In the wake of the poignant images from Gaza, Prime Minister Sharon is under fire from those who cannot understand why he would withdraw from the territory, given the lack of a serious Palestinian peace partner, as well as those who see every unreciprocated Israeli concession to the Palestinians as insufficient. For example, the New York Times editorialized that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza can only be the beginning, and that Mr. Sharon must give up the West Bank next.
It would be difficult to find an argument more disconnected from reality; anyone who thinks that more Israeli concessions comprise the magic way to peace should look carefully at the experience of the past 12 years. In 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin recognized Yasser Arafat and the PLO as the representatives of the Palestinian people. Over the next seven years, Israel ceded most of Gaza and nearly all of the major West Bank cities to Mr. Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and overlooked the fact that he was arming terrorist militias in the West Bank, doing nothing to put Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure out of business, and enabling raw anti-Semitic incitement in the PA-controlled media.
In July 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Mr. Arafat a Palestinian state that would have included Gaza, nearly the entire West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem. Mr. Arafat rejected the Barak offer and opened a war of terror that killed 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians.
Since February, Israel has scaled back its operations in PA-controlled areas against Hamas and other terrorist groups in the hope that Mr. Abbas will restrain the terrorists. In fact, he is doing precisely the opposite, permitting the terrorists to regroup and rebuild to target Israel on another day.
Israel should adopt a policy of relentless and massive deterrence, guaranteeing that Gaza-based terrorists will be hit very hard every time they fire rockets into Israel. For such a deterrence policy to work, it is essential that Washington support Israel when it defends itself against terror.