Akiva Eldar
Haaretz (Opinion)
August 19, 2011 - 12:00am

The planning, time, place and methodology of the attacks in the south indicate that the intention was not just to kill Israelis, avenge Palestinian deaths, or speed up the end of occupation. Whoever sent the terrorists is no friend of President Mahmoud Abbas and his people, who are scurrying around trying to lobby support for a UN General Assembly vote for a Palestinian state next month.

After a long period in which Israel was seen as Goliath the peace objector, and the Palestinians as David, the occupation victim, the sides have swapped roles. When Israel is burying its dead, it's awkward to bother it with trifles like expanding the settlements.

When the border between Israel and Egypt is open to murderers, it's harder to condemn Israel's leaders for refusing to utter the words "negotiation on the basis of the '67 borders."

No wonder the officials in the muqata in Ramallah haven't sounded so peevish in a long time. And not because of the Ramadan fast.

Nor were there any reports of toast-raising in Hamas offices in Gaza, either. Izzat al-Rishq, member of the Hamas Movement's Political Bureau, said only this week the organization supports the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN. On Wednesday Hamas was still chasing the people who launched Grad missiles at Be'er Sheva.

Why should they be blasted for foiling Fatah's move, which isn't expected to move a single roadblock, not to mention a single caravan in an illegal outpost?

What interest could the Hamas mainstream have in providing Israel with ammunition in the midst of the reconciliation talks with Fatah and resuming the negotiations to free Gilad Shalit?

Egypt, which only this week started sending hundreds of soldiers to Sinai, to protect the gas pipeline, among other goals, has no interest in setting the border on fire either.

The terror organizations have learned that attacks are a proven medicine against the risk of progress in the peace process. But since the Americans stopped trying to bring Netanyahu and Abbas to the same table, no such danger has been in sight.

The days in which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin announced he would fight terror as though there was no peace, and advance peace as though there's no terror, have long gone. Netanyahu's government has entrusted the task of dealing with terror to the IDF and the Israel PR machine.

The attacks in the south should remind us that in the Israeli-Palestinian military arena there is no knockout victory. Whoever didn't want the Palestina Liberation Organization got Hamas. Whoever didn't want Hamas is getting Al-Qaida.

The attacks in the south should demonstrate that the status quo serves the most radical parties. They should teach us that we cannot send politics on vacation and demonstrate for social welfare. They should serve as a promo to terror groups' taking over the West Bank, after the Palestinian Authority closes down its offices and walks away.

Netanyahu boasted last night that "when Israel is attacked we retaliate immediately and powerfully." Had Israel acted wisely, not only powerfully, the retaliation should have been an immediate resumption of peace talks with the Palestinian faction that stands for the two-state solution.

"Prestige is a strategic asset," Minister Moshe Ya'alon said about Israel's refusal to apologize to Turkey, against its own strategic interests and despite the U.S. president's pleas.

How many victims is this asset going to cost us?


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