Settlements are important to Israel’s security

The Significance of Israel’s Settlements — I

Rick Richmond, Jewish Current Issues

In the December issue of COMMENTARY, Hillel Halkin has an important article about the significance of Israel’s settlements in the disputed territories: “What the Settlements Have Achieved.”

Halkin notes the settlement enterprise began with the Labor governments of Israel as part of a national consensus, were essential from a military standpoint, and provide Israel with the minimal military protection necessary for its survival:

    Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yigal Allon, and Moshe Dayan . . . were determined to address the problem of Israel’s military vulnerability, a consequence of its being pinched to the bone by the 1948-49 ceasefire lines in two sectors: the central coastal plain from Tel Aviv northward, where much of the country’s population was concentrated within ten or twelve miles of the old frontier, and Jerusalem, whose Jewish half and the approach to it had formed a thin wedge surrounded by Jordanian territory.

    No nation with hostile or potentially hostile neighbors could be safe within such borders, and it was, except on the far Left, a matter of national consensus in those years that there could be no return to them. . . .

Here is Halkin’s description of the military significance of the settlements and the security fence:

    With the fence in place, Jerusalem will be buffered on all sides by Jewish suburbs and hinterland, whose eastern edge at Ma’aleh Adumim, situated on the road to Jericho, overlooks the southern Jordan Valley and could serve as a military jumping-off point to there; the connection between the northern and southern West Bank, which will have to run between Ma’aleh Adumim and the valley, will be easily interdictable; and salients of Israeli territory running from the coastal plain into the hills of Samaria will help protect Tel Aviv and allow Israel’s army to position itself close to the top of the West Bank’s central mountain ridge and within easy striking distance of its main north-south highway. . . .

    If Israel does end up with these geographical advantages, it will be due to one thing alone: the settlement blocs, which in certain parts of the West Bank have concentrated too many Jews to evacuate. . . . In this respect, the settlement enterprise, though the world may think otherwise, has not failed. It has been a considerable, if not total, success. Because of it, Israel will be more secure.

The last paragraph in the article summarizes, in two sentences, the compelling argument in favor of Israel’s retention of its major settlements and the fatuous Arab argument against it:

    [T]he 1948-49 ceasefire lines, never recognized as permanent by a single Arab state before 1967, became sacred as soon as the Arabs lost a war they started. Israel had the right to change these lines in accordance with its needs, and it is a good thing that the settlements have made that possible.

Worth reading in its entirety.

December 3, 2007 | Comments Off on Settlements are important to Israel’s security

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