Jeremy Ben Ami envisions a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. Most
of us would agree with that. However, he goes on to propose that there be
“Security arrangements including demilitarization of the Palestinian state
and international forces on its borders to ensure against arms smuggling and
terrorism.” Where is he living?
His suggestion may seem plausible from the ivory towers of Washington, but
we in Israel know what “international forces” mean. The UN stationed an
emergency force (UNEF) in Sinai prior to the 6 Day War. When Nasser asked
for the troops to be removed, UN Secretary General U Thant at first stalled,
but then withdrew them on May 18, which immediately led to the closing of
the straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
Although there had been an Aide de Memoire in which the United States
affirmed that “no nation has the right to prevent free and innocent passage
in the gulf (of Aqaba) and through the Straits giving access thereto”, no
one intervened when Nasser closed the straits. Israel was left isolated and
with no alternative but to go to war.
However, we don’t have to go back so far in history. Following the Lebanon
War in 2006, United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 authorized
“UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces
and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of
operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.”
The Resolution further called for “the disarmament of all armed groups in
Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27,
2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of
the Lebanese state.”
Today, by all accounts, Hezbollah’s weapons stockpile, which includes
rockets that can target Tel Aviv, is more powerful and sophisticated than
what the Lebanese army possesses.
Indeed, in remarks made to a Washington defence think tank, U.S. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates accused Hezbollah of having biological and chemical
weapons, as well as being able to target U.S. ships in the eastern
As for preventing arms smuggling, we all know how difficult Israel has found
it to impede the construction of hundreds of tunnels from the Sinai
peninsula into Gaza, thereby allowing the Hamas to build up a huge weapons
arsenal including long range rockets and laser-guided anti-tank missiles.
Ben Ami needs to understand that a two-state solution will only be possible
when the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist as an independent,
sovereign Jewish state. However, while he addresses the issue of compensation for Palestinian refugees (what about the Jewish refugees from Arab lands?), he has nothing whatsoever to say about that.