IDF soldiers at West Bank checkpoint 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
During a keynote speech on Monday at an economic conference, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon openly referred to proposals by US Secretary of State John Kerry to replace Israeli’s security presence on the ground in the West Bank with an array of advanced remote surveillance capabilities.
Ya’alon revealed why he had rejected the proposals, and in doing so, signaled a major impasse in the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority and US efforts to lead to a breakthrough.
“When I’m told about the security answer in Judea and Samaria, and when they talk about satellites, drones and technologies, I say, ‘guys, you’re wrong.’ The principal problem is education. If in Nablus and Jenin they continue to educate the young generation as it is being educated today, to idolize terrorism and jihad, and that the Jewish people have no right to this land, if this is how they’re educated, than technology stops nothing,” he said. “If the education does not change, we’ll have the same pressure from the inside. And then there will be a Hamastan in Judea and Samaria, like in Gaza. It’ll hurt us, it’ll hurt Jordan and it’ll hurt other interests in the area.”
The “guys” Ya’alon is referring to appear to be Kerry and his aides, and the defense minister’s message is unequivocal. No amount of drones or satellites can replace boots on the ground – of both IDF battalions and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – when it comes to containing Palestinian terrorism.
So long as jihad and warfare remain principal messages in Palestinian media and schools, acting as low flames that gradually, periodically bring the security situation to a boiling point, Israel will feel the need to keep “the lid on the pan” that is the West Bank.
Based on Ya’alon’s statements, it seems that only a visible, permanent Palestinian discontinuation of systematic incitement to violence could convince him to think about vacating security forces from strategic areas of the West Bank.
Otherwise, Ya’alon fears, Palestinian terrorists will use newly vacated territory as staging grounds for attacks – bombings and rockets – on Israeli cities in the heart of the country.
The Palestinian Authority would become the base of the next phase in the war against Israel’s very existence, irrespective of borders.