Israel Shouldn’t Forget Yitzhak Rabin’s West Bank Map

January 13, 2022 | Gershon Hacohen
About the author: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian, Lebanese, and Syrian fronts. Today he directs many of the IDF’s war-simulation exercises.

Pursuant to the Oslo Accords, the territory liberated from Jordan during the Six-Day War is divided into three zones, apart from Jerusalem: Area A, administered directly by the Palestinian Authority (PA); Area B, jointly administered by Israel and the PA; and Area C, to remain under Israeli control pending further negotiations. Together, Areas A and B are home the vast majority of the West Bank’s Palestinians, while Area C contains its entire Jewish population. Gershon Hacohen explains the different attitudes Israel prime ministers have taken to Area the last zone, and expresses concern over what it might do next:

The main difference between the post-peace deal maps proposed by the late Yitzḥak Rabin and those proposed by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert has to do with the role of Area C. On Rabin’s map, this territory was vital to Israel’s security outlook, whereas Barak and Olmert saw it as a “deposit” for a future agreement, to be handed over at the end of the process.

After more than 25 years, one can cast a critical eye over the vision of security for Judea and Samaria vs. the one that has taken shape for the Gaza Strip. Especially after the disengagement in 2005, Gaza came to be surrounded by a contiguous border that determined the operations of IDF forces deployed along it, with the separation being complete. . . . It has become a difficult military operation for the IDF to cross the border into Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

This reality has led to the IDF losing its ability to operate deep in the Hamas-controlled area. In contrast, in Judea and Samaria—thanks to Rabin’s creative views, which led to the division of the territory into Areas A, B, and C—the IDF still has almost unlimited freedom to operate. Among other things, this led to the success of Operation Defensive Shield, [which ended the second intifada in] 2002 and still allows IDF forces to pursue terrorists and arrest them without sending in heavy forces.

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