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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Other Casualty of the Wave of Palestinian Terror

Filed under: Israeli Security, Palestinians, Terrorism

The terror attack in Tel Aviv on October 8, 2015, when a Palestinian construction worker attacked a soldier and four other civilians in the heart of the city, has potentially far-reaching implications.  This attack differs from other recent ones because the Palestinian worker was apparently from the West Bank with a permit to work in Israel. This puts into question some basic assumptions that have guided Israeli employment policy to date.  If Palestinians with permits to work in Israel are attacking Israeli citizens, it will require a rethinking of overall economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the state of relatively open borders that has been largely preserved despite the separation fence.

Workers near Kalkilya
Palestinian workers from near Kalkilya on the West Bank heading to work in Israel
(AFP – Menahem Kahana)

These attacks are reminiscent of the “Intifada of Knives and Stones” that preceded the first Intifada in 1987. Those knife attacks led to Israel banning Palestinian workers from entering Israel – their main source of livelihood until then – and instead, Israel replaced them with foreign workers.

There is no doubt that the Palestinian labor in Israel is desirable in almost every respect, and Israel should seek to preserve it. However, Israel must take into consideration, that even if Palestinian workers in Israel is positive for both sides, some Palestinians see it as negative and act to impede the process, just as they did during the “Intifada of Knives.”

Due to the continued incitement against Israel, some Palestinians may enter Israel in a belligerent mood, and some of the major arson attacks in Israel this past summer stemmed from this same incitement.

During earlier Ramadan holidays, Israel made a significant gesture in order to improve the atmosphere, and Israel opened its own borders wide open. This generated a huge response from tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of whom rushed to the beaches in Tel Aviv.

The Palestinian Authority didn’t receive this gesture warmly, due to a fear of losing control of the Palestinian population. In general, the PA has always been against economic relations with Israel and has always tried to sabotage it. In fact, one of the current goals of the PA is to cancel all economic agreements with Israel, because the PA views them as humiliating.

In other words, when Israel wants to advance the economic situation, including allowing Palestinians to work in Israel, the Palestinians view it as a threat and act to sabotage it.

There already have been occurrences like this in the past – The first “Intifada of Knives” halted Palestinians working in Israel, and now, if events do not change course soon, there will be a similar outcome.