The solution to Palestinian terrorism is Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, Likud MK Dan Illouz says.
Illouz is a 36-year-old freshman Member of Knesset for Likud. A former lawyer and graduate of Mcgill University, Illouz moved to Israel from Montreal in 2009. In his “maiden address” to the Knesset plenum last month, he made his agenda clear:
“I dream of a State of Israel that is confident enough in our right to our land, so that we will finally apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” he said. “I dream of the moment that people will also live in Judea and Samaria because of the quality of life that the area offers, and not just because of ideology.”
As Israel finds itself in the midst of a wave of terror, Illouz explained what in his view are the motives that drove Palestinian terrorists to murder three Israelis in one week.
“This wave of terrorism is the same old hatred against the Jewish people that has existed for a long, long time and is just being transferred today, into a hatred for Israel and the Jewish people living in Israel,” Illouz told Israel365 News. “But these terrorists are educated from a very, very young age to hate Jews and are then incited to action on social media. They go straight from school to commit terrorist attacks.”
“They are provided with firearms weapons, with, knives, cars, with everything they can get their hands on, in order to simply kill Jews,” he added. “That’s their goal, plain and simple.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s newly installed coalition has been accused of being “extremist right wing.” Illouz rejects the claims.
“I hear accusations that we are right-wing extremists but I also hear us being accused of being left-wing extremists,” Illouz said. “It really depends upon where you’re looking from and what perspective you have. I think we’re a very reasonable party.”
Ilouz explained how the current wave of terrorism has brought new challenges.
“The cause of this wave of terror is not political,” he said. “This is simply the hatred of Jews. But the technical organizational structure is a little different. There is less organizational involvement in the actual attacks, which are carried out by Palestinians who are too young to formally be embedded in the terrorist organizations. But there is more organizational involvement in the incitement that leads up to the attacks.”
“The incitement and hatred filter down from above; from the Palestinian Authority, from Hamas, and even from Iran, which, even though it’s geographically distant, has a vested interest in creating chaos in Israel,” he added.
Illouz described a three-pronged approach to dealing with this new form of terrorism.
“First of all, whenever we have information about someone who’s planning an attack, the IDF proactively goes and apprehends them,” Illouz said, noting that this policy was unprecedented.
The IDF has been going on almost nightly raids into Shechem and Jenin for several months in Operation Breakwater.
“We’re not afraid to go in, even into populated areas that are openly hostile, in order to ensure that people who are planning an attack won’t be able to carry it out,” the MK said. “We just eliminate any threat. That’s what an army is supposed to do in order to protect people and that’s what we proudly do in order to protect our people.”
The second aspect of the war on terror is being fought in the Knesset.
“The second thing we’re doing is pushing legislation which will punish the terrorists and the supporters of terror attacks,” Illouz said, referring to legislation being advanced now that would enable the death penalty for terrorists. Israel also has passed legislation that cut off Israel funds slated for the PA if they continue to pay stipends to terrorists and their families.
“We believe that it’s important for there to be a very clear message that anything that supports these attacks will also get punished,” he said.
Illouz then outlined the most important aspect of his strategy against terrorism.
Considered a conservative ideologue, he is a strong advocate for the Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria which he sees as the solution to terrorism.
“We believe that the best response to terrorism is to strengthen our connection to the land of Israel,” he said. “We’ve already approved nine new Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. These are currently existing settlements on public land, but their status was unclear for technical or bureaucratic reasons. So we’ve approved them, and made it clear that they are classified as legal.”
“This is intended to enhance our roots in Judea and Samaria and make it clear to the Palestinians that instead of weakening our resolve, these terror attacks are only strengthening our roots inside of Israel,” he added.
Illouz emphasized that the end goal of Palestinian terrorism is to drive the Jews out of Israel.
“I am not sure that they think that they can do this immediately,” he said. “But that is definitely their end goal. They want to either drive us out of Israel or, preferably, to see us dead. That is explicit in their educational system and the messages sent out in the public square.”
“But that clearly won’t happen ever,” he highlighted. “We believe in our roots in the land of Israel and will stay strong. Our best response to terrorism is to strengthen our roots in the land of Israel.”
Illouz explained that the best way to do this would be for the Israeli government to declare sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
“I really think that we will have an opportunity to bring sovereignty in the near future,” ,” he said. “We obviously have to take into account diplomatic considerations before doing anything, but that’s definitely the direction we should go into.”
“I can tell you that that was the solution that Prime Minister Netanyahu said he planned on pursuing,” he added. “There is a consensus among Israelis for sovereignty in the Jordan Valley.”
Illouz explained that in the past, US policymakers pushed for territorial concessions from Israel as a pathway toward peace.
“This proves that they don’t understand the way things are done in the Middle East,” he said. “They think that if we bow down to terrorism, it will go away. What actually happens is that when we bow down to terror, the terrorists just want us to continue to bow down even lower. Terrorism just keeps on getting stronger.”
“So what the current administration is advocating would only incite more terrorism and violence, making this region even more dangerous, and accomplish exactly the opposite of what they are looking for.”
Illouz believes that the evangelical supporters of Israel can play a key role in bringing about this solution.
“We appreciate their support,” he said. “We need them to speak to their congressmen, to all of the potential leaders and the current leaders of America, and let them know that sovereignty is not a problem, sovereignty is the solution. They need to understand that Israeli sovereignty is our right according to international law and according to our historical rights.”
“This is the work that needs to be done immediately so that when it does happen, the leaders are already ready to stand by our side,” the MK concluded. “If we wait too long, if we wait until the leaders are already with us, then it will be too late.”