Term Paper: Course Is Comparative Politics

Pages: 10 (4812 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Israel's Security Policies Relating to the Building of the Wall

The problem is terrorism or rather in general terms, the lack of security for the state of Israel. Since its inception in 1948, the Jewish state has been subjected to numerous attacks from its Arab neighbors, each of which has, as its stated aim, the destruction of the state of Israel. Winning independence in 1948, after a bitter fight, it would be forced time and again to fight for its existence. Israel's reaction to the security problem over the years has been to build a series of fixed structures or walls to keep its enemies out. These structures have done more to increase the security of the State of Israel, than any other measures they have taken. This paper will attempt to analyze the alternatives that Israel faces regarding security and demonstrate why the decision to build the wall is the best alternative. We will also examine some of the history of Israel in order to support this thesis.

There are several possible approaches to the problem of Israel's security. One approach would be to invade those nations and areas that are providing safe haven to terrorists. Much like the United States (U.S.) approach to Vietnam in later years of that war, when incursions were authorized across the borders into Cambodia to pursue hostiles. This approach has been tried in the past by Israel. In addition to the four declared wars Israel had fought with its neighbors, there has been the 1982 invasion of Southern Lebanon and numerous incursions into the occupied territories.

Armed incursions have been very costly for Israel, both in economic terms and in political terms. Each time Israel uses armed force on the West Bank, global opinion of the Jewish state drops. The news media shows clips of IDF soldiers firing at Palestinians throwing rocks. This policy has also been hard to justify at home. Reservists have become outspoken about not serving in the occupied territories, something once unheard of in the Jewish state. The financial cost of this action has also hurt the already hard-hit Israeli economy, further increasing the tax burden.

The logical conclusion of this alternative is that to be successful, Israel must destroy all its enemies. This alternative is so extreme that it cannot be seriously discussed, however some have postulated that this is exactly what Mr. Sharon has in mind. "He has always harboured a very clear plan - nothing less than to rid Israel of the Palestinians." It would literally involve killing every Arab in the Middle East, for once Israel embarked on such an alternative, that is what it would take to end it. Even if it was successful, Israel would likely be a pariah in the world community, although again there are dissenting views. "Some believe that the international community will not permit such an ethnic cleansing. I would not count on it. If Mr. Sharon decides to go ahead, the only country that can stop him is the United States."

Operation Defensive Wall was partly in response to a March 27, 2002 suicide bombing at Netanya's Park Hotel, which killed 28 Israelis celebrating Passover and wounded a number of others. The intention was, "to deliver a devastating blow to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the various Palestinian paramilitary organizations." This operation was different than past Israeli actions against Palestinian paramilitary forces. Israeli forces occupied all but a small portion of the PA compound in Ramallah in order to physically isolate Yassar Arafat. Sharon and others began to speak publicly about Arafat's expulsion and Jewish forces systematically destroyed PA security facilities.

PA ministries and civil agencies were ransacked, vandalized and sometimes looted as well. Private property, public facilities, commercial establishments, non-governmental organizations and offices maintained by the various Palestinian political factions sustained extensive damage, and were in many cases looted or destroyed altogether. Such actions typically occurred not in the course of armed conflict, but well after the military established control.

The reaction to this incursion by Israel was further violence by Palestinians in the occupied territories. Following Operation Defensive Wall, the Israelis were able to take advantage of intelligence gained during the operation to frustrate a number of terrorist attacks. While the number of successful attacks decreased, the terror did not end. There was not an appreciable decline in the number of attempted attacks.

Another possible approach would be to offer financial incentives to its neighbors. This is something Israel already does to some extent, supported by the United States. It has much better trade relations with Egypt, Jordan and Syria than in the past and the U.S. is the single largest financial supporter of the Palestinian Authority. It is unlikely there is enough money in the world to buy off the terrorists however, but over time Israel could work to improve conditions on the West Bank and Gaza. This could undercut recruiting efforts by Hamas and Hizbollah over the long-term, but it is unlikely to produce any near-term results. The economic cost of this would be staggering and unlikely to accomplish much in the short-term. This alternative could buy Israel some much-needed capital in the court of world opinion, but not enough to justify it.

Another alternative would be to withdraw to the pre-1967 border and abandon the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. This would involve relocating massive numbers of Jewish settlers and abandoning property that took decades to develop. This alternative would have an incredible effect on Israeli morale and might tear the Jewish state apart.

Another alternative would be for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. This would involve abandoning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. After 30 years these settlements have become as much a part of Israel as its original territory. It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which an Israeli politician could survive after implementing such a policy. The economic consequences would also be enormous, as these settlements provide much of the agriculture output of the country. There is also the question of water. According to a prominent anti-war web site, these lands are on the western part of the large water reservoir originating in the West Bank, whose waters flow under the ground also to the centre of Israel. Out of 600 million cubic metre of water that this reservoir provides in a year, Israel withdraws about 500 million. Control over the water sources has always been a central Israeli motivation for maintaining the occupation.

Giving back this land could rob Israel of this very precious natural resource, so scarce in the Middle East. Returning this much territory could also make Israel appear weak in the eyes of its enemies and is unlikely to be effective.

A final alternative is to end all military action, remove the fence and attempt to negotiate a just solution for everyone. The Bush administration has signaled its willingness to be engaged in a solution, and could have a strong influence on any outcome. While this alternative is much more feasible than it would have been prior to the death of Yasser Arafat, it still would be difficult to succeed using just negotiation. It is likely that the terrorist attacks would continue, throwing the economy into shambles. Expenditures for the IDF could likely be reduced somewhat, but not by a significant amount. Politically, it would be unpopular at home, but popular abroad. It is very unlikely that it would succeed. What is likely if this alternative was adopted is that terrorist attacks would change this process into a combination with the first alternative, which is exactly where Israel is now, and that doesn't seem to be working very well.

The years between 1949 and 1956 saw Israel the subject of one provocation after another from its Arab neighbors, each of which was trying to destroy them. On October 29, 1956, Israel attacked Egypt in retaliation for various provocations and the Egyptian seizure of the Suez Canal. British and French forces later assisted by attacking Egyptian airfields, and the U.S. initially indicated it would not censure Israel for its actions, but that turned to disapproval after Israel's success in capturing the Sinai Peninsula. The war lasted a week and left the world with a different perception of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Its international standing improved dramatically and this was to become an important asset in Israel's dealing with its Arab neighbors during the following years.

On June 5, 1967, facing an Arab buildup on its borders that numbered over 340,000 men and 2,000 tanks against its 264,000 men and 800 tanks, Israel drew first blood and attacked the Egyptian Air Force, catching many of its planes on the ground. The Six-Day War was over in the first two hours. Ironically, the war was in part provoked by false information about Israeli intentions provided to the Syrians by Soviet intelligence. The intent of the Soviet Union was to start a long, drawn-out war into which the United States would be drawn,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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