Palestinians stone throwing youths clash with Israeli troops.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In May 1980, four terrorists waited outside Beit Hadassah in Hebron. They knew that the people gathered there weren’t soldiers and that they would be free to gun down unarmed civilians. Six Israelis were murdered in a matter of minutes, 20 more were injured. Two of the victims were American citizens. One was a decorated Vietnam veteran.
This week, 37 years after the murders, there were local elections in the Palestinian Authority, including for the mayor of Hebron. The winner of the Hebron vote was Fatah’s candidate, Tayseer Abu Sneineh, one of the four terrorists who carried out the attack.
Maybe you could argue that times have changed or that he has changed, but the fact say different: Fatah’s declaration spoke with pride about the fact that Abu Sneineh was one of the terrorists who carried out the attack at Beit Hadassah. The fact that he could stand in front of innocent people and shoot them without hesitation is a source of pride for his supporters.
On the day the results were announced, I was with the members of the Yesh Atid faction at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, the site of one of the most famous battles of the Six Day War. We held our weekly faction meeting there to signal our deep connection to a united Jerusalem.
During the tour of the battle site we were shown a memorial made of stones. It was built at the end of the battle by the IDF soldiers who had fought there. That memorial wasn’t built to remember the soldiers who fought alongside them in that heroic battle, rather it was in memory of the Jordanian soldiers who fought against them. As exhausted as they were, the soldiers of the IDF were determined to pay their respects; not only to their fallen brothers, but also to the enemy, and so they placed a homemade sign on the stones that read, “Buried here are 17 brave Jordanian soldiers.”
Between the boastful Palestinian announcements celebrating the murder of innocents and the modest memorial that pays respect to the enemy is the difference between a culture of bloodshed and death, and a culture that sanctifies human dignity.
The next time the nations of the world ask us why there is still no peace between Israel and the Palestinians we should point them to Tayseer Abu Sneineh. Can Israel afford to trust a man who says that his greatest achievement is murdering innocent people at point-blank range? Can an agreement be signed with a national movement that celebrates his actions? Can they be trusted to keep their word? What lesson do the children of Hebron learn from his election? What role model does it present them for the future? In the days before President Trump arrives in Israel and tries to restart the diplomatic process, the shameful election of Abu Sneineh is a reminder that in any deal, in any negotiation, Israel must have one indispensable demand – our security remains in our hands.
The State of Israel will not hand over our security to others, not to international forces and certainly not to the Palestinians.
In any framework, the IDF needs to have the operational freedom to act anywhere necessary to protect the citizens of Israel.
If the Palestinians don’t like it, then they should look at Tayseer Abu Sneineh and ask themselves how we know (not think, not assume – know!) that we can’t trust them.The writer is chairman of the Yesh Atid party.