The world from here: Will PA-supported terrorism kill economic peace?

This threat of Palestinian normalization with Israel and economic prosperity has forced the Palestinian leadership against the wall in acts of ideological Russian roulette.

IDF and Magen David Adom at the sceneof the terror shooting in the Barkan industrial Zone (photo credit: HALLEL MEIR/TPS)
IDF and Magen David Adom at the sceneof the terror shooting in the Barkan industrial Zone
(photo credit: HALLEL MEIR/TPS)
The double execution-style murders this week of Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi at the Barkan Industrial Park took place in the aftermath of the recent fatal stabbing of Ari Fuld in the Gush Etzion commercial center. In both cases, the Palestinian terrorists, ages 23 and 17 respectively, carried out their assaults not in “settlements,” but in two of 16 industrial and commercial zones in Judea and Samaria – the “West Bank” where Palestinians and Israelis live, work and shop. These young men murdered Israelis in order to stunt a growing Palestinian middle-class cooperation and normalization, some say revolution, in which tens of thousands of Palestinian families have chosen to shape their future by cooperating with Israel and living and working with Israelis.
While the Barkan terrorist was an employee of the industrial zone that threatens the economic peace normalization process, Palestinian leaders and professionals living in towns and villages in areas C have expressed shame and sorrow to me over terrorist acts such as these, as well as their inability to say so publicly. They have expressed disgust with their own corrupt and terror-supporting Palestinian Authority leaders who incentivize young Palestinians to murder Jews with more than $315 million annually, and whose official PA political and public culture and media incite them to murder Jews.  
While the  Israeli security forces are still investigating the circumstances of the Barkan atrocity, one link already seems clear: Both young terrorists are bound by the fear and rejection that the bottom-up economic normalization has created an irreversible economically driven “revolution of interests,” as former PLO leader Hani al-Hassan put it, which  threatens the PLO’s core terror-and-incitement-supporting identity. The painful paradox of growing Palestinian-Israeli economic normalization mixed with intolerable Palestinian assaults underscores the importance of Israeli sovereignty and security in Area C. It further exposes the deepening chasm between the PA and the terrorists they support and glorify on the one hand, with the silent and silenced majority of Palestinians who see their economic and political futures linked to Israel, as opposed to a failed, corrupt Palestinian Authority. 
The recent spate of atrocities underscores the Palestinian Authority’s alignment with the terrorists it supports, sanctions and lionizes while undermining the political economic future of its own public. The Trump administration has realized the dissonance between the terror-supporting PA and growing economic prosperity and normalization process with Israel across the West Bank. While the administration has not made the diplomatic case clearly enough – as Sander Gerber and Gen. Thomas Trask point out in their 10/7/18 op-ed, “End Funding of Palestinian Terror” – PA sanction and support of Palestinian terrorists, which inevitably led to the Gush Etzion and Barkan atrocities, are what led the it to cut financial assistance to the PA by $200 million annually, and close the PLO Mission in Washington.
THE US sanctioning of the PA highlights the reversal of fortunes in the Palestinian areas. As the standard of living has increased some 300% per wage-earner in Israeli-controlled, protected and administered area C, compared with the average annual salary in the Palestinian-controlled areas, the PLO and PA’s blood pressure increases. The PLO leadership that controls the PA lives the contradiction of killing its own economic progress by undermining cooperation with Israel. Instead, they incentivize terrorism and incitement to terror. They have made a strategic decision to demonize, defame and delegitimize Israel while paying more than $315 million per year to incentive terrorists and their families to maintain its own power and popularity. While he PA’s strategy undermines the Palestinian economic future, it has not proven itself as success.
Some 100,000 Palestinians commute to work in “pre-1967 Israel” every day, while some 30,000 Palestinians work in the Israeli-administered area C of Judea and Samaria, which is also protected by Israeli Labor laws for both Palestinian and Israeli workers. The PA leadership’s economically tyrannical policies of oligarchic control and massive corruption have driven Palestinians away from relying on its own leadership, as they note on, edited by this author, to seek a future with Israel and Israeli companies. SodaStream and Rami Levy serve as good examples of harmonious work cultures and advantaged compensation policies that are driving Palestinian employment, prosperity, career development and political normalization that all threaten the Palestinian leadership’s perpetual hold on power.
This threat of Palestinian normalization with Israel and economic prosperity has forced the Palestinian leadership against the wall in acts of ideological Russian roulette. If they act as a responsible pre-government authority for the good of its own people, it undermines its ongoing commitment to demonize, assault and ultimately replace Israel with a Muslim-majority Palestinian state. If it continues to sanction and support terrorism and incitement to terror, it will continue to render itself persona non grata with Israel, the United States and today, even with some Sunni Arab states. That process has begun.
In short, ongoing Palestinian terrorism has boomeranged against the Palestinian leadership. The silent Palestinian majority has linked its economic and political future to Israel and given up on its own leadership as an economic anchor and political solution. The Palestinian leadership must choose whether to cooperate in the revolution of economic interests that Hani al-Hassan mentioned to me more than 10 years ago. The other option is for the PA to continue to incentivize and support Palestinian terrorism as the legacy of leadership that defined Yasser Arafat, to whom the Barkan killer, Tulkarem resident Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alwa swore allegiance this week.
The writer is project director for the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism. He can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]