Ending settlement construction freeze in West Bank was the right choice

Morton A. Klein

Under relentless pressure by the Obama administration, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed last November to a one-sided, one-time, 10-month Jewish construction freeze on the six percent of the West Bank where Jews live. Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israel hasn’t built a single new settlement and has only built within the settlement borders as of 1993.  

On Nov. 30, 2009, Netanyahu pleaded with Israelis to accept this unilateral and extraordinary concession by promising, “This is a one-time decision and it is temporary.” Now that the 10-month freeze period has ended, Netanyahu has done the right thing by ending the freeze and he has urged Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas “to continue the good and sincere talks that we have just started.”

It was hoped that the unprecedented Israeli construction freeze was to have motivated the Palestinians to implement their yet unrealized pro-peace actions. Tragically, no positive actions were taken by the Palestinians during this 10-month period.

They haven’t arrested anti-Israel terrorists, outlawed terrorist groups or ended the incitement to hatred and murder against Jews in their PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. They have even refused direct negotiations until now.

The PA still glorifies terrorists and violence. Last month, Abbas told Arab journalists in Jordan that, “If you [the Arab states] want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.” In July, he honored Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics where Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes. Abbas called him “a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.”

The PA has obscenely and publicly celebrated the 1978 coastal road massacre carried out by Palestinian terrorists led by Dalal Mughrabi, in which 37 Israelis, including a dozen children, were murdered. The PA has also named two youth summer camps in Mughrabi’s honor. Abbas has named literally scores of streets, schools, computer centers, sports teams and other institutions after terrorists who have murdered Israelis.

All of these continuing and horrifying anti-peace, pro-terror actions by the Palestinian Authority makes it clear that even major Israeli concessions like the freeze, giving up all of Gaza and half of the West Bank won’t cause the Palestinians to change their belligerent actions.

Until this incitement ends, all talk of peace is a farce. As the distinguished British historian Paul Johnson has written in his “History of the Jews,” one of the principal lessons of Jewish history has been that repeated verbal slanders are sooner or later followed by violent physical deeds.

And look at the history of concessions since Oslo began in 1993. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, but this did not lead Hizballah to become peaceful and moderate. On the contrary, Israel was subjected to new assaults and waged a war in 2006 which cost the lives of over 100 Israeli servicemen. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, only to face an exponential increase in rocket assaults and the violent seizure of the territory by Hamas. When Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat huge concessions in 2000, it resulted in a terrible terrorist campaign by the PA which claimed almost 2,000 Israeli lives and over 10,000 wounded and maimed.

Unilateral concessions don’t work.  Clearly, the Palestinians simply want to continue these unilateral concessions.  Why else would they consider to now refuse to negotiate when negotiations will only lead to more Israeli land concessions to them – but will require Palestinian concessions and a final written peace agreement ending all Palestinian claims.

We must understand that peace can only occur when the Palestinians realize they will receive no more concessions and no more international support, which includes the $1.3 billion the U.S. now provides to the PA, until they change their schools, media, and political speeches from supporting violence and the Jewish state’s destruction to supporting peace and the right of Jews to live in their sovereign ancient homeland.

Had Israel decided to continue the freeze, a message would be sent that, by applying pressure, Israel can be made to increase and expand any concession it has already made. Ending the freeze makes it clear to the Palestinians that time is not on their side and they must finally act to promote a real peace.