Jan. 31, 2017
Yitzhak Rabin’s Vision of Defensible Borders for Israel – Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, almost everything has changed. Above all, new threats have emerged with a previously unknown military logic of their own.
- The Oslo idea, in its quest to end Israeli control over Palestinian citizens, was largely realized by 1996, when Israel concluded the withdrawal of its forces from the populated territories of the West Bank. Some 90% of the total Palestinian population of the West Bank has been controlled since then by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Moreover, the Israeli presence in Gaza ended in 2005.
- Eastern Jerusalem and Area C in the West Bank, held by Israel, are the minimum required for the conservation of a defensible territory. Without the buffer area of the Jordan Valley, it would be impossible to prevent the quick arming of Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in his last speech in the Knesset (October 1995), was resolute on Jerusalem and emphasized the crucial hold by Israel of the Jordan Valley and the lateral routes leading to it. Rabin envisaged a political entity short of a fully-fledged Palestinian state.
- Rabin implemented the Oslo Accords to reshape the area delineated by Israeli security interests. As part of this effort, he led a drive to construct a network of bypass roads in Area C, without which the IDF would have had great difficulty advancing its forces during Operation Defensive Shield (2002).
- Without a constant hold on Area C, Israel has no defensible borders. The way Rabin delineated the expanse of Area C demonstrates his farsighted understanding of the importance of those areas beyond the 1967 borders, which must be in Israel’s full control.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts.