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http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?section=papers&code=94-D_23 Thoughtful military experts have for many years recognized the risks for Israel should it no longer be able to control the territories it acquired in the course of the Six-Day War in June 1967. For example, shortly after the end of that conflict, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that, "From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders."
The Chiefs made the following specific findings:
"The prominent high ground running north-south through the middle of West Jordan [Judea and Samaria] generally...would provide Israel with a militarily defensible border."
"The commanding territory east of the boundary of 4 June 1967 [the Golan Heights]...overlooks the Galilee area. To provide a defense in-depth, Israel would need a strip about 15 miles wide extending from the border of Lebanon to the border of Jordan."
"By occupying the Gaza Strip, Israel would trade approximately 45 miles of hostile border for eight. Configured as it [was prior to 1967], the strip serve[d] as a salient for introduction of Arab subversion and terrorism and its retention would be to Israel's military advantage."
"To defend the Jerusalem area would require that the boundary of Israel be positioned to the east of the city to provide for the organization of an adequate defensive position."
These findings are as valid today as they were in 1967. In fact, they have been reaffirmed again and again by knowledgeable military professionals. For example, in October 1988, 100 senior U.S. generals and admirals issued a public call for Israel to "retain the Jordan River line as [her] eastern security border" noting that:
"...If Israel loses this line, it would have virtually no warning of attack, its border would be three times longer than the present one. In the midsection of the country it would be 9 to 18 miles from the Mediterranean. Virtually all the population would be subject to artillery bombardment. The plain north of Tel Aviv could be riven by an armored salient within hours. The quick mobilization of its civilian army -- Israel's main hope for survival -- would be disrupted easily, and perhaps irreversibly."
In 1991, Lieutenant General Thomas Kelly, the highly respected chief of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Desert Storm, said, "Israel's control over these areas is the only guarantee, however imperfect, of peace. Their loss is a prescription for war." He added that:
"The West Bank mountains, and especially their approaches, are the critical terrain. If an enemy secures those passes, Jerusalem and all of Israel become uncovered. Without the West Bank, Israel is only eight miles wide at its narrowest point. That makes it indefensible."
Importantly, the Israeli Defense Forces are under no illusion about the abiding importance of strategic analyses like that performed by the Joint Chiefs. As the IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak said in May 1993:
"The 1967 Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum [is] still applicable. The Arab arms are reaching superiority over Israel with a qualitative as well as quantitative edge....If Israel has to retake the territories proposed to be given up, we cannot do it without tremendous casualties."