An Israeli tank manoeuvres along the border fence with the southern Gaza Strip, as watch-towers are seen on the Palestinian side near Kibbutz Nirim, Israel February 17, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
During the early ‘70s and ‘80s, when Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership began to plan out a campaign of diplomatic warfare against Israel, the Palestinian cause thrived. Israel quickly became Goliath to the Palestinian David, and Palestinian nationalism rapidly gained worldwide sympathy. In essence, the Palestinian identity formed around the demonization of Israel and the international subjugation of Zionism. In a world that had yet to be hit by the realities of terrorism, the hijacking of planes and the murder of innocent Jewish athletes seemed to be acts by freedom fighters engaging an “oppressor” in unconventional warfare. Times, unfortunately for the Palestinians, have changed.
There is, now, a genuine disconnect between the reality Palestinians are forced to endure in the West Bank and Gaza, and the strategy pursued by their own leadership. The majority of Palestinians have already developed a “national” awareness and have understood that Israel cannot be defeated through terrorism or biased UN resolutions. They are now aspiring to social and economic development as well as a reduction in regional hostilities. It is their leadership, both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which seem unable to detach the anti-Zionist narrative from their perception of Palestinian nationalism.
Yet the world seems unable or unwilling to recognize the realities of the conflict. The international demonization of Israel continues to grow, and it is starting to shatter the hopes for peace among Palestinians. What better example of this than the current protests along the Gaza-Israel border?
During the past week, through major international news outlets and a wide array of world leaders, the international community has become obsessed with criticizing Israel’s “harsh” response to clear threats to its sovereignty. Despite the obvious attempted terrorist infiltrations or the bombs planted along the border, the United Nations Security Council found another excuse to condemn Israel for exercising the same legal right US President Donald Trump is preparing to use along America’s border with Mexico through his deployment of the National Guard. Of course, the 14 members of the council voted to condemn Israel’s actions, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley once again found the will to restore a sense of logic and morality by vetoing the resolution.
There was no mention of the financial incentives Hamas publicized for those willing to risk their lives to provoke Israeli retaliation. These promises consisted of $500 for those wounded during the protests and $3,000 for those families that lose a relative during the protests.
These are not facts repudiated by Qatar or Al-Jazeera, but by American senator Bernie Sanders and congresswoman Barbara Lee. There is a clear failure, by the international community, to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for promoting terrorism and pushing a peace deal further away.
There was no UNSC resolution against the 3,600 Palestinians murdered in Syria since 2011 by the Assad regime. There was no condemnation by Egypt, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia over the thousands more that were wounded or displaced by the fighting. It is time to put the obsession with Israel aside and address the true obstacles to peace.
History has shown that terrorism and aggression only grow with a policy of appeasement. It is time for the international community to understand the true needs of the Palestinian people and stop incentivizing Hamas to fund terrorism by “looking the other way.” With a terrorism infrastructure worth $260 million, it is obvious that the Palestinian leadership is more committed to its policy of undermining Israel’s right to exist than in embracing the parameters of the Oslo Accords.
This is not about Israel’s general security. The IDF is well prepared to engage any regional threat, both conventional and otherwise. It is about coercing Palestinian policies to shift toward acceptance and away from resistance. The world is failing the Palestinian people and continues to embrace the same policies which led the UN to vote on the infamous Resolution 3379, “Zionism is Racism.”
It is time to be proactive. Time for the world to call for new democratic elections in the West Bank and condemn Hamas’s tyrannical grip on the Gaza Strip. It is time for the Sunni Arab countries to embrace the need to cooperate with Israel on all fronts and pressure the Palestinian leadership to abandon the futile quest to “liberate Palestine.”
If the world does not force the Palestinian leadership to set aside the anti-Zionist narrative, peace will continue to be elusive.The author is a former IDF Paratrooper and has an MA in diplomacy and international security from IDC Herzliya. He is an Israel advocate, public speaker and Middle East analyst.