The 'Palestinian problem' is back

Opinion: Latest terror attacks, and near-daily shooting incidents in West Bank, should trigger a debate about whether we are in the midst of another Intifada; but, Israeli officials are too busy with endless election cycles to care about existential problems facing our country

Ofer Shelah|
IDF and Shin Bet security officials warned for quite some time that the situation at the West Bank may deteriorate at any given moment.
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  • This is the result of a discouraged and frustrated society, full of firearms and under the jurisdiction of the weakened Palestinian Authority. But this is just a small part of the whole picture since security experts only follow the military aspect of the issue, or in other words the enemy.
    If they were allowed to express their realization on the Israeli side, they would probably point to the indifference of the Israeli public and decision-makers.
    If there is one issue that doesn't get attention from both the left and right sides of the political sphere, it is the feeling that the Palestinian problem doesn't concern anyone. It doesn't get any attention in the election campaigns, and this is not a coincidence: In the depth surveys of the various political parties in Israel, this is an issue located at the bottom of the election platform list.
    It also no longer matters if this reality is a result of a thought that there is no solution or lack of faith one could be reached. The Israelis simply don't care, and the government doesn't even pretend it does.
    As with the Iranian issue (economic, or social), the term "government of change" affiliates with governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu the most.
    2 View gallery
    מבצע מעצרים של מיידי אבנים בגוש עציון
    מבצע מעצרים של מיידי אבנים בגוש עציון
    West Bank IDF raids
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    According to it, there is no such thing as the Palestinian issue and there are no negotiations regarding it, but on the contrary - a glorification and declaration that normalization and warmer relations with Arab countries can be reached without mentioning the Palestinians and even cornering them.
    Instead, there is a deliberate strengthening of Hamas as the ruler of Gaza in order to "create differentiation", i.e., to dismantle and weaken the Palestinian entity. This move sends the Palestinians a message that Israel only cooperates with those who choose the path of resistance and uses terror attacks and rocket launches instead of words.
    There is also a discourse of "economic peace" as if the national will of the Palestinians can be bought with lavish economic benefits. This is backed by the absurd narrative of "reducing the conflict", which was signed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz - the only official who had some kind of dialogue with the PA over it in the past year. On this issue, too, Netanyahu is on the opposing side, but nevertheless, he came on top on this matter as well.
    The new form of the incoming Intifada may change the whole picture. But even with the intelligence provided by the Shin Bet, and the constant West Bank raids carried by the IDF will maintain the problem within the Palestinian enclaves, it won't resolve anything.
    2 View gallery
    רכב המחבלים עוקב אחר אוטובוס ההסעות בבקעת הירדן
    רכב המחבלים עוקב אחר אוטובוס ההסעות בבקעת הירדן
    Latest Palestinian terror attack
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit, Reuters, Yoav Dudkevtich, Bik'at HaYarden Regional Council)
    There will still be some three million Palestinians from the river to the sea under Israeli jurisdiction, and the IDF, the judicial system, the Israeli consciousness, and the image of the Jewish State in the world will be stained with the image of controlling other people, which threatens us more than any military hazard.
    With each day of dealing with the subordinate, Israel slowly slides down the slope toward a Binational state. We can pretend this is not the case, but the bottom line is that the Palestinians aren't going anywhere, and neither are we.
    55 years since the Six Day War, after which the Israeli government decided not to annex the territories but to keep them as a peace deposit, and no one has yet presented a solution other than separation, which would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    There is nothing good to say about the conduct of the Palestinians at this time, but we got to focus on our own problems and on doing what is best for the Jewish State.
    Ignoring the problem, out of desperation or political cowardice, or incompetence of leadership, will not make it go away. Most of the time it will only damage us slowly; and occasionally, unfortunately, maybe even in the near future, it might be ignited and cause even more harm.

    Ofer Shelah is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.
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