by MK Yariv Levin
Let's not delude ourselves that only Hamas was to blame for the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens. Palestinian society as a whole was responsible, even if the attack was carried out by Hamas.
The news of the attack was received by the Palestinian public, both in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, with great joy and celebration. This was not shocking, given the fact that nothing unites Palestinians more than their shared hatred of Jews and Israel and their desire to establish a Palestinian state in the entire land of Israel, which runs contrary to the self-delusions of many Israelis who are trying to resuscitate the fallacious peace process.
While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have belatedly appeared before the cameras and condemned the kidnapping, the Fatah organization, which is led by Abbas, has continued to show support for the murderers of the teens. Over the past several weeks, official Fatah Facebook pages have been filled with messages of support for the kidnappers. One cartoon uploaded to the pages shows three mice, with Stars of David on their backs, biting at the end of a fishing line. The title of the cartoon is "Masterstroke."
This pattern of behavior by Palestinian leaders is nothing new. On one hand, before cameras and in international forums, Palestinian leaders condemn violence against Israelis. On the other hand, internally, they continue to promote violence, as exhibited by the monthly salaries Abbas gives to families of terrorists imprisoned in Israel, with the salary scale based on how severe the attack was.
It is not hard to discern that Fatah and Hamas have nearly identical identities. Anyone examining the positions of these groups would immediately find that there is no fundamental difference in their attitudes toward Israel. They are divided on only two points: the nature of the state to be established in place of Israel, and the tactics of how to take over all of Israel.
On the question of tactics, Fatah has abided for years by the strategy of stages, under which diplomatic agreements are used as a means to achieve the ultimate defeat of Israel. Fatah's final goal remains the "liberation" of the entire land of Israel and the elimination of the State of Israel. Fatah avoids making any basic ideological concessions, as manifested by its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Hamas, meanwhile, refuses to make any agreements with Israel. It rejects the strategy of stages, believing that only armed struggle will lead to the "liberation" of the entire land of Israel.
Given this, it is no wonder that there is widespread cross-societal support among Palestinians for terrorist attacks, as well as support for harboring terrorists and turning them into cultural heroes. The Palestinian Authority is the entity which demands the release of terrorists, greets them with celebrations and names city squares and streets after them.
Moreover, the PA education system teaches the next generation of Palestinians to hate Israel, using anti-Semitic motifs. The PA educates children to continue the armed struggle, until Israel is completely destroyed. This is the clear reality that many still refuse to see. We all want peace and we all hope there is someone to make peace with. But the desire for peace must not blind us from reality and prevent us from acting to protect the interests of Israel and the security of its citizens.
Hamas is our enemy, and it must pay. But this will not be enough the solve the problem posed by a Palestinian society that supports and encourages terrorism.
Israeli society must stand firm. We should strengthen the settlement enterprise in a way that will prove to the Palestinians that we are here to stay and that terrorism will not achieve anything.
MK Yariv Levin (Likud) is coalition chairman and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
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