Would acceding to Palestinian demands for Yehudah and Shomron and eastern Yerushalayim be suicidal, or would it be a pragmatic solution to the problem?
Two prominent Israeli political figures took sides on the issue at the IDC Herzliya’s International Policy Institute for Counter-Terror’s annual conference on Monday.
“The demand for a withdrawal to 1967 lines, with no defensible borders, no hold on the Jordan Valley, with no ability to operate defensively within the area, with no demilitarization of Gaza — every sensible person understands… that this is a framework for collective suicide,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told the prestigious gathering.
Steinitz argued that the proven capacity of terrorist groups to seize and control large territories — from Nigeria to Afghanistan — forces us to realize that allowing armed Palestinians to take over Yehudah and Shomronwould entail unacceptable risk.
Israel, he noted, is not alone in facing this type of threat. Not long after the U.S. pulled its forces out of Iraq, the Islamic State and others moved in. “Behold: what a nightmare,” he said.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren stated at the same forum on Monday that, on the contrary, the current global situation makes withdrawal from Yehudah and Shomron a policy imperative.
Israel’s economic, political, and cultural isolation continues to deepen, and poses an existential threat, Oren warned.
“The danger intensified after Operation Protective Edge, whereby Hamas has used the civilian population in order to produce a harsh portrayal of Israel to the world,” Oren said, referring to the high number of casualties in Gaza. The solution, he says, is for the political right to present its own “peace plan.”
“The time has come for the ideological Right to mature, and lay on the table its own diplomatic initiative,” Oren said, “an initiative to end Israel’s control over the Palestinian population [in Yehudah and Shomron].
It is upon us to set borders which would include the maximum number of Israelis and holy places, as well as to maximize security arrangements,” he continued. “Israel’s leadership must make this courageous decision.”