Israelis and Palestinians alike have begun to talk, quietly but unmistakably, about the possibility of a “Third Intifada.”
On the Israeli side, it’s more of a warning, as the Center worries that a lack of progress in negotiations will lead frustrated Palestinians to take to the streets and again embrace terrorism as a tactic.
On the Palestinian side, it sometimes sounds like a threat: Marzouq El-Halabi, an Israeli Arab who writes a column for the Common Ground News Service, recently bemoaned the almost gleeful attitudes of Palestinians who seem itching and eager for a fight. As El-Halabi sensibly reminds his readers, the Second Intifada “undermined more than benefited Palestinian national aspirations.” Palestinian violence was met with two major defensive campaigns by Israel, which devastated the Palestinian cause “politically, economically, and morally.” He warns Palestinians who would blame Israel for all their woes: “The fact that the Palestinian factions chose the path of violence makes them also culpable.” Among too many young Palestinians and their leaders, “martyrdom has become more significant than liberation, and sacrifice more important than ending the occupation.”
This is bracing talk from a writer who invokes Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, not Yasser Arafat or Osama bin Laden. It’s the kind of voice heard too seldom on the Palestinian side, where anti-Israel propaganda and delusional calls for violence and “liberation” are all too frequent. Last Friday, a Palestinian television station under the putative control of Mahmoud Abbas aired a repellent sermon delivered in a mosque. According to the transcript by Palestinian Media Watch, the cleric quotes a grab-bag of koranic verses calling for the killing of Jews, compares Israelis to Nazis, and concludes that “this land will be liberated only by means of Jihad….”
Israel is not blameless in this ongoing conflict, or in the war of words. But for every example of violent, extremist talk in Israel, there are infinitely more voices speaking the language of compromise in hopes that there is an interlocutor on the other side. But so long as the Palestinian Authority tolerates the language of violence, refuses to counter the hateful rhetoric of the rejectionists, and does too little to prepare their own people for the prospect of compromise, a Third Intifada isn’t just possible. It’s inevitable.