I. PREFACE AND SUMMARY II. INCEPTION OF PRICE TAG III. THE EVOLUTION OF PRICE TAG: FROM UNPOPULAR ANTI-GOVERNMENT HIGH-PROFILE RESISTANCE TO POPULAR ANTI-PALESTINIAN LOW-INTENSITY TERRORISM IV. CONCLUSION
I. PREFACE AND SUMMARY
"Price Tag," also known as "Arvut Hadadit" (Mutual Responsibility), is a set of violent tactics employed by national-religious Israeli settlers in the West Bank to deter Israeli law enforcement authorities from removing illegally-built structures from West Bank settlements. (1) The tactics employed include attacks on Palestinians and their property, as well as attacks on Israeli military and police officers. These tactics are designed to obstruct and deter law enforcement inside settlements, but their ultimate goal is to deter Israeli leaders from implementing a possible future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that entails removing Israeli settlements from the West Bank.
This essay describes how a strategy that started as a reaction to a sense of powerlessness and ineptness morphed from an unpopular form of high-profile, anti-government resistance into a popular--and very effective--low-intensity anti-Palestinian terrorism campaign.
By tweaking their tactics and using them in a determined yet controlled manner, its perpetrators--young militant national-religious Jewish settlers in the West Bank--have been successful in achieving two major objectives: first, they have deterred Israeli authorities from enforcing the law and demolishing illegally-constructed buildings in West Bank settlements; second, they have done so without alienating an overwhelming majority of Israelis.
This essay documents the success of a form of terrorism unique in Western experience: politically-motivated violence directed against a foe, with the primary purpose of deterring the terrorists' own government from taking actions against their community.
II. INCEPTION OF PRICE TAG
The adoption of the "Price Tag" policy by settlers is rooted in a trauma experienced by the settler movement in 2005: Israel's August 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and from four northern West Bank settlements. (2) Before explaining the significance of that trauma, some background is necessary to understand who the players are and the political context in which they have acted.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip came under Israeli military occupation in 1967, following the Six Day War. (3) The West Bank is today home to some 2.5 million Palestinians and 305,000 Israeli settlers. (4) The settlers live in 121 officially recognized settlements (not including East Jerusalem). (5) These settlements are officially recognized, in the sense that they were constructed with Israeli government authorization. Most of the world's governments regard all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories as illegal. (6) In addition to these "recognized" settlements, some settlers live in about one hundred illegal (under Israeli law) "outposts." (7) These are small communities built without Israeli government approval.
The Gaza Strip is home to over 1,650,000 Palestinians. (8) Until 2005, there were also 8,600 Israeli settlers living in twenty-one settlements in the Gaza Strip. (9) In September 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led a sweeping, historical campaign to unilaterally "disengage" from the Gaza Strip. (10) He withdrew all of the Israeli settlers and all of Israel's military installations from the Strip. In addition, the Sharon government removed four small settlements in the northern West Bank. Today, Sharon is remembered as the Israeli leader who once (in the 1980s and 1990s) was the chief sponsor and advocate of the settlement enterprise, and then later became the first Israeli leader to start its dismantlement.
In 2003, Israel accepted the U.S.-sponsored "Road Map" plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The plan …