|October 25, 2012||by Steven Stotsky|
The Straight Facts About the Palestinian Authority and Fighting Terrorism
Some adherents of the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace process are so heavily invested in its continuing importance that they feel compelled to bend reality to justify their unwavering faith in it. An example of this was The Boston Globe's Oct. 1, 2012 editorial, "Palestinian Authority's woes are a problem for US, Israel," arguing that it was in Israel and the United States' self-interest to ensure a continuation of lavish aid to bolster the Palestinian Authority.
The editorial's argument for continued aid hinged on the assertion that since its establishment in 1993 the Palestinian Authority has played a crucial role in containing terrorism against Israel. The editorial maintained that "since its creation by the Oslo accords in 1993, the Palestinian Authority has taken over much of the heavy lifting of governing Palestinians in the West Bank, including reining in protests and arresting terror suspects."
The editorial holds Israel and Israeli settlers responsible for the stalled process, contending that "Israeli deaths from Palestinian terrorism have declined steadily, even as attacks by Israeli settlers on both Palestinians and the Israeli military have dramatically risen."
It then concludes, "But so far, the Palestinian Authority has little to show for its cooperation with Israel."
The problem with this narrative is the facts don't support it.
Terrorism increased after establishment of Palestinian Authority
Official figures from the Web site for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs count 1496 Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists from 1993-2012. In the 20 years prior to 1993, the figure was 531, about one-third the amount. In fact, more Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian Arabs from 1993-2012 than in the prior 45 years from 1948 through 1992. Clearly, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority has not ushered in a period of increased security for Israeli citizens.
The Globe's response to these figures was to argue that the majority of murders since 1993 occurred in a 5-year period (from September 2000 to 2005) during the second intifada; excluding that interval, The Globe maintained there was a steady decline in terrorism from 1994 to 1999 and since 2005.
It is absurd to exclude the period of greatest violence as an exception. This is especially the case since responsibility for the increased violence lies with decisions made by the Palestinian Authority. It was Palestinian President Yasir Arafat who walked away from Israeli and American proposals and signaled his support for the violence that erupted in September 2000.
During the second intifada, the Palestinian Authority was directly involved in the planning, funding and execution of terrorist acts. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who were second only to the fundamentalist Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) in conducting suicide bombings, were a subsidiary of Arafat's Fatah political organization. Although the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are currently inactive, glorification and commemoration of terrorists continues unabated in the Palestinian Authority to this day. Only two years ago, a female terrorist, Dalal Mugrabi, who helped lead the massacre of 37 Israeli bus travelers in 1978, was acclaimed a national heroine by the Authority. A city square in Ramallah, a school and a girl scout troop were named after her. On PA Television, she was held up as a role model for Palestinian girls. One cannot simply extol cooperation between Israel and Palestinian security services and ignore officially-sanctioned incitement to further terrorism, especially not while advocating continued U.S. and Israeli funding of the Palestinian agencies that fuel such incitement, in direct violation of the Oslo accords.
Palestinian Violence Exceeds Settler Violence
Also, by contending that "Israeli deaths from Palestinian terrorism have declined steadily" while attacks by Israeli settlers have "dramatically risen", The Globe misleads through inaccuracy and exaggeration. The Globe editorial gives the erroneous impression that a substantial number of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli soldiers have been killed by settlers in recent years. In fact, no Israeli soldiers have been killed by settlers and during the past 12 years, 23 Palestinians have been killed by Jewish settlers in circumstances that were not clearly acts of self-defense (i.e.: home invasions by Palestinian terrorists). During this same period 215 Jewish settlers were killed by Palestinians. Any reasonable assessment of the situation recognizes that Palestinian violence is by far the greater problem, by a factor of 10 to 1.
Israeli Measures Are the Main Reason for the Decline in West Bank Terrorism
In correspondence, The Globe
cited statements by American and Israeli officials confirming increased security cooperation between Israelis and their Palestinian counterparts. Nevertheless, Israel has made clear that the main reasons
for the decrease in terrorism are the measures taken by the Israelis themselves.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published several reports describing the decrease in terrorism that effectively ended the second intifada. From a document titled "The Nature and Extent of Palestinian Terrorism in 2006": "The decrease in the number of attacks, especially from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), was primarily a function of the effective counter-terrorist measures taken by the Israeli security forces. One of the outcomes was the sharp increase in the number of detentions on suspicion of terrorist activities: 6,968 suspects were detained, compared with 4,532 in 2005 (an increase of approximately 35%)."
From another accompanying document titled "Anti-Israeli Terrorism 2006: Data, Analysis and Trends": "During 2006 the number of terrorist attacks carried out by the Palestinian terrorist organizations constantly continued to decline, especially suicide bombing attacks, despite the fact that motivation to carry out such attacks has been increasing. The decline in the number of suicide bombing attacks is a result of many factors, the most prominent of which are the successful counter-terrorist activities of the Israeli security forces and Hamas's policy of restraint, which because of political considerations, kept them from focusing their efforts on such attacks."
Since its construction late in the second intifada, Israel's West Bank security barrier has contributed to the dramatic decline in anti-Israeli attacks. So have continued patrols by Israel Defense Forces personnel, counter-intelligence operations, checkpoints and targeted assassinations of Palestinian terrorists. Contrary to The Globe, Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation has been one factor among many and not a leading cause of the reduction in anti-Israeli terrorism.
It is one thing to argue for continued support for the Palestinian Authority by citing some hopeful signs of cooperation among security organizations. But to give central importance to inconsistent and tenuous cooperation for diminished terrorism and to exaggerate violent incidents committed by Jewish settlers in order to shift blame from the Palestinian Authority to the Israel is to distort reality.