- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Israeli perspective

A former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations yesterday warned the United States that a premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq would simply encourage Islamic terrorists, who would see the move as a victory in their war against the West.

“If you leave in three months or three years, if that withdrawal is seen as a victory [for the terrorists], you will fuel a global jihad,” Ambassador Dore Gold told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

Mr. Gold, in Washington for the annual conference of Christians United for Israel, said his country has learned that giving up land for peace only guarantees more Israeli bloodshed.

He cited a “fundamental misconception” that is widely held in Europe and among some U.S. Middle East specialists that Islamist radicals turned to violence because of some “political grievance.”

“The source of radical Islam is not a political grievance to be addressed through diplomacy,” he said.

Islamic militancy grew after Muslim guerrillas succeeded in forcing the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980s, he said.

“They reasoned that they beat one superpower, why not try the next,” he said, referring to the United States.

Mr. Gold cited the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as an example of false expectations built up by international diplomacy. He acknowledged that he, too, expected the Palestinians to begin building the independent nation that they had long demanded.

However, Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel that began inviting al Qaeda terrorists into the region, he said.

“We now have an al Qaeda sanctuary on the shores of the Mediterranean,” he said.

Mr. Gold insisted that Israel must hold on to the Jordan Valley in the West Bank to guarantee defensible borders and must never put its trust in international promises of security.

“If you think you are helping the cause of peace by forcing Israel out of the West Bank, you will be replicating what happened in Gaza with far more lethal consequences,” he said, explaining that terrorists could easily strike Israeli cities and its industrial infrastructure from the West Bank.

Israel should never, ever concede its self-defense capacity for security guarantees.”

Mr. Gold, U.N. ambassador from 1997 to 1999, is also a close adviser for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud bloc and a likely candidate again for the Israeli leadership. Mr. Gold is now president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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