The lessons of Oslo

Yaakov Amidror is a reserve major general in the Israel Defense Forces who commanded Israel’s National Defense College and headed the research and assessment division of Israeli military intelligence. He took a break from his duties to serve as the Ira Weiner Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and think about Israel’s security issues. The winter issue of the Middle East Quarterly carries Amidror’s excellent article: “Israel’s security: The hard-learned lessons.”
The article is unlike anything else I have read about Oslo and the current Israeli-Palestinian situation. It is an extraordinarily sobering meditation on Israel’s security imperatives in light of Israel’s post-Oslo experience. I supply the numbering below, but here are the lessons that Amidror deduces from that experience:

First: Control of territory is an essential advantage in fighting terror. It is the key to gathering intelligence. Without control, it is exponentially more difficult to recruit agents and sources, to monitor suspects and terror sites, to question and arrest terror suspects, and to take the many measures by which counterterrorist experts learn the terrorists’ modus operandi and prevent terrorists from getting close to their target. A military force without control of the territory from which terrorism emanates cannot destroy the infrastructure of terrorism (such as laboratories, training centers, and safe houses). Without territorial control, counterterrorism operations become risky, both in terms of physical danger and political cost…
Second: [T]he lack of Israeli control of territory also provided the Palestinians with opportunities to enhance their own military capabilities. Compare, for example, the experience of the first major Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the real intifada of 1987-93, with the experience of the post-Camp David war. During the intifada, Israel was in control of all the territory in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the military challenges of that conflict, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were able to rely solely on light weapons (e.g., guns and nightsticks) and jeeps to suppress Palestinians, without resort to tanks, helicopters, armored personnel carriers, or F-16s. But once the PA had taken responsibility for security in the Palestinian areas, they built an infrastructure for launching large-scale assaults on Israel. Whereas the 69 months of the intifada saw just 160 Israelis killed, in the first 36 months of the post-Camp David war nearly 900 Israelis were killed. This means that Israel suffered more than five times the deaths in just half the time…
Third: Israel must retain the ability to check all imports into the Palestinian areas, whether personal or commercial goods. An invisible presence, with international forces or Palestinian customs agents doing the actual work

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