(Continued from p.5)port, if and when Arafat declares a Palestinian state, his act will win the support of the Jewish majority and the agreement of the Israeli public as a whole.
On the crucial issue of perception of Arab intentions toward Israel, a far-reaching decline has also taken place. As late as 1991, close to half of those surveyed (49%) responded that it is the Arab intention to destroy the State of Israel. By 1996, the number had dropped to 28%. While in 1986, 37% of the public believed the Arabs intended to conquer Israel, that number had dropped to 24% in 1996. A large majority of the Jewish public assumes that the attitude of the Arab states has undergone a far-reaching transformation which expresses itself in moderation and a willingness to accept Israel in the region.
And while it is true that a decisive majority remains opposed to Jerusalem becoming the capital of the Palestinian state and only 14% support it, 30% believe that such a possibility will be realized in the near future. Based on the precedent of the Palestinian state, it can be expected that soon every third Israeli will
The public is working together with its leadership against the existential interests of the Jewish state based on a mistaken understanding of reality.
Along with Jerusalem, the Golan Heights has been at the center of the national consensus for many years. In studies conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion in Jerusalem in the decade between 1968-78, an overwhelming majority (as much as 96%) negated any possibility of negotiations on the Golan. In 1980, the naysayers still numbered 80%. Over the last three years there has been a steady decline, with the number of those opposed to relinquishing the Golan decreasing to 50% in 1995, and dropping to 35% in 1996. Correspondingly 66% believe the Golan will be returned to Syria within a decade.
A similar decline is evident in public support for settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. For example, agreement with disobeying an order to evacuate settlers dropped from 32% in 1994 to 20% in 1996. The readiness to evacuate western Samaria rose from 30% in 1994 to 38% in 1996 and to evacuate Gush Ezion from 14% in 1994 to 20% in 1996. Until recently, both areas were accepted by the nation as part of the State of Israel.
Thus the situation has undergone a far-reaching transformation. The national consensus of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s has been forced into an ever-shrink-ing corner of the political map, populated exclusively by the so-called "extreme Right."
These trends in public opinion reflect the policies of the Rabin-Peres governments as well as the Netanyahu government and lend solid support to the political process designed to return Israel to the 1949 borders. The public is working together with its leadership against the existential interests of the Jewish state based on a mistaken understanding of reality.
The Israeli systems collapse leads not only to fateful political errors but to fateful errors in the strategic thinking that is supposed to provide a viable and rational response to potential strategic threats.
If we examine the defense budget, the 1997 figure was $8.4-billion. Since 1985, Israel's defense spending (in adjusted dollar terms) decreased by approximately 20%. Had Israel maintained in 1997 the 1985 level of defense spending relative to the gross national product (which has risen dramatically since 1985), defense spending today would be $17.4-billion.
While defense spending has in effect been sharply cut, there has been a drastic increase in the potential strategic threat to Israel in a number of areas.
l. There has been an almost 1,000% escalation in the deployment of surface to surface missiles in general and those armed with warheads of mass destruction in particular. Israel, which is actually the Greater Tel Aviv megalopolis, holding half the Jewish population of the country, is catastrophically vulnerable to the danger of ballistic attack.
2. There has been a massive growth of the Egyptian army which is, according to General (Res.) Natan Vilnai "Israel's most dangerous enemy."
3. There has been a huge increase in the cost of weapons, from fighter planes to missiles, tanks and advanced weapons system.
4. There has been a 40% decrease in the value of American aid as it is not linked to inflation.
Another ironic aspect of the situation is that Israel's gross national product ($100-billion) is 25% greater than the joint product of Egypt and Syria $(80-billion approximately), but its defense budget is only 43% of the military expenditures of these countries, which declare that war is an option in case Israel does not concede to the "peace" dictated by Cairo and Damascus.
In the defense budget the Arrow (which is in fact an American R&D project, therefore partly funded at this point by the Pentagon) is rapidly commanding an increasingly greater share. The conceptual failure of the Arrow was already revealed in the euphemism used in characterizing it as a main weapons system in "active defense." The Arrow is designed to intercept the enemies' missiles in the last stage of their ballistic flight, in other words, a few dozen kilometers from their target, which
(Continued on p.7)
Outpost - 6 - September 1999