Kerry’s Peace Process Exploding

Talks yield another wave of terror.

660x390photo_1374041930808-1-0On Saturday night a Palestinian terrorist snuck into the Israeli community of Psagot, north of Jerusalem and near Ramallah, and either shot or stabbed a nine-year-old girl, Noam Glick. Noam was rushed to hospital in Jerusalem and, fortunately, is in stable condition.

The terrorist, however, melted back into the Palestinian population and has not yet been apprehended, and the attack was part of a pattern.

In the Jewish year that ended on the Rosh Hashanah holiday on September 4, a single Israeli was killed in a Palestinian terror attack, though there were scores of potentially lethal rock- and firebomb-throwing incidents and kidnapping attempts, as well as some thwarted suicide bombings.

In the new year, however, two Israelis have already been killed by Palestinian terror: 20-year-old Sgt. Tomer Hazan on September 20 and 20-year-old St.-Sgt. Maj. Gal (Gabriel) Kobi on September 22.

While Hazan’s killer was quickly apprehended, the sniper whose bullet killed Kobi is yet to be found.

Meanwhile it was reported on Friday that terror attacks of all kinds rose “dramatically” in September, with a total of 133 (including, again, large numbers of rock- and firebomb-throwing incidents) compared to 68 in August.

It was last July 29 that the new round of ostensible Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was launched in Washington. It took months of heavy pressure on both sides by the new secretary of state, John Kerry, to reach that outcome.

The clincher was U.S. and Israeli acquiescence to the demand of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas that the talks be accompanied by Israel’s phased release of 104 “pre-Oslo” (pre-1993) terrorists, including convicted murderers of men, women, and children. The first batch of 26 were released on August 13.

The justification given for the talks, and for the large-scale freeing of murderers, was that the talks would “calm the Palestinian arena” and possibly lead to peace in nine months, the time span that Kerry determined for them from the outset.

If it’s clear by now that the Palestinian arena has not been calmed (let alone making peace preparations), it’s not the first time that talks have in fact prompted a spike in terror.

The original “Oslo” talks in 1993 were followed by almost three years of Palestinian terror attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis. The 2000 Camp David talks were followed by the even more lethal five-year Second Intifada, which killed about a thousand.

There are indications, too, that the current round of talks has been causative of the new terror wave.

Two weeks ago Palestinian-affairs expert Khaled Abu Toameh reported that “a connection seems to exist” between the two phenomena, with Palestinian groups—including the armed wing of Abbas’s own Fatah movement—vowing to escalate terror and stop the talks. It was already known that all the Palestinian organizations, from the Islamist Hamas to the relatively secular Fatah itself, fiercely opposed the negotiations.

Saturday night’s attack in Psagot sparked demands from right-of-center cabinet ministers and Members of Knesset that the talks be halted. Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom claimed Israel would reconsider further prisoner releases.

With Israel facing strategic threats, particularly from Iran to the east but also from the Syrian imbroglio and from Hizballah to the north, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to get along with Washington as well as possible and will not easily take such steps. Israel, having entered the talks, may also be in a damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t position, with 58% of Palestinians predicting a Third Intifada if the talks “fail.”

For now, though, some points should be kept in mind:

● Although cooperation between Israeli and PA security forces—against a common foe, Hamas—has been vaunted as an achievement and promising sign, there has been no indication of any cooperation whatsoever by PA security forces in locating the murderer of Gal Kobi  or the attacker of Noam Glick. Palestinian society has long regarded such individuals as heroes.

● Nor has there been any condemnation of these acts by PA officials. Only once, speaking in English to a small group in New York, was Abbas pressed into making a reluctant, equivocal noncondemnation.

● As Netanyahu emphasized in Sunday’s cabinet meeting, “the Palestinian media continues to promote incitement” and “the Palestinian Authority cannot wash its hands of it.” The latest example: Fatah’s Facebook page praised the shooter of the nine-year-old girl, combining him with Gal Kobi’s killer into a single mythic figure called “the sniper of Palestine.”

● Finally, in his speech to the UN on September 24, President Obama said that:

In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.  While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.

In reality, the “Arab-Israeli conflict” is now on the back burner, and Sunni Arab states mainly see Israel as a tacit ally against Iran. As for the Palestinian dimension of that conflict, it is not clear how many dead and wounded there will have to be until it is understood that, so long as the Palestinians view Israel as the incarnation of evil, prodding them toward “peace” only makes matters worse.

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