Palestinian security force recruits, including female members, take part in training, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Apr. 4, 2009. The first women set to graduate from the Palestinian military academy marched with their male colleagues.
"The Challenge of Mutual Security"
Report Chapter, Israel and Palestine: Two States for Two Peoples—If Not Now, When?, pages 45-50
Author: Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
A workable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must provide adequate security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. This objective will not be easy to achieve even in the context of a two-state solution, as each state will be comparatively small and the two sides will have to coordinate border controls, access to water and key religious sites and other potentially contentious issues. The long history of conflict will magnify security concerns, and both sides are bound to worry that concessions made in the context of a final-status agreement might one day be opened up for further negotiation. Despite these challenges, a two-state solution offers the best chance of mutual security for Israelis and Palestinians alike, both now and for the foreseeable future.
Israel's Security Requirements
To fully grasp Israel's current security requirements, one must recognize how much its security situation has changed since 1948. Indeed, with respect to conventional military threats, Israel is far more secure now than it was when it conquered the West Bank and Golan Heights in 1967. Israel used to face the combined opposition of the entire Arab world; today, Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel, and in 2007, the entire Arab League reaffirmed the Arab League (or Saudi) peace initiative of 2002. In 1967, Israel's defense spending was less than half the combined defense expenditures of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq; today, Israel's defense spending exceeds the combined expenditures of its neighbors by a considerable margin. Syria lost its Soviet patron in 1989, Iraq has been decimated by three ruinous wars and Iran is hundreds of miles away and has little or no power-projection capability. Moreover, Israel won the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars decisively—at a time when the United States was not providing significant economic or military aid—and it won the 1973 October war despite being the victim of a successful surprise attack. Today, Israel is the strongest military power in the region, a close U.S. ally and the recipient of billions of dollars of U.S. military and economic aid. Finally, Israel had no nuclear deterrent before 1967 but today has an arsenal believed to number over 200 weapons. Within its pre-1967 borders, in short, Israel is more secure than it has ever been and it no longer faces a serious threat from conventional military attack.1
Today, the main threats to Israel's security arise from unconventional forms of combat, including short-range missile attacks by Palestinian groups in Gaza, more potent missile threats from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and the continued possibility of terrorist attacks (including suicide bombings) against Israeli forces in the occupied territories or against civilians in Israel itself. These threats should not be minimized, but not one constitutes a threat to Israel's survival. More importantly, Israel's presence in the occupied territories does not eliminate these dangers. On the contrary, Israel's continued effort to settle the West Bank and confine the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip is one of the main reasons why Palestinian groups continue to target Israel itself. Absent a two-state solution, these unconventional dangers will not go away. Indeed, they may well get worse....
Continue reading: http://www.fpa.org/usr_doc/Israel_and_Palestine_Two_States_for_Two_Peoples_2010.pdf on page 45.
1 According to a 2005 assessment presented by Tel Aviv University's prestigious Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, "the strategic balance decidedly favors Israel, which has continued to widen the qualitative gap between its own military capabilities and deterrence powers and those of its neighbors" (Amos Harel, "Israel Maintains Its Strategic Advantage, Says Jaffee Center," Haaretz (online), November 23, 2005). The Jaffee Center has now been incorporated into the new Institute for National Security Studies. For additional data supporting the conclusion that "Israel is the only state to sustain high enough overall expenditures to maintain most force levels and improve quality," see Anthony Cordesman, "Military Balance in the Middle East IV: Arab-Israeli Balance," Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2009 (downloaded from http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/mbmeivai122798.pdf).
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