In a New York Times editorial on Friday, the International Crisis Group’s Nathan Thrall wrote that a third intifada was “inevitable” and that, of course, that was Israel’s fault. Some of the better quotes:
“Whatever the fuse, the underlying source of ferment in the West Bank is a consensus that the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has reached a dead end.”
“Ironically, owing to the success of [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’] efforts, many Israelis have had the luxury of forgetting that there is an occupation at all.”
“Years of peace and quiet in Tel Aviv allowed hundreds of thousands of Israelis to take to the streets last summer to protest the high price of cottage cheese, rent and day care without uttering a word about Palestinians in the West Bank.”
So, according to Mr. Thrall, it is Mahmoud Abbas who has been diligently trying to make peace – apparently by refusing to meet with his Israeli counterpart until a series of ever-changing preconditions is met, as he essentially tries to win the negotiations before they begin. I suppose that does mean he’s “reached a dead end,” but it is one of his own making.
The claim that Israelis have forgotten the occupation exists is, in a word, idiotic. Anyone who pays even cursory attention to Israeli culture and media can see immediately that the occupation is very much on the public mind. Every Israeli parent – every single one – sends their sons and daughters off to the army. Those sons and daughters, also, are well aware of the occupation. But, then, Israelis would have to be more to Mr. Thrall than two-dimensional cartoon characters playing the role of the bad guys for him to see this.
Mr. Thrall considers himself an analyst of the Middle East. He ought to know that the reason there haven’t been suicide terror attacks inside Israeli territory is NOT because the Palestinians gave up trying, or because Palestinian Authority security forces are so diligent in their interdiction duties (although PA forces have been helpful in dealing with terrorism). The reason the attacks have largely stopped is because of Israel’s security barrier – which Israel’s enemies call an “Apartheid wall” — and the IDF presence in the West Bank. What Thrall is really saying here is that, if only the Palestinians were successful in their attempts to blow up women and children, the Israelis would be forced to make peace. The Second Intifada proved this point wrong – I was there. Israelis dug in their heels and refused to give in to violence.
People like Mr. Thrall make violence more likely by parroting the Hamas line that Israel is the problem in the conflict, and that only a high Israeli body count will bring them to the table. If a third intifada does break out, it will be because Palestinian sympathizers in the West played in to fantasies of “liberating Palestine in blood and fire” rather than telling it like it is.