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columnIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Benny Gantz’s dangerous position

In an interview with the Saudi press, Israel’s defense minister reiterated past failed paradigms that put the country’s national security at risk. He should retract or resign.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the Jerusalem Municipality on Nov. 10, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the Jerusalem Municipality on Nov. 10, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Brigadier-General Amir Avivi (Ret.), the the founder and CEO of “Protectors of Israel.” Credit: Courtesy.
Amir Avivi

Anyone who cares about Israel’s security and future should be concerned by the initial buds of an attempt to return to the dangerous path of reliance on international forces to protect the country. These poisonous seeds have begun to crop up with a renewed discussion about the evacuation of Jewish towns in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria. The phenomenon is particularly worrisome, given the approach of the next administrations in Washington.

A blatant example of such seeds can be seen in Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s interview on Thursday with the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. In the interview, Gantz expressed support, with slight reservations, for the “Allen Plan.”

This was a proposal, formulated by Gen. John Allen during the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, that called for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, with no presence of the Israel Defense Forces. It is a plan that former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon rejected hands-down, calling it “messianic.”

Gantz also suggested the possibility of dividing Jerusalem, though the United States has already recognized it as Israel’s eternal united capital, and even leading religious figures in the Arab world—citing Koranic verses—have stated that Jerusalem and the Land of Israel belong to the Jews.

Gantz’s position is astounding, especially in view of the fact that, in the past year, for the first time, the U.S. has fully recognized Israel’s rights—and settlements—in Judea and Samaria, as well as the area’s historic, national-religious and security importance. It is even more shocking, considering that the Arab world has come to terms with these principles and, under the spirit of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan, has opted for peace and normalization with Israel.

Earlier this month, for instance, Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan met with a delegation of businessmen from the United Arab Emirates to sign an export agreement, according to which all goods from Samaria to the UAE will be listed as “made in Israel.”

In addition, among many other joint ventures, the markets of Manama and Dubai are now filled with fruit and vegetables with Israeli flags denoting them. This is not to mention the thousands of Israeli tourists who have been welcomed in and flooding Bahrain and the UAE.

It is important to understand that in order for the State of Israel to survive in the long term, it must have sovereignty over the entire Jordan valley in the broadest sense (as defined by late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin). Israel also needs full security control in Judea and Samaria, based on the Jewish communities that are spread along all major roads.

This deployment gives Israel’s security forces the ability to carry out their mission and protect the country from any current or future threats. It does not contradict the kind of demilitarized, independent Palestinian entity that Rabin envisioned or that is part of Trump’s peace plan.

Indeed, in line with the concept of a two-state solution, there are at least four different plans that could solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without posing an existential threat to the Jewish state, the way that Obama’s Allen Plan did.

The desire to return, time and time again, to a program that has no chance of success, even after all the achievements of recent years, is beyond disappointing. Gantz has completely deviated from his own party’s agenda, and from all the basic principles of Israel’s national security.

The minister of defense of the State of Israel cannot hold opinions that are antithetical to his country’s national-security needs. He should retract the statements he made in the Saudi press or resign.

IDF Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Amir Avivi is the founder and CEO of Habithonistim–Protectors of Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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