In the course of their article, "Why Likud Needs the Peace Process" (MEQ, March 1999), Marshall J. Breger and Steven L. Spiegel argue that Israel's actively pursuing negotiations with the Palestinians is the best way to achieve Likud's goals. They cite several analysts who take direct issue with their views. Given the intense debate on this issue, the Middle East Quarterly asked those analysts to reply, then invited Breger and Spiegel to defend their position.
A POOR POLICY PRESCRIPTION
by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., is the president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington,
Marshall Breger and Steven Spiegel's essay provides a poor policy prescription for any political party in Israel, much less for its government.Their argument has two major flaws.
Ignoring the failure of negotiations.It is preposterous to say, as these two authors do, that:"The Arab-Israeli peace process is no longer about peace."Nor does their explanation make this more sensible:Peace, they say, "normally refers to reconciliation, normalization, and even integration, the end of interstate conflict, hostility between individuals ... . Instead, the [Arab-Israeli] negotiations are about the region's critical danger:limiting the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and long-range missiles to rogue regimes."
How can a peace process not be about peace?Evidently, Breger and Spiegel hope that by no longer judging this negotiating process against the standard that it be conducive to peace, they can simply define away the most serious criticism of the Oslo-Hebron-Wye sequence of deals:that it does not promote reconciliation, normalization, and the like.Instead, these agreements demonstrate the abiding, adamant refusal of Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and most of Israel's other Arab interlocutors genuinely and unconditionally to embrace peaceful coexistence with Israel.
In this connection, it is instructive to consider the PA's official maps, a point the authors mention only in passing.Those maps depict a "Palestine" which includes not only all of the Gaza Strip and West Bank but also all of pre-1967 Israel as well. The PA uses such maps for many purposes: the insignia worn by members of its proto-army; adornments in offices used by Arafat and his subordinates; and backdrops to the PA's television service and authority-sponsored social and cultural events.Perhaps most alarming is the use of this map in the textbooks used by Palestinian school children, inculcating an attitude toward Israel in the next generation that is utterly antithetical to peace.
Breger and Spiegel do acknowledge this evidence of PA bad faith, but then ignore its obvious implication that the "peace process" is a formula for disaster.It calls on Israel to make material, territorial concessions and permits the Palestinians to pocket these concessions without deviating from the Palestine Liberation Organization's original purpose of destroying Israel.
Self-contradiction. The authors repeatedly make arguments that are undermined—sometimes within the same paragraph—by other claims, assertions, and conclusions.For example, Breger and Spiegel emphasize the role of the peace process in creating "a Middle East safe from weapons of mass destruction."It is at best fanciful, and possibly irresponsible, to expect such a outcome from any negotiations between Israel and the Arabs.And even if it were a realistic goal, the authors seem unable to decide how to go about making the Middle East "safe" from weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
In one passage they deprecate as "security nihilism" efforts to "seek more civil defense, a second-strike capability, anti-ballistic missiles and a reliance on deterrence." Yet, a little bit further on, they contend that the Israel Defense Forces finds itself blocked by a political leadership focused on the wrong problems.The security establishment increasingly blames the "political echelon" in Israel of being preoccupied with political issues and not investing "enough effort in these potentially threatening areas."
Of course, if the "security establishment" is at all serious about dealing with the WMD threat, it must want a greater investment in the very areas reviled by Breger and Spiegel as "security nihilism."
The authors' treatment of Jordan gives rise to a similar inconsistency.They correctly stress the importance to Israel, and to Western interests more broadly, of preserving a "stable Jordan as part of a moderate bloc and at peace with Israel [which] means Jordanian land and air space are denied to potential aggressors."But then Breger and Spiegel call on Israel to make concessions to create a sovereign Palestinian "entity"—though they must know that such an entity would become a state and would, in turn, threaten Jordan. Were Palestinian nationalist impulses to be realized in a new state west of the Jordan River, Arafat and company would surely renew their long-standing effort to subvert and take over the Hashemite kingdom—a country whose population is largely Palestinian and whose military would overnight give them a formidable conventional war fighting capability. In this context, it was striking to note how, just days after King Husayn's death, Arafat resurfaced his proposal (which the king long ago rejected) for a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.
Breger and Spiegel evidently appreciate that certain restrictions must apply to such an entity, among which they include:obliging the Palestinians to "forego an army, accept severe limitations on arms, permit Israeli overflights and Israeli control of sensitive high places (perhaps by lease)."Sounds good, but such demands would indubitably become, in short order, new sticking points in the negotiations.And, given that Breger and Spiegel insist on the need to keep the "peace process" going at all costs, it is unclear how they would propose to prevent the limitations they endorse from leading to the sort of paralysis or collapse of the negotiations whose prospect so troubles them.
The article ends with a sentence that captures the essence of these two shortcomings.The authors conclude that critics of the Oslo process have "several reasons to oppose the peace process, such as religious attachment to the entire ‘land of Israel,' nationalist claims to a ‘Greater Israel,' or distaste for the sporadic autocracy and corruption of the PA leadership, but the security of the State of Israel is not such a reason."
In reality, "the security of the State of Israel" is objectively just such a reason to oppose the present negotiating process. There will be no security for Israel if it continues to be pursued in a manner that places a higher priority on the means than the ends and that depends upon incoherent rationalizations and intellectual contortions to sustain itself.
FOUR FALSE ASSERTIONS
by Efraim Inbar
Efraim Inbar is associate professor of political studies and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Marshall Breger and Steven Spiegel (1) complain about a "lack of progress" in the peace process and (2) blame Likud for this state of affairs. Further, they argue that this situation (3) isolates Israel diplomatically and (4) obstructs efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. All four assertions, however, are inaccurate.
(1) Lack of progress: If one understands the peace process as the Arabs' formal acceptance of Israel as a partner for regional interactions, it was completed successfully with most of its neighbors and now is actually over with, for Israel has had a peace treaty with Egypt since 1979 and with Jordan since 1994.
As for the Palestinian track, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has since 1993 signed several agreements that amount to its acceptance of Israel and to the partition of the lands it contests with Israel. Israelis have also largely accepted the notion of partition (sometimes referred to as separation); if anything, opposition to partition in Israel is much weaker than it is in the Palestinian Authority (PA). In fact, both populations have reached a strategic decision to divide the land; now they are struggling over the details of this partition, and there are many, and they are complex. It is completely unrealistic for Breger and Spiegel to expect a smooth or quick process of negotiations. Finding a compromise on the final status issues (Jerusalem, settlements, refugees) will be very difficult and may take a long time. The two authors' impatience indicates that they underestimate the difficulty in reaching agreements that eventually require domestic support.
While Israel has done all it can to bring about a peace treaty with Syria, Damascus shows little interest. Specifically, the Syrian authorities have twice rejected the peace option—in August 1993, when Asad did not respond positively to Yitzhak Rabin's offer (to withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace treaty and security arrangements); and in January 1996, when Shimon Peres offered an even better deal, which would have left Asad with the Golan Heights, generous American support, and a Peres-orchestrated international ceremony to crown Asad as the number one Arab leader. Even today, a visit by Asad to Jerusalem would elicit an outpouring of relief from the Israeli population—followed by something like the same payoff that Egypt's Anwar as-Sadat received from another Likud government twenty years ago, namely a willingness to withdraw troops.
(2) Blame Likud: Breger and Spiegel wrongly state that Likud remains attached to the ideology of Greater Israel. They ignore the fact that the Netanyahu government has not just signed two agreements that require it to hand over more land to the Palestinian Authority (Hebron agreement of January 1997, Wye Plantation agreement of October 1998), but that it has implemented these promises by handing over the city of Hebron and transferring various lands on the West Bank. The old-style Likud notions of Greater Israel remain alive and are represented by Binyamin Begin, but the support for him is limited to about 6 percent of the Jewish public in Israel. As a whole, both Likud's leadership and rank and file favor partition. More precisely, the party has effectively embraced an old Labor idea (the Allon partition plan) that calls for annexing about 30 percent of the unpopulated areas in the West Bank to Israel.
This said, it remains true that the Likud government does not share the authors' forgiving attitude toward Arafat and the PA. It has a problem with the continued smuggling of weapons; the refusal to confiscate weapons from Islamist militias; the "revolving door" policy that results in the quick freeing of violent opponents to peace; the public incitement against Jews and Israel in speeches, broadcasts, textbooks, and so forth. The authors seem oblivious to the reality now emerging in the PA—an embryonic state with a large territorial appetite ready to use force for getting a better deal. This is precisely why Israel is so careful in its dealings with Arafat and insists on strict enforcement of the agreements.
(3) Isolate Israel: The authors exaggerate the importance of the Palestinian issue for Israel improving relations with Arab countries. Yes, the Arab leaders have always paid lip service to the Palestinian cause; but they then went on to pursue their own interests. For example, in 1982 no Arab state volunteered to host the PLO, which was expelled from Beirut to Tunisia. Currently, Arab states are lending only minimal economic support to the PA. Arab elites have grudgingly accepted Israel as a fait accompli because of its military prowess; so far, though, they have not initiated the political and cultural processes within their own countries to transform the treaties with Israel into a "people-to-people" peace (the Egyptian case) or have tried to do and failed due to the brick wall of popular reluctance (the Jordanian case). What Rabin called the "armed peace" will continue for many years hence. In this light, even a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace will not eliminate the potential use of force against Israel.
More basically, the authors misunderstand the dynamics of Israel's isolation and its ending. Research1 indicates that it is linked primarily to the standing of the United States in world politics; when America's fortunes go down, so do Israel's, when they rise, so, too, do Israel's. The improvement in Israel's international status in the past decade resulted primarily from its being viewed as an important American ally—and not from the Oslo agreements. Politicians from East Europe and Central Asia who cared little or not at all about the Palestinians warmed to Israel because they saw it as a key to gaining favor in Washington. Diplomatic breakthroughs with important countries such as China, India, Nigeria, and Turkey all preceded 1993 and were the result of the gradual realization that Israel was a regional power too important to be ignored or ostracized. What counts for surviving and being an accepted member of the international community is power—not being liked.
(4) Weapons of Mass Destruction: Linking the peace process to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is conceptually faulty. The peace process is predicated upon a strong Israel, one that has a nuclear option. More: the asymmetry in punitive capabilities is a cornerstone of the peace process—a fact well understood by American governments. (This explains why the Clinton administration rejected Egyptian attempts in 1994-95 to force Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime.)
A number of Arab states (such as Iraq and Egypt) wish to challenge this asymmetry. Acquiring WMD is their one method; imposing arms control restrictions on Israel is another (though arms control also has possible utility in preventing an Iraqi or Iranian nuclear bomb). Indeed, the multilateral talks on Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) which dealt with WMD, collapsed even before Likud came to power (and not, as incorrectly suggested by the authors on p. 42, after its taking office). Moreover, the political dynamics in the Persian Gulf that push Iraq and Iran toward nuclear capability are totally unrelated to the events in the Levant.
The authors suggest establishing "a loose (even unacknowledged) coalition of moderate, regional states with the United States and Western Europe in the defense of the present order in the Middle East" to deal with WMD. But this scheme ignores contemporary Middle Eastern history. Just such a coalition was established by the United States in 1990-91, and it failed in removing Saddam Husayn or in even stopping the Iraqi WMD program. The Western Europeans are partly to blame for this failure because they are unwilling to take a strong stand that might harm their economic interests. But beyond the European weakness, the bitter truth remains that a state intent on acquiring WMD cannot be stopped except through the use of force. Israel must prepare itself for a nuclear environment that no agreement with Arafat or Asad can prevent.
1 Efraim Inbar, Outcast Countries in the World Community, Monograph Series in World Affairs (Denver: University of Denver Press, 1985); Deon Geldenhuys, Isolated States: A Comparative Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
THESE ISSUES ARE NOT RELEVANT
by Morton A. Klein
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
Neither of the two issues that Marshall Breger and Steven Spiegel trumpet as reasons for Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinian Authority (PA)—the prospect of Israel's diplomatic isolation or the danger of the Arabs acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—are relevant to the current state of the Oslo process.
More unconditional Israeli concessions may forestall diplomatic "isolation," but only until the next round of escalating Arab demands, which will include demands for surrender of all of Jerusalem, the return of millions of Arab "refugees," and an Israeli retreat to at least the pre-1967 borders—or even to the 1947 United Nations partition plan boundaries, according to some PA officials.
As for Arab acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, Israeli concessions will have no impact here, for those many Arab regimes seeking Israel's annihilation will continue to seek it, and will do so whether Israel gives up 13 or 33 or 100 percent of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
In other words, further unconditional Israeli concessions in the face of the Palestinian Authority's anti-peace and pro-terror behavior will not bring either lasting international support nor an end to the danger of Arab nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. To the contrary, such one-sided concessions will leave Israel in an ever more dangerously vulnerable position. Were Israel reduced to the precarious, nine-mile wide border of 1967, Palestinian Arab terrorists would find it far easier to launch attacks and then find shelter across the border. Enemy tanks could cut Israel in two at its midsection. And there would be a significant reduction in the amount of time Israel would have to respond to a threat from Iraq. In view of what Yasir Arafat and the PA have said and done throughout the nearly six years since Oslo I was signed, we should expect that any state which arises in the territories will likely be a PLO-Hamas state—a veritable mini-Iraq—on Israel's doorstep, in close proximity to the cities where 70 percent of Israel's population lives. That prospect is chilling, indeed.
If the negotiations cannot help Israel's international position or avert weapons of mass destruction (WMD), can they at least achieve the more basic goal of building peace? The answer lies in a close look at both sides' records over the past five years, for the essence of a peace agreement lies in the willingness of both sides to honor its terms.
Israeli compliance: Israel, whether governed by Labor or Likud, has scrupulously adhered to the various accords signed with the Palestinian Arabs. (Brief delays in Israeli implementation at a few stages were made necessary either by imminent security dangers or protracted negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.) It first gave away the city of Jericho and most of the Gaza Strip, followed by the eight largest Arab-populated cities in the territories, and 85 percent of Hebron; released hundreds of Arab terrorists from jail; opened a Gaza airport; and provided weapons to the PA police force. As a result, 98 percent of the Palestinian Arabs now live under PA rule, and the remainder of the land being negotiated is essentially devoid of population. In the Wye agreement of October 1998, Israel agreed to give away an additional 13 percent of Judea and Samaria and has already withdrawn from a section of northern Samaria.
Palestinian Authority compliance: In contrast, Arafat and the PA have consistently violated their obligations when it comes to recognizing Israel's right to exist, terrorism, building an armed force, hostile propaganda, and educating the next generation.
(1) The Palestinian Arabs' most basic obligation, as emphasized in the September 1993 Oslo agreement, is sincerely and permanently to recognize Israel's right to exist. Yet on the very evening the accord was signed on the White House lawn, Arafat went on Jordanian television to assure Palestinian Arabs that the accord was just one phase in the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) "strategy of phases."1 (According to that strategy, first articulated in 1974, the PLO initially gains control over limited portions of Israeli territory, then uses that as a launching pad from which eventually to conquer the rest of Israel.) In the nearly six years since, Arafat and many of his senior officials have repeatedly stated that they adhere to this "strategy of phases."2 In another twist, they frequently compare the Oslo agreement to the ten-year treaty the Prophet Muhammad signed in 628 C.E. with an enemy, the Quraysh.3 Left unsaid, but well known to their Muslim audience is that, just two years into the ten-year period, when Muhammad had significantly improved his military position, he took advantage of a minor infraction to turn against Quraysh and occupy its city.
There are many other indications that likewise point to the Palestinian Authority's reluctance to accept Israel's right to exist. For example, maps on the wall of Arafat's office, in PA-run schools, on the PA letterhead, and even on the shoulder-patches of the PA police, all show the entirety of Israel labeled as "Palestine," implying that Israel should not even exist. The standard atlas used in all PA schools not only omits any mention of Israel but in its "Asia" section lists "Palestine" as comprising 22,000 square kilometers—meaning it includes the whole of Israel.
(2) All five agreements (Oslo, Cairo, Oslo II, Hebron, and Wye) require Arafat and the PA to combat terrorism actively. But instead of outlawing and disbanding groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Arafat permits them to flourish and leaves intact their infrastructure of training camps, safe houses, and the like. Arafat has even publicly praised Hamas as "a patriotic movement."4 The agreements require that the PA seize the terrorists' weapons, yet tens of thousands of them remain in terrorist hands. Instead of jailing terrorists, Arafat's police briefly detain token numbers of them, then soon after release them. Instead of speaking out against terrorists, he eulogizes them as "heroes" and "martyrs," then glorifies them by bestowing their names on streets and squares. The situation is so bad that Arafat has even refrained from taking action against terrorists in his own PLO, despite having signed the Oslo agreement that requires him to "discipline" PLO factions that engage in terrorism (such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the "Hawks" division of Arafat's own Fatah movement).
(3) The Oslo II accords limited the PA police force to a maximum of 24,000 but the force has mushroomed into a 40,000-man quasi-army. The Wye accord then obligated Arafat to reduce those numbers, but again he has not. His aides openly speak of how they will ignore this promise: "This is no problem," says PA Police Chief Ghazi al-Jabali. "We will get around it by reallocating policemen such that one who serves in one location can serve in another."5
(4) The Oslo accords require the PA to halt "hostile propaganda" against Jews and Israel. Nevertheless, throughout the nearly six years since Oslo I was signed, the official PA media, PA school books, and speeches by PA officials have been filled with vilification of Jews, Zionism, and Israel, and (in the tradition of David Duke), distortions and denials of the Holocaust. For example, official PA television recently broadcast a program which included the assertion that Jews "are the seed of Satan and the devils" and that they "have distorted the faith and exchanged the gift of God for heresy, rebellion and prostitution."6 Just four days later, a Gaza newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, published an article asserting that "Corruption is part of the nature of the Jews ... If one studies their history, it becomes apparent that the Jews were subjected to losses and expulsion as a result of their wickedness and their despicable acts."7 Al-Hayat al-Jadida, it bears noting, last year published an article calling the Holocaust "a deceitful myth."8
(5) Rather than use the PA school system to educate for peace—as Israel does in its own schools—the PA leadership educates Arab children for hatred and war. The Jerusalem-based Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace recently completed a detailed study of 140 commonly-used PA school books and found that the vast majority contain incitement to hatred and violence against Jews and Israel. In these textbooks, Jews are frequently characterized as "evil," "racist," "treacherous," "inhuman," and "a cancer," among other epithets.9 One schoolbook, Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade, includes a poem titled "Palestine" which urges: "Draw your sword, let us gather for war with red blood and blazing fire. Death shall call and the sword shall be crazed from much slaughter. O Palestine, the youth will redeem your land."10 Another PA schoolbook, New History of the Arabs and the World—Upper Grades, teaches: "The clearest examples of racist belief and racial discrimination in the world are Nazism and Zionism."11
It is worth remembering that the architects of Oslo described it as a five-year testing period to show whether Arafat and the Palestinian Arabs had sincerely given up the goal of destroying Israel. As Yossi Beilin, then-deputy foreign minister and one of the fathers of Oslo, put it: "If there are problems on the way to implementing the agreement, and if they cannot control their opposition and there is no order, we will say we can't go on."12 That testing period, which began in May 1994, is now complete. What does the record reveal?
It shows that the Palestinian Arabs are not willing to comply with their peace commitments, despite the huge risks taken and major concessions made by Israel. The "peace process" has turned into little more than a process of unconditional Israeli surrender in exchange for unfulfilled Palestinian Arab promises and the continuation of Palestinian Arab hatred and violence. As U.S. Senator Connie Mack (Republican of Florida) said in a powerful speech on the Senate floor, "The Palestinian leadership does not want peace—they want, first their own state, which they can control with total power; then they want to use that state to eliminate the State of Israel."13
But Breger and Spiegel breeze past this critical problem, preferring instead to focus on timeworn slogans about how "Israel needs peace." Unfortunately our wishing for peace alone has not produced it. Both sides that sign agreements must sincerely want peace. Israel has proven that it wants peace. Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have not yet proven that they do.
1 The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 29, 1995.
2 Arafat commented on the 1974 plan on Orbit Television (Cairo), Apr. 18, 1998, and in Al-Ayyam (Jerusalem), Jan. 1, 1998; PA Minister of Public Works ‘Azzam al-Ahmad made similar points in an interview with the Independent Media Review & Analysis (Jerusalem), June 11, 1998.
3 PA Police Chief Ghazi al-Jabali on PA Television, Oct. 30, 1998; Arafat on Orbit Television, Apr. 18, 1998, in an interview with Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 10, 1998, and in remarks to a rally Nov. 16, 1998, as translated by the Middle East Media and Research Institute.
4 Interview with Arafat, Novoya Vremya (Jerusalem), May 25, 1997.
5 Al-Quds, Nov. 11, 1998.
6 PA Television, Nov. 3, 1998.
7 July 2, 1998.
8 Israel Government Press Office bulletin, July 2, 1998.
9 Cited in Palestinian Authority School Books: The Impact of Peace on Education (Jerusalem: The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, 1999), p. 1.
10 Reader and Literary Texts for Eighth Grade, pp. 120-122, cited in Palestinian Authority School Books, pp. 7-8.
11 New History of the Arabs and the World—Upper Grades, p. 123, cited in Palestinian Authority School Books, p. 7.
12 Cited in Douglas J. Feith, "Land for No Peace," Commentary, June 1994, p. 33.
13 The Forward, Mar. 12, 1999.
PEACE IS THE BEST SECURITY FOR ISRAEL
by Marshall J. Breger and Steven L. Spiegel
Marshall J. Breger is an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Steven L. Spiegel is professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Two realities underline our analysis of Israel's strategic situation: (l) the possible future possession of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them by so-called rogue regimes poses the only existential threat to Israel; (2) the Middle East is no longer defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict but by a much more complex division between those (especially on the elite level) prepared to deal with the opposing side and those (especially among rogue regimes, fundamentalist Jewish and Muslim extremists, and elements of the Arab street) who are not. On this latter point: we do not suggest that those (like Yasir Arafat) who fall into the first category are saints or (like Yitzhak Rabin) doves, but that they recognize how conditions have changed in the aftermath of the cold war. Our goal is not Arab-Israeli love and bonhomie; it is assessing what is best for Israeli security.
In their zeal to refute, our critics repeat their old errors and misstate our views. We take up their arguments with regard to our two main points, about the Palestinian question and weapons of mass destruction.
No surrender. Frank Gaffney (p. 57) confuses our pragmatic flexibility with unconditional surrender. He seems to assume that if one is flexible on anything one will give up everything. But even he acknowledges that we do not support giving up safeguards such as Israeli overflight rights or Palestinian demilitarization. Neither, by the way, will the new prime minister of Israel whomever is elected. Gaffney assumes that any Israeli who moves forward toward peace will cave in to ever-accelerating Palestinian demands once they have "pocketed" the latest concessions. This insults the intelligence of Israeli leaders to negotiate a viable deal for their country and is inconsistent with the history of the last five years: after all, Palestinians do not now have a state and they know that Israel will not return to its pre-1967 borders.
Offensive rhetoric. Morton Klein is so preoccupied with quoting Yasir Arafat's offensive statements that he fails to acknowledge anything the Palestinian Authority (PA) does that is positive. He provides a long—and often correct—litany of inflammatory language (but fewer inflammatory acts) by Arafat and his Palestinian Authority cohorts in the post-Wye season (p. 63-64). We, too, oppose inflammatory rhetoric (and support the anti-incitement process set up under Wye). But to put the name-calling in proper perspective, recall also Arafat's positive statements, the polling data that consistently finds public Palestinian support for the peace process in the 60-75 percent range, the Palestinian National Council's abrogation of the anti-Israel aspects of its charter in a process accepted by the Netanyahu government, and the escalating security cooperation between the two sides that is thwarting terror attacks in Israel. Nor does Klein mention the behavior and actions of extremist Israeli settlers; or the fact that Hamas and the fundamentalist Muslims are the only political alternative to Arafat.
How does Klein account for Binyamin Netanyahu's telephone call to Arafat in March 1999, thanking him for information which made it possible to thwart a major terrorist attack, the explosives for which had already been smuggled into Tel Aviv?1 How does he explain the growing litany of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) professionals who applaud PA counterterror efforts?2 Put another way, surely Klein would not argue that there would have been less offensive Palestinian rhetoric, textbooks, and maps without the peace process; or that Israel would have been more effective fighting terrorism if it faced an intensified intifada, with Palestinian opposition instead of security cooperation?
Change of heart. Klein and Gaffney want to hold back on what they call concessions until the Palestinians have had a change of heart and accept Israel. As Klein puts it, "Both sides that sign agreements must sincerely want peace ... . Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have not yet proven that they do." But how are the Palestinians to prove that to his satisfaction? As the saying goes, only the Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men; Klein cannot plumb the recesses of the Palestinians' souls and know what their goals are.
In addition, to some extent it does not matter what the Palestinians want, for even a malign Arafat cannot present an existential threat to Israel. Klein ought to be seeking ways, through an energized peace process, to encourage more positive Palestinian conduct.
We are somewhat mystified that Efraim Inbar sees in the PA "an embryonic state with a large territorial appetite ready to use force for getting a better deal." If he means that a Palestinian state would resort to force to destroy Israel, perhaps in league with Iraq or other Arab states, then he must explain how that state would evade the strict oversight and scrutiny central to any successful final status settlement, neutralize any Israeli counteraction, and undermine the moderate government in Jordan which stands as a buffer against Iraq. In reality, the Palestinians have less than they expected when Oslo was signed, and yet they still continue to support the peace process.
Peace process not so important. Inbar also argues that Israeli isolation in the region is tied not to the peace process but to American standing in the Arab world. But while Israel's economic, political, and other relations with every Arab state have deteriorated since Likud took over in 1996, it is hard to find a comparable deterioration of U.S. standing to account for it. Does he really believe that if American forces had ousted Saddam Husayn, the Arab states would have overlooked Netanyahu's policies?
It baffles us that Inbar argues we "exaggerate the importance of the Palestinian issue for Israel improving relations with Arab countries." Look at how the Arabs' willingness to cooperate with Israel evaporated once the government changed in Jerusalem, and that government at first refused to even meet with Yasir Arafat. On issues from economics to water, rapidly expanding ties stagnated or dried up. Where a deterioration had already set in before Likud came to office—the multilateral arms control talks—serious discussions had been underway to resolve the disputes in question; and even here, the difficulties have only increased since 1996. While we chide the Arab states for not demonstrating the kind of creativity demonstrated by the late King Husayn, the record shows that Israel's diplomatic strategy since mid-1996 has not improved Israel's diplomatic and security situation.
Threat to Jordan. Gaffney writes that a Palestinian state will threaten Jordan. Perhaps, but failure in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will likely shake Jordan much worse. It would inspire a more severe intifada than the last time—one that will surely spill over into Jordan given its majority Palestinian population. There it will cause severe instability, possibly even leading to a regime change or at least a change of the present regime's peace policies, thereby compromising Israel's vital strategic security.
Accepted Oslo. Inbar states that Likud has bought into Oslo (pp. 59-60). We used the term Likud to represent the entire range of views that constitute the nationalist camp in Israel. These are somewhat difficult to chart, as Likud has already split into four camps (Netanyahu's Likud, Ze'ev Begin's Herut, Yitzhak Mordechai's Center Party, and David Levy's Gesher), and their positions range from the old Greater Israel point of view to alignment with Labor. But if Inbar is correct, we are delighted and say "welcome aboard."
The problem with Inbar's overly cautious approach is that most of those in the nationalist camp who accept the peace process do so begrudgingly and suspiciously. The last three years suggests that they end up with the worst of both worlds: they make concessions but in so halting a manner that the bitterness they stir up among Palestinians deprives Israel of the benefits it justly deserves for making sacrifices. Nor do they satisfy the expectations of the world community. Further, their actions spoil precious openings for peace: leaders such as King Husayn die and Arab support for accommodation diminishes.
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
Not gullible doves. Gaffney finds it difficult to imagine any security rationale that justifies the peace process. Therefore, analysts like ourselves who support it must be gullible doves who perforce oppose the efforts to "seek more civil defense, a second-strike capability, antiballistic missiles and a reliance on deterrence." But we do support an increase in the Israel Defense Forces' budget and building a theater missile defense. We simply don't believe that weapon-brandishing tactics alone bring peace. As the security establishment in Israel never fails to point out, only a political solution will resolve outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Samson option. Inbar states that efforts to establish a functional coalition of moderate Western-oriented states "ignores contemporary Middle Eastern history." His answer to the possible acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by Israel's adversaries is to point to Israel's own capabilities, expecting Israel to face down rogue regimes by brandishing its own nuclear arsenal. Having acknowledged that these regimes are at the brink of nuclear capability, what is his prescription? Preemptive strikes such as Israel's 1981 bombing of the Iraqi installation cannot be repeated again and again. Further, Inbar ignores the "poor man's" atomic arsenal—chemical and biological weapons.
Inbar wants Israeli nuclear hegemony in the region, which has served as a cornerstone of Israel's security for the past three decades. But it is expiring as several of Israel's adversaries are acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Unlike the Cold War, where the fact that both sides had second strike capabilities enhanced stability, a Middle East nuclear environment will almost certainly be more volatile, creating a situation by comparison with which the Cold War standoff looks almost benign (because of the presence of second-strike capabilities on both sides). Proliferating weapons and no mechanisms of mitigation leaves states with the "Samson option." Does Inbar really want to rely on Saddam Husayn's rationality in maintaining the pillars of Middle East stability?
The virtues of cooperation. Inbar says collaboration with other states in the region cannot work; but does he really think that Israel is better off as a pariah state? We have in mind not a replay of the failed and poorly conceived post-Kuwait war coalition, but understandings and quiet security arrangements that can only fall into place as the peace process moves forward. As for Gaffney, he fails to comprehend that these kinds of arrangements will create a region which is less conducive to those who would develop WMD options.
Inbar correctly states that "even a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace will not eliminate the potential use of force against Israel." But is it not better
to rely on peace and strength, giving Israel two "weapons" in its arsenal, rather than
relying on machismo alone? Besides, the policies our critics advocate are more likely to alienate the United States than bring it closer to Israel's side—an ever more-important consideration in the new era of peril that we foresee.
More generally, our critics offer two vague alternatives to our policies: Inbar endorses a go-slow approach. He goes light on the carrots and accentuates the sticks but he has no clear endgame vision. In contrast, Gaffney and Klein seem to have nothing in mind other than constant conflict. Like former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, they intimate a conflict that will continue for generations. The people of Israel will not wait that long. How do either of these approaches enhance Israel's security? While no state can pursue peace at any price, to advocate holding off until there is no price to pay at all is not a viable alternative. No adversary will agree to such terms. Such utopianism will doom Israel to continual regional chaos.
Our critics appear to be influenced by the way the Cold War ended with an American victory; cannot Israel, like the United States, stand fast, not compromise, and win the collapse of its adversary's aggressiveness? The analogy does not hold. The United States and U.S.S.R. were not neighbors, and their conflict was primarily over ideological issues (capitalism, human rights, democracy). By comparison, the Arabs and Israelis are indeed neighbors with very concrete issues in dispute. Moreover, the U.S.S.R. collapse ended the conflict; this will not happen in the Middle East, where the collapse of one anti-Israel party leads to the emergence of another one (e.g. 1979, when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel and an anti-Israel regime took power in Tehran). If the Israelis wait for all their enemies' aggressiveness to dissipate, they will miss opportunities for accommodation and find themselves in a more dangerous situation than they are in now.
As for the Palestinians, what do our critics propose to do with the more than one million Arabs in the occupied territories (and over another million in Israel proper)? What would Klein do other than police their rhetoric? Under what conditions would he accept the territorial compromise reflected in the Wye agreement? How can he justify refusing them voting rights (or even zoning rights)?
Our critics consider themselves realists and suggest we are fanciful. But their realism strikes us as equivalent to confrontation for its own sake. We hold, in contrast, that pragmatism must be central to any prescription of realism. While we personally subscribe to the view that God loves all the children of Abraham, including both Isaac and Ishmael, our arguments are not based on any such religious views but on Israel's geopolitical and strategic interests. We draw wisdom from such "realist" analysts of international relations as Hans Morgenthau, who warned that "only a rational foreign policy minimizes risks and maximizes benefits."3 We suspect Morgenthau would react to our critics' Manichean approach by calling it "more ideology than policy."
Many present and former security officials, who used to target Arafat and his associates, now advocate accommodation with the Palestinian Authority as being in Israel's interest. David Kimche, a former senior operative in the Mossad, wrote recently that Arafat "is the only Palestinian leader capable of delivering major concessions to Israel while still retaining power and domestic support."4 A sober and calculated security calculus leaves Israel no choice but to energetically pursue the peace process.
1 Israel Wire, Mar. 23, 1999; Ha'aretz, Mar. 24, 1999.
2 Ma'ariv, Apr. 2, 1999.
3 Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations, 4th Ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967), p. 7.
4 David Kimche, "Arafat Is Israel's Best Hope," The New York Times, Mar. 29, 1999.