The Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank has been embroiled in an existential ordeal for at least a year: The IDF’s successful nightly targeted killings, which employed the element of surprise, have completely impeded its operations.
Instead of plotting terror attacks against Israel or against Israelis, Fatah activists, particularly those operating within the ranks of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, as well as Jihad activists are busy seeking refuge, escaping and living underground in constant fear of the IDF. This is one of the IDF’s key successes in the war against terror that has completely shattered what has remained of the Palestinian intifada.
The collapse of the terror infrastructures was very perplexing for the Palestinians because albeit it being originally established against Israel, it also represented Fatah’s strength against Hamas. Fatah demanded a truce from Israel that would also include the West Bank (and in exchange guaranteed progress in the Gilad Shalit affair – although it has no control over his destiny) and in any case asked for immunity for hundreds of persecuted activists.
Now Fatah activists will get what they wanted from the Israeli government. The West Bank will once again become an immune paradise; anti-Israel terror will be restored without interference and will pose a serious threat to Israeli society, which has experienced relative stability and calm in recent years.
Disengage from Palestinians
True, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to bolster Fatah and the nationalist stream vis-à-vis Hamas, yet these very same people also perpetrate terror acts against Israel. The IDF knows from the experience it gained in prisoner release deals with Ahmed Jibril and Hizbullah that 80 percent of released Palestinians, all of whom had made a commitment not to be involved in terror, immediately resumed their terror acts against Israel.
In 2005, for example, a few prominent prisoners were released as a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas – yes, that very same Abbas. Within a month they were apprehended for preparing the infrastructure for firing rockets at Israeli communities in the West Bank, no less. They even climbed a rung in their acts of terror.
Why does this happen? For released prisoners, terror is livelihood, a way of life, their honor and self determination. Moreover, those released within the framework of a prisoner deal must prove that they have not changed; they must reaffirm their status, and the only way to do so is by means of perpetrating terror acts against Israel.
Perhaps the Israeli government has still not internalized the disengagement mentality that is required here, because any involvement in Palestinian issues on our part always ends in a big bang. What we think bolsters Mahmud Abbas usually serves to weaken him and vice versa. Moreover, will one immunity deal or another change the face of the huge conflict raging between the nationalist stream and political Islam in the Arab world?
As we are not familiar with the rules and as real risks to Israel’s security are at stake, such gestures should be avoided as should involvement in the Palestinian world – which is entirely delusional as far as we are concerned.
Should Israel worry about convening the Palestinian national council? Should it bring Naif Hawatmeh here? What’s going on? Have we returned to the delusional years of Oslo? These are delusions whose time has passed, and the Israeli government would do well to avoid the self-deception, the involvement and the ensuing disappointment that will inevitably occur when it all explodes in its face.
Israel would do well to announce it will no longer interfere in Palestinian life. Not in punishing Hamas nor in compensating Fatah; not in unnecessary targeted killings nor in delusional prisoner releases.
We should disengage from the Palestinian world, for better or for worse, and focus on ourselves alone.
The writer, Dr. Guy Bechor is head of Middle East Studies
at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya. More publications and commentary articles by Dr. Bechor are available at: www.gplanet.co.il