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Israel's War with the Palestinians:
Sources, Political Objectives and Military Means

Yitzhak Klein
Policy Paper No. 123, 2001


Israel is engaged in a war with the Palestinians; force is being used against it for political ends. Its task is to cause the Palestinians to desist from those ends; that is the essential political objective of the war. To do so, however, Israel must first determine what those ends are, and what means will suffice to cause their abandonment. Palestinian society is dominated by the PLO in the form of the Palestinian Authority, which is the bearer of a malignant form of Palestinian nationalism that defines itself in terms of the elimination of Israel. This is confirmed by analyzing Palestinian policy toward Israel and political discourse about Israel, and comparing it with other authoritarian regimes that have been motivated by politicidal ideologies.

Israeli responses to malignant Palestinian nationalism can, in theory, run the gamut between containment and outright assault. The former is inappropriate in an environment of open, constant combat. The PLO/PA leadership is likely to prove inured to limited offensive measures meant to pressure its economic interests or the Palestinian population. Israel, therefore, must attain two objectives. First, it must utterly destroy the PLO and its forces wherever they may be found. Second, it must inflict on Palestinian society the experience of defeat, so as to thoroughly discredit malignant Palestinian nationalism in the eyes of the Palestinians themselves. Careful military preparation and management of Israel's international relations should prevent regional or international intervention and create a window of opportunity for Israel to produce a fait accompli. Those Palestinians willing to abandon malignant nationalism should be afforded the opportunity to govern themselves in peace.

For the complete article (in English), click here.