By Louis Rene Beres

Professor of International Law, Department of Political Science, Purdue University


An ironic aspect of the so-called Road Map has gone unnoticed. From the standpoint of Israel's physical survival, the very worst case would likely be one in which there were a complete halt to Palestinian terrorism. On its face, this argument would first appear outrageous, indeed, positively indecent, but there are deeper meanings that must now be uncovered. A "successful" cessation of Palestinian terror occasioned by the Road Map would absolutely compel Israel's full acceptance of a Palestinian state. And this new enemy state would move immediately to implement the next stages of the still-honored 1974 PLO "Phased Plan" for Israel's annihilation.

For Israel, the Road Map is a lose-lose proposition. If the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot prevent further acts of anti-Israel terror, the Jewish state will suffer continuing instances of enemy barbarism. If, however, the PA CAN reign in Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant factions - that is, if it can be "successful" - a permanent terror state will almost certainly be established in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. After all, how could Israel be expected to deny claims for "self-determination" in the West Bank/Gaza if the Palestinians now show "good faith" by agreeing to stop their incessant murders of Jewish men, women and children? The world would never allow Israel to stand in the way of a Palestinian state in such seemingly conciliatory circumstances - never.

It is conceivable, of course, that Israel could coexist with a Palestinian state, and that a "successful" Road Map might not necessarily finalize Israel's demise. The creation of such a state would give Palestinian terrorists a precise and readily identifiable "address," a situation wherein Israel would actually gain certain tactical benefits not presently available. Moreover, in terms of worldwide public opinion, Israel's counter-terrorism operations could then be mounted with fewer fears of condemnation as there would be reduced civilian Palestinian casualties.

With enemy belligerents now in the carefully-pressed uniform of a Palestinian army (at least, one hopes, most of these belligerents) and no longer secreted among civilian Arab populations (a method of protecting terrorists that always exhibits the crime of "perfidy" according to international law), the Israel Defense Force could then be liberated from uniquely dangerous and widely unpopular forms of military engagement. But there are other predictable aspects of a Palestinian state that must be understood and confronted. For one, Israel's own Arab populations would surely begin to operate more vigorously as a Fifth Column, offering loyalty and more to their brethren in "Palestine." To be sure, it is altogether unlikely that Israeli Arabs would actually want to move to the new state, but Palestine would provide a codified focus for a new sort of intifada, a steadily-expanding Arab rebellion within the Jewish homeland itself.

In "living with Palestine," Israel would need to take various effective measures to ensure that an Israeli-Arab Fifth Column does not pose intolerable security costs to the Jewish State. These costs would include not only direct terror violence against Israeli Jews, but also carefully calculated interference with IDF mobilization plans in any future regional war: The anticipated Fifth Column which would be spawned by a Palestinian state could even imperil the Jewish State's physical survival. It follows that if, pursuant to the Road Map, a state of Palestine is eventually declared, Israeli efforts at security would have to focus not only on the new enemy country but also - and more vigorously than ever before - on a significant fraction of Israel's own population. If one believes that we in the United States have a "homeland security problem," it positively pales beside what would happen to Israel immediately following the creation of a Palestinian state. Indeed, this issue could pose the single most serious hazard of a Palestinian state to Israel, as it could involve essential infringements on Israeli-Arab civil liberties and a resultant backlash of Israeli-Arab terrorism or of even wider Arab wars of aggression.

The Arab world is presently comprised of twenty-two states containing nearly five million square miles and 144 million people. The wider Islamic world contains forty-four states with more than 1 BILLION people. These Islamic states comprise an area 672 times the size of Israel. The State of Israel, with a population of about 5 million Jews, would fit two times into Lake Michigan. The Sinai Desert, which Israel ceded to Egypt in the 1979 treaty in exchange for vague and still unfulfilled promises of "friendship," is itself three times larger than the entire State of Israel.

Maps tell much of the story. Just a brief glance at maps of the Middle East reveal, on their face, the inherent preposterousness of Palestinian claims and expectations. Nonetheless, as a practical matter, it is probably too late for pointing out the obvious, and Israel will surely have to base its future security on the particular way it chooses to deal with the RoadMap. As outright rejection, the only truly correct way, is no longer possible, Prime Minister Sharon must now refuse to forget that a "successful" Road Map would inevitably be the very worst route for Israel.


Louis Rene Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue University. Prof. Beres is the academic advisor to the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.

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