To stand any real chance of success, every insurgent or terrorist movement needs a safe haven to operate from. Israel has had more than a flavor of what it can mean to leave hostile groups in control of lands adjacent to its own borders in southern Lebanon and in Gaza. Any similar move to totally cede control to the Palestinians of the West Bank or a part of Jerusalem would carry immense risk.

Some might argue that a modern high-tech state can monitor hostile activities outside its borders. But surveillance and intelligence collection against a deeply embedded, secretive, extremist network operating within a dense civilian population is the most difficult target, and no national intelligence organization can be confident that it will have a high success rate against such a target.

It has been suggested that an international force, perhaps a NATO force, should replace the IDF presence in the West Bank, an idea that raises a number of very serious questions. Where are the NATO troops going to come from and how long are they going to stay? Some nations are simply not prepared to put their troops into undue danger.

What would happen to those who were prepared to take part in such a force when the going got tough, as it inevitably would? Think of Lebanon in 1983 when suicide bomb attacks killed 300 troops and led to the withdrawal of the French and American peacekeeping forces, or al-Qaeda’s attack in Madrid which led to the withdrawal of Spanish forces from the Iraq campaign. Just how sure could we be that the electorates in contributing countries would allow their militaries to remain deployed in the West Bank under these kinds of pressures.

To what extent would a NATO mission get in the way of a vital Israeli effort to protect their own people? Finally, a failed NATO mission and a West Bank under extremist control, flourishing under a security vacuum there, would encourage and strengthen violent jihadists everywhere in the world.


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