Economic Improvement Won’t Stop Palestinian Terror

While the U.S. has not yet released its peace proposal for Israel and the Palestinians, Jared Kushner—who is leading the effort—and other officials have stated that it involves major efforts to bring prosperity to the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza. Yossi Kuperwasser warns that, even if effective, such efforts will not guarantee peace:

Palestinians [who] carry out terror attacks [do so] with ideological motives, and most of them see terror as a justified and effective way . . . to advance their objectives in the conflict with Israel. The terrorists and their families are eligible for significant economic benefits in the form of the salaries that the Palestinian Authority (PA) pays them. [Moreover], the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to the struggle against Zionism is greater than the consideration of economic gain, even though the PA is aware that it needs to provide an answer for the Palestinians’ economic needs. As proof, the second intifada erupted in 2000 during a period of impressive growth.

Deciding on the appropriate scope of terrorism reflects the perception of different elements within the Palestinian political system regarding the costs and benefits of various terror activities at any point in time. . . . Economics [may be] a restraining factor, especially in the circumstances of a severe crisis. For example, the economic crisis in 2005 is thought to be one of the reasons that brought the Palestinians to a decision to end the second intifada. [T]he chance that economic temptations will lead to a change in Palestinian national goals is very slight so long as the Palestinian system is led by political movements that do not give priority to the welfare of its citizens. . . .

The . . . U.S. administration criticizes the PA and Hamas for “not acting according to the needs of the Palestinian people.” This reaction indicates a lack of understanding of [their] priorities and superimposes upon them a Western order of priorities, which sees the pursuit of happiness and prosperity as all people’s [primary] goal. . . .

[Nonetheless, it’s necessary not to] diminish the importance of investing in the advancement of the Palestinian economy and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians. These are based on ethical motives—from the desire to bring economic prosperity to Israel’s neighbors to advancing familiarity between both peoples.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Jared Kushner, Palestinian terror, Palestinians, Peace Process

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security