The soldier at the Qalandiyah checkpoint gave a bored look at the car with the Israeli license plates. No one asked for documents or passes. Ten minutes later we were in the heart of Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority. The security forces obviously know there is no cause for concern. Nowadays Tel Aviv's beaches are more dangerous than the West Bank's cities. According to statistics from the Prime Minister's Office, more Israelis have been murdered in the past month in Israel than those murdered since January 2007 in the territory of the PA. The Jewish army's work in the territories we still call "Judea and Samaria" is done by non-Jews: Arab police, American instructors, European money. How has Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman put it? Paradise.
Over the years, suicide bombings spearheaded the political and media struggle against the Oslo process ("don't give them guns"). Although the number of terror attacks has declined despite the increase in the number of settlers (from 110,000 when the Oslo Accords were signed in September 1993 to 300,000 today, not including East Jerusalem) - terrorism continues to horrify us. Although at the height of the campaigns against Palestinians in Gaza, Ramallah was the quietest place in the region, the Qassams from Gaza were shown as "proof" of what would happen to us if we withdrew from the West Bank. For some reason the continued calm on Israel's eastern border and the order Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government has imposed in cities the Israel Defense Forces has been good enough to evacuate have been unable to prove that the Palestinian state is not necessarily a synonym for a terrorist entity.
Nine years after the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada and almost five years after Yasser Arafat's death, a solid Palestinian leadership is waiting for Israel. It's a leadership that speaks out and acts decisively against violence. The sixth Fatah convention approved a diplomatic solution based on two states within the 1967 borders. Although a mountainous 16 years of diplomatic process have produced a molehill, the option of returning to the armed struggle against the occupier has been pushed to the margins. The Palestinian leadership, as well as the countries of the Arab League, are showing understanding for Israel's concerns; our Palestinian neighbor will be immeasurably less armed and dangerous than our northern neighbors. We can only hope that its security forces will not abuse their new recruits and that their officers will not be liars.
The proceedings at the Fatah convention show that the Palestinian state will have more democratic checks and balances than any of the Arab countries. Even if it turns out that there is substance to Ahmed Qureia's claims of irregularities in the election of the organization's leaders, let him ask Ami Ayalon what happened to him in the Labor Party primary. Eli Yishai can tell Qureia about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's strict democratic system for drawing up Shas' Knesset list. Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman will fill in the gaps in the doctrine of party politics in the Middle East's only democracy.
Speaking of Lieberman, we have hardly heard the claim lately that a Palestinian state will fall victim to corruption at the top. People who live in houses where a finance minister and welfare minister are sent to prison and investigations or indictments are pending against a former president, prime minister, foreign minister and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman should not throw stones. The arrangements instituted by Fayyad and his economic initiatives prove baseless the concern that anarchy will prevail in a poor Palestinian state as in Somalia. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself proudly noted the growth of the Palestinian economy. The International Monetary Fund is convinced that if Israel is more generous about removing roadblocks, Palestinian growth will exceed 8 percent.
Thus the excuses are running out one after another and the naked truth is being revealed: Netanyahu's promise - "if they give they'll get, if they don't give they won't get" - was based on the assumption that we would continue to be on the receiving end of Palestinian terror, which would release us from the need to allow them to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. If even U.S. President Barack Obama does not ensure that they get what they deserve, we will all get what we deserve.
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