How to stop terrorism
By Benjamin Netanyahu
Maariv, June 3, 2001
The horrible murders of the last few days are tearing at the hearts of the whole
nation, and causing a feeling of no way out for some of us. We are being told
that terrorism cannot be stopped at all, and certainly not by military means.
I completely disagree with this statement. Terrorism can be stopped only
by rehabilitating Israel’s power of deterrence and the willingness to employ it
We stopped the terrorism from Egypt and Jordan using military means, many
years before there were any sort of diplomatic processes with them. But there
is no need to look back decades. In the three years of my government’s tenure,
we took terrorism off the national agenda. In 1996 we were elected to stop
the wave of buses exploding and suicide bombers. In the 1999 elections, the
security issue was no longer on the table. After three years that were nearly
completely quiet and safe, I handed over to my successor a tranquil country
whose citizens had a sense of security.
Arafat is the same Arafat, Hamas is the same Hamas, and the suicide bombers
are the same suicide bombers. What has changed?
During my government’s tenure, we rehabilitated Israel’s power of deterrence,
and would not accept terrorism as part of our daily routine.
Following our firm reaction to the events of the Hasmonean Tunnel and the
three terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Arafat understood three
- That I am prepared to use the IDF’s full force against the Palestinian
Authority, even to the extent of toppling it.
- That the ministers supported this policy.
- That the government I headed would employ this policy despite
all the international pressure.
Understanding the threat from us to his regime caused Arafat to take action
against the Islamic terrorist organizations and to lock up terrorists. After the
1999 elections, Israel’s policy was changed utterly and completely.
The government that replaced mine returned to the policy of the Oslo
government: it expressed a willingness for excessive concessions to the
Palestinians, including under fire (and even hurriedly withdrew from
Lebanon). As in the days of Oslo, the result was the same: a wave of
terror once again engulfed the country.
In order to bring the power of deterrence back to
Israel, we have to once again insist on three things:
- Israel is prepared to use any power necessary to stop the
terror, including to the extent of paralyzing the Palestinian
Authority and causing its collapse. Arafat is not worried about
his people, upon whom he has brought one disaster after another,
but he is certainly worried about his continued rule.
- The government must stand together behind this policy, which
the majority of the people support.
- Israel will explain to international public opinion that we
are implementing the natural right of any country to defend its
citizens. This PR campaign is ever so much simpler with the
present American administration, and with a coordinated
diplomatic-PR effort, it will succeed.
These steps will bring about a halt to terror, and
perhaps even before the Palestinian Authority collapses. But should
Arafat not understand this, his successors will surely have learnt
the lesson. In order to survive in power they will have to stop the
terrorism against us.
The key to stopping the terror is not in the identity of the regime facing us or its
intentions, but in deterrence.
Arafat will not forsake the ideology of destroying Israel, which was once
again exposed at Camp David. But he, or his successor, will stop the terrorism
when they are forced to choose between it and the continuation of their rule.
Ghadaffi is the same Ghadaffi, but he forsook terrorism when the U.S.
bombed Libya and imposed heavy sanctions on it.
North Korea is the same North Korea, but it too has moved away from
using terrorism as a result of the incredible economic and international damage
that terrorism had caused it.
The conception of Oslo, which is that relations of peace with the Palestinian
can be established based on the assumption that they had altered their
intentions towards Israel, was mistaken.
In its place, the concept of security which has served Israel since its
establishment, which brought about the cessation of fighting with two of our
neighbors, and which ultimately enabled the establishing of peaceful relations
with them, must be brought back: a strong Israel which knows how to stand up
for itself and is prepared to use its power when necessary.