JERUSALEM, Israel -- In his testimony before the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday, Avi Dichter, Director of the Israeli Security Agency described some short-term threats inherent in carrying out Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to pull the Israeli Defense Force out of the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. "In a situation where Israel is not in control of the Philadelphi corridor [which separates Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula]," Dichter warned,"terrorists arriving from Lebanon are liable to infiltrate through it into the Gaza Strip and there is the distinct possibility that in a short while the Gaza Strip will turn into south Lebanon."
Dichter also cautioned that the current "trickle" of arms smuggling through the corridor is liable to turn into a "river." As to the northern West Bank, Dichter said that it "is an area with terrorist potential that already proved itself in the past. Therefore nothing should surprise us. If we evacuate the area and turn it into Area A, under complete Palestinian security control, we are liable to get an area there that operates by the Gaza model."
Dichter presented Israel with real cause for concern over Sharon's plan, but his analysis was far from exhaustive. He limited his remarks solely to the realm of terrorist warfare. Since the 1967 Six Day War, the view of the leaders of the IDF's General Staff has been that in a conventional war with Egypt and Jordan participating, Palestinian forces can wreak havoc on Israel's lines of communications moving from west to east and north to south. As a result, until 1993, the view of Israel's defense establishment had always been that from a strategic perspective, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories constituted too great a threat to Israel's national security to be an acceptable option.
This week the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Egypt has been secretly advancing a nuclear armament program. Apparently aided by Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, Egypt reportedly was experimenting with uranium as recently as last year. Then, too, two months ago the IAEA found plutonium particles near an Egyptian nuclear facility. A nuclear-armed Egypt would no doubt feel much more comfortable opening conventional hostilities against Israel, which, given an Egyptian nuclear threat, would be hard-pressed to use its own nonconventional arsenal to deter an Egyptian offensive.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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