(February 25, 2018 / JNS) It has become a platitude repeated ad nauseam by former Israeli security officials: The Palestinian Authority must not be weakened because this might imperil Israel.
The reasoning is that even though the P.A. is bad, at least it cooperates, to a greater or lesser degree, with their Israeli counterparts, whereas Israel does not know what kind of potentially radical monster would take over after a collapsed PA.
This Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that would deduct salaries given by the P.A. to convicted terrorists and their families from the tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the P.A.
Israel transfers millions of dollars each year to the P.A in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports. If passed by the Knesset, the proposed legislation would enable Israel to either deduct the funds from the revenues or “freeze” the payments.
“Soon, this theater of the absurd will come to an end, and the salaries of the terrorists that we will withhold from [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas will be used to prevent terrorism and compensate victims,” said Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman about the proposed bill.
Predictably, parts of the Israeli security establishment were opposed to the proposed legislation, fearing that it could weaken the P.A. Similar fears have been expressed by a group calling itself Commanders for Israel’s Security, which reportedly represents hundreds of retired Israeli military officials, regarding the U.S. Taylor Force Act.
The Taylor Force Act, which thus far has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would end American funding of the P.A. unless it stops paying salaries to terrorists and their families.
However, Commanders for Israel’s Security have voiced concerns that the Taylor force Act would “undermine P.A. stability; expand the circle of frustration and hostility; erode the security coordination;” and deny the P.A. funding for “vital economic projects.” All this, say the retired military personnel, would “compromise Israeli security.”
Since when is stuffing your own pockets and using the rest to pay terrorists a “vital economic project”? One might argue, however, that the P.A. has done exactly that—created a monster that ceaselessly incites the murder of Israelis and the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.
The P.A. differs from the Hamas only in its lack of honesty and its two-faced public relations, according to which Abbas says one thing in English and another in Arabic, just as his predecessor Yasser Arafat did. The P.A.’s ideology concerning the end goal, however, is as radical as that of Hamas. Furthermore, the constant brainwashing has ensured that Palestinian Arabs continue to see conflict with Israel as the only viable option.
As recently as two weeks ago, the official Facebook page of Fatah communicated that “the blood of the martyrs is the light of freedom” with an image of, among other things, the P.A. map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel as “Palestine.”
Mahmoud Abbas is the leader of Fatah, the party that controls the P.A. Also less than two weeks ago, Fatah honored the mothers of terrorists who have killed or wounded Israelis, calling them “the crown on our heads, the mothers of the Martyrs [Shahids].” The list goes on.
What the former Israeli security-establishment figures sorely seem to miss is that the P.A. has made impossible in the long term any kind of peace. In a 2012 interview, Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, which translates and makes accessible to the public the internal rhetoric of the P.A. that is not intended for Western consumption, said “the tragedy is that the Palestinians were much closer to peace with Israel before the Oslo Accords. An ocean has developed because of hate promotion by the Palestinian Authority.”
Marcus estimated that chances for peace may have been better in 1996, when after decades of contact with Israelis, a poll of Palestinians showed that 78 percent considered Israel to be positive in democracy and human rights.
Today, that figure would be pure science fiction. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Palestinian Arabs hold deeply ingrained anti-Semitic beliefs (according to a 2014 ADL poll, 93 percent of Palestinian Arabs held anti-Semitic beliefs) and support terror against Israelis. That is what decades of the P.A. indoctrination has fostered or reinforced.
A generation of people has been raised on an unadulterated diet of hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, courtesy of Arafat, Abbas and their ilk. In kindergartens and schools, in the written and electronic press, on TV and especially on children’s TV, Jews have been called monkeys and pigs that need to be killed.
Schoolbooks show Israel erased from the map, history lessons deny the existence of Jewish nationhood and never teach the Holocaust, (Abbas, after all, has a Ph.D. in Holocaust denial) monuments are erected in honor of terrorist murderers of Jews in city squares, and terrorists are rewarded with fat salaries.
While the P.A. has been raising “shahids” for the past 25 years—ensuring that there will be no peace for at least a generation—retired Israeli military personnel would have you believe that the P.A. is the guarantor of Israeli security. The kind of “security” where you have—as was the case in January 2018—some 332 terrorist incidents in a month, resulting in one murder and 16 injured, including two stabbings/attempted stabbings, two shootings, one ramming attack, four roadside bombs, 251 stone-throwing attacks and 45 thrown Molotov cocktails.
Coddling terrorists and pretending that they are “cooperating” with one hand, while they stab Israel in the back with the other, is ludicrous. A “weakened” P.A. might just be what is needed to turn the vicious circle around.
If the P.A. has no intention of stopping the incitement on TV and radio, such media can be shut down. Other sanctions could be also imposed by Israel. If they know not to mess with Israel because there will be actual financial consequences might actually weaken terrorist resolve.
Why does it not occur to former Israeli security officials to suggest showing the P.A. that Israel will not put up with even a single terrorist incident, nor the incitement and rewarding of terrorism?
What if Israel tries an approach of strength for once—the only currency respected in the Middle East—instead of trembling at the thought of what the international community could or will say? Aft all, it might just work.
This article originally appeared in Mida and was provided exclusively to JNS.