The second Intifada, which erupted seven years ago, had developed into the worst period of violence in the history of Jewish-Arabs relations in Israel. In September 2000, Ariel Sharon’s controversial visit to the Temple Mount was followed by Palestinian riots and protests in Jerusalem.
During the riots in Jerusalem, 7 Arabs civilians were shot to death by the Israeli police, and a few hundred were wounded. The Or Committee that investigated the tragic events of October 2000 recommended that the state of Israel should change its policy towards the Arab minority in order to decrease its growing frustration.
Unfortunately, the situation kept on deteriorating: in April 2002, the battle in Jenin took place. Since then, Israeli Arabs were not allowed to enter Jenin. As a result, many Arab civilians could not visit their families.
Last week marked a change in this policy: hundreds of Israeli Arabs were allowed to enter Jenin after seven years of separation.
I am aware that this is not a popular view in Israel, but I believe that this move should be extended in order to increase mutual trust between us and the Palestinians. If the Palestinians are to live in poverty in restricted areas, we shall never have peace with them. More actions are needed to bring the local market in isolated Arab towns back to life.
Imprisonment of the Palestinians will surely lead to an intense frustration, and we already witnessed how frustration can blow up in our faces.