Real Security for Israel Depends on a Political, Two-State Solution
For years, the policy of successive Netanyahu governments has been to weaken the Palestinian Authority and sustain Hamas through a tit-for-tat, “shoot and be shot at, don’t shoot and don’t get shot at” conflict management strategy. The result is the present situation we find ourselves in.
1. The violence that flares up around Gaza 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.
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. This line of reasoning lazily assumes nothing could have been done to change the trajectory in the intervening 14 years. It also misrepresents history:
4. The Disengagement Plan was conceived and implemented by 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 redeployment, warned against unilateral initiatives. With no coordinated hand-off to the Palestinian Authority to strengthen it in the eyes of Palestinians, Hamas had free reign to spread its own narrative that Israel “retreated” due to Hamas’ 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 has dropped to a third of what it was since the disengagement. Additionally, the firing of rockets began years 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.
Brian Reeves is the Director of External Relations at Peace Now, Israel’s domestic pressure movement for a two-state solution.