The Palestinian Authority announced with great fanfare last week that it is resuming “security cooperation” with Israel. But did anybody even notice it had stopped?
The news media and assorted “experts” are all pointing to the PA’s announcement as a major Palestinian Authority “concession” for which Israel is supposed to be eternally grateful. In fact, already the drums are beating for Israel to “reciprocate” by making some concession of its own.
For those who hadn’t noticed, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (now in the 14 th year of a 4-year term) declared an end to the “cooperation” six months ago, on May 18, 2020, to protest an Israeli policy decision that he imagined was going to be taken, but never was.
So, I thought it would be interesting to compare the number of Israelis killed or injured in Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks during the past six months of “no cooperation” to the preceding six months of “cooperation.” The statistics are available on the websites of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (mfa.gov.il) and the Israeli Security Services, or Shin Beit (shabak.gov.il).
During these six months without “cooperation,” one Israeli was murdered, and 16 were injured, in Arab terrorist attacks. You can hear all the J Street and Jewish Voices for Peace types crowing, “See? One dead and sixteen injured! Look how bad things got because there was no cooperation!”
Then I checked the numbers for the six months before Abbas’s dramatic announcement—six months when the PA supposedly was cooperating with Israeli security forces to combat terrorism. Well, guess what: One dead, 39 injured.
The number of Israelis harmed by Palestinian Arab terrorists during the “cooperation” months was more than twice the number who were harmed during the “no cooperation” months.
Obviously, these two six-month periods provide only a snapshot of the situation. And it’s not that “security cooperation” has provided Israel with no benefits at all. Occasionally, as part of some internal Arab rivalry, the PA will temporarily detain small numbers of terrorists. And every day a terrorist is behind bars—no matter what the reason—is good.
But let’s be clear: the “cooperation” that the PA undertakes does not even remotely resemble what the Oslo accords require. According to Oslo, the PA security forces are required to disband terrorist groups, seize their weapons, arrest the terrorists, and extradite them to Israel for prosecution.
The PA is more than capable of doing that job. It has one of the largest per-capita police forces in the world. They know the terrain. They know where the weapons depots and safe houses and training sites are. They could do the job if they wanted to. They just don’t want to.
Because as far as the PA is concerned, the various terrorist groups—Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—are their brothers. Occasionally quarrelsome, occasionally rivalrous. But brothers. And the Israelis are their enemies, peace agreement or no peace agreement.
This reality was dramatically demonstrated a few years ago in, of all places, the pages of the New York Times, a newspaper not known for its great sympathy for Israel.
On March 23, 2014, the Times published a news article about Israeli troops entering the PA-ruled area of Jenin in pursuit of terrorists. The lead author was the then-chief of the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, Jodi Rudoren. The troops set out to arrest a terrorist named Hamza Abu El-Hijja, whom an Israeli official said was a “ticking time bomb” with a long record of terrorist attacks who was “in the advanced stages of planning further attacks.”
Ms. Rudoren paused to explain why the Israelis, and not the PA police, were doing the pursuing. Although Jenin is, as she put it, is under the "full control" of the PA, Israeli officers said “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”
“Refugee camps” are notorious hotbeds of terrorist activity. But as far as the PA security forces are concerned, they are the equivalent of “No-Go Zones.” In Europe, that term describes neighborhood where the local population is very hostile to the police, so the police don’t go there. In the PA areas, it means places where there are a lot of people that the PA police don’t want to arrest, so they don’t go there.
When the Israeli forces approached El-Hijja’s house, he opened fire on them. He was assisted by two other terrorists, Omar Abu Zaina and Zain Jabarin. All three were killed in the shoot-out. The Times noted matter of factly that Zaina was “a member of Islamic Jihad,” and Jabarin was a member of “the armed wing of Fatah.”
What? The “armed wing of Fatah”? But we are always being told that Fatah—the Yasir Arafat/Mahmoud Abbas faction of the PLO—laid down its arms when they signed the Oslo accords.
And a “member of Islamic Jihad”? How can that be? We are always being told that the Muslim fundamentalists of Islamic Jihad are enemies of the “secular, moderate” Fatah. Yet here we have a trifecta of supposed rivals—El-Hijja, of Hamas; Zaina of Islamic Jihad; and Jabarin, of Fatah—all working closely together in pursuit of their common goal, that is, murdering Jews. And all operating freely in PA territory, while the PA turns a blind eye to their activity.
So, let’s not kid ourselves. “Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation,” as commonly described by the international media, is largely a myth. The only ones genuinely looking out for Israel’s security are the Israelis themselves.
Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” and an oleh chadash.