Former IDF commanders: Annexation must not erode US-Israel security ties

 
AMERICAN AND ISRAELI flags fly during a demonstration in support of Israel at the US Capitol in 2002.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

The 41 officials thanked the members of Congress for their stance, which they said was an “expression of true friendship for Israel and concern for our country’s security and well-being.”

Former Israeli security officers sent a letter Tuesday to members of the US Congress thanking them for their stance against annexation and stressing the importance of continued Israeli-US security cooperation.
“The strategic bond between our countries has long been an important factor in our overall national security and in our ability to deter and, when needed, defeat those in our region who wish to do us harm,” they said.
“Any perceived erosion, however misconstrued, in these relations and in the ironclad US commitment to the durability of security assistance risks undermining our deterrence,” they added.
The letter was signed by a number of former heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad, such as Yaakov Peri, Ami Ayalon, Tamir Pardo, Shabtai Shavit and Danny Yatom, as well as other former security commanders.
The text was sent to four US Democratic representatives: Jan Schakowksy, Ted Deutch, David E. Price and Bradley S. Schneider.
The four US politicians had authored a letter against Israeli plans to annex portions of the West Bank that was signed by 191 members of Congress and sent to top Israeli leaders.
Unlike other initiatives, that letter refrained from speaking of conditioning US military assistance to Israel on refraining from annexation.
The 41 former officers thanked the members of Congress for their stance, which they said was an “expression of true friendship for Israel and concern for our country’s security and well-being.”
“We consider it a further manifestation of the broad-based support for the kind of Israel we have fought for on the battlefield and continue to strive for: one that is strong and safe and maintains a solid Jewish majority for generations to come, all while upholding the values of democracy and equality as enshrined in our Declaration of Independence,” they said.
They spoke of their vision of Israel’s future borders, which included territory beyond the pre-1967 lines such as Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and “certain settlement blocs.”
But the application of sovereignty to those territories must be done through negotiation and not through unilateral action, they said.
“Unilateral annexation may trigger a chain of events beyond anyone’s control. It may undermine stability in the West Bank and Gaza, our peace treaties and security coordination with Egypt and Jordan, as well as any hope for an effective regional effort to check Iran’s meddling and ambitions,” the former officers wrote.
“We continue to affirm the importance of the robust security relationship between our countries. This is why we applauded the 2016 10-year memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel,” they wrote.
They pledged to work against Israeli plans to annex up to 30% of the West Bank.
“We look forward to future bipartisan initiatives in support of Israel’s security, including sustained security assistance, the pursuit of a viable two-state solution and opposition to any unilateral action, like unilateral annexation, that threatens to undermine it,” they wrote.

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