Into the fray: Commanders for Israel’s (In)security: Taking the name of security in vain.

There is no greater irony than the spectacle of scores of ex-senior security officials, who spent their adult life defending Israel, now promoting a political initiative that will make it indefensible.


One does not have to be a military expert to easily identify the critical defects of the armistice lines that existed until June 4, 1967 -Deputy PM Yigal Allon, former commander of the Palmach strike-force, 1976.

…historians a thousand years hence will still be baffled by the mystery of our affairs. They will never understand how it was that a victorious nation, with everything in hand, suffered themselves to be brought low, and to cast away all that they had gained by measureless sacrifice and absolute victory…Winston Churchill, in the House of Commons, 1938.

The Jews consider Judaea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse… Then we will move forward –Abbas Zaki, PLO ambassador to Lebanon, 2009.

I used these very excerpts in an article I wrote some thirty months ago, entitled “Imbecility squared”, addressing the policy proposals advanced by an organization called Commanders for Israel’s Security  (CIS), comprising over 200 senior IDF officers and other high ranking officials in Israel’s intelligence and police force.

Sadly, they are as pertinent today as they were then—arguably more so!

 Putting the two-state proposal on indefinite life-support. 

Credit: Author Wickey-nl.

The purported “rationale” for this policy prescription is to preserve the viability of the two-state formula for resolving the conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs, something which CIS acknowledges is not feasible at the moment–as no prospective partner with the adequate pliancy-cum-authority can be identified.

Nonetheless, it believes that these proposed measures are necessary to prevent what it considers the disastrous demographic consequences entailed in Israel retaining large portions of Judaea-Samaria, together with its Arab population.

While I do not want to diminish the demographic dangers annexation of Judaea-Samaria, along with its Muslim inhabitants, might herald for Israel, the CIS blueprint is as pernicious as it is preposterous.

Post-dated bill of surrender

Indeed, ever since CIS began to participate actively in the public discourse—just prior to the 2015 election—with their allegedly “non-political”, yet undisguised anti-Netanyahu vitriol, I have repeatedly pointed out the dire detriments in its perilous prescription—see for example here, here, here, here, here and here.

However, undeterred by reason or reality, CIS recently launched yet another— copiously funded—media assault on the Israeli public to advance their ill-conceived program by means of social media, op-eds, main-stream media interviews and prominent bill-boards—see for example here , here , here , and here.

Sadly therefore, I feel compelled to reiterate, once again,  much of what I have already written.

For in effect, what CIS is suggesting is handing Israel’s adversaries a bill of post-dated surrender, in which Israel, apriori, commits to yield them all they demand today, if they will only morph into something they have not been for over 100 years—or feign doing so temporarily.

Indeed, the intellectual structure of its proposal are so patently and predictably flawed that it is difficult to decide what is more perturbing: Whether CIS is aware of the deadly defects in its misguided program, but persists in promoting it anyway; or whether it is unaware of them, and is promoting it out of sheer ignorance?

Replicating South Lebanon realities—adjacent to Tel Aviv

For by advocating renunciation of claims to sovereignty over all of Judaea-Samaria beyond the Security Barrier, on the one hand; with the continued deployment of the IDF in that territory, on the other, CIS is in effect, calling for replicating precisely the conditions that prevailed in South Lebanon until the hasty unilateral IDF retreat in 2000.

For anyone with a modicum of foresight, it should be clear that CIS’s prescription of deploying the IDF for an indeterminate period in territory over which Israel lays no sovereign claim—and hence, by implication, acknowledges that others have such claims—creates an unsustainable political configuration.

Indeed, CIS’s proposal would, in a stroke, convert Judaea-Samaria from “disputed territory” to “occupied territory”; and the IDF from a “defense force” to an “occupying force”—by explicit admission from Israel itself.

Accordingly, this will—sooner or later—generate irresistible pressure on Israel to withdraw—leaving the country exposed to the very dangers the IDF deployment was intended to obviate—precisely as transpired in South Lebanon!

As readers will doubtless recall, the result was the unbecoming flight, orchestrated by then-PM, former IDF chief of staff and Israel’s most decorated soldier, Ehud Barak, under intense pressure from Left-leaning civil society groups, such as “Four Mothers”, to extricate the IDF from the “Lebanese mud” and “bring our boys back home”. Thus, abandoned to the control of Hezbollah, the area was swiftly converted into a formidable arsenal, now a veritable strategic threat, bristling with weaponry capable of hitting almost all major Israeli cities.

Formula for open-ended occupation.

As readers will doubtless recall, the result was the unbecoming flight, orchestrated by then-PM, former IDF chief of staff and Israel’s most decorated soldier, Ehud Barak, under intense pressure from Left-leaning civil society groups, such as “Four Mothers”, to extricate the IDF from the “Lebanese mud” and “bring our boys back home”. Thus, abandoned to the control of Hezbollah, the area was swiftly converted into a formidable arsenal, now a veritable strategic threat, bristling with weaponry capable of hitting almost all major Israeli cities.

Moreover, by conditioning the end of IDF deployment across the Security Barrier on some acceptable future agreement, CIS is promoting what is, in effect, a formula for open-ended “occupation”, whose duration is totally dependent on the Palestinian-Arabs!

Indeed, if CIS’s plan is for the IDF to remain in these areas until some suitably credible Palestinian negotiating partner appears, what happens if such an interlocutor fails to emerge?

After all, CIS itself concedes that, absent some suitable arrangement with the Palestinian-Arabs, the security situation requires continued IDF deployment.

Accordingly, all the Palestinian-Arabs need to do to ensnare the IDF in an open-ended “occupation” is… nothing. All they need to do is wait for the IDF to become caught up in what will inevitably become the “West Bank mud” (much akin to the “Lebanese mud”), an easy target for guerilla attacks by a hostile population backed by armed Palestinian security services (which CIS does not recommend dismantling).

Soon, a combination of mounting domestic and international pressure will build up for the IDF to withdraw—similar to that which precipitated the IDF pullout from South Lebanon. On the domestic front, recurring IDF casualties in a “foreign land” will result in incessant calls to “bring our boys back home”. On the international front, increasing impatience with open-ended “occupation” will create growing demands for the removal of Israeli troops. Eventually, continued IDF deployment will no longer be tenable and evacuation become inevitable—without any adequate political settlement or sustainable security arrangements. Just like in South Lebanon.

 Deceptive “divorce” analogy

In its recent campaign, CIS have invoked the analogy of “divorce” to promote its preferred policy of separation from the Palestinian-Arabs. Admittedly, this kind of argument does have some superficial appeal to it—until one considers the context.

Indeed, having your disagreeable spouse separate, and move off to some distant location, allowing each former partner to live their life in undisturbed peace, is one thing. It is quite another to allow a belligerent spouse to take control of a property overlooking your own—from which he/she can harass you continuously, egged on by similarly inimical neighbors in the surrounding areas.

Curiously, CIS never seems to dwell on the crucial military importance of the territory it seems so eager to hand over to Palestinian-Arab rule. Indeed, with all its vaunted accumulated security experience, it never once addresses the fact that the territory, earmarked for a future Palestinian state, overlooks the heavily populated coastal plain including Greater Tel Aviv together with 80% of Israel’s civilian population and 80% of its commercial activity; abuts the trans-Israel highway, and controls the county’s major international airport and numerous other vital infrastructure installations.

All of these would be hopelessly exposed and vulnerable to any hostile forces—regular or renegade—deployed in the commanding heights that would constitute much of any future Palestinian state.

Accordingly, a glaring flaw in CIS’s proposal is its seeming assumption that once a Palestinian state is established, all grievances will disappear. This of course is a grave miscalculation. Any putative Palestinian state will certainly be subject to incitement and infiltration by the most radical elements that abound in the Muslim world—spurring it on to further aggression against the infidel Zionist entity—with or without the complicity of Israel’s purported peace partner—which hardly bodes well for any amicable “divorce”.

The fiction of “reduced friction”

CIS repeatedly mentions “reducing friction” between Jews and Arabs as a goal of its proposal. This, of course, leaves us to puzzle over how CIS envisages this being accomplished—given the fact that it prescribes that the IDF should remain deployed in the “Palestinian areas” to maintain security as what is essentially, an alien occupation force.

But beyond this intriguing question, the “reduced friction” refrain has an eerie ring to it, disturbingly reminiscent of the rationale advanced to justify the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza…and look how splendidly that worked out!

Indeed, as the case of Gaza—the ultimate effort to “reduce friction”—vividly shows, whenever “friction” was reduced, the Palestinian-Arabs engaged in enhancing their offensive capabilities to attack Israel—rather than focus on their own socioeconomic development.

There is little reason to believe that much the same would not occur if the Palestinian-Arabs were left to their own devices in Judaea-Samaria—and certainly CIS provides no persuasive argument why it would not.

But then, of course, that might be because the “plan’s” real goal (much like the almost identical one advanced recently by the Institute for National Security Studies) is nothing more than an elaborate ruse to accomplish something completely different—the removal of Jewish communities beyond the present security barrier. After all, that is the only objective it is likely to attain!

 Evacuation-Compensation…in reverse?

 According to CIS, its long term goal is the achievement of a two-state reality, with a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. To facilitate this, it advocates providing financial compensation to Jewish residents of Judea-Samaria to evacuate their homes.

However, support for a “Palestinian state” is nothing but a thinly disguised recipe for the establishment of (yet another) homophobic, misogynistic Muslim-majority tyranny, whose hallmarks would be: gender discrimination, gay persecution, religious intolerance, and political oppression of dissidents. Indeed, not even the most dedicated of two-staters appear to contend that it would be anything but that.

Accordingly, one is compelled to ask whether or not CIS has it backwards when it comes to the desired formula for evacuation-compensation. After all, why is it morally acceptable to offer financial inducements to Jews in Judea-Samaria to evacuate their homes to facilitate the establishment of said homophobic, misogynistic tyranny, and a likely bastion for Islamist terror; while it is considered morally reprehensible to offer financial inducements to Arabs in Judea-Samaria to evacuate their homes to prevent the establishment of such an entity?

Surely the latter would be a more Zionist-compliant answer to CIS’s demographic concerns?

CIS’s hypocrisy: Taking security’s name in vain

In a recent column, Yediot Aharonot’s Shimon Shiffer excoriates CIS for what he sees as blatant hypocrisy, pointing out that, for years, all the members of CIS were not only complicit in the very policies they now condemn, but in fact were the vehicle through which they were conducted! Accusingly, Shiffer notes that not one of them ever resigned in protest against what they now so vigorously oppose.

But this is not the only hypocritical aspect of CIS’s activities. On its website, it prominently displays the thousands of years of security experience its members have accumulated—as irrefutable proof of the validity of their position.

However, few if any, of the arguments CIS advances are related to their area of professional expertise. Nowhere do we learn why/how Israel’s security will be enhanced by lengthening its relatively straight eastern border (north of the Dead Sea) from around 100 km to a contorted one of 500 km. Likewise, it is unclear as to what military principle CIS invokes when it advocates relinquishing topographic superiority over the coastal plain for topographic inferiority. Or reducing Israel’s strategic depth from 70 km to 70 m….

Instead, all CIS offers are socio-political assessments, a realm well beyond  their professional expertise.

Significantly, CIS’s website does not post the years of socio-political experience its members have accumulated. Indeed, in the past, virtually every time top military figures have departed from their field of expertise and ventured into one where they have none (politics), they have—almost invariably—been disastrously wrong.

The Israeli public will do well to recall this and relate to the CIS proposals with the skepticism they clearly merit.


Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.









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  1. Martin

    Agree with your conclusions on CIS impractical proposals.

    Have you considered the creation of a Jordan enclave in Judea and Samaria with the remainder being annexed by Israel – worked out in face to face negotiations with Jordan?

    Such an enclave would:
    1. Contain possibly 95% of the existing West Bank Arab population – once again being reunified in a single territorial entity with Jordan as existed between 1950 and 1967

    2. Enable Jordanian citizenship to be restored to the enclave’s population – as previously existed between 1950 and 1988.

    3. Remove apartheid fears—since the Jordan/enclave population would be entirely Arab with family ties extending over the two banks of the Jordan River

    4. Be as democratic or undemocratic as the re-united populations wished—as occurred between 1950 and 1988

    5. Complete the original two-state solution first contemplated by the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine:
    (i) an Arab State—Jordan – sovereign in about 80% of the territory of the Mandate -and
    (ii) a Jewish State—Israel—sovereign in about the remaining 20% of the Mandate

    6. Leave Israel in total control of who enters and leaves the enclave through possibly only one crossing – the Allenby Bridge

    7. Leave the security of Judea and Samaria totally in Israel’s control

    Enclaves exist throughout the world. Why not in Judea and Samaria also?

    • David,

      Deferring to your obvious knowledge in respect of the for going subject, a serious, yet neutrally put question….i.e. no agenda. Do you think that the Arabs…from either the ruling strata, or general Arab throng, are receptive to, want or desire a two State solution.

      More for my learning process, rather than advancing a debate on the subject. With thanks.

      • Graham

        I believe that Israel’s immediately adjoining neighbours – Jordan and Egypt – both of whom have signed peace treaties with Israel – could be attracted to the two-state solution first postulated in 1922 since it would result in the return to them of land they occupied between 1948 and 1967.

        • David, don’t agree, both Jordan and Egypt couldn’t wait to give Gaza and J & S to Israel.

          Especially Egypt who were happy to take the Sinai but refused Gaza.

          Why do you think both Countries want to take on the very troublesome so-called ‘Palestinians’?

          • Shirlee
            You have your opinion, I have mine. No use wasting our time arguing our respective positions. We neeed to wait and see. The answer may become apparent if and when Trump issues his “deal of the century”.

          • I think it may well be ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

          • Shirlee

            We will never know until the Jordan enclave proposal is publicly put out by Israel as a possible solution and is rejected by Egypt and Jordan. I believe this is an important Israeli initiative that should be pursued and that all parties in the forthcoming elections should put out their proposals for ending the Jewish-Arab conflict. I won’t hold my breath waiting to see if they do.

        • @ David Singer. Thank you for your viewpoint David.

  2. dr martin sherman


    What if (or rather when) there is a regime change in Jordan?
    What if Israel had to use force to quell violence in the Jordanian controlled areas- How could the Jordanians leave their citizens to the tender mercy of the merciless Zionist? etc etc

    We need to bite the bullet and come to terms with the fact that for the only non-coercive (or at least non-“kinetic”) approach that can ensure the long-term survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people – see: RETHINKING PALESTINE: THE HUMANITARIAN

    • Martin
      I would have preferred you to not speculate on what could happen in the future after a Jordanian enclave is created. That is a red herring and you should well know that Israel would have to deal with that threat to its existence as it does to any other threats each day. That is not a reason for you to not support the creation of an enclave.

      The enclave importantly meets your paradigm of not creating another Arab state between Israel and Jordan.

      The enclave would be demilitarised. Israel would retain total security control as well as controlling access to and from the enclave.

      Most importantly – and contrary to your paradigm – no one – Arab or Jew – would have to leave his current home in Judea and Samaria and relocate elsewhere.

      Your proposal calling for the West Bank Arabs to be relocated over 15 years at a projected cost of $200 billion is in my opinion impractical and unattainable and dooms your proposal to gaining any international support.

      “Transfer” is a dirty word in the international lexicon.

      An enclave is attainable and relations between Jordan and Israel under their 1994 peace treaty would ensure the peaceful resolution of any disputes – as has been the case for the last 25 years when problems have arisen between them. There are precedents for such a solution that can be found around the world.

      Perhaps you might like to focus on the idea of creating a Jordanian enclave to resolve Jewish and Arab claims to Judea and Samaria – in the same manner as I have tried to do with your paradigm.

      • Israel would be patently irresponsible not to ask those very questions, David. What if? Those are the kind of questions that decisions are made on, or should be.

        • John

          The threat of regime change in Jordan or future Arab violence in Judea and Samaria are common to any plan – including Martin’s paradigm.

          Israel would have to ensure that its security interests were fully protected to deal with Martin’s concerns no matter whose proposal is adopted to try and settle the allocation of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

          A Jordanian enclave – placing about 95% of West Bank Arabs under Jordanian sovereignty without their having to move house or business – seems to me to serve Israel’s security interests far better than Martin’s paradigm which will leave the entire West Bank Arab population under Israel’s sovereignty as it attempts to transfer out that population at a cost of $200 billion over fifteen years. To me that is a sure fire recipe for violence and resistance.

          Ask questions certainly – but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater before you get the answers.

          Have you got any questions you want to ask Martin or I about our respective proposals? I am happy to answer any you have on the Jordanian enclave. Hopefully Martin will do likewise with his paradigm.

          • David, if you resolutely refuse to answer simple questions like, What if there was regime change? What if Israel had to use force in Jordanian controlled areas? there simply is no baby to throw out with any bathwater. None at all

            So, David here is your opportunity to give me/us the answers to questions I/we have put to you about your impassioned proposals about a Jordanian enclave:

            1) What if there was regime change, as is very likely?

            2) What if Israel had to use force in Jordanian controlled areas of your enclave?

            3) Do you imagine the Jordanian government and its people, especially the 2.2 million Palestinians in Jordan are interested in a two-state solution, your Jordanian enclave solution, or any other solution that doesn’t involve Israel’s total annihilation?

            4) What imperative would drive Israel to cede territory to an entity that several times last century tried to destroy her?

            5) The Jordanian aggression against Israel in 1948 which led to the illegal annexation of Judea and Samaria was codified as a crime under international law. Likewise, the naked aggression by Jordan against Israel in 1967. Question: how can such crimes now possibly form the basis of a valid, legal and sane settlement of said crimes under international law?

            6) What would Israel actually gain by such a move?

            7) How would Jordan better handle Israel’s security than Israel already does?

            8) Where do Fatah/PLO/PA fit into your scenario, are they going to cease trading in death, mayhem, destruction, terrorism and extortion?

            9) Ditto, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PFLP and ISIS?

            10) Ditto, Hezbollah?

        • John, personally I don’t think for one moment anything is likely to change at any time in the near future.

          I think the current situation will go on ad infinitum, unless by some major miracle, the Arabs finally see reason.

    • Martin

      Yes, I agree with what you’ve written in your excellent post plus your comments here too.

      Would you concur that if the PA were to be disbanded as seems likely one probable consequence of this would be that many of the better off Arab residents of J&S, those with Jordanian passports, would migrate east of the Jordan River?

      In that scenario, perhaps Israel might be better placed to offer the financial incentives you advocate to those less well off Arab residents who would like to follow their richer brethren eastwood to Jordan, or, to a place of their choosing?

  3. John
    In answer to your questions:
    1. Israel would be as much in control of combating any regime change then as it could if regime change were to happen today.
    2. Israel would be able to effectively control any such violence in a demilitarised enclave without Jordan being able to enter the enclave through Judea and Samaria
    3. Jordan has to be put to the test to negotiate a Jordanian enclave with Israel. It may indeed reject the idea. Then Israel will know where it stands and if rejected or unsuccessfully negotiated Israel can throw that proposal in the dustbin. That will then become just another lost opportunity that will not be returning again.
    4. That imperative would be an agreed end to the conflict over the same piece of territory.
    5. Because they can if the parties agree.
    6. An agreement on ending the territorial dispute over Judea and Samaria that has existed since 1948.
    7. Jordan will not be handling Israel’s security. Israel will be responsible for its own security
    8,9,10. They will all probably continue as they are now and Israel will have to deal with them as it does now.

    • Thankyou David.

      Would you not agree that your answers to nos. 6, 8, 9 & 10 actually contradict each other and Israel will actually gain nothing because “the dispute” will not be ended in any way, shape or form?

      So, again, what has Israel to gain from this proposed venture?

      • The answer is “no”

        Israel will gain a signed peace agreement on the agreed allocation of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria between Israel and Jordan endorsed by the Arab League and UN Security Council

        • David

          So you would wish away Fatah/PLO, PFLP, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, HAMAS, Hezbollah et al and do a Dubya? Dubya meaning a George W Bush “job done.”

    • I would like to continue by raising some additional points and questions regarding your answers to my ten questions, David:

      Question 1) : The point here is not about the IDF/IAF military strength, it is about the possibility of Israel signing a legal document that may go pear-shaped, even end in disaster for the Jewish State. So, would you please address that concern?

      Question 3) : Why does Jordan have to be “put to the test”? What’s the logic here? As I put to you some time ago, John Bolton’s idea may well have worked pre-Oslo when many of the terrorist entities did not exist and those that did had little or no political kudos in the disputed territories. Now they have and do, and Israel (and Jordan) would be quite silly to pretend otherwise.

      Furthermore, post so-called Arab Spring and a still smouldering Syrian Civil War, there is a menacing Russian and Iranian presence next door to both Israel and to Jordan , plus Hezbollah and a resurgent Syrian Army eying the Golan, if not the Galil, indeed, if not Amman:

      Q: How would the Jordanian enclave proposal alter the balance of power in these immediate border areas to Israel’s advantage?

      Question 7) : If no security re-arrangements between Israel and Jordan would ensue, then why change anything seeing as how Israel’s primary tactical and strategic focus must by necessity be her own national security?

      In closing, just as I have asked several times what Israel would stand to gain by these proposals because that is my major concern, I would also ask what Jordan stands to gain by entering into your proposed agreements and might not those potential gains be to Israel’s detriment?

      • John
        In answer to your further questions:
        1. The threat of a peace agreement going pear-shaped is inherent in any such agreement. The peace treaties signed by Israel with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 make a mockery of your alarmist claim.

        3. Jordan should be put to the test because it and Israel are the two successor states to the Mandate for Palestine and are currently the sovereign rulers in 95% of the territory comprised in the Mandate.

        95% of the West Bank Arab population would once again become Jordanian citizens as they were between 1950 and 1988, and the enclave would be recognized as part of Jordan. Access and egress would be controlled solely by Israel. Even you might agree this would be a major advance on the current situation.

        Israel will annex the remainder of Judea and Samaria.

        Jordan will recover territory it lost in the Six Day War.

        Everyone will continue to live where they presently reside.

        The conflict over Judea and Samaria will be resolved.

        • David

          Once again you resort to ad hominems, quite pathetically IMO.

          1) NO, DEFINITELY NOT. I’m not being alarmist. We live in a different time now, the problems which you ignore completely come from the terrorist entities you don’t take account of.

          3) If you insist David but I see no logic to what you’re saying other than it’s possible to do it, so do it. Profound.

          a) Why, oh why should Israel “give back” territory that was taken from her for nineteen years only back a codified war crime?

          b) Jordan didn’t “lose” territory in 1967, Israel reclaimed illegally annexed territory, the Jewish heartland no less – which you seem anxious to “return” to the robbers.

          c) I am amazed you can still say “the conflict over Judea and Samaria will be resolved” when as at (1) you ignore the realities of the numerous terrorist entities that exist for the sole purpose of annihilating Israel in particular, and Jordan.

          Being an alarmist, of course, I cannot wish them gone.

        • David, sorry for the typo at a) It should read”

          “Why, oh why should Israel “give back” territory that was taken from her for nineteen years only by means of a codified war crime?”

          • I am pleased to see you now agree a Jordanian enclave is possible to do.

            I believe it is achievable if Jordan can be brought to the negotiating table. I also believe it is the best solution to resolving the competing territorial claims to Judea and Samaria.

  4. David

    I have heard of creative writing but not creative reading. Creative reading maybe all very well if it floats your boat and strokes your ego but you read only what you want to see whilst steadfastly refusing to discuss points and answer questions put to you. I think we are done here.

    • John
      So what did you mean when you said:
      “If you insist David but I see no logic to what you’re saying other than it’s possible to do it, so do it. Profound”

      • What I meant by “Profound” only somebody with a sense of humour would understand, David. WE ARE DONE HERE.

        • Yet another ad hominem by you to try and extract yourself from your clear statement that it is possible to create a Jordan enclave.

          BTW as a matter of etiquette the use of capital letters in a comment is not regarded as being acceptable behaviour.

          That said. – I do not expect you to respond to this comment.

          • David, if you continue to attack commentators you don’t agree with, please stop posting here.

            This is not the first time I have picked you up on internet etiquette and your being wrong about it.

            Using capital letters in a comment is NOT regarded as being unacceptable. What is considered as shouting, is when a comment is posted in its entirety as capitals.