The Israeli Supreme Court Cripples Efforts to Deter Terrorism

On May 12, an IDF unit entered a Palestinian village to arrest four terrorists; as they were leaving, locals began dropping bricks and cinder blocks on them from rooftops. One of them, Nizmi Abu Bakr, took careful aim and hit a young soldier, Ami Ben-Yigal, squarely on the head, killing him.

Abu Bakr has since then been apprehended and faces jailtime. But the Israeli high court, responding to a petition from a self-styled human-rights group, has barred the IDF from demolishing his home. Contrary to what the court’s ruling claims, such demolitions—which the IDF has employed as a counterterror measure for many years—are not primitive acts of revenge, as Ruthie Blum writes:

Encouraging violence against Israelis in schoolbooks and the media, the Palestinian Authority (PA) completes the circle by paying hefty stipends to terrorists and their families. Abu Bakr’s wife and children have undoubtedly begun to collect their salary for his slaying of Ben-Yigal. In addition, if they are patient, they have good cause to hope that one day in the not-so-distant future Abu Bakr will be released from jail in a “prisoner-swap” deal.

This presents a deterrence problem that Israel only has been able to reduce—certainly not to solve—through home demolitions. Just as the PA invites and incites terrorism by rewarding the families of terrorists, Israel curbs it somewhat by holding those families accountable in a manner that causes would-be perpetrators to think twice before embarking on missions that might have a negative effect on their parents, spouses, and/or children. Abu Bakr is no exception.

That left-wing activists consider this extremely mild form of deterrence—culled from assessments of the culture in which the Palestinians are submerged—a cruel form of “collective punishment” is par for the course. But the Supreme Court is not supposed to base its rulings on the political biases of its judges. Sadly, however, many of these consider it not only their job to overturn government moves that they oppose, but their moral imperative to do so.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, Supreme Court of Israel

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood