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Land for Peace: Past and Future

IDF soldier looking out over Golan Heights (Photo: flickr/IDF)

This week's skirmishes between the IDF and ISIS terrorists on the Israeli-Syrian border once again brings the issue of Israel's land to the forefront. Commentary's Jonathan Tobin argues that it is just one more reason for Israel not to concede any of its land in the pursuit of peace:

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. Sunday’s attack on the Golan Heights, in which the Israel Defense Forces fended off an assault by ISIS, ended with the four terrorists dead and no IDF casualties. The incident was the first direct confrontation between ISIS personnel and the Jewish state. Few would bet that it will be the last. Most Israelis are likely offering a silent prayer of thanks for the failure of past efforts by Israeli leaders to cut a deal with Damascus that would have given up the strategic plateau that dominates the Galilee. Those—in Washington and elsewhere—who are pushing Israel to concede more territory that might one day come to be dominated by Islamist terrorists refuse to learn an important lesson...

As Israelis learned when they withdrew every soldier, settler, and settlement from Gaza in 2005 only to see the strip soon become a terrorist state ruled by Hamas Islamists, the unforgiving law of unintended consequences hangs over all land-for-peace deals in such a dangerous neighborhood. Repeating that experiment in the West Bank, including forfeiting the Jordan River valley would, as former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter recently told the Jerusalem Post, be as mad as a Golan withdrawal. The same is true of believing that withdrawal from the West Bank won’t replicate the Gaza disaster on a larger scale. Israel desires and needs peace, but giving up strategic territory in a region where even stable Arab regimes can fall to pieces under the weight of their contradictions is a reckless gamble. The Jewish state’s friends should not force it to take that risk.

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