Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV  Volume Sixteen   Number 6 (95)  ■  November  2003 ■ Kislev 5764 ■ Ariel Center for Policy Research





The PLO's People's War

Joel Fishman

The purpose of the Declaration of Principles, which Israel and the PLO signed on the White House Lawn a decade ago, was to initiate a peace process between the two parties. Since then, Israel has suffered over 1,129 casualties. One must ask therefore: If we are supposed to have peace, why are we counting bodies?

Through a lightheaded “leap of faith”, Israel’s leaders entered into a peace process with the PLO making considerable concessions. The PLO, for its part, seized the opportunity to work for its main political goal, the destruction of the Jewish state and its replacement with an Arab-Palestinian state. From 1969 to 1974, the PLO unsuccessfully tried to wage a guerilla war against Israel but lacked a territorial base. Through the Oslo Accords, it acquired this precious strategic asset.

Palestinian leaders openly declared their intentions. In an interview published posthumously in June 2001, the late Faisal Husseini called the Oslo Agreement a Trojan Horse, declaring that “we are ambushing the Israelis and cheating them,” and that the “ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea...” According to Abu Mazen (July 2002), Oslo was “the biggest mistake Israel ever made”. (Quotations from MEMRI.) Israel’s leaders failed to understand the meaning of such clear statements.

The Accords have placed Israel at close quarters with a different kind of war, one that combines political and military methods over a prolonged time-span. The model for this type of total conflict is the “People’s War” which originated in China and in Vietnam. Through the use of political and military warfare, the PLO is endeavoring to destroy Israel’s ability to defend itself by ruining the economy, demoralizing the public through terror, and undermining its social cohesion. Using propaganda, it is attacking Israel’s legitimacy at home and abroad by portraying it as a criminal state.

Protracted conflict of this type is new for Israel which has traditionally preferred to fight conventional wars quickly and on enemy territory. If Israel wants to assure its survival, it will have to come to terms with this new reality. In the light of a decade’s experience any kind of a peaceful settlement is not a prospect.


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