Inviting an Endless Terror
Inviting an Endless Terror

A core principle of all civilized legal systems - one reaffirmed very explicitly at Nuremberg, during the major post-war trial of Nazi war criminals - is Nullum crimen sine poena, or,  "No crime without a punishment." Today, oddly enough, as growing numbers of Palestinian terrorists search eagerly for Jewish stabbing victims all over Israel, the world community often blames the victims, more than the criminals. In Washington, the president and his thoroughly hapless secretary of state have responded to the grotesque Palestinian crime spree, with utterly incoherent American recommitments to Palestinian statehood.

Even now, when the always conspicuously false Palestinian narrative of an Israeli "occupation" has finally become logically impossible to defend, the Obama administration and its European "partners" still urge creation of  "Palestine." Significantly, this is essentially the same "team" of statesmen that recently celebrated its flagrantly self-destructive nuclear agreement with Iran. Apart from its obvious impotence, this is an agreement violating, inter alia, both the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the 1948 Genocide Convention.

To be sure, the chief Palestinian Authority spokesman still shamelessly instructs Wolf Blitzer, on CNN, that all the Palestinians really want is to live "side by side" with Israel. But the most recent Palestinian polls concerning a Two-State Solution indicate that this instruction is preposterous, on its face. One must ask, does Saeb Erakat read the results of his own polls?  

More precisely, the September 2015 Palestinian-conducted poll revealed that almost half of the resident Arab population strongly favors expanding the use of armed force and generalized violence against Israeli noncombatants. This preference, moreover, was unchanged by any conceivable Israeli willingness to accept Palestinian statehood.  So, why did the Palestinians launch Intifada Number 3 in the first place?

Under authoritative international law, violence against the innocent can never represent a permissible expression of a properly revolutionary ethos.
Why do they weep and express outrage, when young Palestinians, who have thrust their sacrificial knives into innocent Jewish passerby, are then immobilized or shot? What should they expect?

In any meaningful sense, these young murderers are certainly not "lone wolves." Rather, they have been spurred on by endless PA incitements to terror- violence, and by reinforcing corollary encouragements from the mosques. Above all, they have been captivated by the uniquely compelling Islamist promise of power over death,  a power reserved for "martyrs."

America and the West should finally understand. There are no jurisprudential ambiguities in this predatory Palestinian program of random assaults against civilians. The relevant law is perfectly clear. Murder is never an acceptable path to "self-determination."

Under authoritative international law, violence against the innocent can never represent a permissible expression of a properly revolutionary ethos.  


America and the West should take heed. Unambiguously criminal violence is all that is now being perpetrated by Palestinians, in Israel. Nothing more.

Left to proceed toward a full and formal condition of sovereignty, this proposed 23rd Arab state would assuredly continue its pre-independence program of war and terror against Israel. After all, from the indisputable standpoint of every operational Palestinian faction, all of Israel proper would still be designated as "occupied territory." Every last inch.

Should there still be any doubt about this revealing Arab definition of an "occupation," one need only to check the official PA and Hamas maps of "Palestine." On each such map, Palestine is drawn to include all of Israel. Should there be any further doubts, one need simply recall that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, forerunner of  PA) was founded in 1964, three years before there were any "occupied territories."

What, exactly, was the PLO trying to "liberate?" No programmatic ambiguities here. Then, as now, there was no Arab plan to live "side-by-side" with any Jewish state.


There is more.  In time, the new Arab state,  even if it should find itself governed by the Jihadists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and not by the more reassuringly "moderate" Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah, would almost certainly fall to ISIS.

If this complete takeover should be allowed to happen, the Arab terrorists of ISIS will lasciviously murder the Arab terrorists of Palestine. Plausibly, this will then be followed by ISIS enslavement of certain appealing remainders of the now-captive Palestinian population. In this altogether convincing narrative, it will eventually turn out that the truest barrier to Palestinian statehood had never been Israel - a nation which had, in fact, been seeking negotiated solutions for a very long time - but rather another organized and even more twisted band of Sunni fanatics. Then, Palestine could very quickly become another Syria.

Of course, those who like Syria, will absolutely love Palestine.

Even if the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas should together be able to garner Jerusalem's final accession to their always-jumbled, disjointed, and fratricidal statehood claims,[1] no Palestinian state could stand up to more disciplined and foreseeable ISIS aggressions. This makes the insistently barbarous "Third Intifada"  now being waged against Israeli schools, restaurants, buses and synagogues doubly misguided. Now, it should be evident, the primal Palestinian war on Jewish non-combatants is being waged, however unwittingly, on behalf of a rival Sunni terrorist group.

Credo quia absurdum, said the ancient Latin philosophers.  "I believe because it is absurd."

Still, nothing about this blatantly lethal surrogacy is understood in official Washington, or, for that matter, by any of the recognizable presidential contenders.

For several of the candidates, let us be candid, Iraq and Iran seem to be the same place; after all, they both begin with the same letter. In American politics, such core confusions are generally taken-in-stride, and (because of appropriately low expectations) are fully pardonable.

During the many years that Fatah and Hamas terrorists were busily slaughtering each other  (as well as Israeli civilians), Jerusalem's persistent warnings about Palestine were conveniently swept under America's diplomatic rug. Not even after 9/11, when both Fatah and Hamas enthusiastically For several of the candidates, let us be candid, Iraq and Iran seem to be the same place; after all, they both begin with the same letter.
celebrated America's great misfortune, did the United States and its allies bother to re-evaluate their traditional support of Palestine. One must inquire, therefore, especially as another presidential election approaches: Is it even "normal" for an aggrieved American nation to support Palestinian statehood, an effort on behalf of a continuously hateful Arab terror organization? Should America be fighting ISIS, and supporting a Jihadist "Palestine," at the very same time?

Credo quia absurdum." "I believe because it is absurd."

Now, in what may turn out to be a supreme irony, Hamas and Israel are simultaneously threatened by conspicuous ISIS advances to Gaza. In these observably disciplined military movements, various Jihadist groups loyal to ISIS have already exchanged gun and rocket fire with Hamas fighters, planted bombs in public Palestinian buildings, and visibly prepared for an expanding war with Hamas. Quite recently, when Hamas reportedly blew up a mosque believed to be a base for ISIS loyalists, a group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem quickly offered the following statement of fealty: "In light of Hamas' latest action, we renew our allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and call on him to strengthen his influence, to open up a war in Palestine, in order to unite together in a war against the Jews and their accomplices."

For virtually all Arab forces in the Middle East, conflict with Israel is never really about land or "settlement activity." It is about God, and about related promises of immortality. Always, it is about the most significant but still unrecognized power in world politics -  power over personal death.

The common core enemy, therefore, is never Israel as such. This true enemy is "The Jews," always, The Jews. The young Palestinian who strikes with his blade is expecting to become a "martyr," a shahid. He willingly risks "death" at the hands of the Israeli police, in order not to die. The grotesque paradox here, is still unrecognized in Washington and other western capitals. To them, the young murderers are even evidently "courageous."

Credo quia absurdum. If you like Syria, you will love "Palestine."

By now, President Barack Obama's once demeaned "junior varsity" has expanded beyond Iraq and Syria, into Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Egypt. In Egypt, Israel and the United States already have reasonable fears about a resurgence of Muslim Brotherhood power. The Brotherhood, of course, which is separate from both ISIS and Taliban, is the parent organization of Hamas, which remains the prevailing authority in Palestinian Gaza.

What might all of this mean for regional stability, and wider global geopolitics? In the best case scenario, a fully unleashed Hamas might still be able to fend off  ISIS, but only after it had first expressed an even greater willingness and capacity to commit murder.

In the worst case scenario, ISIS would prove itself more barbarous than Hamas, and thereby make impressively fast work of those "indigenous" Palestinian authorities still remaining on the Strip.

ISIS is already operating in parts of Syria that could bring it to the critical borders of Israel's Golan Heights . It has also set operational sights on Jordan and 'West Bank'(Judea/Samaria). Expectedly, over the next several months, and even while the Palestinian Authority continues to orchestrate more "Third Intifada" attacks on Israelis, ISIS will commence its determined march westward, across Jordan, ending up at the eastern boundaries of the 'West Bank'. These boundaries, of course, would represent the territorial margins of what PA/Fatah both already recognize as the geographic heart of "Palestine."

In all likelihood, Palestinian forces, primarily Fatah, would yield to ISIS and its local allies. Fatah would then have to choose between pleading with the Jewish State to become a Palestinian ally against a now-common foe, or directly abandoning all its residual military operations to the Israel Defense Forces.

Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." Without IDF assistance in such desperate circumstances, "Palestine" wouldn't stand a chance.

One additional irony ought to be noted. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long made acceptance of any Palestinian state contingent upon prior Palestinian "demilitarization." Should the Palestinian Authority and Hamas somehow accede to this problematic expectation, it could make ISIS' predictable destructions in the area much easier to carry out. Paradoxically, a "Palestine" that had properly stood by its pre-state legal concessions to Israel, could effectively enlarge the overall existential danger posed to both Palestinians and Israelis.

What about Jordan? Under pertinent international law, the Hashemite Kingdom has incurred certain binding obligations regarding joint cooperation with Israel against terrorism.  These obligations, as reinforcing complements to more generally binding legal rules, are expressly codified at the 1994 Treaty of Peace Between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Could this Treaty still have any palpable effect upon Jordan's capacity to militarily block anticipated ISIS advances?

Not at all. The more generic problem of enforcing treaties had already been identified back in the seventeenth century, by Thomas Hobbes. Said the English philosopher, in his Leviathan, a work well-known to America's founding fathers: "Covenants, without the Sword, are but words...."

From the seventeenth century onward, the world political system has been anarchic, or, in Hobbesian terms,  a "state of nature." In the anarchic Middle East, especially, considerations of raw power routinely trump expectations of international law. Here, too, truth here may be especially counter-intuitive.

On those endlessly perplexing matters concerning Palestinian statehood, it is finally time to understand that "Palestine's" true enemy in the region is not Israel, but rather a distressingly sordid mix of Islamist Arab forces. Going forward, any further Palestinian advances toward statehood would likely be to the longer-term tactical advantage of ISIS. Is this what the Palestinians "Third Intifada" intends?

Not likely.

"No crime without a punishment." In the end, even if American and European leaders should continue to betray the most elementary principles of law and justice in dealing with terrorism against Israelis, Palestine will most likely wind up as Syria, palpably disintegrating, deeply corrupted, and irremediably lost in chaos.

If you like Syria, you'll love "Palestine."         

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D. Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and several hundred scholarly articles dealing with Israel, terrorism, and international law. Professor Beres' tenth book - Israel's Nuclear Strategy: Survival Amid Chaos (Rowman & Littlefield) - will be published later this year. The Chair of Project Daniel (Israel, 2003), and a contributor to The Jerusalem Post, The New York Times, The Washington Times, U.S. News & World Report, The Hill, Oxford University Press, Israel National News, and The Atlantic, he was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.


[1] From the particular standpoint of international law, all Palestinian claims for a state remain contrived and unsupportable. Even now, the Palestinians are unable to meet any of the codified expectations listed at the 1934 Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (the "Montevideo Convention"), the treaty governing statehood in applicable law. On their official maps, moreover, both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas certify that their plan is for an exclusively "One-State Solution." This unhidden template, which identifies all of Israel as "occupied Palestine," amounts to the cartographic "genocide" of an existing state. As such, it is fundamentally inconsistent with both the 1934 Treaty obligations, and with "peremptory" (jus cogens) obligations established at theUnited Nations Charter and the 1948 Genocide Convention.