In her May 4 Jerusalem Post column, Caroline Glick anticipates the visit of Prime Minister Olmert to the United States later this month. She summarizes the case against American support for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank:
Olmert’s planned withdrawal presents a dilemma for Washington. On the one hand, the US traditionally has supported Israeli withdrawals from territories that Israel took over in the Six Day War, and Olmert’s plan aligns with this customary preference. On the other hand, the US is now fighting a war against the global jihad and one of its primary goals is to prevent the establishment of new bases for jihadist forces. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza this past summer fomented Hamas’s rise to power in the Palestinian Authority and enabled the transformation of Gaza into a base for al-Qaida, Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. An Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will exacerbate the current situation exponentially.
ISRAEL HAS had next to no debate either on the strategic consequences of the Gaza withdrawal or on the likely security consequences of a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. Such a debate would note that the Gaza withdrawal was a failure on every level. It would also raise the likelihood that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will cause an inflow of terrorists and missiles that will place all of Israel’s major cities as well as its major highways, seaports and Ben-Gurion Airport within missile range from Hizbullah forces in Lebanon and Palestinian forces in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
Aside from that, such a debate would no doubt draw attention to the fact that a jihadist takeover of Judea and Samaria would cause an immediate danger to the Hashemite regime in Jordan. To date, Israeli military control of Judea and Samaria has made it difficult for Palestinian jihadists to threaten Jordan. But if Israel retreats, there will be no one stopping them from joining forces with their counterparts on the east bank of the Jordan River.
And so, an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would cause the destabilization of America’s two most stable and reliable allies in the Middle East. Fuel and other vital materiel for US forces in Iraq would no longer be able to be safely transported overland from Israeli ports through Jordan into Iraq due to the instability of both Israel and Jordan. This would increase American dependence on ports in the Persian Gulf. This increased American dependence would embolden Iran to cause the US Navy repeated headaches in the Straits of Hormuz. Judea and Samaria would be used as a terror training base for jihadists who would go on to fight not only Israel, but US forces in Iraq.
Aside from that, just as Israel’s retreat from Gaza convinced the Palestinians that terror pays and so brought Hamas to power, an Israeli retreat from Judea and Samaria leading to the destabilization of both Israel and Jordan will be perceived by the Arab and Islamic worlds as a strategic victory for the forces of jihad. From Paris to Haifa to Islamabad to Baghdad, to Dearborn, thousands will answer the call to jihad.
Glick’s observation concerning the lack of an Israeli debate on the strategic consequences of Israel’s actions is one that I have made here repeatedly. Has the withdrawal from Gaza helped or harmed Israel’s and America’s security? Glick seems to me to make a powerful case that further withdrawals will adversely affect America’s interests, to an even greater extent than Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza itself seems to have done.