By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
1. An historical divide exists between short-term convenience and long-term national security. The former adds fuel to the Arab-Israeli fire, as evidenced by the litany of genuine Western (mostly US) peace initiatives – all of them failed, attempting to subordinate reality to oversimplification, frustrating expectations, and therefore intensifying terrorism and injuring Western stature. The only two successful attempts, so far, were Israeli initiatives of direct negotiation with Egypt and Jordan.
2. The appeasement of rogue regimes - Arab, Iranian or North Korean - wets their appetite and radicalizes their policies. While the defiance of rogue regimes entails short terms inconvenience, it serves long term values, principles, and national and homeland security interests.
3. In December, 1988, the US recognized/appeased the PLO, when it was the number one Arab terrorist organization, training terrorists from Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, providing a tailwind to international terrorism. In September, 1993, the Oslo Accords snatched the PLO from the jaws of oblivion, when the PLO was losing ground in its own terrorist camps in Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Lebanon. The Oslo accords conferred upon the PLO the misleading appearance of legitimacy. The pro-PLO gestures signaled submission, by the US and Israel, to wishful-thinking, rendering a victory of short-term convenience over long-term and complex reality; thus, dealing a blow to the medium and long-term homeland and national security of both countries. However, the primary victims of the enhanced stature of the PLO have been the Arabs of Judea & Samaria, who have been subjected, since 1993, to the wrath of PLO repression, corruption (e.g., Mahmoud Abbas' nickname is "Mr. 20%…"), subversion and terrorism.
4. Arabs throughout the Middle East are aware of the Palestinian reality. Therefore, they have showered the Palestinians with much talk but no significant walk. While Mahmoud Abbas is welcomed with a red carpet in Western capitals, he is accorded a shabby rug in Arab capitals. Arabs are familiar with the Palestinian record from the 50s', when Arafat and Abbas were involved in subversion and terrorism in Cairo, escaping to Syria. In 1966 and 1970 they fled Syria and Jordan, respectively, because of their subversion and terrorism. In 1975, after plundering South Lebanon, they tried to topple the central regime in Beirut. In August 1990, the Palestinians joined Saddam Hussein's invasion and plunder of Kuwait, which throughout the years had been the most hospitable Arab country to Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and their Palestinian allies, absorbing 300,000 Palestinians and enabling them to rise to top positions. In retaliation, following the war, and liberation by the USA, Kuwait expelled almost all Palestinians from the country.
5. A Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, on the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, would undermine regional stability, eroding Western interests. It would provide a decisive tailwind to the current attempts to topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the Jordan River. During the Israel-Jordan peace treaty ceremony, Jordanian military leaders pleaded with their Israeli counter-parts to not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the river, lest it would topple the Hashemite regime east of the river. Israel's military intelligence commanders were told by their Jordanian colleagues that Palestinians are known to violate in the evening that which they sign in the morning. The toppling of the Hashemite regime would trigger a tectonic ripple effect into Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, advancing the fortunes of Iran's Ayatollahs and Russia, with destructive homeland security repercussions in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the USA. A Palestinian state would provide Russia, and possibly China and Iran, with naval, air and land bases, which would dramatically upset the current balance of
power in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the soft belly of Europe. It would also mean the devastation of the remnants of Christian centers in Judea and Samaria.
6. In order to minimize the volcanic nature of the Middle East, and to remain a net-producer – not a net consumer – of national security, Israel should control the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, serving as a growing geo-strategic outpost of the US, extending the strategic hand of the US, and enhancing its own posture of strategic deterrence. Ceding the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria, Israel would be squeezed within a 9-15-mile sliver along the Mediterranean, dominated by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, eroding its military power projection, which would deny the US a unique geo-strategic beachhead, demoting Israel to a strategic burden upon the US.
7. In 2017, Jordan is a positive neighbor of Israel. However, in the context of the intolerant, unpredictable, violent, tectonic Middle East, regimes are provisional, as are their policies, alliances and agreements. Therefore, Israel's most critical and longest border (with Jordan) - which is the closest to Jerusalem, the coastal plain and Ben Gurion Airport - could become Israel's most hostile and dangerous border upon a change of regime in Amman. Hence, relinquishing control of the over-towering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, would amount to a self-destruct subordination of long-term security to short-terms convenience.