Pulling out of Judea and Samaria could pose ‘existential’ threat to Israel

Research counters common view in the defense establishment supporting separating Israelis and Palestinians.

by David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Even as anticipation grows of a U.S. plan for the Israelis and Palestinians formulated by the Trump administration, a new survey is raising alarm bells that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria could pose an existential threat to the State of Israel.

The research was conducted by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen on behalf of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. Hacohen served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts.

He is perhaps best known, however, for commanding the army’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal and overseeing the forced removal of the some  8,000 Israelis living in the Strip.

His current research accentuates the change in the military theater over the years from conventional battlefields to confrontations involving civilian populations.

In the research, Hacohen lays out possible scenarios which he says could materialize if Israel were to withdraw from Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria. ‘A’ is exclusively administered by Palestinian Authority control and ‘B’ is under joint Palestinian-Israel control under the terms of the Oslo Accords signed in the 1990’s, though Israel bears ultimate security responsibility.

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There is also an Area C, which is under full Israeli control.

Hacohen warns that if Israel were to withdraw from A and B, it could face a repeat of the violence that it suffered after pulling out of southern Lebanon in 2000 and the Gaza Strip in 2005. He explains that in those two cases, terror organizations “turned civilian homes into battlefields.”

“Streets are turned into minefields and weapons warehouses. The separation between civilian and military zones is purposely blurred,” says Hacohen. He also raises the possibility that tunnels could be constructed from Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria into Israel as has been carried out from Gaza and Lebanon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that any future Palestinian entity must be demilitarized, but Hacohen says that “demilitarization is not practical.” He says that it’s “already been proven” through the failure to create such a situation in the Gaza Strip through the Oslo process.

He calls it a “war logic” that is part of the essence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, was adopted by Hamas in Gaza, and would “almost certainly” be followed by Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samaria if Israel left.

Under these circumstances, he says, the IDF would have a difficult time fighting back.

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Hacohen also warns of the potential of warfare on multiple fronts as is already anticipated along the adjoining borders of Lebanon and Syria with Israel.

In light of these potential threats, Hacohen  disagrees with many in the Israeli diplomatic and security establishments who support separation between Israelis and Palesinians and instead promotes the existence of Israeli communities deep into the areas of Judea and Samaria as the best way to help Israel defensively and diplomatically.