Responding to the Itamar killings
03/13/2011 - 09:38
James Besser

The terrorist attack that left a family of five dead in the West Bank settlement of Itamar was a horrific act. Israel is in mourning, which is fitting, and Israelis are angry, which is understandable.

But it's hard to see how building 1,000 new units in settlements for every person killed by terrorists, as Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Sunday, will ease the tensions that produced this act of wanton terrorism. Or even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to authorize only 500 more units in close-in settlement blocks.

What conclusions will Israel draw from this terrible incident?

That the only answer is to expand and strengthen settlements across the West Bank, as Yishai argued?

Or that it's more urgent than ever to find a way to make peace with the Palestinians and withdraw from most of the West Bank, as the left insists?

The latter offers no guarantees that terrorism will stop, it seems to me; the risk is real that a withdrawal from occupied territory would just bring determined terrorists that much closer to Israel's population centers.

But the former, if implemented, means terrorism will almost certainly increase. Expanding settlements as a response can only deepen Israel's terrible isolation in the world, boost those who dispute its legitimacy and ensure new conflict with Israel's only ally, the United States – an ally whose leaders are increasingly doubtful that Netanyahu is willing or able to take risks for peace.

I don't envy the choices Netanyahu has to make in the wake of these attacks, or the political realities he faces as his nation reacts to the brutal killings and what some say could be a resumption of widespread terrorism.

Those difficulties do not change the fact that what Israel needs now is calm, smart, forward-looking and non-political decision making.

Comments

Mr. Besser,

Surely by now you don't think the likes of Hamas, CAIR, or the PA have any interest in negotiating peace as long as one Jew occupies any parcel of land in Israel? You're head must be in the sand. I wouldn't blame Israel one bit for evicting all the Palestinians out of Israel.

Mr. Besser,
You write, 'But it's hard to see how building 1,000 new units in settlements for every person killed by terrorists, as Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Sunday, will ease the tensions that produced this act of wanton terrorism.'
Your statement reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the source of the conflict which is that Jews simply want to live and Arabs lust for their destruction.
If withdrawing a few Jewish settlements from a few square miles of territory would stop the savagery, Israel would have already had peace on their border with Lebanon and Gaza. Israel HAS made major concessions for peace. What have the Arabs given up? Please open your eyes to the facts and stop denying history. In my opinion, the Israeli government is sending the right message: if you hit us, we will multiply and defeat you. If you truly want peace, we both will prosper.

How do you want "to find a way to make peace with the Palestinians ", Mr.
Besser? The Palestinians don't want Peace with Israel, but a piece of Israel.
And then another piece. Not just East Jerusalem, but Jaffa, Haifa and
everything in between ? Are you really so naive, or do you just pretend to be,
because it's good for "business" ?

I think that Yishai is totally wrong. Israel should be building 10,000 new units for every Israeli killed by a terrorist.

You do not treat cancer by being nice. You cut it out or it will kill you.

The cabinet authorized the build of 500 units. But even if the calculus had been 1000 units rather than 100, it would not compensate for the lives of the 3 young children and their parents butchered in their homes on the Sabbath.

However, if the murderers and their masters understand that the murder of any Jew will result automatically in the authorization of more homes in Judea and Samaria there may well be a significant deterrent effect.

The Palestinians have made it clear that they have no interest in peace with Israel and are hoping that the Quartet will try to impose a solution that will force Israel back to the Auschwitz lines of 1967, as Abba Eban described them.

The alternative for Netanyahu, as Caroline Glick has cogentrly argued (http://israelinsider.net/xn/detail/2018399:Topic:66268), is the annexation of the Jordan Valley and large settlement blocs like Ariel, Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim which Israel, in any arrangement, will not surrender.

This may not win the love of the Arabs, or the Quartet, but it may earn the support of Congress, especially if combined with a Netanyahu declaration that Israel plans to wean itself away from US aid. This also means dismissing the albatross called Ehud Barak. Glick argues convincingly that this is the only way for Neyanyahu to win, an outcome more likely than Charlie Sheen doing the same.

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