When asked about the two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated quite recently his long-standing policy that the Arab population in Judea and Samaria “should have all the power to govern themselves, but none of the power to threaten us.” What does this mean in practice, and how does this fit into the two-state solution embraced by the international community?
While much of the world has been obsessed with solving the Arab-Israeli conflict by focusing on Israeli territorial withdrawals, few take into account the unique set of serious security challenges that Israel faces. Judging by the amount of media attention, many would be forgiven for wrongly believing that Israel is a giant country. In reality, the Jewish state’s territory is one of the tiniest in the world. Israel within the Green Line is similar in size to Wales or New Jersey. Yet unlike these territories, Israel is still surrounded by hostile neighbors who seek her destruction.
Abba Eban, Israel’s legendary late foreign minister, famously referred to the pre-1967 lines as “Auschwitz borders.” By that, the dovish Israeli diplomat was referring to the danger and insecurity that accompany Israel’s nine-mile waistline, while facing hostile neighbors. By comparison, New York’s compact Manhattan Island is more than 13 miles long.
Israel’s current security challenges from Hamas-run Gaza would pale in comparison if Israel were to completely withdraw militarily from Judea and Samaria without proper security arrangements. The weak and ineffective Ramallah regime would quickly collapse and be replaced with Hamas, just as had occurred in Gaza.