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Israel’s Eastern Defenses – Still Very Relevant

10 April 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

The eventual demise of Saddam Hussein’s regime is not far off.  Although Baghdad was captured and everyone saw the toppling of the dictator’s statue there are still battles in the capital and future engagements in the northern Iraqi cities of Tikrit (Saddam’s home town), Mosul and Kirkuk.  The Republican Guard can be expected to put up strong resistance.

Over the years Israel has based much of its eastern border policy of demanding a security zone along the Jordan River on the Iraqi military threat coming across Jordan.  As mentioned in many previous columns this area is to be a security zone anywhere from several kilometers (former Labor prime minister Barak) to 22 kilometers wide (Likud PM Ariel Sharon). 

In the coming weeks one can expect the Europeans and maybe even the Americans to demand Israel drop this territorial condition in the negotiations being conducted with the Palestinians, claiming it is no longer relevant.  True Saddam’s Iraq was defeated but no one knows what type of Iraq will come next.

Germany signed the Versailles Treaty when the Kaiser was defeated in WWI and supposedly Berlin was disarmed.  But due to lack of treaty enforcement due to vested interests, fear, isolationism, pacifism and/or even cowardice once Hitler was elected the German threat became very real again.  By 1939 it was worse than ever and by June 1940 Paris flew the swastika.

It is best for Israel to ensure its own security by making territorial demands necessary for its long term defense interests.  And in this case the eastern approaches to the West Bank known as the Jordan Rift Valley must be kept regardless of who rules Iraq.

No one knows what the future holds, but a secure boundary makes it that much more difficult for a future aggressor to go to war.