A militarized Palestinian state on Israel’s doorstep would be a liability

It is absolutely beyond the pale for Israel to make any commitment, even conditional, to upgrade the Palestinian Authority into a state.

A map with the colors of the Palestinian flag reading 'Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine' near Bilin.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
A map with the colors of the Palestinian flag reading ‘Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine’ near Bilin.                                 (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
A few Israeli writers have been advising the Israeli Right not to fear Trump’s peace plan. Don’t be “purists,” they urge. Don’t worry so much about the Palestinian state component. The Palestinians will say no for us, or will fail to comply with conditions.

These writers are quite wrong about this, whereas Israelis courageously opposing the Trump-Netanyahu wink to future “state” status for the Palestinian Authority are quite right.

A state is always entitled to be fully militarized. Always. Even if the state’s birth certificate is clearly stamped “demilitarized,” the newborn state becomes fully independent at birth. Thus even a fledgling state is entitled, even immediately, to empower and arm itself. Afterward, Israel (or even the entire international community) is not ever entitled to dissolve this armed state. In short: You can’t “divorce” or “demote” a state. “State” status is irreversible.

But why not “count on” the Palestinians to say no? Isn’t it well known that the Palestinians don’t really want a state; that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity? Israelis beware. Pin-pointing what “the Palestinians” want is as futile as describing what “the Israelis” want.

Consider the fact that this is our homeland, not the Arabs’ and not a single nation in the world gives its homeland to its enemies unless defeated on the battlefield. Even about this very basic fact, not all Israelis agree.

So even regarding basics, not all “the Israelis” want the same thing. The same is true of our Arab neighbors. Yes, some Arab negotiators can indeed be “counted on” to save Israel’s skin by saying no to future “Palestinian statehood.” But we also know that some Arab negotiators may say yes, such as the Arabs who, in the 1920s, deigned to accept the spacious Palestinian state that already exists (in Jordan).

Yet, some Arabs (or “Palestinians”) do not really want a state. The Arabs who negotiated with Israel in 1998 were offered a “Palestinian state” on a silver platter and refused. Perhaps they, and some today, simply want to sponge off Israel, or to cheat their own brethren of foreign funding from gullible nations while lining their own pockets.

Not all of our Arab neighbors are the same. They’re people, like us. Some of them want peace. Others want war. There is no way to guess which group or faction is going to be strongest at each point in future. So it is sheer folly for us to recklessly agree to a future Palestinian state, hoping “the Palestinians” will do the dirty work and block it for us.

This is not only for ideological-ethical-Zionist reasons, but also for pragmatic reasons. Let’s say that in three years a pragmatic Arab “partner” pops up who is willing to do what David Ben-Gurion (and his counterparts in Transjordan) did. He accepts “partition” (a “Palestinian state”), hoping that one day Israel will weaken and give more.

What if this man is killed a year later, and a more militant faction comes to power? This is no delusional scenario, of course. This is how things are in the Middle East. Therefore, we can never agree to move along a Palestinian statehood track.

What is the bottom line on Trump’s “Deal of the Century”? It is absolutely beyond the pale for Israel to make any commitment, even conditional, to upgrade the Palestinian Authority into a state. Regarding the commitment to negotiate for four years, I would imagine that with carefully honed diplomacy, it might be possible to commit to this in exchange for recognition of sovereignty now.

Wherever sovereignty has been applied, creation of a “Palestinian state” becomes impossible, which should be our political, as well as historical, goal. The Arabs currently in power are refusing negotiations. This is a window of opportunity of which Israel can take advantage, to prevent creation of a foreign state in the heart of our homeland.

The writer is a retired IDF brigadier general, a physician and former MK who served on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for six years.

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