How the Oslo Accords Let Illegal Weapons Flow into Israel

In addition to the recent wave of terrorism coming from the West Bank, the past year has seen a surge criminal violence, much of it gang-related, in Israel’s Arab communities, with most of the victims Arabs themselves. Many factors account for this problem, among them the availability of illegal arms—a legacy, David M. Weinberg argues, of the Oslo Accords:

There is a direct line that runs from Oslo to the current Israeli Wild West situation. Israel provided Yasir Arafat’s police force with tens of thousands of rifles and hundreds of tons of ammunition. These weapons soon ended up in the shooting arms of Arafat’s sixteen different declared security organizations and many other declared and undeclared terrorist factions.

At first, Israel sought to monitor and therefore control the use of its weapons in the Palestinian Authority (PA) by registering the ballistic signature of every gun and rifle before transferring it to Arafat. But the Oslo-era enthusiasm for “strengthening” the Palestinian Authority led to more and more helter-skelter arms handovers, with Israel soon losing track of the weapons. The U.S. and other Western countries involved in providing security assistance and training to the PA also were supposed to have a handle on this, but they too soon lost track of the swelling armories of Yasir Arafat and his multiple organizations of gunmen.

Much of this Israeli-provided weaponry was directed at Israeli civilians and IDF troops during the second intifada, leading to the need for Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. For a while, this operation indeed led to a renewed tight Israeli grip on the flow of weaponry into and within Palestinian areas. But in 2004 then-Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz re-approved gun licenses for all PA police officers. Over the years since, and under American pressure to ease up on the PA and “strengthen” Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas, the IDF has further relented, leading to the current weapons-loose state of affairs.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli Security, Oslo Accords, Yasir Arafat

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict