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Calling Bibi’s Bluff

As reported in Haaretz (a leading Israeli newspaper) by Natasha Mozgovaya, a prestigious group of former Israeli army officials and diplomats recently visited Washington, claiming that, contrary to what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in his speech before the U.S. Congress, the 1967 borders of Israel are, in fact, defensible.

The group visited the White House and was scheduled to have meetings with acting Middle East envoy David Hale and officials at the Pentagon. Its members included Major General (Ret.) Natan Sharoni, a battery commander in the Sinai Campaign and a battalion commander during the Six Day War who later became Head of Planning for the IDF; Ambassador Alon Pinkas, who served as Consul General of Israel in New York; Ambassador Ilan Baruch, who served with the Israeli Foreign Ministry for more than thirty years and stirred a public debate in Israel when, upon his resignation, he penned an open letter critical of Israeli government policies; Colonel (Ret.) Shaul Arieli, who was Commander of the Northern Brigade in Gaza and was responsible for the evacuation and transfer of the Gaza Strip to Palestinian control in 1994; distinguished soldier Brigadier General (Ret.) Nehemiah Daganl; Major General (Ret.) Shlomo Gazit, who was head of the Assessment Department in IDF Intelligence and later became Coordinator of Israeli Government Operations in the Administered Territories; and Attorney Gilead Sher.

Are the 1967 borders of Israel "indefensible"? The current debate was kindled by President Barack Obama’s suggestion that the basis for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is to return to the “1967 lines” with mutually agreed-upon land swaps. Since the 1967 lines are the internationally-recognized borders of Israel, this seems eminently reasonable. And while “Bibi” Netanyahu insisted that the 1967 borders are “indefensible,” he was immediately refuted by the man most responsible for defending those borders, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In an interview with Edmund Sanders of the Los Angeles Times, Barak pointed out that Israel has the most powerful military within a 1,000-mile radius of Jerusalem and thus has no reason to feel insecure. As we will see, other Jewish military experts also agree that Bibi is bluffing. So let's take a look at maps that shed light on the mystery, before continuing ...

Map#1 of 1946 Palestine, showing more than 90% of the land belonging to Palestinians
Map#2 of 1947 U.N. partition plan of Israel and Palestine; the land in the enlarged white areas was stolen from Palestinian farm families by Israeli Jews
Map#3 of 1967 borders of Israel and Palestine, known as the "1967 lines" and the "1949 armistice lines"
Map#4 of 2000 borders of Israel and Palestine, showing how Israel keeps acquiring land outside its legal borders, creating discontiguous Palestinian
bantustans

http://www.sott.net/image/image/9591/israel-palestine_map.jpg

The fourth map clearly reveals that it is not Israel's borders that are "indefensible," but the fledgling Palestinian state's, should it be formed per the status quo. How can a discontiguous state be viable, much less defensible? And the massive transfer of land from Palestinian to Jewish hands, without just compensation, explains why Arabs and other Muslims are so furious with Israel and the U.S. That fury led to 9-11 and two decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yael Dayan, the daughter of Israel's most famous Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan (he of the famous black eyepatch) and herself an Israeli army captain, a member of the Knesset and the current chair of the Tel Aviv city council, also refuted the strange notion that Israel cannot defend itself. In an article published by The Tennessean on May 24, 2011, she pointed out that Israel is in a "position of strength, from our military superiority, to our alliance with the U.S., to the Arab League's offer of comprehensive peace not once, but twice."

Martin Levi Van Creveld, a Jewish military expert and author of seventeen books on military history and strategy, pointed out that some of the settlement enclaves Israel wants to keep would actually make Israel's borders less defensible, saying: "That West Bank would look like Swiss cheese and you can't defend Swiss cheese." He also pointed out that Israel managed to defend the "indefensible" 1967 lines during the Six Day War: "The situation as it existed before '67 shows that Israel can perfectly defend itself." [And of course Israel is much more powerful today than it was in 1967, thanks to the incredible generosity of the American taxpayer.]

Van Creveld has also pointed out the Bibi is bluffing about the "danger" of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, because Iran can't use them without being annihilated by Israel: "We Israelis have what it takes to deter an Iranian attack. We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us ... thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany."

Shlomo Ben Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister, also refuted the idea that the 1967 lines are indefensible, writing: "Netanyahu's furious rejection of US President Barack Obama's proposal to use the 1967 borders as the basis for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute — frontiers that he called 'utterly indefensible' — reflects not only the Israeli prime minister's poor statesmanship, but also his antiquated military philosophy. In an era of ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, and in which the planned Palestinian state is supposed to be demilitarised, why is it so vital for Israel to see its army 'sit along the Jordan River'? If such a tripwire is really necessary, why shouldn't a reliable international force carry out that task? And how can hundreds of isolated colonies spread amidst a hostile Palestinian population ever be considered a strategic asset? Netanyahu should, perhaps, have studied the lessons of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war before denouncing Obama's idea. When the war started, the first thing the Israeli army command sought was the evacuation of the area's colonies, which Israel's generals knew would quickly become an impossible burden, and an obstacle to manoeuvre, for their troops. Indeed, the last war that Israel won 'elegantly' — in the way that Netanyahu imagines that wars should be won — began from the supposedly 'indefensible' 1967 lines ... For borders to be defensible, they need first to be legitimate and internationally recognised. But Netanyahu does not really trust 'the gentiles' to supply that type of international recognition of Israel's borders, not even when America is behind him, and not even when Israel today has the most powerful military capabilities in the Middle East."

Ben Ami's conclusion is this: "Not until occupation ends, Israel lives within internationally recognised borders, and the Palestinians recover their dignity as a nation will the Jewish state's existence be finally secured."

Michael Neumann points out that "Israel is the country of 'The Samson Option', a phrase attributed to several Israeli prime ministers. In its moderate form, it calls for massive nuclear retaliation against any attack which threatens Israel's existence. Its less moderate version is articulated by ... Martin van Creveld, professor of military history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and sometime lecturer at the U.S. Naval War College. Van Creveld tells us that 'We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.' Now the world, as I understand it, contains quite a few unarmed (not to mention underage) civilians whose nations are big buddies of Israel, not to mention all such persons in 'states that formally were signatories to peace treaties'. Israel has, again and again, almost joyously asserted its iron-clad determination to stop at nothing in the exercise of its very generously conceived right of self-defense. The chances that it would be let its cities burn and its citizens die in the streets out of scruples about signatures on a peace treaty are ... nil. What's more, Israel's whole strategy of deterrence depends on suggesting that, as Moshe Dayan famously declared, 'Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.'" [If any other nation threatened to use nukes to destroy the rest of the world rather than return blatantly stolen land, that would raise eyebrows, to say the least, but Israel always gets a free pass, no matter how insanely its leaders rant and rave. But the bottom line is that no nation on earth can invade, much less conquer, Israel, because if Israel was in danger of losing a war, it would not only nuke its enemies, but its "friends" as well. Why? Because to the racist leaders of Israel the only people who matter in the least are Israeli Jews.]

But in any case, Israelis “in the know” are fully aware that Bibi is bluffing, as is "the smartest man in the room," since over the years the U.S. has supplied Israel with hundreds of billions of dollars in advanced weapons, financial aid and shared military technology. President Obama knows the power of Israel, and of course he knows that Israel has hundreds of nukes and other WMDs, meaning no nation on earth can possibly hope to conquer Israel.

So why is Bibi bluffing, and why aren’t American politicians calling his bluff? Why did Congress greet Bibi's bluff with 29 standing ovations when he stood before them, offering a gooey concoction of half-truths and evasions? Unfortunately, Israel has turned the U.S. government into a gigantic moneymaking machine. In go a few million dollars in Jewish campaign contributions ... out pop billions of dollars in financial aid to Israel. And of course American politicians know where their bread is buttered: on the pro-Israel side. It is political suicide for American politicians to lose the votes of American Jews and Christians, most of whom support Israel unconditionally (and unthinkingly). What we are seeing is the Ultimate Shell Game, with any chance for world peace disappearing due to Bibi's sleight of hand ... unless Americans and the rest of the world come to their senses.

A pertinent article from Haaretz (a leading Israeli newspaper)
by Natasha Mozgovaya

A group of former Israeli army officials and diplomats visited Washington Monday, claiming that a peace agreement with the Palestinians is urgent in spite of, and because of, regional turmoil, and that contrary to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims, the 1967 borders are, in fact, defensible.

The group visited the White House on Monday and met with the National Security Council Director for Middle East and North Africa Steven Simon, and were to have meetings later in the evening with acting Middle East envoy David Hale and officials at the Pentagon.
Among the group participants were Major General (Ret.) Natan Sharoni, a battery commander in the Sinai Campaign and a battalion commander during the Six Day War who later became Head of Planning for the IDF and Ambassador Alon Pinkas, who served as Consul General of Israel in New York.

Joining the two was Ambassador Ilan Baruch, who served with the Israeli Foreign Ministry for more than thirty years and stirred a public debate in Israel when, upon his resignation, he penned an open letter critical of Israeli government policies.

Others in the group include Colonel (Ret.) Shaul Arieli, who was Commander of the Northern Brigade in Gaza, and was responsible for the evacuation and transfer of the Gaza Strip to Palestinian control in 1994 and distinguished soldier Brigadier General (Ret.) Nehemiah Dagan.

Major General (Ret.) Shlomo Gazit, who was head of the Assessment Department in IDF Intelligence and later became Coordinator of Israeli Government Operations in the Administered Territories and Attorney Gilead Sher, the legal representative for the Shalit family also joined the group.

"We are here because we feel that we are running out of time, and there is no actual status quo," Sharoni told Haaretz Monday. "The dynamic is such that we must act quickly so that we don’t find ourselves facing actions that cannot be corrected."

"We are here because we are concerned that the Jewish state won't remain Jewish and democratic. Thirty years from now, Jews will be one-third of the population from Jordan to the Mediterranean. And the culture that is developing in Israel these days suggests that the one-third will control the two-thirds," he said.

The second issue that concerns the group is that no credible critics have dared to counter Prime Minister Netanyahu's claim that the 1967 borders are "indefensible".

"It has already entered the Israeli political lexicon as an axiom", Sharoni said. "We think it's misleading. The 1967 borders are defensible, we just need to define – defensible against what? It's true they are indefensible against rockets from Iran, but so is all the territory of Israel."

"They are indefensible against terror and Hezbollah rockets," he added. "But to say that the strategic depth of the Jordan Valley will save Israel, that is a deception."

Sharoni said that what has traditionally constituted the ‘Eastern front’ against Israel is now non-existent.

"Iraq doesn't have the capacity to send ground divisions against us; we have peace with Jordan, and Syria won't go to war against Israel by herself. I am sure the prime minister knows it – but he probably doesn't want to make any use of this information," Sharoni said.
Sharoni responded to a question from Haaretz concerning a possible threat emerging on the Eastern front ten years in the future, dismissing the supposed necessity of maintaining sovereignty over a part of the West Bank to act as a buffer zone in the event of an attack.

"Do we actually need to control the Jordan Valley to confront these threats? To move one or two IDF divisions to seize control of the Valley takes up to 36 hours. With our deterrence and mobility, there is no problem with it. If it will be a demilitarized zone – if something happens, there is enough time to get there."

"And the Palestinians need Jordan Valley to develop as a viable state, especially if they want to absorb refugees. IDF can protect any borders, it's just the question of developing the right strategy to do it," Sharoni continued.

"It is folly to measure strategic depth in another 1000 kilometers – when our entire country doesn't provide strategic depth, and frankly, I don’t think any country in the world today does, against the current threats," added Sharoni.

"In 25 years, we had five wars with Egypt, from different territorial positions, and before there was a peace agreement, no borders deterred them from going to war against us," said Colonel Arieli. "Control of the territory can be replaced with advantages of other security arrangements."

"What scares us is that our current leadership has no courage and no pragmatism necessary to deal with the challenges," he added.
"I have warm sentiments for Nablus and Hebron", said Maj.Gen. (ret.) Gazit, referring to two West Bank cities that are populated almost wholly by Palestinians.

"I would love to have all of the Land of Israel. But we need to understand the difference between the defensible borders – and viable borders," said Gazit. "If the Palestinian state is not viable – we shoot ourselves in the leg".

A White House National Security spokesman told Haaretz following the visit, "Meetings like this are a routine part of our work. Our officials meet with a wide variety of groups and delegations on an ongoing basis."

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