Political talks and terror

Israel is demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, but the Palestinians refuse to do so.

kerry and abbas 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
kerry and abbas 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Last week, as a gesture of good faith to get political negotiations back on track, Israel released the third (and second to last) wave of Palestinian terrorists who were being held in Israeli prisons.
This group was composed of 26 terrorists with blood on their hands.
Israel is complying with the schedule set during recent negotiations, and yet these negotiations do not seem to be progressing at all. Apart from a number of statements made by US Secretary of State John Kerry that a negotiation framework will soon be signed, nothing has happened.
So what is going on and what should we expect to happen in the near future? Shin Bet data show that since the beginning of the current round of negotiations with the Palestinians, there has been a slight, but steady, increase in the amount of violent incidents in Israel. The number of terrorist attacks increased during this period; in November alone, 20 bombs exploded and even more Molotov cocktails were thrown at innocent people in Judea and Samaria.
Inside the Green Line, there were two stabbings; in the first one, an IDF soldier was killed and in a second, a female soldier was injured.
In a third incident, a bomb was left on a bus in Bat Yam, but no one was hurt since an alert rider noticed it before it was detonated. The number of clashes between the IDF and Palestinians has also been rising consistently, and as a result of these, there have been more casualties and deaths. Not surprisingly, this has brought about a sharp rise in the number of revenge attacks carried out by Palestinians.
The current round of Israel-Palestinian negotiations began with no preconditions and yet it is clear that both sides have redlines they are not willing to cross. Israel is not willing to give up settlement blocs that Palestinians claim should be theirs, and the Palestinians will not relinquish Jerusalem as their capital even though Israel has proclaimed that Jerusalem will never be divided.
The Palestinians are demanding that the Jordan Valley be demilitarized, whereas Israel insists that the IDF must remain in the region in order to ensure Israel’s safety. The Palestinian side is demanding that all Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to homes they abandoned in 1948, but Israel strongly opposes this and will only agree that they return to areas that will be under Palestinian control.
Israel is demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, but the Palestinians refuse to do so.
And we must not forget that the Palestinian Authority with which we are negotiating is actually made up by two completely separate entities, only one of which communicates with us. The other one is a terrorist organization that continuously shoots rockets into Israel.
In July, I wrote that nobody believes something concrete will result from these talks. It is clear that Netanyahu is not in a position to grant the Palestinians what they desire and that Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) cannot offer the Palestinians a deal they consider acceptable.
In any case, the majority of the Palestinian community does not support Abu Mazen and the Palestinian leadership, and so the Palestinian Authority will never be able to make any significant decisions. The conclusion is that the current round of negotiations will most likely fail just as all previous ones have. The Americans know this is true, but they don’t really care since their main goal was to create a dynamic that would serve two goals. Their first goal is for the US to be seen as an active, leading world power whose position in the region is stronger, which could counteract Russia’s growing dominance. Their second goal was for the negotiations to have a calming effect in the region, as much as this is possible. Their hope is that holding negotiations will give both sides hope, lower the flames, prevent the situation from deteriorating even more and keep the conflict from escalating.
Even Kerry said this week that his goal was only to reach a “framework agreement,” in which the two sides would apparently reach a consensus about which issues they will discuss during future negotiations.
What this means is that meetings are being held between the two sides without any real progress whatsoever. Kerry is using these meetings as an opportunity for great photo-ops of himself together with the Israeli and Palestinian representatives.
The meetings themselves are part of an amazing political move for him and the Americans. Exacting results from these meetings is secondary.
Nothing concrete has or will come of these meetings, since nothing has been agreed upon. The only significant result of the talks has been an increase in terrorist attacks and violent incidents to which IDF then responds and which unfortunately usually result in additional deaths.
The Palestinian people are becoming more and more frustrated. Their economic situation is precarious at best and they have no reason to believe that it will improve anytime soon. From their point of view, the Zionist regime is responsible for this and for the many deaths that occur as a result of the violent clashes with the IDF.
Most of these recent incidents are being carried out by local groups, and not terrorist groups based outside of Israel, and the success of such attacks increases their desire to carry out more attacks on their own. As a result, other local individuals decide to carry out attacks on their won.
Every couple of months another group of terrorists is released to Judea, Samaria and Gaza and they are welcomed warmly into an atmosphere of celebration and triumph.
One needs to be blind, deaf or stupid not to see the current writing on the wall that is written in bright gold lettering. The third intifada is on its way. Early signs of this can already be seen. The Palestinian Authority has been planning for this for some time now and no significant move will change this situation or bring new hope. And no political agreement will be reached. This is exactly how things looked just before the second intifada. The only difference is that last time Palestinian Authority leaders initiated the fighting.
This time, the violence will come directly from the people on the street.
The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.