Although terrorist attacks on Israelis have lately become a near-daily occurrence (more Israelis were killed by terror in the past month than in the past two years), it is still unclear whether the increasingly volatile situation will escalate into a full-fledged intifada.
To be sure, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continues to incite Palestinians against Israel by accusing it of seeking to take over the Temple Mount and the Al Aqsa mosque. He also speaks darkly of a religious war. Yet he must know that is arrant nonsense and that egging on Palestinians to confront Israel is a fool’s errand.
If anything, Operation Protective Edge showed that Israel will not pull punches when it comes to combating terror. And it is highly improbable that Mr. Abbas would intentionally risk whatever gains the Palestinians have made in the West Bank or, indeed, his continuance in office. Because should Israel be required to deal with a full-fledged uprising in the West Bank, it is unlikely the Palestinian Authority would survive as a governing entity.
Of course, things could spiral out of control. Further, we cannot lose sight of the possibility that Mr. Abbas may well believe the turmoil of a general uprising could actually further his stated goals of seeking a UN declaration of a date for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and hauling Israel before the International Criminal Court. On the other hand, the odds are that an intifada, and Israel’s fight to put it down, would drive the United States closer to Israel and ease some of the tensions that have developed in the relationship between the two countries.
With all that being said, this is the Middle East, where logic often doesn’t apply. What is clear, though, is that even if there will be no escalation beyond what we are seeing now, the random murders of Israelis waiting for a train or bus is intolerable and not something any Israeli government can long countenance before mounting a punishing response.