Even in the Era of High-Tech Warfare, Defensible Borders Still Matter

Prior to the Six-Day War, the de-facto borders of the Jewish state left it with a center even narrower than it is now and placed the commanding heights of the Golan and the West Bank in the hands of its enemies—rendering the country virtually indefensible. But some have argued that changing Middle Eastern geopolitics and innovations in military technology render these considerations moot, and that, therefore, Jerusalem can cede territory it once deemed strategically vital. Yossi Kuperwasser disagrees:

There have been various suggestions and creative ideas raised to establish a border along the pre-1967 lines with some local changes and to replace Israel’s military presence in some of the critical areas with foreign forces or to rely on electronic-detection devices alone. However, this cannot provide Israel with adequate defense. Israeli forces have to be present on the ground to take immediate action against imminent threats. Israel cannot rely on foreign forces, and detection devices can at best give some early warning or signal in real time that the border has been penetrated, but these devices cannot do much about it.

The argument that Israel’s armed forces are much stronger than the Palestinians’ and therefore it can afford to move to less defensible borders in the context of a peace agreement—and if this agreement is violated by the Palestinians Israel can recapture the territory—is baseless too. First of all, under such conditions, the Palestinians will have been able to accumulate a considerable number of arms and military capabilities before they trigger hostilities, and once they do, recapturing the territory is going to be very costly in terms of casualties, not only to Israeli troops but also to the Israeli civilian population and critical infrastructure.

So long as many Palestinians continue to support the plan of fighting Israel in phases over time and regard the complete defeat of Zionism as their ultimate goal, any such moves that enable this are extremely irresponsible. The case of Gaza is an illuminating precedent, as are Afghanistan, Vietnam, Lebanon, Sinai, Somalia, and other arenas.

Dore Gold elaborates further:

In the past, Israel had a remarkably consistent threat from the east. Jordan by itself was not the focus of Israeli security concerns, yet it could be exploited as a platform of attack by a neighboring aggressor. In multiple Arab-Israeli wars, for example, Iraq dispatched one third of its ground order of battle, with armor and artillery. In 1948 and in 1967, an Iraqi expeditionary force crossed Jordan, using the West Bank as a point of entry to engage Israeli forces. The amount of time an Iraqi force would need to cross the Hashemite kingdom was roughly the same as the amount of time Israel needed to complete its reserve mobilization.

Should Iran take over a fractured Iraq, a whole new scenario may emerge in which Iran becomes directly involved in future Arab-Israeli ground wars. . . . Israeli senior officers correctly maintain their belief that when Israel is under attack, wars can only be won by the movement of ground forces.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Grand Strategy, Israeli Security, Two-State Solution

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy