Israel Cannot Outsource its Security, Despite what General Allen Thinks

As Washington tries to revive peace talks, a plan developed by General John Allen will likely return to the table. That plan, introduced a year ago, involves a gradual withdrawal of the IDF from the West Bank in favor of “a combination of Palestinian Arab forces, international monitors, and technology.” Whatever its political merits might be, such a plan, argues Colonel Richard Kemp, is strategically foolish, leaving Israel’s eastern border open to attack from Iran, Islamic State, or some other regional enemy. Nor would Allen ever suggest such a plan for the fight against IS, which he currently commands. Kemp writes:

Despite the determination of so many in the West erroneously to view the Israel-Palestine conflict as a mere territorial dispute that could be settled if only the so-called “occupation” ended, the forward defensive measures necessary for other Western nations are necessary for Israel as well. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank—either now or at any point in the foreseeable future.

For those willing to see with clarity and speak with honesty, that conclusion has been obvious for many years. It is even more obvious, perhaps, for leaders with direct responsibility—such as General MacArthur had in Australia in 1942—than for those who do not have to live with the consequences of their actions—such as General Allen in Israel in 2013.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Douglas MacArthur, Israeli Security, Peace Process, West Bank

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood