The False Promise of Negotiations

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An editorial in the Times today states:

Israel must defend its territory. But the protests and the casualties might have been avoided if credible peace negotiations were under way.

"Might have." Or "Might not have." The existence of negotiations -- especially credible negotiations in the Middle East often sparks catastrophic violence. This is not a reason to avoid negotiations. But the belief that the existence of credible negotiations somehow brings about an end to violent protest and terrorism is childish.

Here is a partial list of terrorist attacks against Israelis during the height of the Oslo peace process:

Apr 6, 1994 - Eight people were killed in a car-bomb attack on a bus in the center of Afula. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Apr 13, 1994 - Five people were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a bus in the central bus station of Hadera. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Oct 19, 1994 - In a suicide bombing attack on the No. 5 bus on Dizengoff Street in Tel-Aviv, 21 Israelis and one Dutch national were killed.

Nov 11, 1994 - Three soldiers were killed at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip when a Palestinian riding a bicycle detonated explosives strapped to his body. Islamic Jihad said it carried out the attack to avenge the car bomb killing of Islamic Jihad leader Hani Abed on Nov 2.

Jan 22, 1995 - Two consecutive bombs exploded at the Beit Lid junction near Netanya, killing 20 soldiers and one civilian. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Apr 9, 1995 - Seven Israelis and one American were killed when a bus was hit by an explosives-laden van near Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jul 24, 1995 - Six civilians were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a bus in Ramat Gan.

Aug 21, 1995 - Three Israelis and one American were killed in a suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus.

Feb 25, 1996 - In a suicide bombing of bus No. 18 near the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, 26 were killed (17 civilians and 9 soldiers). Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 25, 1996 - One Israeli was killed in an explosion set off by a suicide bomber at a hitchhiking post oustide Ashkelon. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mar 3, 1996 - In a suicide bombing of bus No. 18 on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, 19 were killed (16 civilians and 3 soldiers).

Mar 4, 1996 - Outside Dizengoff Center in Tel-Aviv, a suicide bomber detonated a 20-kilogram nail bomb, killing 13 (12 civilians and one soldier).


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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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