West Bank, the whole of Gaza and the Golan Heights.” 100 retired US Generals and Admirals cautioned Israel against withdrawing from Judea & Samaria, stating that is would be impossible to demilitarize the area effectively. The late Admiral Bud Nance:” The eastern mountain ridge of the West Bank is one of the world's best tank barriers…. The western mountain ridge of the West Bank constitutes a dream platform of invasion to Israel's narrow [8-15 miles] coastal plain. Control of the West Bank provides Israel the time [50 hours] to mobilize reservists [75% of Israel’s military], which are critical to Israel’s survival during a surprise Arab attack.” Most reservists reside in the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa area, which is dominated by the Judea & Samaria mountain ridge.
8. Contrary to conventional “wisdom,” ground barriers are significant in the era of ballistic missiles. According to the US Army Institute of Land Warfare: "Land force is the cornerstone of deterrence.... Ground units can both destroy and occupy.... During the Afghan campaign of 2002, precision air strikes were critical, but they neither annihilated opposition nor finished the enemy....” According to General Al Gray, former Commandant, US Marine Corps, “Military success requires more than a few hundred missiles. To defeat Israel would require the Arabs to deploy armor, infantry and artillery into Israel and destroy the IDF on the ground.”
9. Military high tech today will be low tech tomorrow, but high ground always remains high ground. Moreover, any technology can be jammed, but one cannot jam the mountainous topography of Judea & Samaria.
10. Should the Sinai concession (to Egypt) apply to Judea & Samaria? The Sinai borders the Negev, which is topographically similar to the Sinai, sparsely populated, a platform for much of Israel’s standing army. On the other hand, Judea & Samaria borders the topographically inferior, densely populated, most vulnerable 8-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean. 50 hours are required to violate Sinai’s demilitarization (22,000 sq mi), but only 10 hours in Judea & Samaria (2,200 sq mi).
11. The withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula was a calculated risk; a withdrawal from the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria would be a lethal gamble.
12. The geographic depth of J&S, the Golan Heights and the Sinai enabled Israel to survive the 1973 surprise Arab offensive.
13. A withdrawal from the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria would reward endemic aggressors and serial violators of agreements, and punish the intended victim. It would fuel belligerence, undermine stability and the pursuit of peace. It would demolish Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is an irreplaceable life insurance policy in the most violent region in the world, which has never tolerated “infidel” entities.