The Core of the Matter: Addressing Israel's Security Needs

February 16, 2016Jacob Kraus-Preminger

This is the second in a series of posts outlining some of the core issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Reform Movement’s positions on these issues. Click here to read the introduction to the series, and click here for posts on borders, refugees and Jerusalem.

For many of us who yearn for peace in Israel, security is at the forefront of our minds and Israel’s persistent insecurity strikes deeply at our hearts. Painful memories of watching the Second Intifada unfold, only to be replaced by rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, and a recent escalation in individual attacks against Israelis are all painful reminders that an end to terrorism against the Jewish state cannot come soon enough. They push us for assurances that a two-state solution would have to ameliorate the constant security threats that Israel has had to address and future threats that it may encounter.

One area of major concern remains the threat of rocket attacks. Especially since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, many have argued that ceding more territory to Palestinians opens the door for a hostile regime, such as Hamas, to take control of that territory and use it to launch attacks against Israel. Moreover, if a Palestinian state were to be established on the West Bank, the distance between Israel’s eastern border and the Mediterranean Sea could be as short as nine miles. For many, this raises the fear that a country seeking to invade Israel could easily overtake a future Palestinian state and then proceed to cut Israel’s northern portion off from its southern portion.

One way to address these issues would be by making an agreement that establishes a demilitarized Palestinian state and makes strong security guarantees. Such assurances could come in the form of a multinational peacekeeping force, such as the one that currently exists in the Sinai Peninsula. Experts have also discussed the possibility of allowing Israel to maintain early warning stations in a future Palestinian state. Many also point to broader regional frameworks, such as the Arab Peace Initiative, as ways to ensure that an agreement on the Israeli-Palestinian issue helps soften relations with Israel’s other neighbors.

Our Movement has recognized this challenge in its many resolutions and statements on Israel and the Peace Process. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, for instance, believes that “military force will not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nevertheless,” they state, “Israel has the right and moral obligation to protect the safety and security of its people.” The Union for Reform Judaism has repeatedly called upon Hamas to end its rocket attacks and upon the Palestinian Authority to “fulfill its prior commitments, including making all possible efforts to bring about an end to violence and incitement, and to continue its cooperation with Israeli security forces and American advisors to create viable Palestinian security forces.” In addition, we have continually supported a strong foreign aid package to Israel as a means of helping to provide Israel with assurances it needs to make the difficult compromises necessary to ensure its long-term security under a peace agreement.

To learn more about the peace process and the Reform Movement’s position, watch for other posts in this blog series. You can also visit the RAC’s Israel Issue Page and the URJ’s Israel Engagement Page for more information.

Feature Image courtesy of Anthony Baratier, Wikipedia.

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