Palestinian Authority (PA) strongman Mahmoud Abbas visited China recently, where he dismissed the Uyghur genocide and eschewed “using the Xinjiang problem as a way of interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Aside from that revelation, the trip was mostly useful for absenting Abbas from the West Bank, where his 19 years of despotic and corrupt rule are crumbling amid increasing violence from Iranian-supported militias and terror groups buried among civilians in West Bank cities he no longer controls. His presence or absence made no difference as the “Lion’s Den” and “Jenin Brigade” increased their acts of terror against Israelis, inviting the IDF response the terror groups hoped would produce civilian casualties so the left-wing media could vilify Israel.
Contrary to “expert” opinion, there will likely be no “successor” to Abbas, but rather increased chaos as armed groups vie for control and Iran tries to co-opt the whole ugly process. Israel’s escalating military response is the result of two converging factors — the obligation to protect the citizens of Israel from terror, and to prevent an Iranian-supported takeover of the West Bank.
This is the bitter end of Oslo. And the reasons are worth considering.
The Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, amid post-Soviet exuberance, the “peace dividend,” the “end of history,” and the mistaken belief that the U.S. would write the rules for everyone else, and everyone else would comply.
There was no “Palestinian State” or “2-state solution” in the Accords, but the PLO — the Palestine Liberation Organization under master terrorist Yasser Arafat — was supposed to accept a rump Palestinian autonomous region squeezed in between a legitimized Israel, plus Jordan and Egypt — all of which were hostile.
Because America said so.
Beginning in 1982, groups of retired American Flag and General Officers had been visiting Israel. (Note: I had the privilege of leading those groups for nearly 30 years.) After Oslo, they also met with PA officials, including those training the Palestinian “security forces” under the auspices of an American military officer. We were told they were police. In 1997, a U.S. Army general discretely avoided shaking hands with our hosts. “These are not police,” he told me. “They’re training an army and our equipment will be used against Israel.”
He was right.
In May 2000, Israel left southern Lebanon and Hezbollah moved in. In September 2000, the commander of Israel’s Central Command told that year’s group of American officers that trouble had been brewing on the West Bank for months. There were Palestinians, including Arafat, who believed that if Israel could be convinced by terror to leave Lebanon, it could be convinced by terror to leave Judea and Samaria. “They are wrong,” he said.
He was right, but at great cost.
Very shortly thereafter, armed with American training and some American equipment (not weapons, but radios and other useful things) Arafat ditched the Oslo Accords, no longer pretending to be interested in legitimizing the State of Israel. The so-called “2nd intifada” — the Palestinian war against Israel — killed 1,000 Israelis — the U.S. equivalent, adjusted for population, is about 40,000 people. More than twelve 9-11s in about 4 years.
A word here about Jenin, the site of today’s most intense fighting: in 2002, the IDF entered Jenin at the height of the intifada. Palestinians claimed that 1,000 civilians had been killed and buried in mass graves — mainstream media duly reported the “fact.” But Western reporters later proved that “about 50 Palestinians had fought and died in a ferocious battle that also cost the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers.” Just keep it in mind.
In 2005, the Jewish population of Gaza was removed. But again, evacuating territory only meant that Hamas had free rein to have a civil war with the PA, which it won, and could control the territory of Gaza without Jews and without the IDF in the way.
Control of territory meant the ability to bring in militia-terrorist forces with little or no opposition — yes, there is a blockade on Gaza harbor, but Sinai was for years a basically open door for the importation of weapons and weapons technology.
So, what have the promoters of the Oslo Accords learned?
The U.S. appears to have learned nothing — the Biden administration continues to flog the “2-state solution,” holding out for Abbas to become a statesman.
Israel learned two things. Leaving territory — moving the IDF away from the people and away from the threat, as they did in Lebanon, the West Bank under Oslo and Gaza under the “disengagement” — would not result in less hostility toward Israel, but rather serve an opening for terrorist/militia armies to have more autonomy in building and using their forces. And more room for Iran.
Which is the second lesson: Abbas will die, and increased chaos will follow. Today, the IDF is working to destroy the Iranian-supported terrorist-militia infrastructure in the West Bank for the security of its own citizens and for the future.
The fact that operations also protect Abbas — who never wanted to control the militias and couldn’t if he DID want to — is incidental.
Oslo is over and now, keeping Iran out is Job One.