OpinionIsrael at War

A deal with Islamic terrorists is always a mistake

When you think of terrorists in diplomatic, not military terms, you can't win.

Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Nov. 22, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Nov. 22, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born journalist who writes for conservative publications.

The reports of a deal with Hamas brokered by its state sponsors in Qatar are a disaster and a disgrace, but such a deal was tragically inevitable.

A deal with Islamic terrorists is always a mistake. One of the reasons it’s a mistake is because the real terms of any deal give the terrorists control over your decision-making process. That is their goal.

Israel has suffered 30-plus years of escalating terror because it made a deal with Arafat.

Oct. 7 happened because Israel made deals for quiet with Hamas.

When you think of terrorists in diplomatic, not military terms, you can’t win.

Modern nation-states prefer diplomacy to conflict. They use military force as leverage for reaching a diplomatic solution. Terrorists, guerrillas and such however use diplomacy as leverage for military victories.

The failure to grasp this simple point led to the disaster in Vietnam and various defeats against Marxist guerrillas in Latin America. Israel was relatively immune to this until, under pressure from the Bush/Clinton administrations, it began negotiating with the PLO. But rather than bringing peace, Islamic terrorists used diplomacy to expand their sphere of influence, build up their arsenal and attack Israel. When Israel tried to fight them in the international arena, it failed.

Terrorists can only be defeated “politically” when they have no international standing. When they have international support, they can only be defeated militarily. The more Israel tried to win the “war of ideas,” much like our efforts to win the “hearts and minds” of Muslims, the worse things got. Israel’s international status declined and the violence increased.

Exhausted by decades of fighting, Israel decided to ignore them. This was the position of Israeli conservative leaders like Sharon and Netanyahu. Walls were built. Jews were forcibly removed from Gaza. Negotiations dropped off. But while this was a diplomatic success as the world paid much less attention to the terrorists, it was not a military success.

Israel had not defeated the terrorists, it had tried to physically isolate them. And this wasn’t really possible. So the fiction that they could be isolated was propped up by ceasefires and deterrence. Oct. 7 should have ended that.

Any agreement with Hamas puts Israel right back on the diplomatic track at the expense of the military one.

When you negotiate with terrorists, you’re no longer trying to defeat them. And at that point you’re losing both diplomatically and militarily.

The only way to defeat the terrorists is to destroy them.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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