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Martin Sherman Sebastian Shiner
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The Geographic Imperative

Voters must keep in mind Israel's tiny dimensions when assessing parties’ platforms

Martin Sherman
Published: 02.05.09, 18:23 / Israel Opinion

If a Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. Within it there will be bases of the most extreme terrorist forces, who will be equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft shoulder-launched rockets, which will endanger not only random passers-by, but also every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the coastal plain (Shimon Peres – Tomorrow is Now).

 

In a few days Israelis will cast their votes to elect a new government, which is likely to face what, in many respects, are unprecedented challenges in terms of their complexity and strategic significance. It is therefore crucial that as many voters fully comprehend the ramifications of the policies prescribed by the parties they intend to vote for.

 

With very few exceptions, it has become virtually unchallenged accepted wisdom that, eventually, Israel will have to withdraw from large portions - if not all - of the "West Bank". Invariably, it is the Demographic Imperative that is cited as the incontrovertible reason for such withdrawal being not only desirable, but unavoidable. While not wishing in any way to diminish the very real gravity of this problem and the threat it poses for the future of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews, the public should be aware that there is another equally grave - and more immediate – imperative that militates strongly against such withdrawal.

 

This is the Geographic Imperative. As Hans Morgenthau - arguably the most prominent of the "founding-fathers" of the discipline of international politics as a field of intellectual endeavor given to systematic rational analysis - unequivocally points out, this is a crucial element in the national power of any state and comprises two components: territorial size and topographical structure. These factors determine to a large - albeit not exclusive – degree, the strategic vulnerability of a country i.e. the ease with which vital strategic targets within its borders can be struck.

 

Given Israel's minuscule territorial dimensions, this is a consideration that assumes acutely critical importance – and is one which needs to be adequately addressed before any responsible Israeli government can contemplate relinquishing control of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) to a Palestinian regime. For from the slopes of limestone hills that rise just beyond 1967 frontier and comprise much of the territory designated for the envisioned Palestinian state, all of the following objectives will be within easy range of weapons being used today against Israel from territories previously relinquished to Palestinian rule (or rather to Palestinian misrule?):

 

• Major airfields (civilian and military) including the country’s only international airport

• Major sea ports and naval bases

• Vital infrastructure installations (power transmission, water systems, and communication networks)

• Main land transport routes (road and rail)

• Principal power plants

• The national parliament and most government ministries

• Crucial centers of civilian administration and military command

• 80% of the civilian population and of the commercial activity in the country.

 

Indeed, the accompanying photographs are of areas designated for the Palestinian State envisioned in the “Peace Process.”

 

They graphically illustrate the grave significance of the Geographic Imperative and the potential perils involved in not addressing it. They reveal vividly just how exposed and vulnerable vital strategic locations and major urban population centers would be, should Israel transfer control of the highlands east of the coastal plan to a Palestinian regime – and dramatically underscore the commanding position the Palestinians would have over:

 

• Azrieli Towers and Central Tel Aviv


 

• Diamond Exchange Area, Ramat Gan


 

• The Hadera Power Station (Orot Rabin) and the adjacent approaches of Caesaria

 


 

In light of recent hostilities, the risk of these dangers materializing can no longer be dismissed as unsubstantiated speculation or malicious scaremongering by the extreme right-wing. Indeed, looking that this graphic evidence, it is not difficult to understand why even Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, who held a

number of ministerial portfolios on behalf of the leftist Meretz faction, including the post of minister of education, once felt compelled to warn that a Palestinian state in these areas "is liable to be an arrow-head aimed at the very heart of Israel with the full force of the Arab world behind it."

 

So before you cast your vote, dear voter, you might want to re-examine the platform of your chosen party. You might want to inquire whether it presents a convincing program to contend with the dangers that might arise from the Geographic Imperative – other than simply hoping that they won't materialize.

 

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