Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



With the signing of the Oslo II Accord at the White House on September 28, 1995, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization codified the expansion of Palestinian self-rule in Judea and Samaria. Authors of this Accord argue that the security risks to Israel from the nascent Palestinian state could be reduced through appropriate forms of demilitarization. Similar arguments are being offered in relation to the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau currently in dispute between Israel and Syria. In this very timely and important Article, Professor Beres and Ambassador Shoval examine demilitarization in both contexts. They conclude, jurisprudential assurances notwithstanding, that Israel would face substantial dangers from a demilitarized "Palestine" and from a demilitarized Golan.

The authors begin by discussing the hidden dangers to Israel of entering into an agreement that would create a demilitarized, independent Palestinian state. The authors argue, inter alia, that a demilitarized Palestine would be vulnerable to attacks from militant Islamic factions from within and outside its borders. Under such circumstances, the new Palestinian government could be within its rights, under international law, to disregard any demilitarization agreement. In the end, the authors argue, the newly formed Palestinian government could even be forced to ask Israel to reenter and defend Palestine, ironically embroiling Israel in a potentially catastrophic war.

Professor Beres and Ambassador Shoval also discuss the Israeli government's announced willingness to consider withdrawal of its troops from the Golan Heights. The authors argue that such a withdrawal could be disastrous to the security of Israel. By transferring the Golan to Syria, Israel would be sacrificing a crucial early-warning and defense posture to any future Syrian attack. The authors conclude that, in order to secure the safety of the Jewish state, the government of Israel must avoid placing faith in any demilitarization agreements that would require the surrender of strategically important Israeli territory to enemies of Israel.