After what has been the calmest period in a decade on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, southern Israel found itself facing a new threat of rockets, the murder of a Defense Ministry employee and near-daily provocations on the border.
Terror attacks and attempted terror attacks are proliferating across Judea and Samaria, and inside Israel as well, featuring the use of rocks as a lethal weapon. Popular uprising or not, violence among the Palestinians is on the rise. The semi-official theory is that the increase in terrorist activity stems from some Palestinians' desire to derail the peace talks by any means necessary, including terror and murder.
This is why the government and the Israel Defense Forces are making sure to carefully formulate proportional responses -- to avoid playing into the hands of Palestinian provocateurs.
Still, experience has shown that the Palestinians do not view peace talks and terrorism as mutually exclusive. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are accountable for terrorist attacks even in the absence of evidence indicating direct orders by either. The relentless incitement by the Palestinian media and various statements by Palestinian leaders makes them accountable; not to mention that -- according to the legal codes of most countries -- knowingly failing to prevent a crime is the same as perpetrating it.
But what is even more important than assigning responsibility for the recent wave of violence is applying its lessons and ramifications to any future peace and security deal between Israel and the PA, especially the framework agreements being drafted by the United States, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is so eager to present the parties in January.
On the surface at least, the Palestinian claim they are sparing no effort to curtail violence against Israel. Even if they were being completely truthful, only a gullible person would believe the Palestinians' counterterrorism efforts would be any more tenacious or effective after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The conclusions drawn from recent events are likely to have a critical effect on the security arrangements discussed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kerry, who stands to visit the region once again primarily to discuss Israel's security conditions. One cannot help but feel the Americans are making light of the issue, and that they believe the Palestinian security forces can be trusted to get the job done.
Reality has proven them wrong and we cannot afford to make such a mistake. The recent wave of violence may have come just in time -- to dispel illusions, if any still exist, and to reinforce Israel's demand, which was approved as part of the outline presented in Camp David in 1978, for a permanent security presence within the future Palestinian entity.
Some might argue that the existing Israeli presence in the area has done little to prevent violence; but the chasm gaping between the current, disturbing situation and a situation in which acts of terror would emanate from a sovereign country, cannot be bridged by even the best American intentions.
This context lends particular importance to the issue of Israel's presence in the Jordan Valley. Security concerns do not boil down to solely fighting Palestinian terror, as important as that may be, but must also address -- maybe even more so -- the threats brewing from the east, including Iran's hegemonic ambitions (regardless of whether it obtains nuclear capability, but certainly if it has one); Iraq and Syria, whose futures are unclear; and maybe even Jordan, which may find itself the focus of Palestinian aspirations.
Some in Israel tend to dismiss the importance of strategic depth and ground-based obstacles in the age of missiles and cyberwarfare, but they shouldn't, considering Israel's narrow width and long borders.