IDF soldier's murder increases Israeli wariness of peace talks

Even Yair Lapid, considered relatively centrist, referred to Palestinians as "animal-like terrorists" after an Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian coworker.

Tsafrir Abayov/AP
Israeli soldiers stand in the settlement Shaarey Tikva in the West Bank, Saturday, near the place where an Israeli soldier was killed. A Palestinian lured an Israeli soldier to a village in the West Bank and killed him with the intention of trading the body for his brother jailed for terror attacks, Israel's intelligence agency said.

The murder of an Israeli soldier in the West Bank this weekend has provided new fodder for Israelis who are opposed to the recently resumed peace talks, arguing that Palestinians have not given up support for terrorist acts and have no intention of ending the 65-year conflict with Israel

"The fact that the Palestinian Authority or its senior members have not explicitly denounced the murder proves that the negotiations the Palestinians are conducting with Israel are only a tactical move, meant to improve their international standing and their goal is only to try and blame Israel," wrote Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in a statement. "They have no real intention of reaching an agreement with Israel and continue to encourage and support the murder of Israelis."

Even Yair Lapid, the surprise star of this year's elections who was seen as more centrist, said the murder was a “terrible reminder that every day Israel is dealing with murderous, animal-like terrorists."

At the entrance of every Palestinian-controlled town is a big red stop sign for Israelis, which warns them that entering the area is "forbidden, dangerous to your lives, and against the Israeli law." Israelis had increasingly been disregarding such warnings due to the relative quiet in the West Bank, and would find their way into Ramallah or other areas via backroads or by riding in taxis with Israeli license plates.

But the murder of a young IDF soldier, Tomer Hazan, on Friday has led some to call for increased vigilance. Though the incident was unrelated to Sgt. Hazan's army service – he was reportedly lured to the Palestinian town of Beit Amin by a Palestinian coworker at a restaurant near Tel Aviv, who then killed him in a field – the Israeli media has treated it as a terrorist act rather than a crime. The murder suspect, Nidal Amar, reportedly told the Israeli Shin Bet intelligence service that he killed Hazan in hopes of using his body as a bargaining chip to get his brother out of Israeli jail.

The incident follows Israel's killing of three Palestinians in the refugee camp of Qalandiya last month when undercover Israeli agents who came to make an arrest got in a skirmish with residents of the camp. As a result of Palestinian anger over the incident, the next round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was postponed.

The insecurity Israelis still feel despite their military might, and the oppression Palestinians still feel despite increased autonomy and freedom of movement in the West Bank, are two key reasons why both sides are deeply disappointed with the 1993 Oslo Accords. Signed 20 years ago this month, they were supposed to yield a sovereign Palestinian state within five years. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon recently called for scrapping the Oslo blueprint in favor of a three-state solution, in which the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the West Bank would become separate autonomous entities in coordination with Jordan and Egypt. 

More popular on the Palestinian side is a one-state solution, in which Palestinians would be granted citizenship in a binational state of Jews and Arabs – and would likely outnumber Jews within several decades, depending on whether Gaza's 1.7 million residents were included.

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