The Intifada comes to an end?

June 18, 2004

CONTENTS

1. The end of the Intifada? (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal Europe, June 11, 2004)
2. Israel's Intifada victory (By Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, June 18, 2004)
3. Keep winning (Editorial, The Jerusalem Post, June 15, 2004)




[Note by Tom Gross]

As an editorial in the Wall Street Journal Europe (written by someone on this email list, and attached below) suggests, the so-called Intifada may well be over. Other recent articles in the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report, and by Charles Krauthammer, concur.

If so, this is a win-win situation for ordinary Palestinians and Israelis alike, and in my opinion is due to a combination of:

1. Israel finally taking proper offensive action against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Yasser Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

2. The building of a security barrier, which although not finished, has already made it much, much harder for suicide bombers to reach their targets.

3. Excellent Israeli intelligence work in relation to Palestinian terror groups.

4. The political isolation of Yasser Arafat, in accordance with policies outlined by Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush. (This is in stark contrast to the political embracing of Arafat - even as he ordered terror attacks - by their predecessors. Bill Clinton, for example, invited Arafat to the White House more times than he invited any other foreign leader: more than Blair, Putin, Chirac and Schroeder.)

5. The Palestinian Authority realizing that, unlike under the Clinton administration, the Bush administration will (for the most part) stand by Israel so long as Israel is being attacked, and will not join the rest of the world in pressing for concessions to be made to the Palestinian Authority so long as it regards terrorism as a legitimate form of negotiation.

6. The resoluteness of the Israeli people in not succumbing to one of the vicious waves of terrorism launched anywhere in modern history in peacetime.

7. Finally - and we will have to wait for some years to be certain of this - but it seems like the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and the subsequent moderating pressures this has put on regimes in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya and elsewhere, has made it far easier for Israel to risk some territorial concessions to the Palestinians, even in the absence of a peace agreement with a Palestinian government.

Whereas Israel is now preparing to make unilateral concessions and withdrawals, these will be on Israel's terms, and the concessions discussed to date are far less generous than those turned down without any counter offer by Arafat at Camp David four years ago. In a future post-Arafat area, Israel may feel secure enough to make further territorial concessions.

If the Intifada is over, this is excellent news for both Israelis and for the Palestinian population terrorized by Islamic "militants" and Arafat's thugs.

As the article below, makes clear, now that the terror groups Jenin have largely been rooted out by Israel, "there is 70% more nightlife in Jenin than a year ago". "There are positive business indicators in the town, as people are starting to think of capital and investment and commerce again." Some 2,500 Palestinians from Jenin are allowed again to enter Israel to work.

The next step, as some of us have argued for many years, is to liberate the Palestinians from Yasser Arafat and his lawlessness, endemic corruption, economic disaster, and dictatorial rule. After this, it is more likely that a fair and just Israeli-Palestinian peace can be achieved.

I attach three articles, with summaries first for those who have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

1. "The End of the Intifada?" (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal Europe, June 11, 2004). "...There has been no successful suicide attack in over three months. Last year, there were 20 attacks, killing 141 people. This year, there have been only two, in which 19 died. Israel has all but decapitated Hamas, greatly crippling its operational capabilities.

.... Much of the Western media and Europe's policy elite routinely condemn Israel for its counterterrorism measures. These "illegal" and "excessive" actions will only strengthen the radical forces among the Palestinians, they gloomily predict. Luckily, Israel has ignored them.

Let's look at Israel's policy of "targeted killings." Europe predicted [wrongly that] the elimination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin would only lead to more bloodshed... The security barrier Israel is building has been equally effective. "How does it help to continue with this wall," EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten asked back in October. Maybe he should pay a visit to the Gilboa region. This area used to see 600 terrorist incidents per year; now, the number of attacks is zero.

But it's not only Israelis who benefit from this strategy; it also makes life easier for the average Palestinian... Contrary to popular "root cause" mythology, it is not poverty that breeds terrorism but the other way around: terrorism breeds poverty. With the violence now down, the economy will improve..."

 

2. "Israel's Intifada Victory" (By Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, June 18, 2004).

"While no one was looking, something historic happened in the Middle East. The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost. For Israel, the victory is bitter. The past four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. The intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees, and thus force it to withdraw and surrender to Palestinian demands, just as Israel withdrew in defeat from southern Lebanon in May 2000. That did not happen.

.... The overall level of violence has been reduced by more than 70 percent. How did Israel do it? By ignoring its critics and launching a two-pronged campaign of self-defense... Israel targeted terrorist leaders . Israel began to build a separation fence.

.... Israel is now defining a new equilibrium that will reign for years to come - the separation fence is unilaterally drawing the line that separates Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians were offered the chance to negotiate that frontier at Camp David and chose war instead. Now they are paying the price.

.... These new strategic realities are not just creating a new equilibrium, they are creating the first hope for peace since Arafat officially tore up the Oslo accords four years ago. Once Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and has completed the fence, terrorism as a strategic option will be effectively dead. The only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood and dignity, and to determine the contours of their own state, will be to negotiate a final peace based on genuine coexistence with a Jewish state..."

 

[Please note that I don't entirely agree with the tone of the following editorial.]

3. "Keep winning" (Editorial, The Jerusalem Post, June 15, 2004).

"Zakariya Zubeidi, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades chieftain in Jenin, yesterday offered to order a halt to attacks on Israel in exchange for an end to Israeli incursions into that city and a withdrawal from surrounding settlements.. This is excellent news. The government should meet it by stepping up its military offensive in Jenin and throughout the territories. Zubeidi's offer is not an olive branch. It is not evidence of pragmatism, moderation, or good will. It is an admission of impending defeat.

.... It wasn't supposed to be thus. We have spent the last several years listening to sanctimonious lectures about how (1) there is no military solution to the conflict; (2) any "escalation" on Israel's part leads to a commensurate Palestinian escalation; (3) "walls never solved anything;" and, finally, (4) what the Palestinians need is hope, not fear.

All this turns out to be demonstrably false..."

 



FULL ARTICLES

THE END OF THE INTIFADA?

The End of the Intifada?
REVIEW & OUTLOOK (Editorial)
The Wall Street Journal Europe
June 11, 2004

By the time this paper hits the newsstands, there may have been another suicide bombing. But despite this disclaimer it appears Israel has won this round of the war against Hamas, heralding what might be the end of the second "intifada."

There has been no successful suicide attack in over three months. Last year, there were 20 attacks, killing 141 people. This year, there have been only two, in which 19 died.

Israel has all but decapitated Hamas, greatly crippling its operational capabilities. And the security barrier has made it infinitely more difficult for suicide bombers to reach their targets. Those who still try are usually intercepted, thanks to improved intelligence.

Much of the Western media and Europe's policy elite routinely condemn Israel for its counterterrorism measures. These "illegal" and "excessive" actions will only strengthen the radical forces among the Palestinians, they gloomily predict. Luckily, Israel has ignored them.

Let's look at Israel's policy of "targeted killings." Europe predicted the elimination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin would only lead to more bloodshed. Hamas dutifully provided the saber rattling for Europe's dark prophecies. It promised to "open the gates of hell" but before they could even scramble for the keys, Israel killed Yassin's successor.

"The leadership is spending all its energy on hiding, which greatly complicates any sort of sophisticated planning," Shmuel Bar from the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya told us.

Or take last month's raid on the weapons-smuggling tunnels in Rafah. A Reuters story from Monday depicts how rather than raising the popularity of Palestinian extremists, as the critics warned, Israel's determined action isolated them.

"Communal support for the smugglers has cooled . . . residents are turning on the tunnel men." The raids also succeeded in disrupting the arms supply for terrorists. As Reuters reports in the same story, "the cost of a Kalashnikov bullet has doubled recently to 30 shekels."

The security barrier Israel is building has been equally effective. "How does it help to continue with this wall," EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten asked back in October. Maybe he should pay a visit to the Gilboa region. This area used to see 600 terrorist incidents per year; now, the number of attacks is zero.

But it's not only Israelis who benefit from this strategy; it also makes life easier for the average Palestinian.

Consider the city of Jenin. More than 25 suicide bombers have come from this town. The barrier has helped to stop this death-dealing flow and Israeli troops no longer have to patrol this town. As a result, "there is 70% more nightlife in Jenin than a year ago," Palestinian Legislative Council member Hader Abu Sheikh told the Jerusalem Post. Adds the director-general of the city's chamber of commerce, Ziad Mifleh: "There are positive business indicators, as people are starting to think of capital and investment and commerce again."

Contrary to popular "root cause" mythology, it is not poverty that breeds terrorism but the other way around: terrorism breeds poverty. With the violence now down, the economy will improve. Some 2,500 Palestinians from Jenin are allowed again to enter Israel to work.

The security barrier does of course bring some hardship to Palestinian farmers who might be cut off from their land or find themselves encircled by barbed wire. But private land is only requisitioned, not confiscated and remains the property of the landowner who receives compensation. Also, Israel has already shortened the planned length of the barrier by about 100 km to ease the difficulties for Palestinians. The Israeli Supreme Court has delayed the completion of the fence as it hears complaints from Palestinians.

The relative quiet also paved the way for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. Without the success in the fight against terror, it would have been impossible to contemplate the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Hamas would have claimed this move as its victory and gained enormous strength.

The Europeans first greeted the plan with skepticism but then embraced it as the only game in town. Will they also acknowledge how wrong they were in their criticism of Israel's antiterror measures? Don't hold your breath.

 

ISRAEL'S INTIFADA VICTORY

Israel's Intifada Victory
By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
June 18, 2004

While no one was looking, something historic happened in the Middle East. The Palestinian intifada is over, and the Palestinians have lost.

For Israel, the victory is bitter. The past four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. The intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees, and thus force it to withdraw and surrender to Palestinian demands, just as Israel withdrew in defeat from southern Lebanon in May 2000.

That did not happen. Israel's economy was certainly wounded, but it is growing again. Tourism had dwindled to almost nothing at the height of the intifada, but tourists are returning. And the Israelis were never demoralized. They kept living their lives, the young people in particular returning to cafes and discos and buses just hours after a horrific bombing. Israelis turned out to be a lot tougher and braver than the Palestinians had imagined.

The end of the intifada does not mean the end of terrorism. There was terrorism before the intifada and there will be terrorism to come. What has happened, however, is an end to systematic, regular, debilitating, unstoppable terror - terror as a reliable weapon. At the height of the intifada, there were nine suicide attacks in Israel killing 85 Israelis in just one month (March 2002). In the past three months there have been none.

The overall level of violence has been reduced by more than 70 percent. How did Israel do it? By ignoring its critics and launching a two-pronged campaign of self-defense.

First, Israel targeted terrorist leaders - attacks so hypocritically denounced by Westerners who, at the same time, cheer the hunt for, and demand the head of, Osama bin Laden. The top echelon of Hamas and other terrorist groups has been either arrested, killed or driven underground. The others are now so afraid of Israeli precision and intelligence - the last Hamas operative to be killed by missile was riding a motorcycle - that they are forced to devote much of their time and energy to self-protection and concealment.

Second, the fence. Only about a quarter of the separation fence has been built, but its effect is unmistakable. The northern part is already complete, and attacks in northern Israel have dwindled to almost nothing.

This success does not just save innocent lives; it changes the strategic equation of the whole conflict.

Yasser Arafat started the intifada in September 2000, just weeks after he had rejected, at Camp David, Israel's offer of withdrawal, settlement evacuation, sharing of Jerusalem and establishment of a Palestinian state. Arafat wanted all that, of course, but without having to make peace and recognize a Jewish state. Hence the terror campaign - to force Israel to give it all up unilaterally.

Arafat failed, spectacularly. The violence did not bring Israel to its knees. Instead, it created chaos, lawlessness and economic disaster in the Palestinian areas. The Palestinians know the ruin that Arafat has brought, and they are beginning to protest it. He promised them blood and victory; he delivered on the blood.

Even more important, they have lost their place at the table. Israel is now defining a new equilibrium that will reign for years to come - the separation fence is unilaterally drawing the line that separates Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians were offered the chance to negotiate that frontier at Camp David and chose war instead. Now they are paying the price.

It stands to reason. It is the height of absurdity to launch a terrorist war against Israel, then demand the right to determine the nature and route of the barrier built to prevent that very terrorism.

These new strategic realities are not just creating a new equilibrium, they are creating the first hope for peace since Arafat officially tore up the Oslo accords four years ago. Once Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and has completed the fence, terrorism as a strategic option will be effectively dead.. The only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood and dignity, and to determine the contours of their own state, will be to negotiate a final peace based on genuine coexistence with a Jewish state.

It could be a year, five years or a generation until the Palestinians come to that realization. The pity is that so many, Arab and Israeli, will have had to die before then.

 

KEEP WINNING

Keep winning
Editorial
The Jerusalem Post
June 15, 2004

Zakariya Zubeidi, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades chieftain in Jenin, yesterday offered to order a halt to attacks on Israel in exchange for an end to Israeli incursions into that city and a withdrawal from surrounding settlements. This is excellent news. The government should meet it by stepping up its military offensive in Jenin and throughout the territories.

Zubeidi's offer is not an olive branch. It is not evidence of pragmatism, moderation, or good will. It is an admission of impending defeat. The Martyrs Brigades and other terrorist Palestinian factions have been devastated by repeated IDF/Shin Bet raids on their rank-and-file, and there are now over 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli custody, three times as many as at the height of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. Successive generations of terrorist leadership have either been killed by the IDF or forced into hiding for fear of their lives, thereby disrupting planning and operational capabilities. Their ability to reach Israeli targets has been dramatically curtailed by the construction of the security fence. The killing of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi did not, in fact, lead to the threatened rivers of blood, but to the longest (relative) peace Israel has known in nearly four years. If the intifada seems over, as some people now dare to whisper, it is because the IDF is winning.

It wasn't supposed to be thus. We have spent the last several years listening to sanctimonious lectures about how (1) there is no military solution to the conflict; (2) any "escalation" on Israel's part leads to a commensurate Palestinian escalation; (3) "walls never solved anything;" and, finally, (4) what the Palestinians need is hope, not fear.

All this turns out to be demonstrably false. Israeli military escalation has led, unfailingly, to Palestinian de-escalation. Israeli pressure has been followed, unfailingly, by Palestinian reasonableness. The security fence is working as planned everywhere it has been erected. Israeli concessions - giving the Palestinians hope - has merely created openings for violence.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.