The Israeli analyst Neve Drori believes that Israel has been wrongly allowing many Palestinians to believe that the Jewish state is weak, and steadily getting weaker. In a recent public opinion poll, two-thirds of Palestinians said they believed Israel would disappear within 25 years. More on this misperception, and its causes, can be found: “Destroying the Myth of Israel’s Impermanence,” by Nave Dromi, JNS.org, June 25, 2023:
They [the Palestinians] see a Palestinian leader who says he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, embraces and financially rewards mass murderers, and compares Israel to Nazis with no response from Israel apart from the odd press release.
This is unfair. Israel has indeed given an appropriate “response” to the PA’s practice of “financially rewarding mass murderers.” Right now the Jewish state is withholding more than $300 million from the import taxes it collected during the past year for the PA, an amount equal to that which Mahmoud Abbas spends on his “Pay-for-Slay” program. That seems to me to be a fitting and damaging response that goes way beyond “the odd press release.”
They see an Israel uninterested or unable to achieve victory in this long-standing conflict.
Israel has several different enemies it has to deal with, and must prioritize these various security threats. The Iranian threat is by far the most worrisome. Israel has been doing all it can, and then some, to “achieve victory” in the Iran theatre, by preventing the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons. From the Stuxnet cyberworm, in 2010, that caused centrifuges to speed up so fast they destroyed themselves, to the sabotage – twice – of the centrifuge plant at Natanz, to Mossad agents managing in 2018 to find, and take back to Israel, Iran’s entire nuclear archive, to the targeted assassinations of five of Iran’s most important nuclear scientists, Israel has done more to delay Iran’s nuclear project than all other countries put together. And that campaign to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons has to take precedence over crushing the Palestinian terror groups.
But it’s not as if Israel has neglected its other enemies. The IDF has performed spectacularly in dealing with the terror groups as well. It took out the top leadership of the PIJ during Operation Arrow and Shield, along with 17 command-and-control centers, dozens of weapons storehouses, rocket launchers, weapons manufacturing plants, and terror tunnels. Its Iron Beam anti-missile defense system intercepted 96% of the missiles the PIJ fired at southern Israel – a record that far surpasses that of any other anti-missile defense system in existence. Meanwhile, the IDF continues to conduct raids deep into the two main centers of terrorism in Judea and Samaria – Jenin and Nablus, and has managed to locate, and to either arrest, or kill, every terrorist who in recent years has murdered an Israeli.
Thus, the Palestinians believe the Jewish state will soon cease to exist. This provides the motivation and incentive for ongoing terrorism.
The Palestinians don’t need to believe that Israel will soon cease to exist in order to engage in terrorism. They have enough hatred for the Jews — inculcated in them by passages in the Qur’an and thousands of hadith – to prompt their terrorism, even if the desired result remains a distant prospect. For some terrorists a belief in Israel’s disappearance within a generation will be what prompts them to terrorism, but others, who have no such expectation, will be motivated by more immediate benefits offered to terrorists — the generous lifetime support for their families that the “Pay-For-Slay” program provides.
Every Palestinian terrorist who picks up a knife or a gun, or launches a rocket, believes that their actions are hastening the end of Israel. Our response, or lack thereof, merely confirms this belief.
I don’t understand the author’s complaint about a “lack thereof of [an Israeli] response” to terrorism. The IDF has been responding with devastating effectiveness to terror attacks, as it did in Jenin this past month, capturing or killing all of those responsible for the latest stream of terrorist attacks. No terrorist in recent years has escaped the long arm of IDF justice. And Israel does this even while it has to direct most of its security efforts to halting Iran’s nuclear project.
For Israel to stop the violence, it must show that it has the will to survive and achieve ultimate victory. It must show the Palestinian population in actions and deeds that Israel is strong, robust and enduring.
Israel is doing exactly that. It should make sure that the Palestinians find out that the Jewish state is now the seventh-largest exporter of weapons in the world. Even such militarily advanced states as Germany have started to buy arms from little Israel. Just now Germany has agreed to pay $4.3 billion for Israel’s Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield. Arab members of the Abraham Accords have also been buying Israeli weapons. Most tellingly, Morocco has bought, for $500 million, Israel’s Barak-MX air and missile defense system, and the deal is almost done for Morocco to.buy Israel’s Merkava tanks. Israel has also sold advanced weapons, including the Barak missile defense system, and drones, to the UAE. The Jewish state has agreed to sell unmanned aircraft and anti-drone systems to Bahrain. The spectacle of three Arab states clamoring to buy Israeli weapons should dishearten the Palestinians, who will rightly see these deals as evidence that “Israel is strong, robust, and enduring.”
Israel is the “Start-Up Nation,” with an economy that is booming. Israel has many leading companies in the fields of high tech, water management, solar energy, missile defense systems, UAVs, medical technology, and much more. The Economist ranked Israel as the 4th most successful economy among developed countries for 2022 .It is also among the “happiest.” Israel has been ranked as “the fourth happiest country in the world,” right behind the usual Scandinavian contingent of Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Israel’s GDP is now more than $500 billion. That is greater than the GDP of Iran, or the UAE, or Pakistan, or indeed greater than any Muslim country save two – Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
It [Israel] must convince the Palestinians that Israel is permanent and break their will to carry on fighting by forcing them to accept that they cannot achieve their war aims.
Israel has already secured its northern flank, by annexing the Golan Heights in 1981, from which Syrian artillery used to fire on Jewish farmers plowing their fields far below. Now Israel possesses the Golan, and it is the Syrian forces that are now down in the valley, vulnerable to the IDF positions on the heights far above. Israel is now well along in its plan to double the Jewish population on the Golan to 50,000 by 2026, that is, within three years. That demographic change will make abundantly clear to the Palestinians, and the Syrians, that the Israelis will not ever surrender the Golan.
Once the Palestinians have been disabused of their belief in Israel’s temporary nature, our leadership can take steps towards accommodation and peace, but not before.
Israel should continue to build settlements everywhere it can in Judea and Samaria, while at the same time razing the illegal settlements that the Palestinians have been building in Area C. In fact, Area C should be annexed by Israel forthwith, a clear sign to the Palestinians and to the Bidenites that Israel will not allow itself to be squeezed back within the1949 armistice lines.
The Israelis must never again make the kind of lopsided prisoner swap they made in 2011, when they traded 1.027 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier. From now on, any swaps should only be made on a one-for-one basis: one Palestinian prisoner will be released for every Israeli captive freed.
Israeli officials should not show too eager a desire to negotiate with the Palestinians, but instead only a studied willingness to talk; Jerusalem should stop encouraging speculation about a “two-state solution,” noting instead that such a “solution” is no longer possible, given the 700,000 Jews now living in Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem. Israel should instead start talking about another, more realistic outcome – a demilitarized “Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine” which would consist of Jordan, Gaza, and Area A in Judea and Samaria, with its capital in Amman.
Israel is determined to continue to withhold from the import taxes it collects for the PA, the precise amount that the PA spends on its “Pay-For-Slay” program. The Palestinians, so many of whom are impoverished, may finally decide that they would support ending the “Pay-For-Slay” program, so that Israel will release the sums it has been withholding. Unlike Mahmoud Abbas, who has acquired a fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars, ordinary Palestinians need that money and are not given to the melodramatic gestures of Abbas, who has famously declared he would keep funding “Pay-For-Slay” no matter what, “even with my last cent.”
Israel should continue its relentless raids into Jenin and Nablus, to keep the terror groups Hamas and PIJ, and lone-wolf terrorists, too, constantly off-balance.
These measures will make clear to the Palestinians that though in the past, Israel has been willing to give up control of territory —Gaza, Area A in Judea and Samaria — for the sake of a promised “peace,” it has been chastened by that experience, and will do so no longer. It wants the Palestinians to understand that time does not favor them. On the Golan, the government is building enough apartments so that the number of Jewish settlers will have doubled to 50,00 by 2026. Existing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are being expanded by thousands of apartments. Another 7,000 apartments will be built this year alone, which will accommodate at least 35,000 more Jews. Meanwhile, both Israel’s economy and its military go from strength to strength. Its democracy has withstood the divisions over the judicial reform plan. As the old song puts it, “the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble,” but the Jewish state “is here to stay.”