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Israel Must Retain Military Presence on West Bank Until Peace with Arabs Proves Trustworthy, Israel

December 30, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An Israeli military presence on the West Bank will be required for some considerable time after any peaceful arrangement is concluded on Israel’s eastern border, whatever entity comes into being there. This is the opinion of Brig. Gen. (res.) Aryeh Shalev, deputy director of Tel Aviv University’s Center for Strategic Studies in a book just published here.

Shalev, a former deputy director of military intelligence, told a press conference today that demilitarization of the area would not be sufficient during a lengthy transition period, until whatever peace is reached has been tested by time.

He said that because of the topography of the region and the narrow width left between Israel and the hilly areas of Judaea and Samaria, early-warning stations would be required, as well as small army units controlling the east-west road axes.

In his book “The West Bank: Line of Defense Shalev, a frequent critic of the Likud government’s West Bank policies, says it is inconceivable that any Israeli government, whatever its political complexion, could or would dismantle the existing Jewish settlements there.

But, he says, their value is of greater political significance than defense value, even though the limited number of military-age males they represent form a useful addition to Israel’s small standing army, in the first crucial hours of war until the reserves can be mobilized.

Shalev stressed that his book is “entirely theoretical.” He says it lays down no time scale, but merely examines various defense options open under various scenarios: An independent Palestinian state on the West Bank; an entity affiliated with Jordan; continued Israeli presence with local autonomy; or any other agreed arrangement with the Arabs.

But after a lengthy transitional period, Israel might be able to trust a peace agreement. How long this is likely to be, Shalev would not hazard to guess.

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