ARIEL CENTER FOR POLICY RESEARCH
ISRAEL 2000: HOW WILL IT
FARE IF SHRUNK
TO ITS PRE-SIX DAY WAR (1967) BORDERS?
By Yoash Tsddon-Chatto
Policy Paper No. 14, From the book ISRAEL AT THE CROSSROADS, 1997 (Still relevant today in 2004)
(Presentation to the J.E.C. on Capitol Hill, October 21, 1997)
Israel is simply too small to allow for the deployment and maneuver of large warring armies, hence, as the Arabs persistently resolve to destroy Israel, Yigal Allon, as a Labor Deputy Prime Minister, declared (February 1967): "Israel is entitled, nay, obligated and therefore capable of opening pre-emptive hostilities whenever war is imposed upon it - this being the most important and, in certain circumstances , the only means of securing its survival."
The world has, including the USA and UN, nevertheless, disregarded moral and long range strategic considerations and demanded a return to pre 1967 borders (perhaps "with minor modifications"). In view of the present Israeli-Arab negotiations and of international pressure, the realistic, even politically correct question to be weighed by all parties is: "How will or rather, WILL Israel manage to survive into the 21st century within the confines of its pre-1967 lines, without becoming a millstone on the U.S. neck, politically, morally and materially?"
The question is asked in view of the unflinching, open enmity of most Islamic countries, of the enormous Arab and Iranian arms build up, of the last 30 years of weapons technological advance, of geo-political unfoldings in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and of the very nature of the Arab and Iranian totalitarian regimes.
Since 1967, Arab Mig-15, 17 or 21 were replaced by Mig-23, 25, 29, Sukhoi 24 and US made F-15 and F-16. Night vision and digital weapons delivery are standard. One modern plane hits better, further than a whole squadron of 1967 or 1973 vintage. Unlike in 1967, stand-off weapons and ballistic missiles are standard, Main Battle Weapons. We do have a weapons saturation situation.
The Egyptian air force, 299 warplanes strong in 1967, had 409 in 1973 and 473 + 89 attack helicopters in 1996. The army had 1,955 tanks in 1973 and 3,650 in 1996. Egyptian ballistic missiles, nil in 1967, a few in 1973, are now hundreds, coming off the production line of a plant purchased in North Korea, in unchallenged breach of the U.S. Aid agreement that precludes Egypt from entertaining ties with terror sponsoring countries. In view of Egypt's economic and social plight, why such an arms build up? who threatens Egypt? Or has it any designs?
Syrian warplanes, 97 in 1967, 326 in 1973, were 468+ 100 attack helicopters in 1996. Syrian tanks, 1,300 in 1973, are 4,800(!) in 1997. Syrian ballistic missiles, estimated to number 500-600, are also coming off the production line of a North Korean supplied plant.
About 2,000 ballistic missiles may be launched at Israel by year 2,000, many of them carrying mass-destruction warheads. The Aviation Week & Space Technology issue of September 22, 1997, mentions (pp. 48-50) a study made by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based upon data of the Congressional Research Service. It refers to arms' purchasses. Following are a few highlights:
During 1989-1996, the Middle East has been the largest arms buyer of the developing world, with contracts worth 100 Billion U.S. Dollars, of which 56 are to be supplied by the US...
Facing the Arab world and Iran, Israel purchased during 1993-96 (Oslo period) 3.8 Billion worth of arms.
Saudi Arabia alone, purchased, during that same period, 20.0 Billion US Dollars worth of arms.
An objective, professional analysis of the above fleetingly mentioned facts as well as others related, will show that Israel faces the highest concentration ever of military forces per mile of frontier, the highest concentration ever of ballistic missiles per square mile and is threatened by mass-destruction weapons coming of age, while endangered from within by an emerging Arab entity in Judea, Samaria and Gaza which casts a dark shadow over Israeli Arabs.
The inevitable conclusion, to which formal US military studies and Russia's G.H.Q. generals concur, is that a pre-1967 Israel is presently militarily untenable.
Israel will, in this case, be stripped of its conventional deterrence which means certain war with Pan-Arabia that will enjoy a crushing military superiority exercised from a forbidding topographic superiority. Israel will not have a pre-emption option like in 1967, because of SAM missiles. Arabia and Iran can surprise, like in 1973, starting with ballistic missiles' salvos that will slow Israeli mobilisation, covering thus the initial, critical stage of offensive moves.
50 years after the Holocaust, the Jewish state is pressured to march toward its own demise, unless, that is, the US assumes its defence, active, in real time, which would be a politically counterproductive, expensive and unwarranted task.
Israel is a Western asset in an unstable strategic area. It should not be turned into a liability because of fleeting diplomatic expedience.
Note that the only remaining alternative to the US active, real time defence of Israel in its pre-1967 lines may be, if rumours are true, the Samson Option. Hardly beneficial to anybody, morally, strategically or economically.