PEOPLE HOLD up peace signs. But who wants peace more – Israel or the Palestinians?.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
How long can we endure the increasingly aggressive cycle of terrorist attack after terrorist attack? In the most recent targeting of Israelis, 27-year-old Malachi Rosenfeld from Kochav Hashahar was killed and three of his friends wounded in a drive-by shooting near Shvut Rahel. It was only the latest in a string of nearly daily attempted stabbings or shootings aimed at Israelis by Palestinians in recent days.
The responses from all sides in the conflict have been predictable. Hamas lauded the spate of attacks, with a spokesman saying it indicates that the West Bank is returning to the days of the second intifada.
The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas was deafening in its silence – no condemnation of violence, no call for calm. No surprise.
Israel’s response could also have been predicted. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed the blame directly at the feet of the PA, saying that its refusal to condemn the attacks makes it an accomplice. He rightfully vowed to fight back forcefully against terrorism and bring those responsible for it to justice, and the IDF deployed more troops to patrol Samaria and increased its activities inside Palestinian villages.
That’s something we’re great at. We know how to fight terrorism – we’re experts at tracking down the perpetrators, setting up checkpoints and rooting out terrorist cells.
Where we are less successful is in formulating a long-term plan that would create an environment in which those attacks no longer take place. Any semblance of a diplomatic process has crumbled under the well-worn ruts of incitement and terrorism on the Palestinian side and paralysis on the Israeli side.
Let’s fantasize for a moment that thanks to our stringent security campaigns, terrorist attacks diminish to zero. What then? For some Israelis, that’s a perfectly acceptable endgame. As long as there’s quiet, there’s no problem.
However, as we’ve witnessed time and time again, those periods of calm are always disrupted by renewed terrorist campaigns. The reason – Palestinian incitement against Israel, desperation over the “occupation” – doesn’t really matter. A policy that offers nothing more than keeping things quiet through military means is always going to result in an explosion of violence.
Despite the intransigence and lack of leadership displayed by Abbas, we should be making every overture, turning over every stone in an effort to move forward out of this morass. We don’t have to do it for the Palestinians, for the US or for the Europeans. We need to do it for Israel, because Israelis are continuing to die.
We can delude ourselves into thinking that the current “surreality” is sustainable, in which Israelis living in the West Bank are not considered Israelis by much of the world and Palestinians living in the West Bank are not living in Palestine. And the convenient scapegoat is never far away – we simply have to point to the latest terrorist attacks or the belligerent tone taken by the PA as justification that it’s not our fault, and there’s nothing we can do to change things given the current environment.
The current coalition obviously subscribes to that formula. It has been in power for almost two months now and has been unable or unwilling to present even a shred of an idea of plan or direction beyond the mantra of stamping out terrorism. That’s a given, and should be done vigorously and without restraint. But is that it? Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was famously quoted as saying that he would fight terrorism as if there is no peace process, and pursue peace as if there is no terrorism.
We seem to be experts at the first part, but we still haven’t figured out how to do the latter. Even more disheartening, it seems like we’ve given up the will to try