Will New Leadership at Home and Abroad Bring Israel Unacceptable Security Risks?

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Will New Leadership at Home and Abroad Bring Israel Unacceptable Security Risks?

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Columnist Jonathan Freedland wrote in The Jewish Chronicle: "With Obama in, Israelis now need to elect another dove—Livni—for the peace process to have a chance" (Nov. 7, 2008).

About a week later a Sunday Times report revealed that "Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to the American president-elect. Obama intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and the leader of the ruling Kadima Party" (Nov. 16, 2008, emphasis added throughout).

A dangerous future

If this report proves to be accurate and is implemented, Israel's security position may very well become even more dangerous. "Land for peace" has a bad history in Israel. Several strategic military advantages were gained by the outcome of the 1967 war. Israel would most probably lose them all if this peace plan were to become a reality—rendering the nation much more vulnerable to cross-border attacks in the future.

The successful Six-Day War in 1967 brought Israel the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Jordan Valley , the Gaza strip, the Sinai Peninsula plus a reunified Jerusalem. Israel immediately annexed East Jerusalem with other conquered areas provisionally held hoping for future land-for-peace deals with the Arabs. Some of this territory has since been given back, but the parts most essential for national security are still very much in Israeli possession.

Ceding Gaza has been a disaster for Israel. Hamas continues cross-border rocket attacks into southern Israel to this day. "Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of [the] Likud [Party] is adamantly against withdrawing to borders that predate the Six Day War in 1967" (ibid.). Ehud Olmert, who submitted his resignation as prime minister Sept. 21, supports withdrawal from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan. Tzipi Livni, possibly the next prime minister, generally backs withdrawal under certain conditions.

Blocking the path to peace

The Economist made an interesting observation about previous obstructions to the peace process. "It seems to happen every time. The moment Israel comes close to getting a prime minister serious about making peace with the Palestinians, fate steps in to block the way. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated; Shimon Peres was rejected by the voters; no sooner had Ariel Sharon come round to ceding (far too little) land for peace than he was felled by a stroke. Ehud Olmert let himself be dragged into a calamitous war in Lebanon and now Tzipi Livni, a punchy politician from the right who has seen the light and started negotiating in good faith with...the Palestinian president, has tripped at the final fence in her bid to take Mr. Olmert's place [as prime minister]" (Nov. 1, 2008).

Who knows w hat may possibly happen in future? Perhaps these occurrences are strictly in the realm of sheer coincidence, but one wonders.

A September 2008 article in Standpoint, a new conservative commentary magazine published in Britain, shed some light on the prospect of Israel being able to rely on diplomacy to solve the stubborn Iranian situation.

Clearly Iran is in the habit of testing Western resolve in many ways. The West has rarely enforced deadlines issued to Iran to halt activity that could lead to the development of nuclear weapons. Habitually Iran says "No" until the West's deadline has expired, but the Western powers leave the offer on the table and then, if there is no change, the contents are altered in favor of Iran.

The article in Standpoint specifically stated: "Iran has tested Western resolve in other blunter ways. It has breached its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and made a mockery of inspections. It supplied weapons to Shia militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan ... It routinely announces that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map'" ("Points East and West").

Official expertise on a nuclear Iran

Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributing editor for National Review Online. He has served as a White House national security adviser.

In the conclusion to his speech last August he stated: "As for the question of nuclear weapons, it seems hard to imagine that Iran does not already have them...They have been at this for a minimum of 20 years in a world where almost every major component needed for a nuclear weapon—not to mention old nuclear weapons—are for sale. A lot of these components are for sale in nearby Pakistan.

"And if the Iranians do have a weapon, it is impossible to imagine that, at a moment of crisis, they will not use it. The point is, we have an implacable enemy, which has no intention of negotiating a settlement with us. They want us dead or dominated, just as our enemies did in the 1930s and '40s...There is no painless way out, and the longer we wait the greater the pain is going to be" (Imprimis, October 2008).

Now a more recent news report emerges stating: "Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atomic bomb, according to nuclear experts" (International Herald Tribune, Oct. 21, 2008). There is very good reason to believe that Israel, the United States and Europe have a very serious problem on their hands that will not go away.

Clearly world leaders are concerned about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran and the consequences. In early September Nicolas Sarkozy warned Iran about pursuing a military nuclear capability. He stated, "One day it could find Israel had decided to attack" (Financial Times, Sept. 5, 2008). Longtime statesman Shimon Peres (now president of Israel) "warned the [Israeli] prime minister that a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities could provoke a broader conflict" (The Times, Sept. 7, 2008).

In its 60-year history, this relatively new nation has already experienced several wars and many skirmishes. The Israeli nation remains in a chronic cold-war condition. Peace processes with the Palestinians or Arab nations have never totally worked out (though the accords with Egypt and Jordan are somewhat of an exception).

What will happen in the Israeli national election in early February? Only time will tell. But to understand the historic backdrop of Israel's place in the Middle East and how events there will affect the world, request or download our free booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.