Was anyone surprised by Mahmoud Abbas’s recent contemptible remarks, in which the declining heir to Yasser Arafat and the former grand mufti of Jerusalem ranted about the “50 holocausts” Israel is supposedly perpetrating? They shouldn’t have been. Abbas has been caught up in a pathological stance on the Holocaust ever since he was a doctoral student.
This is Abbas’s legacy: The slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972, for which he was responsible and holds to even now. He is heir to the mufti’s plan to annihilate Jews in the Dotan Valley and the barbaric slaughter in Hebron in 1929. This should teach us about the nature of the conflict—there is no need to “solve” it because it is not solvable. We need to win it.
But the path to victory in a conflict as serious as this one is long. It demands strategy and patience. Still, there are several steps that can be taken now.
First, we must stop defending the “Palestinian Authority” and fight terrorism without it. Second, we need to seal the neglected security barrier. Third, it is vital to build on the border of the Jordan Valley and the Arava. This will allow us to isolate terrorist gangs and Iranian jihad, in all its forms. Fourth, Israel must apply its law to the Jordan Valley and settlements in Judea, Samaria and Area C. This will define the political horizon open to Arabs who are not Israeli citizens—either a “sub-state” or ties to Jordan.
We should thank Abbas for once again showing us his true face. Do we need any more malicious remarks for the security establishment to realize that the agent it has recruited and the “national movement” he leads is a snake in the grass, ready to bite? In the meantime, they are biting “only” at The Hague, through monstrous educational curricula, institutional anti-Semitism and by funding terrorism.
If we keep protecting the dying snake, it could recover and bring us back to the Oslo path—mass terrorism on the Palestinians’ part and paralysis on ours, just like the eight blood-soaked years between 1994 and Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. The U.S. and Europe are just waiting for a chance to take us back there.
The defense and security establishment has to restrict the P.A.’s ability to bite, and not dismiss the danger it poses because of its current weakness. Even now, it is more dangerous to Israel than Hamas, because it can be more effective than Hamas politically and could serve as the nexus of an attempt to force us back into the Oslo trap.
Israel was tempted to accept help from the P.A. in preventing terrorism. In exchange, Israel defended the P.A. against its rivals and lobbied the superpowers to keep funding it. And what will we do tomorrow when Fatah, the terrorist organization that lies at the heart of the P.A., crumbles into gangs that fight each other and other gangs? Which gang will we defend then?
This is a dubious path that will only perpetuate the conflict, and the security apparatus has clung to it through pointless conservatism. There are even Israelis who think, in a pathological detachment from reality, that we need to go back to trying to turn the collapsing “Authority” into a state—just as gambling addicts always double down.
How will the resumption of this process prevent the P.A. from breaking apart into gangs? This collapse has already begun. The P.A. is weak in Judea and Samaria, and maybe even in Ramallah. How will it keep buses from blowing up? We must extract ourselves from the Oslo conservatism that still influences the establishment that Benny Gantz represents.
It would be better to allow the pathetic, corrupt and evil “Authority” die, and let the Arabs in the territories, if they want, rule themselves without solutions from a terrorist organization.
We can and should use force to stop Hamas, Fatah and groups like them in Judea and Samaria, just as we hit them hard during “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” without a treacherous P.A. that damages rather than helps us.
As of now, the separation between the Gaza Strip and Judea/Samaria is convenient for us. We won’t start anything with Gaza, but we also won’t interfere as the “Authority” falls apart, which it’s doing voluntarily. Obviously, anti-terror activity will have to be stepped up in Judea and Samaria both before and after that happens.
This is feasible and will entail fewer casualties than the passivity we exhibited 20 years ago. After the P.A. disappears, we can attack Hamas in Gaza through a determined, patient campaign with a clear, if distant, strategic goal—a sub-state that is incapable of attacking us.
Professor Avi Bareli is a historian and researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.