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Photo: AFP
Security forces on Temple Mount
Photo: AFP
Ben-Dror Yemini
Israel can only manage the conflict, for it cannot end it
Op-ed: Both the left and the right are out of ideas: The Palestinians have rejected peace plan after peace plan, and a heavy hand alone does not work. There is only one way ahead.

It's the season of illusions. The right and left are selling them. The right says if we press just a little harder, if we demolish more homes, if we deploy a whole lot more police, if we don't settle for a heavy hand but resort to an iron fist instead, the quiet will return.

 

 

The left tells us if we simply treat the Palestinians nicer, if we refrain from making pilgrimages to the Temple Mount, if we offer them regional and global peace and end the occupation, all will fall peacefully into place.

 

Worshippers at Temple Mount (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Worshippers at Temple Mount (Photo: Reuters)

 

Been there, done that. Operation Pillar of Defense was a model of heavy handed action, which brought a significant fall-off in terror. But the separation fence was constructed in conjunction; and without the fence, we probably wouldn't have witnessed that same decline.

 

A heavy handed approach was adopted during the first year of the intifada too – and to no avail. Pillar of Defense took place in 2002, which saw a record number of fatalities – 452. Fatalities in 2003 numbered 214, and 117 in 2004. Most of the decline was attributed to the separation fence.

 

We also offered the Palestinians peace. First it was the Clinton plan; and then came the Olmert offer; and then once again, it's worth noting, in the form of the draft proposal formulated by John Kerry. Netanyahu wasn't the one who said no. The Palestinians did, just like they always have. What formula does the moderate left have to offer?

 

At present, one has to admit, there is no way to resolve the conflict. But it can be managed. We need tranquilizers, not empty slogans. Responsibility for the latest flare-up rests for the most with the ill wind of the global Jihad, which continues to beat and murder and slaughter and butcher – primarily Muslims. Here and there, it reaches us too.

 

And in the spirit of the times, the conflict now is less so a national one and more so a religious clash. In the 1930s and 1940s, too, the central figure in the Arab world was the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini. He had no national conflict with the pre-state Jewish community. His conflict was a religious one. And now, too, he has heirs.

 

One of them is the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, who explained at a rally in 2012 that "the Muslims are destined to destroy the Jews." The rally was organized by the Fatah movement. Hussein serves in his position under the patronage of the Palestinian Authority.

 

It's worth noting, too, that in the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, Hamas won four of the six seats up for grabs in East Jerusalem. The victory could have been bigger, but the two remaining seats were reserved for Christian candidates.

 

It's a good idea therefore to heed the words of one of the most significant statesmen of the past generation, Henry Kissinger. He isn't considered a great friend of the Jews, or of Israel, even though he is Jewish.

 

Kissinger. The Islamic State problem must be resolved first (Photo: MCT) (Photo: MCT)
Kissinger. The Islamic State problem must be resolved first (Photo: MCT)

 

Speaking a few days ago, Kissinger said, "Israel should not seek a permanent or comprehensive peace with the Palestinians until regional turmoil settles down" – or, in other words, the Islamic State problem must be resolved first. Defeating the Jihad will give rise to a chance to reach a settlement. Take note, John Kerry and Tzipi Livni, who have said the very opposite.

 

Does this mean that we should expand the settlements? Of course not. Does this mean we have to settle in, of all places, the heart of Muslim populations, like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, or change the status quo on the Temple Mount? Most definitely not. What we need is to reduce the friction – not a heavy hand and not a conciliatory hand, but a smart hand that strives primarily to create a separation.

 

It's difficult for politicians to say that there are times in history that call for a waiting game. After all, politicians have to come up with a plan. It may be difficult for them; but at this point in time, the thing to do is wait.

 

* * *

Two legislative amendments pertaining to the illegal immigrants have been rejected by the High Court of Justice. A third attempt is now underway. The new bill would put a 20-month limit on holding individuals at the Holot facility, reduce daily reporting to just once a day, offer welfare and health services to the facility's residents, and try to make the stay there a little more humane. The proposed law would also restrict the detention of new illegal immigrants to just three months.

 

But the most important component of the bill appears to be the adoption of the idea to set aside a fixed amount of 20 percent of every migrant laborer's wages for deposit in a special fund that can be accessed the day the individual leaves Israel.

 

Holot detention facility (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Holot detention facility (Photo: Reuters)

 

The original idea came from former interior minister Meir Sheetrit, whose initiative was intended only for foreign workers who came to Israel legally and with valid permits, with the objective of trying to prevent them from remaining in Israel beyond their visa period.

 

Yours truly has repeatedly argued that the offer should be extended to include the illegals too, both so as to allow them a humane existence, on the one hand, and also in an effort to encourage them to leave voluntarily, with a considerable sum of money at their disposal, on the other.

 

The proposal was also adopted by the Israeli Immigration Policy Center, an entity that publishes position papers with a little more backbone than those released by the aid organizations.

 

It's safe to assume that the new, amended, bill will also be challenged in the High Court – because most of the aid organizations are living in a La-La Land of their own; and they manage to draw the High Court justices into a constitutional crisis, in the name of a rights discourse in its most distorted version.

 

One can only hope that not only will be the bill be enacted, but that the High Court justices, for a change, will also show some restraint – not for the purpose of undermining the rule of law, but rather to strengthen it.

 

* * *

The Global Terrorism Index 2014 was published a few days ago, with the data referring to 2013. Iraq tops the list, followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Turkey ranked 17th, Britain 24th and Israel 32nd. Even the United States, in 30th spot, fared worse than Israel.

 

In total, 17, 958 people were killed in terror attacks during the period – an increase of 62 percent compared to 2012. And 2014, the year of Islamic State, is going to set a new record.

 

Bullet holes at Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem following attack (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Bullet holes at Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem following attack (Photo: AFP)

 

There are many different methods for creating such an index. Not all those killed in clashes involving Jihadist offshoots made it into the latest index. The number of Jihad victims is tenfold higher than appears in the report. And yet, the report offers a fascinating snapshot of the situation.

 

One of the report's distinct conclusions is that there is no link between poverty and terrorism. The US secretary of state, lest we forget, said the very opposite just a few months ago. Poor countries don't produce terrorism. Regions under the influence of radical Islam and terrorism produce terror and festivals of blood. The leading organizations, respectively, are the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

 

There are serious people in the free world who spread the myth that "Israel is the source of the violence in the world." The facts, insofar as they have any effect on anyone, present a different picture.

 

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