Palestinian Terrorism Meets Israeli Paralysis | Opinion

In the span of two weeks from late March to early April, 14 Israelis were murdered, and more than a dozen were wounded in five separate terror attacks in five locations countrywide. This is the highest number of lethal terror attacks to take place over such a short period in years.

Israel has faced invariable terror onslaughts at the hands of its Arab neighbors for over a century. And over the course of this long war, Israel has learned the hard way that there is no nice way to fight terrorism. The only way to end a terror onslaught is to go on offense; to attack the terrorists on their home turf before they can attack Israeli civilians; to dismantle the militaries and social infrastructures that fund, incite, reward and incentivize terrorists to attack.

To carry out such a counter-offensive, Israel needs a strong, stable government whose members and leaders recognize that appeasement isn't an option because appeasing terrorists convinces them they are winning and should escalate their attacks.

Unfortunately, the chance Israel's current government will go on the offensive is low. There are several causes for the government's incompetence. First, last week, the Naftali Bennett-Yair Lapid government lost its one-vote majority in Israel's 120-member Knesset. MK Idit Silman, a member of Prime Minister Bennett's six-member parliamentary faction, resigned her position as coalition whip and joined the opposition, which is led by former prime minister and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following Silman's resignation, despite the Ieft-leaning Israeli media's overwhelming support for the government, commentators and politicians from across Israel's political spectrum agree that the government is on life support.

The government's instability is incurable because it is baked in. The glue that formed the basis of the Bennett-Lapid government, which is comprised of three small right-wing parties, two moderate-left parties, two radical-left parties and the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Islamic party Ra'am, is a common hatred for Netanyahu. That hatred is what brought Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar and his New Hope party, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and his Israel Beitenu party, to leave the Right and refuse to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, even if ousting Netanyahu required them to form a government with the Muslim Brotherhood and the radical Left.

Bennett, whose party did not run on an anti-Netanyahu platform, took advantage of the Netanyahu hatred to force his coalition partners to make him prime minister despite the fact he only won seven seats in the election and one of his own party members outright refused to join his coalition.

The anti-Netanyahu joint platform worked well for the left-wing parties. Without Bennett, Sa'ar and Liberman, they stood no chance of ever coming back into power because the majority of Israelis support the Right. It worked well for Ra'am because to buy its support, Bennett and his partners transferred tens of billions of dollars to the party, gave it effective control of the Negev and handed it a war chest enabling it to build Islamist patronage networks the likes of which no one ever imagined might happen in Israel.

Liberman and Sa'ar are pleased because their primary ideology is hatred for Netanyahu and, in Liberman's case, for the ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews who are members of the right-wing bloc. Bennett, of course, is satisfied because he managed to leverage his 5 percent of the seats in the Knesset into a premiership.

Bennett's problem is that he didn't run on an anti-Netanyahu platform. On the contrary, he and his colleagues pledged repeatedly that they would not form a government with the Left or with the Muslim Brotherhood. The government that Bennett leads is a slap in the face to his own voters, 90 percent of whom opposed the very formation of his government.

As prime minister, Bennett is completely insulated from his disgruntled, shafted voters. He operates in a cocoon surrounded by aides and bodyguards. He avoids public scrutiny by never venturing out into the public.

But Bennett's Knesset faction members are not similarly insulated. They live in their communities and neighborhoods, and they have to face their spurned supporters every day.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) attends
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime minister's office in Jerusalem, on March 27, 2022. ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rather than stand up for his purported right-wing convictions, and fulfill even one of his pledges to voters, Bennett has adopted—or at least not opposed—the policies of his government's leftist majority. His government has adopted policies that undermine Israel's Jewish national identity on several levels. Although Bennett refuses to negotiate with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Defense Minister Benny Gantz is making unprecedented strategic concessions to the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria that threaten all of Israel's national and strategic interests there—including the well-being of the half-million Israelis who live there.

Rather than fight the radicalization and burgeoning irredentism of Arab-Israeli society, Bennett has adopted policies that cede significant aspects of Israel's sovereignty to Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Ra'am.

Rather than publicly fight the Biden administration's plan to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran that guarantees Iran will become a nuclear threshold state within two years, the Bennett government has opted for quiet lobbying. That decision has facilitated the Biden administration's pro-Iran policies, rather than impede them.

Likewise, Bennett stood by silently last month when, in the midst of the renewed Palestinian terror offensive, visiting Secretary of State Anthony Blinken blamed Israel for the absence of peace, cast aspersions on Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem and slandered Israeli citizens by calling for an end to "settler violence" (a phenomenon that barely exists).

Silman, like several other Knesset members of Bennett's Yamina party, didn't run for office to oust Netanyahu. No were they informed ahead of time of Bennett's plan to betray their voters and form a government with the moderate Left, the radical Left and the Muslim Brotherhood. Whereas the leftist parties and Ra'am can all point to significant achievements they have made for their political and ideological supporters, Yamina MKs have nothing to show for themselves. Silman started out as Bennett's most loyal lieutenant in the Knesset, but she broke under communal pressure because she had no achievements to show her neighbors.

This brings us to the second reason that Bennett and his government are unlikely to launch a major counter-offensive against Palestinian and Arab-Israeli terror cells and social and political support networks: Bennett's coalition partners will simply not stand for it. Although Ra'am MK Mansour Abbas condemned the terror attacks carried out by Arab-Israelis in Beersheba and Hadera, Abbas and his party harbor myriad ties with Hamas. Were the Bennett-Lapid government to decide to conduct a major operation to dismantle terrorist cells and supportive terror networks among Arab-Israelis—or, for that matter, against the Hamas regime in Gaza—Abbas would bolt the coalition and bring it down.

As for the Palestinian Authority (PA), it has been actively sponsoring and inciting the terror offensive against Israel. The terrorist who killed three Israelis in a shooting attack last Thursday at a bar in Tel Aviv was the son of a brigadier general in the PA security services. His father greeted the crowd of well-wishers outside his palatial home in Jenin on Friday morning with a fiery tirade against the Jews, wherein he promised Israel's destruction "in this generation" to great applause.

The Bennett-Lapid government has taken no action against the PA, in response. It can't. Not only will Gantz not permit it. The far-left Meretz and Labor parties would bolt the coalition if the government takes any action that undermines the PA, even as the PA is acting as the main engine inciting, incentivizing and glorifying Palestinian terrorists and Arab-Israeli terrorism against Israeli Jews.

Mansour Abbas has worked hard over the past two years to present himself and his party as less interested in destroying Israel than in bettering the lives of Arab-Israelis. This is not the case with the majority of the Joint Arab List, a coalition of three Arab parties, whose members generally support Israel's destruction. Ayman Odeh, for instance, has advocated on behalf of Hezbollah. Earlier this week, Odeh called on Arab-Israelis serving in the Israeli police to resign their positions in a speech where he incited mass rebellion.

But in the days that followed Silman's desertion, members of Bennett's government have stated outright they will agree to work with the Joint Arab List to preserve their own power. Bennett's closest Knesset associate, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, said Monday the government would agree to cooperate with the Joint Arab List in order to stay afloat. If this does happen, it is likely other Yamina faction members will follow Silman's lead and vote in favor of a new round of elections.

Common hatred was enough to bring the Bennett-Lapid government together and sustain it to date. But hatred isn't a counter-terror strategy. And the ideological leanings of the majority of Bennett's coalition members ensure his government will remain chronically unstable and incapable of forging, much less executing, the type of counter-terror strategy needed to restore security to Israel.

Caroline B. Glick is a senior columnist at Israel Hayom and the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, (Crown Forum, 2014). From 1994 to 1996, she served as a core member of Israel's negotiating team with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.