For years, the policy of successive Netanyahu governments has been to weaken the Palestinian Authority and to sustain Hamas through a tit-for-tat, “shoot and be shot at, don’t shoot and don’t get shot at” conflict management strategy, and the result is the present situation we find ourselves in.
1. The violence that flares up every few months represents the failure of the Israeli government’s policy in dealing with the Hamas terror organization. The victims of this policy are hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens and almost two million Palestinians, held hostage by a political leadership refusing to seek a political solution.
2. At the end of each round of violence Netanyahu refuses to take advantage of the temporary cessation of hostilities to press for a comprehensive political settlement. Nor does he attempt to improve the humanitarian situation of millions of Palestinians under a blockade—despite recommendations from the security echelon—while his government transfers tens of millions of dollars to Hamas.
3. It is in Netanyahu’s interest to maintain the strength of Hamas and to deepen the division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. His government does this by strengthening the power of extremists in Gaza and sidelining the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which remains committed to a two-state solution and to security cooperation with Israel.
The Disengagement Excuse
To deflect from the decade-long failure of Netanyahu’s leadership on the Gaza front, his apologists hearken back to the 2005 Disengagement to blame the peace camp. Let the record be set straight:
4. The Disengagement Plan was conceived and implemented by the Likud under the leadership of Ariel Sharon. Netanyahu voted in favor of this plan on four separate occasions.
5. The left demanded an agreement with the Palestinians, like the framework of the agreements made in the past with Egypt and Jordan, and despite general support for withdrawal, warned against unilateral initiatives. With no coordinated handoff to the PA to strengthen it in the eyes of Palestinians, Hamas had free reign to spread its own narrative that Israel “retreated” due to its terror operations.
6. In the five years before the Disengagement, Israeli settlements in Gaza were sitting-duck targets, resulting in 162 Israelis killed (soldiers and civilians). The death rate dropped to a third of what it was since the Disengagement. Additionally, the firing of rockets began well before the disengagement.
Israeli citizens deserve a courageous government that will deliver a conflict-ending agreement: a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority, based on security for Israeli citizens. This is the only solution supported by the overwhelming majority of Israel’s past and current security leaders.
Security depends on a political solution. Short of that, the insecurity around Gaza will surely return.