How long will the Israeli government sit idly by on the “Palestinian fence” and ignore the explosive situation we are in? This is a ticking time bomb and past experience proves that inaction is particularly hazardous.
Fifty years have passed, and most of the political movements are still confident that we can hold on to Judea and Samaria—and previously also the Gaza Strip—and reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan proclaimed: “There can be no peace without Sharm el-Sheikh.” And as we know, his proclamation did not withstand the test of reality. We gave up the territories of the Sinai and returned to the original international border to sign a peace treaty with Egypt, but only unfortunately after paying a heavy price with hundreds of dead and thousands more wounded in the War of Attrition, followed by another 2,700 dead and 10,000 injured in the Yom Kippur War.
The signs that we are repeating the same old and sad story reverberate everywhere. Israel’s leaders have preferred to cloak themselves over the last decade in the same arrogance that characterized the government in 1973, but the difference this time is that the same moves are being made regarding the Palestinians. Our government is burying its head in the sand until the storm passes. The only actions it does take are wrong and destructive, and time is ticking in the meantime.
The directors of the IDF Intelligence Corps and the Israel Security Agency have already warned at security-cabinet meetings and at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that they have managed to prevent more than 500 terrorist attacks in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority over just the last year. They further warned that stagnation in the peace process will lead to chaos and more terrorist attacks. We are heading towards a situation in which there will be ongoing, painful, and horrifying bloodshed for the third time. Perhaps the situation may be able to be resolved to a certain point through a military response, but we already know that it would only be a temporary solution. This is not the way to put an end to the rage and the violence. Terrorism will raise its head at every opportunity, and the price will be more casualties.
Our leaders choose to deny this crystal-clear situation. They ignore the lessons of the past and do not change their strategy, even though the dismal outcome is predictable. After all, we know exactly where another military operation will take us. Unfortunately, terrorist attacks are already a part of our daily reality, so what else needs to happen for our government to wake up?
The Prime Minister’s Bluff
As long as our government is bound by parties with radical messianic ideologies, it will be impossible to reach a real and profound solution. The absurdity of the situation is that instead trying to talk with the Palestinians, the prime minister has actually been cultivating Hamas. He has allowed large sums of money to be transferred to Gaza for the fourth time and presented this as a partial solution, but it is nothing more than a bluff. It is a lame attempt to create a false impression of dealing with the problem, but his actions themselves clearly indicate a capitulation to Hamas.
The prime minister’s bluff has been exacting a very high price from us. As a result, each minor incident leads to a huge explosion. Any tension results in Hamas firing rockets into Israel. The security situation will not be resolved through a policy of inaction. The situation is in our hands, not in the hands of Hamas, and the time has come for the government to start moving in the right direction.
This situation is explosive because no nation has ever agreed to live under prolonged occupation. This lesson can be learned from the pages of history that are filled with stories of nations that eventually rebelled against their occupiers. No nation has ever surrendered to occupation, and rightly so. Occupation always leads to economic and security difficulties, and it means living with checkpoints, without independence, and under the constant threat of soldiers with clubs and rifles. Such a situation will clearly always lead to an uprising.
We Remember When Things Were Different
From the 1990s until about a decade ago, Israel’s prime ministers from across the political spectrum made significant advancements in the peace process with the Palestinians. It began with the late Yitzhak Rabin and continued with Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, the disengagement, and even with Benjamin Netanyahu, who embraced Yasser Arafat and signed the Hebron Protocol, which even Yitzhak Rabin would not have dared to sign. During that productive period, a European forum was established to help create an infrastructure that would consolidate the Palestinian and Israeli economies. But since then, everything has come to a halt. The only connection with the Palestinian Authority that suggests a willingness to cooperate is expressed in security coordination and nothing more.
While we have stagnated, significant changes have been taking place in the Middle East in recent years. Syria has become weaker, and Egypt has joined the Gulf states and other countries opposed to the Shiites and the Iranians. Ties have been made between the Arab states against the backdrop of mutually shared interests, and the Israeli government has not been correctly interpreting these developments. This reality, which did not exist 30 years ago, could allow the government to act to get the backing of these countries for the first time. There is an excellent framework today that could serve as a basis for peace talks.
The Signs Resonate Everywhere
I don’t know if there is one wall in the corridors of power that does not display an inscription that warns against the arrogance with which our leaders conduct themselves. The government has not kept its ear to the ground, as was the case in 1973 when arrogance, complacency, and inaction led to the Yom Kippur War and resulted in heavy casualties, which is sadly what led to the political solution. That was the path that resulted in the solution at the time. Everyone knows how the security situation in Israel today needs to be resolved and there is no need to go down that bloody path again in order to get there.