During the First World War, Russian, German, and British monarchs exchanged friendly correspondence, addressing one another as “Dear Cousin.” Similar attitudes persist among government bureaucracies.

At its Bethlehem conference in 2009, Fatah proclaimed the goal of continuing armed struggle with the Jewish state until all Palestine was liberated, including Haifa and Tel Aviv. Two thousand Fata leaders, many of them wanted terrorists, assembled just miles from Israeli government offices in Jerusalem. A lone MK even filed a petition to arrest them, which the High Court refused. Dropping a few bombs on the conference hall would have ended Fatah terrorism once and for all. A fifty-thousand-strong organization wouldn’t have been able to recover from the loss of 2,000 leaders. The inaction was not on the part of some fringe leftists, but a right-wing government whose prime minister and defense minister were famous commandos.

Netanyahu’s inaction follows a similar attitude of another right-wing government which let Fatah slip out of Beirut into Tunis—and did not bother to sink their ships. Yet another hawkish government, that of Rabin, brought Fatah from its permanent exile in backwater Tunis to Gaza, where Arafat presided over terrorist operations against Israel. In the meantime, a Shabak man handled Arafat’s mammoth accounts in Israeli banks. Since Olmert’s time, when Israeli courts started ordering Fatah money impounded to compensate terror victims, the government has refused to lay its hands on tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority. Israeli consumers and taxpayers continue subsidizing the very Palestinian entity which proclaims their destruction as its ultimate goal.

Israel’s rulers collaborate not only with Fatah. Arms sales to Iran in 1981, and the Iran-Contra affair, though abominable, at least did not harm Israel. But Israel had many arrangements with Hezbollah: treating each other’s spies tolerantly, not attacking each other’s foreign targets, and avoiding escalation by engaging in both Hezbollah terrorism and Israeli retaliation just enough to satisfy their electorate.

Similar arrangements are in force with Hamas. Is not there a way to return Shalit without paying an unreasonable ransom? When Hezbollah kidnapped four Soviet Embassy staff in Beirut and negotiations failed, Russian military intelligence kidnapped two relatives of the kidnappers, slashed one’s throat, stuck his penis in his mouth, and dumped the body. The hostages were very promptly released. Use of this type of method would have secured Shalit’s release years ago. Or take the rocket attacks: retaliation against Gaza population centers rather than tunnels would have ended the fire. Not that the army cares about Israel’s image: no less barbaric operations take place routinely. Rather, the Israelis do not want to break their understandings with Hamas.

In wartime, traitors must be executed.