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Editorial | Israel's Settler Government Is Fueling a West Bank Blowup

Editorial | Israel's Settler Government Is Fueling a West Bank Blowup

As I've said, want to really understand the Gaza invasion and situation in the West Bank, read Israeli news media.

Haaretz Editorial

Jan 17, 2024

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers to put Israel at risk rather than his government, which relies on a far-right craving for annexation, Jewish supremacy and war. This is the only conclusion that can be reached from his criminal disregard of the Israel Defense Forces' and the Shin Bet security service's repeated warnings.

The message of the defense establishment is crystal clear: Israel must do something to ease the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in the West Bank. The Americans have said the same thing.

To do that, Israel must allow Palestinian workers to enter Israel, in limited numbers and subject to close supervision, even in the midst of a war, just like it's now allowing a limited number of supervised Palestinians to work in the settlements. In addition, the government must hand over all the tax money it owes the Palestinian Authority, without withholding the amount that would have been passed on to Gaza.

Ra'anana attack could herald a wave of Palestinian terror from volatile West Bank

'On the brink of implosion': Israeli army transfers elite unit out of Gaza to West Bank

'I have land – but I don't': West Bank olive harvest is yet another casualty of Gaza war

The stabbing and ramming attack in Ra'anana on Monday, in which a 79-year-old woman was killed, and 17 others injured, should serve as a warning about a wave of terror facing us. No one should conclude from the tragedy that we should ban Palestinian workers from Israel, since the perpetrators were in Israel illegally because they had been barred from entering for security reasons.

A security flare-up in the West Bank and the opening of another front in the war is a danger that must be prevented. Unfortunately, the government is only adding fuel to the fire with its policy of economic strangulation, its verbal attacks on the PA, irresponsible comparisons between it and Hamas, and by allowing more settlers to arm themselves and push more Palestinians off their lands.

All this is happening while the PA maintains security coordination with Israel, including the arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives. Netanyahu and his government understand very well what the cessation of security coordination would mean, yet they prefer to risk that while the IDF is fighting in Gaza and defending the northern border.

We should not let settler extremists in the government dictate policy and push the West Bank into a third intifada. The government must bring an end to the economic strangulation of the West Bank, rein in the settlers, and maintain cooperation with the PA.

These things must be done, even they will not solve everything. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said this week that "the end of the military operation must be anchored in policy. It is the policy that guides military action, and political indecision may harm the progress of the military action."

His remarks are no less true regarding the West Bank. Israel needs to decide what it intends to do in the occupied territories. In the long run, improving the economy and freeing up funds for the PA will not be enough to prevent terrorist attacks. Israel must recognize the reality: that only a diplomatic solution can solve a national problem. But for that, Israel must get rid of Netanyahu, who has been a complete failure at this as well.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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