Security is the foundation of any successful effort to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Politically, no leader could sign a peace treaty that endangers his or her country’s security or compromises the protection of its citizens. Security is particularly important in an unpredictable region home to many hostile forces that will likely work to bolster extremists and undermine a peace agreement. Neither the Israelis nor Palestinians can afford to be naive about the threats they face. So, what are the main security concerns for both populations?Though security is often framed as a distinctly Israeli concern, it is also important to Palestinians because their future state would be affected by many of the same threats that trouble Israelis. Therefore, Palestinians have a shared interest in finding ways to counter security threats and making sure the peace agreement is sustainable.In order to ensure that any peace agreement will allow both countries to defend themselves, it is important to understand the type of threats that are faced.

Historically, one of the largest threats has been conventional military attacks, meaning tanks, infantry, ground troops. Today, that threat has largely been replaced by aerial attacks, mostly bombing and shelling by plane. Technological advancements have also put Israel and the Palestinian territories within striking distances of missiles launched from any country in the region.

Additionally, terrorism has become a serious threat in the last decade. Though suicide bombings have been mostly contained in recent years, Israel has been under near-constant bombardment by short-range rockets from Gaza and Southern Lebanon. The smuggling of weapons and foreign terrorists are also serious security concerns, as illustrated by the rampant trafficking through Egypt’s increasingly porous border with Gaza since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.From an Israeli perspective, any peace agreement must not inhibit its ability to protect itself against these real and serious threats—and ideally the agreement would contain parameters that bolster Israel’s security position. While the Palestinians do have an interest in deterring the same threats, their primary concern is that these security measures do not prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state. So, here is where the core security question emerges: can both Israeli and Palestinian security needs be met in a way that allows for the establishment of a sovereign, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state?

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