The time is fast approaching when Israel will have to bite the bullet and risk attacking Iran. Reports via Debkafile, here and here.
These indicate the dangers approaching – that Russia is preparing to arm Iran with highly advanced surface to air missiles, that Iran’s nuclear research will, according to the Israelis, be at an operational stage by 2009 (probably the summer, in the authors opinion) and with the end of the Bush presidency, the Obama administration may be obstructionist or simply hostile to Israeli interests.
Combine this with the dire need to invade and reoccupy the Gaza Strip and the renewed danger of a Hezbollah offensive from the north and Israel is being presented with a situation not seen since the Yom Kippor war. Israel has twice now destroyed potential weapons research programmes in Arab states and proven (thanks to Arial Sharon) that the Palestinian terrorists can be defeated by military means (Operation Defensive Shield).
Politically Israel needs firm and realistic leadership, which I hope they will find in Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud. The political left have refused to accept that Israel is at war with its enemies, consistently seeking to blame the right and their nation for being attacked. Politically, though Netanyahu will find the new US administration tricky; he will also have to face a strongly intransigent political left (here I include Kadima, who strike me as the Lib Dems of Israel) who will attempt to blacken every action not according with their agenda and may even act as a sort of fifth column in attempting to insert anti-Israeli propaganda into the public debate.
Militarily, the Iranian programme needs to be severely retarded by at least two or three years. Gaza, as above, needs to be retaken and held by force – the Palestinian population may be deeply anti-semitic but I have reason to think the populace may welcome a non-tyrannical force – especially as this would bring back jobs in Israel which did so much to actually improve the living conditions of those people. Every care must be taken to guard against a Hezbollah offensive but responses to provocations and attacks should be carefully considered. Here I do not mean “proportionate” but on a scale designed to make fundamentally clear to Hezbollah, Syria and Iran as well as the wider Arab world that Israel will not tolerate the violation of its territory or the infringement of its’ citizens protection.
In the West Bank (or as I prefer Judea and Samaria) the policy should be to begin dismantling the Palestinian Authority – the organisation is the open version of the PLO – terrorists who now get paid by the EU and the US to fight each other, rob their people and try to murder Israelis. As a better version of a confidence building measure, the Netanyahu government could dismantle the most obnoxious of the settlements (the extreme religious-right wing groups) but also make clear that most of the settlements are both legal and peaceful. They should also publicize widely the anti-semitic and terrorist propaganda that passes for news and entertainment in the Arab world as well as attack the western groups who spread the milder lies.
In Gaza, the territory should be run as an Israeli province, not as an integral part of Israel but as once ruled as though it were Israel. This means rule of law, security, control of education and the elimination of agit-prop media. The aim should be to run Gaza better than the Palestinians could manage and build them up slowly towards independence and democracy. There is no reason why Gaza could not stand on its own as an independent and economically viable state, so long as the people are not taught to hate Israel but to live in peace with that nation. Democracy can be taught but this process will probably last twenty or even fifty years before Gaza could be allowed to be independent.
In my opinion, the same would stand for Judea and Samaria – a better process would also involve splitting control of the West Bank area into those two administrative portions with the same processes of provincial government being applied. In the long run the physical and cultural disarming of the Palestinian Arabs would have an interesting effect on the Arab and Muslim world – if it can be proven that Israelis and Arabs can live at peace with one another, then perhaps the primitive Arab cycle of hatred can be broken. If the Palestinians become accustomed to being expected to behave as a civilized people, then perhaps the habit will be ingrained.
Will this work? Who knows but it has got to be better than the course of meek and humiliating surrender pursued by the Israeli Left and their international fellow-travelers.