The nearly 700 rockets fired at Israel by terrorists from Gaza by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in early May were not just another round of the same mini-wars between Israel and Hamas to which the world has become accustomed to. Coming just as U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” for Arab-Israeli peace is reportedly weeks from being launched, the rockets offer 700 vivid demonstrations of why a Palestinian state must not be created.
The international community for years badgered Israel to leave the Gaza Strip. Israelis were told that if only the occupation ended, then Gazans would embrace peace. That the presence of Israeli soldiers and Jewish communities in Gaza were the obstacles to peace. That once Israel withdrew, the Gaza Palestinians would no longer have a reason to attack Israel. And that “if even a single missile were fired into Israel from Gaza,” the Israeli army would be justified in reoccupying the area.
At the time, many leading Israeli military experts warned that withdrawal was a dangerous scheme.
They believed that Gaza was a vital security belt for Israel’s south, and a buffer between Israel and an increasingly unstable Egypt. That Gaza under Palestinian control would become a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists and one gigantic storage depot for weapons to be used against Israel.
But eventually, the international pressure became unbearable. The constant browbeating by U.S. State Department officials and New York Times columnists and European Union envoys wore down Israel’s political leaders. They decided to gamble. In 2005, with zero demands or preconditions, Israel withdrew all its soldiers from Gaza and forcibly evicted all of the area’s 10,000 Jewish residents from their homes and neighborhoods.
For promoters of Israeli territorial concessions, Gaza was supposed to set the precedent they hoped would soon be repeated in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Instead, Gaza has become the most graphic illustration of why relinquishing Judea and Samaria to the perennially hostile and extremely corrupt Palestinian Authority is a fantastically dangerous idea.
Imagine how the actions of the Gaza Palestinians would have looked if the terrorist armies had instead been West Bank Palestinians, acting from inside a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Despite the nice-sounding turn of phrase, there is no such thing as a “demilitarized Palestinian state.” An independent state controls its own borders. “Palestine” would be free to open its borders to truckload after truckload after truckload of Iranian weapons.
If Israel tried to intervene, it would be accused of violating Palestinian sovereignty, denounced at the United Nations, and threatened with international sanctions from the European Union.
Now about those 700 rockets. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria would mean that the border with Palestine would reach the outskirts of both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Those 700 rockets might have been aimed at the Western Wall, at the Knesset or at passenger airliners landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The terrorists and their rockets would quickly vanish behind the civilian shields of Palestinian orchards, tunnels and safe houses. The government of Palestine would declare that the attacks were “regrettable,” but that they “cannot control every extremist element.”
All the while, Palestine would continue to amass a huge arsenal of weapons—just as Hamas and Islamic Jihad have done in Gaza, and just as Hezbollah has done in southern Lebanon—and Israel would be helpless to stop it without launching a preemptive war and inviting the wrath of the international community.
There are many other reasons to be opposed to the creation of a West Bank Palestinian state. There is the likelihood that a drastically shrunken Israel will be unable to prosper economically and have room for new immigrants, that its cities will become unbearably overcrowded and increasingly unlivable. There is the tragedy for the whole Jewish people of being completely unable to visit Jewish biblical shrines such as the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem.
There is the danger that the mass, forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Israelis from those the territories could provoke an all-out civil conflict in Israel.
But for now, let us be reminded that the national security of all Israel is at stake. Those 700 rockets gave us all that we really need to know.
Moshe Phillips is the national director of Herut North America’s U.S. section. More information is available at: www.herutna.org.