Negotiating With Terrorists Doesn’t Work

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


John Kerry and Mahmoud AbbasLet’s set aside the moral issue that it’s wrong to negotiate with terrorists and the practical issue that negotiating with terrorists encourages more terrorism. Those are both right and obvious, but there’s also a third issue. Negotiating with terrorists doesn’t work unless they intend to stop being terrorists.

The peace process between Israel and the PLO has never worked and will never work because the members of the terrorist group never intended to stop being terrorists. The PLO yammers on about Palestine, a country that never existed and a name that has nothing to do with the Arab conquerors they descend from, but functions like a terrorist group, not like a state.

Diplomats and politicians write up annual reports claiming that the Palestinian Authority has made progress with its civic institutions and its economic development. The truth is that if anything it has actually gone backward.

Mahmoud Abbas has no intention of running for office. The elected legislature has long been defunct and actual decisions are made by the PLO Council. The Palestinian Authority is a dictatorship run by high profile leaders of a terrorist group. It is less open and democratic than it was a decade ago and it wasn’t very open and democratic back then either.

The only progress that the latest incarnation of the peace process achieved was to give Abbas enough confidence to boot his Prime Minister who was there to assure the Euros that there was some slightly competent management at the helm. The same pundits who were praising Fayyad for salvaging the Palestinian Authority have already forgotten about him.

The international community has poured fortunes into the Palestinian Authority to construct civic institutions and engage in economic development. Despite all that, the Palestinian Authority is a smaller scale model of every regional tyranny with economic monopolies for the sons of Abbas, no freedom and no elections that matter.

Unlike them, it’s also incapable of paying for anything or maintaining its own economy.

Imagine if Assad’s regime was entirely subsidized by foreign donors. Imagine that it was also largely run by foreign experts free of charge. Imagine if it didn’t actually do anything except use aid money to pay its gangs of terrorists and bureaucrats who don’t actually do anything either except occasionally kill people.

That’s as good as the Palestinian Authority ever gets. It’s not a state, it’s a welfare state run by terrorists.

And that’s the problem.

Terrorists and states negotiate differently.  Terrorists escalate a conflict to achieve leverage for their latest demand. They don’t seek a final settlement. There can be no final settlement because that would mean the end of terror.

Arafat and Abbas always negotiated the same way. They arrived prepared to disrupt the negotiating session at a crucial moment. The “peace process” was their hostage and they always hijacked it and began issuing demands.

It’s no surprise that the same thing happened yet again.

Faced with having to compromise, Abbas looked around and took the peace process hostage. Again. Now the process is, once again, on the brink of collapse. Netanyahu is resigned because this is what he knew would happen all along; as did anyone who had been paying attention for the last twenty years.

That doesn’t include John Kerry or most Western politicians and diplomats who still assume that if you get the parties to sit down at a table, they will compromise and work things out.

Negotiations work when both parties view them as an end to the conflict, rather than an extension of it. Terrorists treat a willingness to negotiate as a sign of weakness. Negotiations are their punctuation marks between bombings. The negotiations don’t end or even interrupt the conflict, they perpetuate it.

Arafat and Abbas never abandoned terrorism. Not only did they fight like terrorists, but they also negotiated like terrorists. And terrorists can’t be negotiated with because they don’t view negotiations as a long term peace process, but as a short term means of achieving their latest demand.

Abbas approached the latest pre-negotiating negotiations with Israel the same way that his terrorists approached airplane hijackings. Instead of seeking a final outcome, he instead took the negotiations hostage repeatedly to secure the release of some of his terrorists. Having achieved that goal, he then took the process hostage again to extract the release of even more important terrorists.

Israel and the United States have long term goals, but Abbas only has short term goals. He isn’t out to “liberate” Palestine, but to score some easy victories that will let him coast along as a terrorist leader.

Unlike Arafat or Bin Laden, Mahmoud Abbas is not an ambitious man and that’s a very good thing. Ambitious terrorists are much more trouble. Abbas is content with the status quo, but always looking for an angle. He may get around to getting statehood for his piece of the West Bank as long as it can include enough Israeli territory that his responsibilities and his power structure don’t have to change.

Abbas is not interested in change. Neither are most of his comrades who live very comfortably at the top of the Fatah heap. That is also why he isn’t interested in the peace process.

Israel and the United States want to end the conflict, but Abbas wants to keep it going. The conflict has been good to him. Ending it would stick him with a tiny country, accusations of treason and the tedious tasks of government.

And what’s in it for him?

The teenager who has been educated and indoctrinated by the system set up by Arafat and run by Abbas believes in dying for Palestine, but Abbas knows quite well that Palestine is just Greater Syria misspelled and that Syria isn’t looking too promising these days.

He doesn’t believe in Palestine. He believes in terrorism. He believes in Abbas.

Abbas knows his own limitations. He’s not a great leader. He isn’t capable of running a country and when it comes to playing politics, he isn’t very good at it. If the Palestinian Authority had anything like real democracy, it’s doubtful that anyone would elect him dogcatcher.

The president of the Palestinian Authority is a very lucky man and he knows it. He has wealth, power and foreign leaders take him seriously. But that’s only because he holds the key to the peace process. Fast forward another five years into some imaginary utopia in which a final settlement has been achieved and he would have trouble getting anyone to return his phone calls, let alone provide him with the foreign aid that allows him to live in the manner that he has become accustomed to.

Peace has nothing to offer Abbas. It has nothing to offer Fatah. It’s just the bait in the trap that keeps money flowing into their pockets.

Arafat didn’t have a plan for a country. He had a plan to for an international mercenary force that would fight and die in the name of a country that never existed and that he had no expectation of ever creating. The peace process didn’t change that. What it did was increase his leverage over Israel, the United States and the world.

The peace process always ends in conflict because the side that cares least about peace has all the leverage. That is why no matter how many times the negotiations begin, they always end in war.

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  • stephanie767

    my Aunty Sienna recently got a year old
    Jaguar only from working off a home computer… Recommended Reading C­a­s­h­F­i­g­.­ℂ­o­m

  • JeffWRidge

    It depends on what you call “negotiation” and how you do it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snRvmi8kelQ

  • JVictor

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result,” – Albert Einstein. There are institutions that are well-equipped and staffed with highly trained professionals who are capable of providing a comfortable existence for people who repeatedly engage in insane activities. John Kerry and his colleagues are perfect candidates for such facilities.

  • Gee

    Depending on the goals negotiating with terrorists can succeed. If one is want to make peace with them – then yes negotiations is a total waste of time. If one wants to get close enough to kill them – then yes it can indeed be useful.

  • Walter Sieruk

    Of course negotiating with terrorists [jihadists] doesn’t work. They only see willingness to engage in dialogue as a sign of weakness or just being stupid.
    They can’t be reasoned with. They will not respond to reason. The sad reality in the only language that they understand is the language of violence. This was the way to handle the Taliban by the US military in 2001. Likewise violence is the only way to get through a message in a way that Hezbollah and Hamas will understand. This the message send by violence that the Israeli military ,at times, sends to those deadly,jihadist ,Islamic terror entities is also the only language will comprehend.
    As Thomas Jefferson had explained “With every barbarous people… force is law.

  • Walter Sieruk

    It’s an act of futility to try to have negotiations with those who are very much into the militant jihadism of Islam. For they are not interested in reason. They have a type of mindset that is based on their faith in the Quran as well as other written works of Islam and not logic or reason. As Benjamin Franklin printed in POOR RICHARD’S ALMAMACK “The eye to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
    Furthermore, in any so called “dialogue” with people of this type of Islamic way of thinking, the non-Islamic people in these’”talks”will get nothing by lies and half -truths and much disingenuous speech. Thomas Jefferson had it right when it explained “An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.”

  • truebearing

    Terrorists like Abbas keep peace from being achieved with a dialectical process that always results in another conflict, plus a bunch of money from the last conflict that is used to fund the next. The time to stop this Sisyphean peace process is now. At very least, the US should stop giving any money to Abbas and let the Muslims fund this sick scheme.

  • Habbgun

    Its a bloodier version of mau-mauing the flak catcher. Kerry is just a flak catcher trying to give the Palis and jihadists all they want but looking “square” enough that he can be mistaken for a real American official. The Leftists would not have taken up the cause if the jihadis were actually peaceful. Boring that.

  • Long Ben

    Just so Daniel. Lord have mercy.

  • wileyvet

    As per the prophet, Muslims and Arab Muslims in particular, make and break agreements at will whenever it suits Islam or their own interests. Muhammad specified that any truces, or Hudnas, would be no longer than ten years. He made one with his own tribe the Quraysh, and broke it one year later, when it was convenient. The concept of Hudna, is for a reprieve to Muslims, when they are in a weakened position, and buys them time, until they are ready to strike. It is the PLO and Fatah, that have failed their people. They have embezzled and squandered billions of dollars of international money, and yet have the audacity to say that it is the fault of Israel for their wretchedness. They have never been held to account for their despicable conduct, but have sat in their refugee camps bemoaning their fate, to a world that has lost its moral clarity.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Baloney! Absolute garbage!

    What’s going on in Israel is a jihad (holy war) is being waged by the Islamic totalitarian world through their proxies the so-called Palestinians against the Jewish infidels in Israel to make Islam supreme and to render the Jewish infidels into harsh and degrading dhimmitude, and as such that particular jihad is not in any way significantly different from the many other jihads the Islamic totalitarian world is also waging around the world against the Hindu infidels in India, the Buddhist infidels in Thailand, the Orthodox Christian infidels in Chechnya, the animist infidels in Sudan, the Christian infidels in Nigeria, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum.

    As a matter of fact, the sole fundamental purpose of Islam is the subjugation of all religions and all infidels into Islamic totalitarianism through both violent and non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad and the eventual imposition of Sharia (Islamic totalitarian law) to ultimately make Islam supreme throughout the world.

    Thus, if we want to stop the jihad being waged by the Islamic totalitarian world against the Jewish infidels in Israel, we must also simultaneously stop at the same time all the other jihads from continuing to be waged as well, and to do that we have two choices? Destroy the totalitarian ideology of Islam utterly or render the Islamic totalitarian world into total abject poverty so that it will be incapable of waging jihad against anyone.

    It’s not rocket science folks and it’s not very hard to understand once you open your eyes. All you have to do is be able to connect the dots.

  • Bandido

    Kill the Palestinian slugs. Kill Abbas and every terrorist leader of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al Asqa. Kill them all. Kill and keep on killing until the reason for it is gone.

  • carpe diem 36

    kerry has no one to blame for his failure but himself. he was either naive or arrogant. history should have taught him that these people do not negotiate in either good or evil will. they just do not do that. it is not in them. they just demand and if you do not give in they tell you you are a failure. Kerry did not learn from history, or thought that he would succeed where others failed. Arafat was not even a palestinian, he was an egyptian, whe came and told the PA he will take “care” of them. he mislead everyone, especially those poo palestinians who trusted him. and those who came after him do not wish to put an end to the stream of funds they stuff in their pocket.

  • Christopher Riddle

    Just Ask Neville Chamberlain About”negotiating”With TERRORISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • reader

    Your post gives insight. Basically, you here voices and see dead people. “The fact” that you’re sick is no surprise to anyone here, but you need to see a doctor, unless you’re already typing it from a ward. In that case, call your nurse more often.

  • carpe diem 36

    what an untrue but very ugly picture of Israel. I do not know where it comes from but I know Israel does not look like this description at all.

  • StanleyT

    Israelis “want to obliterate Syria”?? Where on earth is your evidence for this outrageous statement? And why on earth would Israel have any need to do this, when Syria’s own leader is doing such a bang-up job?

    the irony of your chosen moniker increases with every ridiculous message you post. You are truly beyond psychological help.

  • Gee

    If we wished to harm Syria – Syria will cease to exist in a fortnight. It is true that we have no Constitution – but neither does the UK – exactly how does that matter?
    Unlike America ALL of our citizens have equal rights – yours do not and will never have them.
    As for the rest – I suggest that the institution you are a inmate of should not allow to use our technology

  • kikorikid

    He’s got Psychdeologue, early onset. Terminal, no doubt.