Even if it is most likely that IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz's declaration, like the recent Shin Bet statement, that there is no rise in the extent of terror activities in the West Bank, is inaccurate – what is happening there these days is no reason to halt the peace talks. No reason, no excuse and no opportunity either.
Quite the opposite. What is happening in the territories is not a "tragic conjunction of events," as defined by Gantz; these are early signs of escalation. An escalation which may not be properly expressed in the Israeli media, but should not be ignored.
It is very likely, therefore, that the negotiations being held at the moment behind the scenes – and it's a good thing they are being held that way – are the right possible answer for the growing tensions there, as opposed to the Pavlovian reactions characterizing some of our politicians, as well as some of the public: If there is a terror attack – there will be no prisoner release, although Israel committed to this process; if there is fire – construction will be expanded; and most importantly, the famous cliché, "when there's shooting there's no talking."
It's sad to say, but all these methods, more or less, have already been attempted with zero success for many years. The thousands of prisoners Israel holds in its jails have not helped calm the situation in the territories, the construction momentum has not stopped the disturbances, and worst – the fact that the negotiations with the Palestinians which have just begun, after a long detachment period, are being threatened again and again.
The Israeli defense establishment, in this case the army and Shin Bet, has all the tools necessary to deal with whoever needs to be dealt with. And that’s what they need to do, quietly. The channel of dialogue must remain open. An agreement concocted around the negotiations table – even if they are held under fire – is what will determine the quality of our lives in the coming decades.
It won't happen tomorrow? So the day after tomorrow. Not the day after tomorrow? So in a year or decade. Experience from the past 45 years shows that construction, imprisonments and ignoring the leadership on the ground have failed to yield a better alternative so far.