Opinion: The waves of clashes and attacks in the Palestinian territories have been coming and going for years, and no matter how much time passes, they will never completely die down until a lasting solution is found

France conquered Algeria and annexed it back in 1830, encouraging the republic’s citizens to head there and settle down.

In 1831, a year following Algeria’s annexation, Baron Lacuée, a French nobleman, wrote about the possible consequences of France’s decision. “As long as you keep Algiers, you will be constantly at war with Africa; sometimes this war will seem to end; but these people will not hate you any the less; it will be a half-extinguished fire that will smolder under the ash and which, at the first opportunity, will burst into a vast conflagration.”

עימותים ביהודה ושומרון
Riots in the West Bank (Photo: EPA)


This excerpt, taken from historian Alistair Horne’s 1977 book: “A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962,” seems very relevant to the situation unfolding in the West Bank.

It is heartbreaking to see photos of people who were killed in recent confrontations, knowing their families will never be the same again. My goal is not to justify or normalize terror attacks, but to make the case that Horne’s book needs to be read by every Israeli official in order to truly understand the situation we are in.

Nearly one million French citizens settled in Algeria in its 130 years under France’s rule. France invested heavily into fighting off the Algerian liberation movement, attempting to prevent weapon smuggling into the country by building an electric 300km fence along the Algeria-Tunis border.

In 1956, when the conflict escalated, then-French President Guy Mollet okayed for the French army to “use every means necessary” to pacify the Algerian uprising, bolstering the number of French troops in the country to 500,000.

עימותים ביהודה ושומרון
IDF forces in the West Bank (Photo: EPA)


In his book, Horne writes about an interview he conducted with an Algerian French citizen who was present in the country during the clashes. “We killed anyone we managed to catch, but the next day the same thing happened all over again.”

In 1959, French President Charles de Gaulle offered the Algerians their autonomy, which they accepted. Three years later the French left Algeria. The years following the withdrawal the French military remained on high alert, fearing a possible uprising by the Algerians, both in France and Algeria.

The lesson that can be learned from the years of conflict between the countries is that the Algerians had no interest in French financial offers to pacify them, or in the economic boom which followed the French occupation of the country. The Algerians only had one interest – for France and its military to leave.

Yes, Algeria in not the West Bank, and the distance between Ramallah and Jerusalem is much closer than that of Algeria and Paris. No one among the Algerians thought that freeing their country would be the first step to conquering Paris, while the French never roamed the Algerian desert thousands of years prior – unlike the Jews and Israel.

פעילות כוחות הביטחון למעצר מבוקשים והחרמת אמל"ח באיו"ש
IDF soldier in the West Bank (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)


And yet, the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank have continued in the past 55 years, even when Palestinian workers were allowed to enter Israel for work and even when security forces left Palestinian villages.

The struggle continues, and only tactics change: before terrorists were acting in groups, now they act alone; before they were organized, now they’re not. It doesn’t manner what are the characteristics of the fight, what matters is that it still continues.

And Israel, as Prime Minister Yair Lapid said during his speech in the UN General Assembly, should promote a political discourse based on the recognition of the need to establish a Palestinian state. Two states for two peoples. It will take time, require the right political partner and a detailed plan to take into account the complexities of recent years.

The idea of peace being achieved by capturing just one more terrorist, or destroying one more house – is fundamentally erroneous. There will always be half-extinguished fires, ready to burst into vast conflagrations at any time.

As reported by Ynetnews