Lapid should warn UN that Israel will fight terror wave aggressively - analysis

The West Bank is seeing a wave of violence, and the Palestinian Authority is losing control to Palestinians affiliated with terror organizations.

 PALESTINIAN GUNMEN from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades hold a military parade in the Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, last week. Israel need not apologize for defending itself against Palestinian terrorist cells, says the writer. (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
PALESTINIAN GUNMEN from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades hold a military parade in the Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus, last week. Israel need not apologize for defending itself against Palestinian terrorist cells, says the writer.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid arrived in New York on Tuesday to take part in the UN General Assembly meeting, which he is expected to address on Thursday.

He is also scheduled to meet a slew of world leaders, including new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Jordan’s King Abdullah and others. In addition, he will meet with the leaders of Jewish organizations.

Lapid should use these meetings not only to warn against Iran obtaining nuclear capabilities, but also – more immediately – the likelihood of the West Bank exploding at any given moment.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will also be in New York and – as he does each year – will use his time on the world’s greatest diplomatic stage to castigate and demonize Israel. He is also expected to renew the PA’s bid to become a full member state of the UN.

How ironic. One of the requirements of statehood as laid out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, long recognized as the measuring stick under international law for what constitutes a state, is that a state needs to have a functioning government that rules the territory it lays claim to.

 PRIME MINISTER Yair Lapid  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) PRIME MINISTER Yair Lapid (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The PA is far from that. Not only does it not control the Gaza Strip, part of the area it claims as “Palestine,” but it is even losing control over significant swaths of the West Bank that are nominally under its control.

Look at the security situation in northern Samaria, in Jenin and its environs, as well as increasingly in Nablus, where the PA has essentially lost control to gunmen belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organizations.

How is this loss of control manifesting itself?  

By daily shooting attacks that Israeli security officials have begun referring to as a mini-wave of terrorism, similar to the one that struck Israel in March and April and that led to a wide-ranging IDF operation called Break the Wave.

The number of terrorist attacks taking place now rivals the number of attacks and attempted attacks in March and April. The only difference is that while the attacks in March and April led to the killing of 19 people, the almost daily attacks of the last month have been less deadly. But it is not for a lack of trying.

Israelis who pay attention to the news know of these attacks because they are reported daily in the media. People abroad, however, may be unfamiliar with the current tense situation because these attacks do not make headlines, which happens only when they result in fatalities.

It is critical, however, that Lapid make the world aware of what is happening on the ground now, so that if the IDF decides – as some are recommending – for it to launch a major operation to regain security control of areas that the PA has seemingly lost, the world does not just wake up one morning, see images of the IDF reentering Palestinian cities and reflexively slam Israel for “a disproportionate response.”

Lapid needs to explain the context today, and his presence at the UN General Assembly affords him the perfect opportunity.

What is the context of these attacks?

Between August 20 to September 19, there have been 13 shooting attacks on IDF or Israeli civilian positions in Judea and Samaria, resulting in the killing of Maj. Bar Pelach, deputy commander of the Sayeret Nahal Battalion, and the wounding of several others.

In addition, five stabbing attacks have been thwarted. And that does not include attacks thwarted inside Israel, such as one that potentially could have caused mass casualties in Tel Aviv that was prevented earlier this month when a Palestinian from Nablus was detained in Jaffa while in possession of a submachine gun and two nail-filled pipe bombs.

Miraculously, these attacks have not resulted in a larger number of fatalities. But Israel cannot, and does not, rely on miracles, and it is only a matter of time until it will be forced to take an action like Breaking the Waves, which will inevitably result in Palestinian casualties and cause an international uproar.

So far, the PA security apparatus has done little to prevent the current wave of attacks, either because it doesn’t want to, or it can’t – or a combination of both. Nitzan Nuriel, a former director of the National Security Council’s counterterrorism bureau, said in a KAN News interview on Tuesday that there was another reason for the sudden uptick of attacks: jockeying for power in the West Bank for the day after Abbas, a day that – judging by what is happening on the ground – rival Palestinian organizations believe is coming sooner rather than later.

“A big part of what we are seeing today in Judea and Samaria is a direct result of an understanding by all the actors on the Palestinian scene that the days of Abu Mazen [Abbas] are coming to an end, and every side --  either local or with some other organization’s identity -- is trying to improve their position for the day after.”

Nitzan Nuriel

Nuriel said this means that various actors on the Palestinian street are buying weapons, enlisting people and trying to take control of territory to strengthen their position for the struggle that will ensue when Abbas, 86, leaves the scene – a struggle he predicted will be “very bloody.”

“What we are seeing now is the struggle within Palestinian society before the struggle that will take place after Abbas leaves,” Nuriel said. “When you want to be strong, you carry out shooting attacks in Huwara [such as the one that took place against Israeli vehicles on Monday]. If you want to be strong, you show that you can carry out an attack in Tel Aviv.”

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Over the last month, Israel has faced shooting attacks, stabbing attacks and attempts to infiltrate on almost a daily basis. It is going to have to react with a stronger hand. Lapid should be explaining that to the world now.