Once again Am Israel was shocked by a horrific terrorist attack, killing four people in Eli. Since spring 2022 we encounter a surge in Palestinian terrorism. The Israeli government replies by arrests of and surgical strikes on terrorists. But the attacks simply continue. With the downfall of the Palestinian Authority, the time has come for Israel to annex Samaria and Judea. That is the only solid way to thwart the killing of innocent Jews.
This blog is dedicated to Elisha Anteman, Ofer Fairman, Nachman Mordoff, and Harel Masood, who were murdered in a terrorist attack in Eli on 20 June 2023.
*** May their memory be a blessing ***
Current security situation and Israel’s reply
Since spring 2022 Israel has faced numerous terrorist attacks, in Samaria and Judea, as well as in Israel proper, such as at a bus stop in Jerusalem, which killed Aryeh Schupak. The reply of the Israeli governments, be they the previous Left-Centre or the current Right-wing government, is basically the same: terrorists are arrested and convicted, their houses blown up and rarely, as yesterday, a targeted killing is conducted of terrorists, before they can carry out an attack. Ministers say encouraging words to the families of the deceased victims and make big statements about increased security and reprisal. But it is only words, actual measures, such as manning checkpoints, rerouting of roads and disarmament of potential terrorists, are lacking. Promising the construction of 1,000 homes in Eli, is not going to solve the problem of terrorism. Not surprisingly, especially in Shomron, people are fed up with the empty words of the government and retaliate themselves, by burning houses and cars of Palestinians, as we have seen the last couple of days. In the meantime, the terror attacks go on. The day after ‘Eli’ there was already another shooting.
Let’s face it, Palestinian president Abbas rules over his presidential palace in Ramallah, not any further than that. The Palestinian Authority is not more than a ‘failed state’ where other armed entities are in control. Such as in Jenin, a heavily armed stronghold, from which multiple terrorist attacks have been launched. Daily we see the terrorists there, roaming around with M-16s, or other weapons. Either Abbas has no control in Jenin, or he silently endorses armed groupings, as long as they do not threaten his ‘authority’. Furthermore, Abbas, himself a renowned Holocaust-denier, pays salaries to the families of killed or imprisoned terrorists. Considering his age, and the fact that the majority of the Palestinians totally reject him, elections (which Abbas did not hold for 20 years) are ahead, which may lead to another victory of Hamas, after Gaza, this time in the area between Ramallah and Jenin. Under Abbas, the Palestinian Authority area has increasingly become under influence of groupings supported by Iran. It is crystal clear which horrific consequences it would have for Israel if Hamas comes to power there as well.
The Two-State solution
As we know, originally, the United Nations, drafted a Two-State solution, with a Jewish and a Palestinian state. After the State of Israel was founded, no Palestinian state came to being, since its foreseen territory, Gaza by Egypt, and the ‘West Bank’ area by Jordan, were occupied by Arab neighboring countries. Hence, that there was no Palestinian state between 1948 and 1967 was caused by the Arab world, not by Israel. In the war of 1967 Israel conquered Gaza and Samaria and Judea. All the negotiations since then about a Two-State solution, in spite of major concessions by Prime Minister Barak in 2000, have led to nothing. Why? Because the leading grouping of the Palestinians, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), founded before 1967, has always made it clear that they want the whole of Israeli territory, until the Mediterranean Sea. The PLO’s emblem resembles this with their map of ‘Palestine’.
Occupation by Israel?
Then, there is of course the issue of Israel, ‘occupying’ the West Bank since 1967. There is only occupation of territory if that is territory of another state. For example, Russia currently occupies parts of Ukraine and of Georgia. However, in the case of Samaria and Judea, there never was a (Palestinian) state, whose territory has been occupied. Hence, amongst scholars of International Law there is certainly no unambiguous view on this matter, the so-called ‘Israeli occupation’ is not a fact. Furthermore, if Israel would agree with a Palestinian state in Samaria and Judea, would that mean that the Palestinians stop their terrorist attacks? No way! The examples are there, what would lay ahead: after Israel withdrew from Lebanon (2000), Hezbollah came to power and after Israel extracted from Gaza (2005), Hamas took control. Both entities loaded with thousands of rockets, whose sole objective is the annihilation of the Jewish state. Those who think that the Palestinians in their ‘West Bank’ state would turn into peace-loving neighbors are an Alice in Wonderland. Such a Palestinian state would be a third entity at our borders, aiming to kill all the Jews.
Annexation of Samaria and Judea
Considering the aforementioned, I see no other solution for a more steadfast security situation in Shomron and in Israel overall, than annexation of Samaria and Judea. Many in the Knesset are currently calling for a large military operation in Samaria and Judea, a ‘cleaning’ operation, to disarm (potential) terrorists and to get rid of the stockpiles of weapons and explosives. Israel has conducted such a military action before. In 2002 it carried out Operation Defensive Shield to stop the Second Intifada. However, that is not sufficient. In due course, the Palestinians will again obtain weapons, followed by a renewed rise of terrorism.
Annexation of Samaria and Judea is the only long-lasting solution to counter terrorism. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syria took Israel by surprise by conducting a massive tank attack from the Golan. The strategic position of the Golan, offering Syria a perfect launching spot for future attacks, made Israel to decide to proceed with the annexation of the Golan, in 1981. Likewise, because of the strategic nature of the standing security threats to Israel, Samaria and Judea should be annexed. After abolishing the Palestinian Authority, Israel should establish its rule in this area. This will come at a high price, politically, militarily and economically. Politically, most other states, both Arab, Western and others, will condemn such a step. Hence, it will damage Israel’s international reputation and foster its isolation. Furthermore, it will enhance boycotts. Militarily, annexation will result in reinforced troop deployment in Samaria and Judea, and therefore demand more of the scarce capabilities of the Israel Defense Forces. Economically, in addition to coping with boycotts, annexation will demand the creation of government structures in Samaria and Judea, at the expense of the government budget.
Difficult as it may be, annexation of Samaria and Judea is the best solution to counter Palestinian terrorism. Terrorism will never cease totally, but annexation provides more security guarantees than other policy options. Muddling through with the current Israeli policy of convicting terrorists and preventing terror attacks, does not effectively boost Israel’s security against terrorism. As mentioned, annexation will come at a high price, but what is more important for the State of Israel, the security of its citizens, or its international reputation and economic welfare? That is the choice Israel’s government has to cope with!