November 19, 2018

Fatah Alters Photo to Promote Anti-Semitic Blood Libel

Fatah, the party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, posted a doctored photo on their Facebook page to promote an anti-Semitic libel.

Here is the photo, posted on Oct. 5:

 

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the photo was originally a 2009 photo of a man running a surveillance system at France’s Casino Theatre Barriere de Toulouse.

The photo posted on Fatah’s Facebook page featured the man wearing a kippah, an Israeli flag in the left-hand corner of the image, and the words “Death to the Goyim” on top of images of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi.

The Arabic text that’s highlighted red reads, according to PMW, “The smear campaign against Ahed Tamimi is being waged by the occupation through its tools, and who is benefiting from this?”

Tamimi has become a cause celebre among pro-Palestinians after being imprisoned for eight months after slapping an Israeli soldier. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah praised Tamimi as “brave and courageous” in August.

Such anti-Semitic blood libels are common among Abbas’ Fatah party, as documented by PMW here. Abbas also has his share anti-Semitic blood libels, as compiled by the Journal here.

UN Translation of Abbas Speech Doesn’t Mention Praise of ‘Pay-to-Slay’ Policy

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during Fatah Central Committee meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has a new report noting that the United Nations’ translation of a recent speech of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas didn’t mention his praise of the PA’s “pay-to-slay” policy.

The report noted Abbas’ speech at the U.N. General Assembly in Arabic translates to him stating, “I pay tribute to our pure martyrs and our heroic prisoners.”

Abbas then says, “Why is the one who murdered [Yitzhak] Rabin considered a hero and we – our people – are criminals whom it is forbidden to pay?”

The United Nations’ translation of Abbas’ speech, on the other hand, states that Abbas said, “I pay tribute to all freedom-loving countries and peoples and our martyrs” and he lamented, “Why is that who killed Rabin is a hero while our people are criminals?”

The authors of the PMW report, Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, called these translation differences “very significant,” noting that the “freedom loving countries” translation made his comments “sound benign.” And the “forbidden to pay” quote was missing altogether from the U.N. translation.

PMW’s report appears to be corroborated by the Times of Israel’s translation of Abbas’ speech:

I pay tribute to our honorable martyrs and courageous prisoners. Israel considers them criminals. Why? It has thousands of people who have attacked everyone? They are heroes. Why is Rabin’s killer considered a hero and we, our group, is considered criminals who should not be paid? I salute our heroic martyrs and heroic prisoners.

Abbas’ speech also included him calling Israel’s “nation-state” racist and that it ill turn Israel into “an apartheid state.” He then referred to Israel as the “occupying power.”

The PMW report comes on the heels of UNESCO calling a couple of Jewish holy sites part of “Occupied Palestine.”

The United Nations has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Another Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan Ready to Clash With Reality

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, might hold the world record in reaching agreements with the wrong people at the wrong time. In the mid-1990s, he drafted an agreement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. His counterpart was Israeli Minister Yossi Beilin.

Alas, Abbas was then still under the boot of his boss, Yasser Arafat. He had no power to deliver. As for Beilin: Half a year after the pact’s draft was ready, Beilin and the labour government of which he was a member was ousted and replaced by the first government headed by the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu. The Beilin-Abu-Mazen agreement remained on the shelf. 

More than 10 years later, Abbas came close to reaching an agreement with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But two reasons prevented the agreement from materializing: First, Abbas never said yes (recently, Olmert attempted to paint this negative response in a more positive light by insisting that Abbas “never said no”). And second, by the time these two reached something close to an understanding, Olmert was no longer relevant. He was a weak prime minister, on his way out. He had no chance of getting the agreement he wanted passed in the Knesset. So, again, what the parties had agreed on remained on the shelf.

At times, Abbas seems to misread the political headwinds. An understanding with Beilin was no more than an intellectual exercise. An understanding with Olmert was no more than an illusion. Last week, on his way to making his annual speech at the United Nations, Abbas had more great meaningless meetings. He met Olmert, now a convicted felon with no political future, in London. He then met with opposition leader Tzipi Livni in New York. And yes, Livni is still a player in Israel’s political arena but is unlikely to have the power to make crucial decisions for Israel under any foreseeable political scenario. 

The two men he must talk to — Netanyahu, and President Donald Trump — did not get the honor. Both signaled that they are ready to sit down and talk. Trump even mentioned a possible “two-state solution.” Netanyahu was smart enough to respond positively to Trump’s unclear message, by reminding observers that a “state” can mean many things. “Everyone defines the term ‘state’ differently,” he said. “I am willing for the Palestinians to have the authority to rule themselves without the authority to harm us,” Netanyahu said on Sept. 26 after meeting with Trump in New York. So he did not rule out the option that such self-rule will be called a state.

What was Abbas’ response to these messages of a relative conciliatory tone? He said that the Palestinians now see the United States “with new eyes.” They don’t consider the U.S. to be a fair mediator for peace. “This administration has reneged on all previous U.S. commitments and undermined the two-state solution,” Abbas said. For Netanyahu’s Israel, Abbas reserved even harsher words, not the words of a leader preparing its people for negotiation and reconciliation.

Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords — a plan for peace that Israelis and Palestinians drafted on their own in the early 1990s — there is now another plan for peace, one drafted by Americans. Since the beginning of the peace process, whenever the parties seemed to lose their footing and get off track, Americans felt the need to come to the rescue. Plans were drawn during the Bill Clinton years, the George W. Bush years and the Barack Obama years. To the presidents’ credit, their intentions were always good and their plans got neither better nor worse results than the initial plan drafted by Israelis and Palestinians —  that being no results. All sides seem to be much better at planning for peace than at making peace. 

Much like the Palestinians, Israel wants peace on its terms. It wants peace along with Jerusalem. It wants peace without refugees. It wants peace as a Jewish state.

And now there is another plan authored by a team of Americans that Trump assembled to write the “ultimate deal.” And don’t worry: While he still thinks that Israel and Palestine peace is a “real-estate deal”; while he one day preaches for a two-state solution and the next says a one state is also a possibility; while he still believes that “we’re going to make a deal” — his team knows better than all that. The plan is nuanced, it is coherent and it is basically ready to be released. Ready for failure.

It could lead to a Palestinian state. And yet, Netanyahu seems confident that the plan is compatible with the concept of “letting them rule themselves without the ability to harm Israel.” In other words: Ask not will they have a “state” — ask what you mean by a “state.” Call it a “state,” call it a “giraffe” or a “tiara,” Israel does not much care as long as it preserves its ability to defend the border and prevent it from becoming another Palestinian enclave of terrorism such as Gaza. The Palestinians want a flag? They can have a flag. They can have a government, a border, a president, they can make decisions, develop their towns, grow their economy, maintain internal security. They can have a lot more than they have now. All this is in the plan, but for a price the Palestinians don’t seem willing to pay.  

The plan is still under wraps because there are currently no credible buyers. The three-pronged maneuver by Trump’s administration was met with tough resistance. What were Trump’s tools? Using the Arab world to make the deal of the century a regional deal rather than an Israeli-Palestinian deal; using economic sanctions and enticements to make the Palestinians cooperate; shatter some of the orthodoxies that became an obstacle to any progress in all previous peace processes. 

Arab leaders were asked by the Trump administration — senior adviser Jared Kushner, adviser on Israel Jason Greenblatt and their team — to get on board and guarantee support for the plan. They were informed of some of the principles, and some of them responded somewhat positively. But a commitment was not granted. Trump was hoping to pressure the Palestinians, assisted by the Egyptians and Saudis. But these hopes met the reality of a Middle East where commitments are rare, and their fulfilment even rarer. 

The Palestinians were hit in the pocketbook by the administration and then told that they can get a lot more than they lost if only they’d accept certain terms and go back to the negotiating table. 

And of course, the boldest and most visible acts were those aiming to kill a few unrealistic dreams once and for all: Jerusalem was recognized as Israel’s capital, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was cut off from funds whose ultimate objective is to perpetuate and exacerbate the problem of Palestinian refugees. 

Abbas responded to all three moves with one powerful sentence: “Jerusalem is not for sale and the Palestinian people’s rights are not up for bargaining.” “Jerusalem” is the battle cry that can deter Arab leaders from jumping on the Trump bandwagon. “For sale” is to clarify that the Palestinians will not let economic hardships or economic incentives divert them from their ultimate goal. “Rights” is to signal that Trump was wrong to boast that Jerusalem and the refugees are now off the table. It might be off Trump’s table, and off Netanyahu’s — but that’s exactly why Abbas sees no point in negotiating with these leaders. That’s exactly why he called for “the convening of an international peace conference based on the relevant U.N. resolutions and the internationally endorsed terms of reference and parameters.” He called for the conference, to hint that, for him, the Trump plan is off the table.

 

All sides seem to be much better at planning for peace than at making peace. 

Not that Israel is in any rush to sign an accord with the Palestinians. It is not. Much like the Palestinians, Israel wants peace on its terms. It wants peace along with Jerusalem. It wants peace without refugees. It wants peace as a Jewish state. It wants peace that the other side is not willing to grant. 

Yes, Netanyahu knows that one day, somehow, the Palestinian issue will need a remedy. But he does not see this problem as urgent. Not when the neighborhood is preoccupied with Iranian aggressiveness, Russian interventionism, Syrian bloodshed, Islamic radicalism. 

Netanyahu is quite confident about the Trump plan. But he is not overly confident because of two reasons: the erratic nature of the president, and the dynamics of negotiation, if these ever materialize. Trump dislikes failure, and by declaring a deal between Israel and Palestine to be his goal — a goal he still says is likely to be achieved — he put himself in the hands of Abbas and Netanyahu. They can make him fail. They can make him seem like a loser. 

The prime minister is aware of the danger that Trump, because of this commitment that he had made, might fall in love with the idea of peacemaking, and that such emotion proved problematic in past rounds of negotiations (former Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iran deal is recent example). The prime minister also knows that negotiation is something that could lead to many unexpected results: What if his coalition crumbles? What if his only choice is reliance on opposition parties who want him to be more accommodating toward the Palestinians? What if the public suddenly begins to pressure him to give more? What if Israel is diplomatically outmaneuvered? 

Of course, there is no danger of any of this happening as long as Abbas prefers to make deals with imaginary leaders of imaginary states, rather than real leaders of real states. If Abbas’ game is a waiting game — forget about Trump and wait for a more sympathetic U.S. president in 2020; forget about Netanyahu and wait for his legal troubles to take him down — the Israeli prime minister is also in no rush. As his U.N. speech on Sept. 27 showed, the Palestinians are relatively low on his agenda. They are a nuisance, not an existential threat. They are a diversion, not the real Middle East game of power. In fact, a main worry for Israel is the risk that the U.S. will get diverted from these important topics onto playing the game of a futile peace process. 

Netanyahu’s and Abbas’ speeches on Sept. 27 at the U.N. were merely a preseason practice. As is always true in this arena, the next couple of months could be dramatic. Abbas is slated to speak within a few weeks to the leaders of the PLO — his home crowd. This will be his more important speech, where he will present his strategy for the future. If he has a plan featuring truly bold moves, this will when he announces it. 

What can he do? He can go as far as dismantling the Palestinian Authority (PA). That is, cutting off his own nose to punish Israel. In such a case, the burden of having to take care of the Palestinian population in the West Bank will fall on Israel’s shoulders. But Israel’s main worry is not such a move. It’s a much likelier move of cutting all Palestinian Authority funds to Gaza. 

Most observers of the Abbas U.N. speech — not many Americans were watching, as most viewers were riveted by the Christine Blasey Ford-Brett Kavanaugh hearing on Capitol Hill — focused on his denunciation of Trump, his denigration of Israel’s nation-state law (a law that Netanyahu brilliantly defended), his insistence on the need to reverse the U.S. policy on Jerusalem. The Palestinians themselves focused no less attention on Abbas’ impatient message to the leaders of Hamas. 

“We made a deal,” Abbas said at the U.N. “The Palestinian government assumes its responsibilities in Gaza as it has in the West Bank. Then we build our state on the basis of one law, one authority, one system and one legitimate weapon. We do not accept a state of militias.”

The deal — unfortunately — has one unresolved problem. Hamas, in the words of Abbas, “did not agree to implement it.” In other words: Hamas would not let Abbas control Gaza. In fact, as part of the ongoing strife between these two Palestinian factions, Hamas parliamentarians convened in Gaza two weeks ago and declared that Abbas’ presidency is unlawful.

Gaza is a bomb to which Abbas holds one safety latch. Almost every day, thousands of Gazans engage in violent demonstrations near the Erez crossing to Israel. The economic situation has again reached a low, stoking rage among the residents of the strip — rage against Israel, against Hamas, against the PA. Abbas can turn this rage into a weapon by deciding to cut $96 million that the PA sends to Gaza each month. He can turn this rage into a weapon that is most likely to fire the opening shot in another Israel-Gaza war.

Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords — the anniversary was just two weeks ago — it is not easy to remember that Gaza is where it all started. I was there the day Arafat crossed the border to take over the territory — and then when he moved to Jericho, his second stop. 

In Gaza, the history of the peace process easily can be condensed. Step one: euphoria and the beginning of a Palestinian rule. Step two: violence and terror. Step three: an Israeli pullout. Step four: Hamas take over. Step five: continuous eruptions of violence. All this, in twenty-five years. All this, with only a fraction of time when the situation looked hopeful.

The Palestinians got their first chance at making Gaza a better place and ruined it in an Intifada. They then got a second chance, when Israel left, and turned to internal violence. Then Hamas got a chance. It had the territory all to itself, and decided to use it as a launching pad for war against Israel. And now Abbas wants it back.

The likely result: another war. We seem to always be ready for that.


Shmuel Rosner is senior political editor. For more analysis of Israeli and international politics, visit Rosner’s Domain.

PA Doubles Down on Terror Payments

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stands before his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The Palestinian Authority (PA) will not abandon their policy of providing payments to terrorists and their families, according to a translation of PA leaders’ recent speeches by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

PMW highlighted a Sept. 21 quote from the PA’s daily newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadidia, where Qadri Abu Bakr, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Director of Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs, stating that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA leadership “will not succumb to the Israeli and American pressures calling to stop the Martyrs’ (Shahids) and prisoners’ salaries (rawatib) and allowances.”

The PMW report also pointed to Abbas stating on Palestinian Authority TV on July 24 that “even if we have only a penny left, it will only be spent on the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people,” adding that the “Martyrs” and “prisoners” are “stars in the sky of the Palestinian people and the sky of the Palestinian people’s struggle.”

Both the United States and Israel have passed laws in attempts to end what has been called the PA’s “pay-to-slay” policy. President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law on March 23, which zeroes out payments to the PA until they end the “pay-to-slay” policy. The Israeli Knesset passed a law in July that freezes their funding to the PA.

As the Journal has reported, Palestinian terrorists can receive up to $3,400 per month from the PA if they murder Jews; by contrast, the average Palestinian earns $150 per month. The PA spent $355 million on such terror payments in 2017.

H/T: Investigative Project for Terrorism

Abbas’ Fatah Posts Cartoon Mocking 9/11

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Fatah, the Palestinian political party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, posted a cartoon on their Facebook page mocking the 9/11 terror attacks on its  17th anniversary.

The cartoon depicts President Trump flying an airplane into a building shaped like Israel, which is emblazoned with Palestinian flag colors:

According to Palestinian Media Watch, the building has “The Palestinian cause” written on it and the cartoon’s caption states, “Trump’s decision to eliminate the Palestinian cause,” a clear reference to the Trump administration’s recent decisions to zero out funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and cut more than $200 million to the Palestinians.

This is not the first time the Palestinians have issued cartoons mocking 9/11, as Palestinian Media Watch has compiled a series of prior cartoons doing so, including one from 2007 showing Osama bin Laden grinning and holding a peace sign after dodging a series of United States missiles.

Palestinian Media Watch has also documented anti-Semitic statements from various Fatah officials, including Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi saying on Palestinian TV, “[Adolf] Hitler was not morally corrupt. He was daring.” Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official, said in 2014, “There are no innocent Israelis” and has stated Fatah’s desire to “administer poison to them [Israel] drop by drop.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Fatah was founded by Yasser Arafat in the 1960s and took control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); Fatah was the organization behind the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes.

John Kerry Admits to Meeting Iran Leaders During Trump Presidency

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is promoting his new memoir, admitted on Wednesday that he has met with the Iranians multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, although he denied that he was doing so to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, prior to Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal, the Journal reported that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other foreign leaders to salvage the deal. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he met with Zarif a few times.

“I met with him [Zarif] at a conference in Norway,” Kerry said. “I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Hewitt followed up by asking Kerry if he was coaching Zarif on preserving the Iran deal, which Kerry denied.

“You know, that’s not how it works,” Kerry said. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

Kerry added, “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there. They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack.”

Kerry also said that he thought Trump should have stayed in the Iran deal, arguing that under the deal “you have China, Russia, these other countries with you in the effort to leverage this different behavior from Iran rather than unilaterally pulling out and isolating yourself and making it much more difficult to sit down with any Iranian.”

Later in the day, Kerry was asked by Fox News’ Dana Perino if he told the Iranians to simply hold out until 2020, when Trump could be voted out of office. Kerry replied with a chuckle, “I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” but he said that was in regard to other matters, not the Iran deal.

“When I met with the Iranians, the policies of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal because the president had not decided and not pulled out,” Kerry said. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that, and we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don’t negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Kerry allegedly told Hussein Agha, who is described as a “close associate” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Abbas should not make any concessions to Trump in a peace agreement until 2020, as Kerry argued that Trump would be out of office by then. Kerry also said he was “seriously considering running for president in 2020,” per the Jerusalem Post report. When CBS News asked Kerry if he was going to run for president in 2020, he didn’t rule it out.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Abbas Calls for Demilitarized Palestinian State

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Tuesday his desire for a demilitarized Palestinian state as the Trump administration forges a peace plan to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

According to the Times of Israel (TOI), Abbas told Israeli academics in Ramallah, “I support a state along the 1967 borders without an army. I want unarmed police forces with batons, not guns. Instead of warplanes and tanks, I prefer to build schools and hospitals and allocate funds and resources to social institutions.”

The TOI report goes onto note that Abbas has previously called a demilitarized Palestinian state in 2013 and 2014, which the report calls “a key Israeli demand in any peace deal.” Arutz Sheva cited an unconfirmed report from an Arabic newspaper stating that a demilitarized Palestinian state would be part of the Trump administration’s peace proposal.

However, Purdue University Professor Louis René Beres argued in 2016 that promises of a demilitarized would be nothing more than an “illusion.”

“Even now, the Palestinians remain as divided as ever; it remains unclear, therefore, who can speak with real authority for any still-plausible Palestinian state,” Beres wrote. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in the eleventh year of his four-year term; should he agree to anything substantive, others could later legitimately claim, long after land may have been irreversibly ‘exchanged,’ that he had no legal authority to make a decision, and they would be right.”

Beres also pointed out that Palestinian factions consider the entirety of Israel to be “occupied” rather than simply the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Poll Shows Palestinians Want Convicted Terrorist to Succeed Abbas

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Those hoping that the Palestinians’ eroding support for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas could be a stepping stone will be disappointed in a new poll showing that Palestinians support a convicted terrorist to succeed Abbas.

A July 4 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research Center (PCPSR) found that a plurality of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison over terrorism charges, at 30 percent. The runner-up is Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at 23 percent.

Sixty-one percent of respondents also believed that Abbas needs to step down from his position as PA president, while 33 percent don’t.

Barghouti has become a bit of cause celebre among pro-Palestinian activists, as they have called for him to be freed from prison based on “the constant violations of international agreements and of Palestinians’ human rights perpetrated by the Israeli state.”

Barghouti’s record consists of him leading the terror groups Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, both of which are the military arm of Fatah. Under Barghouti’s reign, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades launched several terror attacks against Israel, including multiple suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people combined.

In 2004, an Israeli court convicted Barghouti for three terror attacks that killed five people combined. Barghouti declared that peace could only be achieved when the Palestinians have their own state.

“The five people who were killed in these attacks that he ordered will not return to life,” then-Foreign Ministry spokesperson Silvan Shalom said at the time. “The widows and orphans will not get their loved ones back. But at least justice was done.”

As to why a plurality of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza would support a convicted terrorist to replace Abbas, consider the fact that a 2015 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) poll found that 93 percent of Palestinians tend to be anti-Semitic and 82 percent engage in Holocaust denialism.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Calls On European Countries to Denounce Abbas for Anti-Semitic Cartoon

(PPO)/Handout via REUTERS

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling on the European Union – specifically France and Germany – to condemn Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for displaying an anti-Semitic cartoon on social media.

Abbas, who is currently hospitalized in Ramallah for pneumonia, can be seen in a picture posted to social media on May 21 reading a newspaper that featured a cartoon of an Israeli soldier taking away a baby’s milk bottle and forcing it to drink poison.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper said in a statement that the photo “shows how deep the cancer of hatred the Palestinian Authority President harbors for the Jewish State, her people and values.”

“The validation of that cartoon by him exposes how little difference there is between the PA and Hamas,” Hier and Cooper said. “Both continue to brainwash a new generation of children that Israelis are interlopers and latter-day Nazis.”

They added, “The big lie tactics employed in the so-called marches of return, gained the Palestinians nothing of practical value, with the exception that the man in street in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East is convinced that Jews are baby killers, cold blooded murderers who deserve whatever terrorist or other bombing attacks on inflicted on Jews, inside in Israel and/or around the world.”

It’s not known if Abbas had intentionally posed for the photo with the cartoon showing, but it would be in line with some of his most recent rhetoric.

The cartoon is based on the reports of an 8-month-old baby dying at the recent Gaza riots, however there is reason to believe that the baby died from a pre-existing medical condition and not from the tear gas deployed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

Abbas is could be discharged from the hospital as soon as May 23.

Pity Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during his meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Only a confirmed hater of Palestinians — and a confirmed anti-Semite — could believe that they have the leadership they deserve.

Permit me to explain.

Last week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Jewish behavior of usury and money lending for causing the Holocaust. This isn’t the first time that Abbas has engaged in bizarre theories of history. Year ago, his doctoral dissertation, written while he was a student at Patrice Lumumba University in Russia, was on the “secret” relationship between Nazism and Zionism. Six million was exaggerated. He was a soft-core Holocaust denier.

Only this year, he reiterated that often repeated myth that the Jews have no attachment to the Temple Mount, none to Jerusalem or to the land of Israel, the Bible — archaeological evidence and religious practice of 2,500 years notwithstanding.

Now an elderly, sick man of 82, Abbas has been president of the Palestinian National Authority — to some, the State of Palestine — for 13 years and will go to his grave with no accomplishments to his name as the leader of his people. Divided between Gaza and the West Bank, they are ever more distant from statehood.

His achievements: He has become the No. 1 ally of Israel’s right-wing intent on having a one state solution, a Jewish state.

And he has become the No. 1 enemy of those of us who support a two-state solution because he has little credibility and alienated all but the most extreme for support for Palestinian statehood. Any possibility of a two-state solution will have to await not only a change in Israel’s current attitude but, more significantly, a change in Palestinian leadership.
He twice has rejected reasonable offers from former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, walking away, as did the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat before him, without even countering an offer of his own, afraid that he might be assassinated or go down in history as having betrayed his people’s most maximalist goals.

One must view Mahmoud Abbas as a pathetic figure and pity his people who hold onto him because they can’t imagine another way.

He even has alienated support within the Arab world, which no longer sees the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the central issue of the Middle East. Many Arab leaders view the Sunni-Shite conflict as more fundamental, and Israel as an indispensable force against Iran dominance.

I am beyond anger. Anger is based on expectations and disappointment when those expectation are not met, but I have no expectations from Abbas. Time has passed him by, his place in history is now secure. He has achieved nothing. Challenge yourself to name one positive accomplishment by him.

So one must view Abbas as a pathetic figure and pity his people who hold onto him because they can’t imagine another way.

Still, I cannot rejoice in the magnitude of his defeat because unlike the Israeli right and their American-Jewish supporters, I think that Israel desperately needs a two-state solution because it cannot sustain a Jewish state and a democratic state while still retaining control over so sizable a population that has no desire to be ruled by Israel. Day in and day out, we witness the cost of occupation not only to the Palestinian people but to Israeli democracy.
Nothing can happen until Abbas is no longer in power; the only way for something to happen is for the Palestinians to reverse the pressure on Israel by presenting a credible possibility of co-existence.

And again, the hypocrisy of some global institutions is glaring. When Abbas touched the sacred cow of the Holocaust, he was forced to retreat. He offered an apology: “Sorry to offend,” “didn’t mean to attack Judaism as a religion.” Yet when he denies Jewish ties to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem, its capital under David and Solomon and the locus of Jewish prayers since 70 C.E., many are silent and UNESCO and others endorse his fantasies. And then they wonder why Israel turns rightward and inward, scorning those institutions that should be pressing Palestinian leadership not to follow the path to perdition.

Michael Berenbaum is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute and a professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University.

5 Most Anti-Semitic Abbas Quotes

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a Palestinian cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Issam Rimawi/Pool/File Photo

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is currently under fire for blaming the Jews for the Holocaust. Abbas issued a milquetoast apology, but it’s worth noting that his recent Holocaust comments are the latest in a long line of anti-Semitic statements by the PA president.

Here are Abbas’ five most anti-Semitic quotes outside of his recent Holocaust remark.

1. “Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.” Abbas stated this anti-Semitic blood libel at a June 2016 speech to the European Union (EU). After facing criticism for this statement, Abbas walked it back, saying that such blood libels were “baseless” and that “he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism.”

2. “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.” This quote is part of a speech Abbas made on Palestinian TV in September 2015 during a wave of violence at Temple Mount. His speech only further incited the matter, as he’s essentially stating that Jews and Israelis can’t defile the mosque “with their filthy feet.”

3. “Call yourselves what you want but I will not accept it…the ‘Jewish State’…I will not accept it.” Abbas said this in 2009 and stated it again in 2010, making it clear that no matter how much he claims to prefer a two-state solution, he does not believe the Jews have the right to determine their own homeland.

4. “If they [Jews] say that they made sacrifices in World War II, and we respect what they say, they should not treat us the way they were treated. We must not be a victim of the victim.” According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW)’s Itamar Marcus, Abbas told Polish journalists this in August 2015.

“It is striking that in his statement Abbas presents the Holocaust not as historical fact to be acknowledged but as something ‘Jews say’ which he is willing to ‘respect,’” Marcus wrote.

5. “We find that Zionists believe in the purity of the Jewish race, as Hitler believed in the purity of the Aryan race. Zionism calls to find a fundamental final solution to the Jewish question in Europe by immigration to Palestine. Hitler also called for this and implemented it… Anti-Semitism is persecution and oppression, and this is definitely something desirable to the Zionist movement.” This comes from Abbas’ 1984 book, which pushes the Holocaust-denial conspiracy theory that the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust is a fabricated figure.

Abbas Apologizes for Holocaust Remarks

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses during a news conference with Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (not pictured) at the Lester B. Pearson building in Ottawa May 25, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

After facing widespread condemnation for his recent comments, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology for blaming the Holocaust on the Jews.

Abbas said in a May 4 statement, “If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC [Palestinian National Council], especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them.”

“I would like to assure to everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic claims.”

Abbas added that the PA has a “long held condemnation of the Holocaust as the most heinous crime in history” as well as “anti-Semitism in all its forms.” He concluded his statement with a call for a two-state solution.

However, Abbas’ apology has not been warmly received.

“Abbas is a wretched Holocaust denier, who wrote a doctorate of Holocaust denial and later also published a book on Holocaust denial,” Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted. “That is how he should be treated. His apologies are not accepted.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) also excoriated Abbas in a tweet.

“‘If people were offended is not an apology,” the AJC tweeted. “A real apology can include ending Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists who murder Jews.”

On May 2, Abbas said, “The Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion, but against their social function, which relates to usury (unscrupulous money lending) and banking and such.” The blowback against Abbas has been severe to the point where even The New York Times called on him to step down after he made his anti-Semitic remarks.

NYT Calls On Abbas to Resign

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 1, 2018. Picture taken May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo

The New York Times called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to step down from his position in a May 2 editorial in light of his recent Holocaust comments.

The remarks in question came on Monday, when Abbas blamed the Jews for the Holocaust.

“The Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion, but against their social function, which relates to usury (unscrupulous money lending) and banking and such,” Abbas blustered.

The Times editorial board excoriated Abbas for “feeding reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories” and losing “all credibility as a trustworthy partner.” They also criticized Abbas record, from his Holocaust denial dissertation and his failure at governance.

“Mr. Abbas, who oversees a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction, has lost support among the Palestinian people,” the Times editors wrote. “He has weakened government institutions that are essential for a future state and refused to call new elections, thus overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging. He has also failed to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank, where his Fatah faction dominates, with those in the even more desperate circumstances of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway.”

Even with this abysmal record, the Times called Abbas’ Holocaust remarks “a new low.”

“By succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office,” the Times editors stated.

The editorial concluded, “Palestinians need a leader with energy, integrity and vision, one who might have a better chance of achieving Palestinian independence and enabling both peoples to live in peace.”

Interestingly, the Times published an op-ed by Abbas in 2011 titled “The Long Overdue Palestinian State,” suggesting that these recent remarks could be a turning point against Abbas in the international court of opinion if even The New York Times is souring on Abbas. The Palestinians have certainly lost confidence in Abbas as well, as a December poll found that 70% of Palestinians think that Abbas should step down.

And yet, Abbas is reportedly going to double on “even harsher” and “more extreme” rhetoric.

Holocaust Museum Denounces Abbas’ Holocaust Remarks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent comments that blamed Jews for the Holocaust resulted in a sharp rebuke from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

Sara J. Bloomfield, the director of the museum, said in a press release, “Nazi Germany and its collaborators were solely responsible for the Holocaust.”

“Abbas’s self-titled ‘history lesson’ was anything but,” Bloomfield said. “Rather than expose Palestinians to accurate information about the Holocaust and the anti-Semitic persecution Jews faced for centuries in Europe, Abbas distorts the history to advance an agenda that lies about the Holocaust and Jews’ connection to Israel.”

The museum also pointed out in the press release that the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was particularly sordid because they viewed Jews as “inferior” and a “threat” to Germany.

The museum called “on all leaders and citizens” to condemn Abbas’ comments.

In an April 30 speech in Ramallah, Abbas claimed that the Jews’ “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters” was responsible for the Holocaust. His speech was laced with other anti-Semitic statements, including that Israel’s founding had nothing to do with Judaism and that Ashkenazi Jews have no historical lineage to Israel.

Abbas Blames the Jews for the Holocaust

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to become unhinged as evident by the fact that he blamed the Jews for the Holocaust in an April 30 speech.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas’ incoherently long-winded speech blamed the Jews’ “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters” for triggering the Holocaust. He also claimed that Adolf Hitler was responsible for sending Jews to Israel by allowing Jews who immigrated there to bring their assets into the area.

In other words, Abbas used a longtime anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews to blame them for the slaughter of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

When he wasn’t engaging in his Holocaust revisionism, Abbas rambled about other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including the claim that Ashkenazi Jews have no historical lineage to the original habitants of Israel and that Israel was “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.”

Abbas also reiterated his refusal to accept any deals from the United States after President Trump’s Jerusalem move and suggested that the PA could take “take tough steps in the near future in our relationship with our neighbors (Israel) and the Americans.”

Naturally, Abbas praised the Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border.

“Thank God, they (Hamas) finally agreed and this is effective,” Abbas said, implying that the riots have been peaceful although they have been anything but.

The anti-Semitic rhetoric in Abbas’ speech certainly fits his background, which includes him writing a book that engages in Holocaust denialism.

U.S. Media Largely Ignored Abbas’ ‘Son of a Dog’ Slur Toward U.S. Ambassador

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in hot water for calling United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog” over the weekend, yet it didn’t really receive much coverage from U.S. media outlets.

In their weekly talking points brief, The Focus Project – an organization that features the consensus view of various Jewish organizations on matter the of Israel and anti-Semitism – noted the lack of attention on Abbas’ comments in U.S. media.

“Major news outlets in the U.S., such as the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN ignored this story entirely or buried it by carrying syndicated wire reports instead of doing original reporting,” The Focus Project wrote. “Statistics show they are obsessed with a narrative where Israel is the oppressor and Palestinians are passive victims.”

The links provided in the aforementioned statement show nothing from CNN about Abbas’ comments; the New York Times and Washington Post covered Abbas’ by running a report from Reuters and the Associated Press (AP), respectively. ABC News also relied on the AP’s wire service to report on the matter and Yahoo News used a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Journal searched the sites of NBC News, CBS News and Fox News and found nothing on Abbas’ comments.

This would certainly not be the first time that the U.S. media has been accused of having an anti-Israel bias, as Newsbusters has documented how the media once falsely reported that Pope Francis called Abbas “the angel of peace” and didn’t give much coverage on Abbas declaring in 2011 that he would never recognize a Jewish state and that Israel was committing “ethnic cleansing.”

Abbas’ latest comments stemmed from him being angry that Friedman claimed they were building settlements on land that belonged to Israel, prompting the PA president to exclaim, “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!” Abbas is now attempting to walk back that comment, as one of his advisors is now saying that “dogs are pets in the Arab world, and they are generally viewed positively.”

Abbas Calls U.S. Ambassador to Israel a ‘Son of a Dog’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas railed against United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as a “son of a dog” in a Mar. 19 speech to PA leadership.

Abbas was irked that Friedman is a staunch supporter of the Israelis building settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“The ambassador, David Friedman, said they’re building on their own land,” Abbas said. “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!”

Friedman pushed back against Abbas and denounced the PA president’s remarks as anti-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism or political discourse?” Friedman said in a speech at Jerusalem. “Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert also slammed Abbas’ comments as “outrageous and unhelpful.”

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace,” Nauert said. “The administration remains fully committed to those goals.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Abbas’ “son of a dog” remark showed that he was becoming unhinged:

This is the latest example of Abbas bitterly lashing out with various snipes toward the Trump administration for their recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Back in December, Abbas refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence on his Middle East trip and has repeatedly said that the PA will no longer accept a peace deal brokered by the U.S.

Before Abbas made his “son of a dog” comments, Friedman ripped into Abbas for failing to condemn the murders of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Palestinian terrorists:

Abbas Criticizes US and Israel in UN speech; Haley Fires Back

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations on Feb. 20 criticizing the United States and Israel on hampering peace negotiations.

Abbas railed against the Trump administration’s actions on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“In a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision which was rejected by the international community to remove the issue of Jerusalem off the table without any reason,” Abbas said.

The PA president added, “This administration has not clarified its position. Is it a two-state solution, or the one-state solution?”

Abbas then claimed that the Palestinians have a historical connection to Israeli land.

“We are descendants of the Canaanites that lived in Palestine 5,000 years ago, and have continuously remained there to this day,” Abbas said.

Abbas also went after Israel for being a “permanent settlement colonization.”

“We are working for the occupation, we are employees for the occupation, and we say that Israel must be held to its obligations as an occupying power,” Abbas said.

Abbas advocated for Palestine to have full member status at the U.N. and for a two-state solution mediated by a “multilateral international mechanism.”

Abbas walked out of the room when he was finished speaking, prompting Haley to remark to the PA president, “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”

“The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “You don’t have to like that decision. You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: that decision will not change.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon criticized Abbas for inspiring “a culture of hate in Palestinian society.”

“When we extend a hand, Abbas extends a fist,” Danon said.

Report: Conditions in Syrian Palestinian Refugee Camp Are ‘Horrific’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool

A new report describes the Yarmoulk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria as “horrific,” yet it is never talked about because it can’t be used as a bludgeon against Israel.

According to the Gatestone Institute, the Syrian Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) has been blocking food and medicine from entering the country since 2013, while ISIS has been terrorizing refugees in the camp since 2015. The Sunni terror group frequently conducts public executions over fabricated crimes, pillages homes in the camp and keeps the refugees trapped in the camp.

Additionally, it has been over 1,237 days since the camp last had running water.

There has been a total of 204 Palestinians who have died in the camp as a result of the lack of food and water since the Syrian Army imposed their siege on the camp. Even more telling is the fact that the number of refugees in the Yarmouk camp has dramatically declined from over 100,000 in 2011 to 13,000 in 2014.

Overall, 3,645 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011 and tens of thousands have fled the country as well.

Palestinian refugee camps in various countries are generally in putrid condition; according to a 2012 Washington Post report the camps in Lebanon feature “unspeakable” living conditions and the Lebanese government deprives the Palestinian refugees in the country of rights. Palestinian refugees in Iraq have been slaughtered by Shiite militias since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

As the Gatestone Institute report points out, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is nowhere to be found when it comes to the Palestinian refugees suffering in these Arab countries. The report criticizes Abbas for being more interested in going after President Trump’s Jerusalem move and splurging $50 million on a presidential plane instead of helping the Palestinian refugees.

“In his view, the needs of his people are the responsibility of the world,” journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote. “He wants everyone but himself to continue funneling financial aid to the Palestinians. For him, delivering a speech before the EU Parliament or the UN General Assembly easily takes precedence over the Palestinians who are dying due to lack of medicine and food. With such leaders, the Palestinians do not need enemies.”

The Palestinian refugee issue stems from 1947, when Arabs leaders spurned a United Nations resolution that would have created a neighboring Arab state beside Israel. At the behest of Arab leaders, thousands of Palestinians left their homes; in 1948 Israel encouraged the Palestinians to stay in the country and those that did enjoy freedoms that they wouldn’t get anywhere else in the Middle East.

The Palestinians that fled have been mired in refugee camps as Arab countries have shown little interest in welcoming them into their population, as instead they rail against Israel and call for the Palestinian “right to return” into Israel. Times of Israel blogger John C. Landa argued that the camps radicalize Palestinian inhabitants and teach them “that the Jews are to blame for their plight.”

The refugees are pawns in a campaign to demonize Israel,” Landa wrote. “Like Palestinians who are set up as ‘human shields’ when Hamas jihadists launch rockets from Gaza into Israel, they are exploited and victimized to promote a simple but distorted narrative:  there is misery here, and the Jews must be blamed.”

Report: Trump Admin, PA Haven’t Talked In Over a Month

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Relations between the Trump administration and Palestinian Authority (PA) have chilled to the point where they haven’t spoken to each other in over a month.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the chief negotiators in the Israel-Palestine conflict – Jared Kushner and Jonathan Greenblatt – haven’t had any sort of dialogue with the PA since Dec. 6, when President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although there have been some meetings with Palestinians that have been kept under wraps.

“They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk,” a top White House official told the Jerusalem Post. “It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians. So that troubles me greatly, and we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

Since Trump’s Jerusalem move, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has become increasingly unhinged and hostile toward the United States. He recently gave a speech in which he “he deployed anti-Semitic tropes, undercut the Jewish connection to Israel, and blamed everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Napoleon to Winston Churchill for Israel’s creation” and “repeatedly cursed President Donald Trump (“may your house fall into ruin”),” according to The Atlantic.

Abbas has also stated that the PA won’t accept any peace agreement mediated by United States and wants Europe to have greater involvement in such talks. On Tuesday, Abbas gave a speech at the European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels and called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and the EU gave him his support.

Despite all this, the Trump administration remains undeterred in their attempts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as the White House official told the Post they will eventually put forward a “plan that we think is appropriate, reasonable, fair for both sides, in particular for the Palestinians to have a brighter future.”

“It’s going to be up to the parties to make their decisions if they can come to terms on a deal,” the official said.

Abbas Fails His People — Again

When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas described Israel as a “colonialist project that is not connected to Judaism” — as he did in a speech last week that was littered with anti-Semitic overtones — the natural reaction from the pro-Israel community was to condemn the lies and defend the truth.

Abbas’ libelous speech, in fact, was condemned across the political spectrum. Even J Street released a statement saying there was “no excuse for calling into question either the Jewish connection to, or Palestinian recognition of, the state of Israel — or for language and proposals that are justifiably earning widespread condemnation.”

Moderate commentator Ben-Dror Yemini on Ynetnews characterized the speech as “More hallucinations. More illusions. More rejectionism” — adding that Abbas’ real problem is not with the creation of Israel in 1948 or the expansion of the state after 1967 but the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that first supported the Jews’ right to a national home.

The reason Abbas is obsessed with the 1917 recognition of Jewish sovereign rights is that it undermines his faux narrative that Israel is a colonialist state rooted in European guilt after the Holocaust. As long as he can position the Jewish state as an artificial project that punished Palestinian Arabs, he can claim the mantle of victimhood and continue his diplomatic war against the legitimacy of Israel.

This addiction to victimhood is also crucial to his retention of power. Put yourself in Abbas’ shoes. His people live in misery while, next door, the hated Jewish state thrives. Doubling down on victimhood means he can blame every Palestinian hardship on Israel.

It also justifies saying no to every peace proposal, as Palestinian leaders have done for decades. After all, if Israel is the result of Jews stealing Arab land, what is there to negotiate? There is only one thing a thief must do, and that is return the stolen goods in full — and maybe even throw in a penalty for emotional damages.

If Palestinian leaders ever conceded the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the Holy Land, it would explode the edifice of lies they have told their people. It would force them to acknowledge that Jews also have sovereign rights, which would force them to accept compromises. It would mean they’d have to admit that their problem with Israel is not with the settlements that came after 1967 but the settlements that came after 1917. It would mean they’d have to accept at least some responsibility for the miserable state of their failed society.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other.

The minute Abbas himself concedes the legitimacy of the Jewish state, an avalanche of pressure would descend upon him. All of a sudden, he would have to look at the hated Zionist state as a partner rather than a thief and start caring for the welfare of his people. All of a sudden, he’d have to actually produce results.

Compare that to the status quo. By sticking to his narrative of exclusive victimhood at the expense of Jewish oppression, Abbas is celebrated around the world. He continues to cash in on “humanitarian” aid that fills his coffers and that of his cronies; he continues his diplomatic and legal war against Israel at the United Nations and international criminal courts; and, above all, he’s off the hook to make any compromises for peace.

For a corrupt liar who has contempt for Zionism, this status quo is, well, heaven on earth.

There is, of course, one complication in this whole picture — the Palestinian people. The day they realize they have been lied to for so long by their own leaders is the day those leaders will abandon their villas in Ramallah and hop on their private jets to any country that will take them.

That day may come sooner than they think.

According to a poll conducted in the summer of 2016 by the reputable Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published in Al Monitor, 65 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want Abbas to resign.

Among the reasons cited, journalist Ahmed Labed from Gaza City told Al Monitor: “President Abbas, who has been in power for 11 years, has been illegitimately occupying the presidential office. His mandate expired in January 2009. Moreover, throughout the period of his presidency, Abbas hasn’t accomplished any noteworthy achievement for the Palestinians.”

His major “accomplishment” has been to malign and undermine the Jewish state and instill hatred in his people for their Jewish neighbors, all while pretending to be a “moderate” to the world.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other, especially when that party has an interest in maintaining that lie.

Israel has made its share of mistakes. Its biggest, perhaps, is that it never had a long-term strategy for handling the territories captured in 1967, especially in Judea and Samaria. This has allowed Palestinian leaders to place all the blame for the absence of peace on the growth of Jewish communities in these territories.

Never mind that Palestinian leaders have rejected every peace offer made by Israel without ever making a counteroffer. As bad as those rejections have been for Israel, they’ve been even worse for the Palestinians.

Trump Admin Cuts Funding to UNRWA

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the "Conversation with Women of America" meeting event at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they’re going to cut $65 million from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

In a letter to the agency, the administration told the UNRWA they would continue to provide $60 million to the UNRWA, but they would be withholding the remaining $65 million until further notice. The administration also called for the agency to undergo a series of changes. The $60 million to the agency is a drastic reduction from the $355 million that the U.S. provided the UNRWA in 2017.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl denounced the move in a statement, claiming that it put the lives of Palestinians at risk.

“At stake is the access of 525,000 boys and girls in 700 UNRWA schools, and their future,” said Krähenbühl. “At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At stake is the access of refugees to primary health care, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services. At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon praised the move in a statement.

“Just over the last year alone, UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities,” said Danon. “It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose — the welfare of refugees.”

The move comes after President Trump threatened to withhold money from the Palestinians if they refused to engage in peace talks. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared in a weekend speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that they would not consider any deal forged by the United States and even. Abbas also cursed at Trump, exclaiming, “May your house be demolished!”

According to the Jerusalem Post, there was some debate within the Trump administration how the president should follow through on his threat. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley advocated for Trump to zero out funding to the UNRWA altogether, but ultimately the president sided with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to partially fund the agency. The Israeli government also wanted Trump to partially fund the agency.

Richard Goldberg, senior adviser to the Foundation of Defense Democracies, argued in a New York Post op-ed that the UNRWA only serves “to keep Palestinians as perpetual refugees.”

“In truth, it’s not a refugee agency but a welfare agency, which keeps millions of people in a permanent state of dependency and poverty — all while feeding Palestinians an empty promise that one day they’ll settle in Israel,” wrote Goldberg.

Additionally, U.N. Watch has reported on how UNRWA teachers have a penchant for making anti-Semitic Facebook posts, including “Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”

Abbas: Jews ‘Are Really Excellent In Faking and Counterfeiting History and Religion’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Jews are spreading lies about “history and religion” in a speech to the Organization for of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday.

Abbas railed against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, stating that Jerusalem deserves to be the capital of Palestine. During the speech, Abbas said that Jews “are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion.”

“If we read the Torah it says that the Canaanites were there before the time of our prophet Abraham and their existence continued since that time—this is in the Torah itself,” said Abbas. “But if they would like to fake this history, they are really masters in this and it is mentioned in the holy Qur’an they fabricate truth and they try to do that and they believe in that but we have been there in this location for thousands of years.”

Abbas also claimed in his speech that Jerusalem “is a Palestinian Arab Muslim Christian city” and attempted to rebut the notion that the Palestinian Authority is a terrorist entity.

“The U.S. Congress issued 27 resolutions saying we are terrorists, even when we have signed an agreement with the U.S. and 83 other states on fighting terrorism,” said Abbas. “Despite that, Congress insists we are terrorists, and we are not; it is they who invented terrorism. We have complied with all understandings between us and successive U.S. administrations, including this administration, but these illegal resolutions on Jerusalem have crossed all red lines, which will not make it possible for us to keep our commitments unilaterally.”

Additionally, Abbas declared that the Palestinians were no longer interested in having the United States as a peace broker.

Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg pointed out that Abbas’ reference to Qu’ran specifically “mentions Jews,” therefore meaning that Abbas was using a longtime anti-Semitic trope of Jews fabricating history. Rosenberg also notes that this would be in line with other anti-Semitic comments from Abbas, including him stating a blood libel in 2016 that “Israeli rabbis had called to poison Palestinian water.”

The Trump administration fired back at Abbas over his speech, claiming that his type of rhetoric “has prevented peace for years.”

“We will remain hard at work, putting together our plan, which will benefit both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples,” a White House official told the Jerusalem Post.

Poll: 70% of Palestinians Think Abbas Should Step Down

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new poll has found that the vast majority of Palestinians think that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should resign from his position.

According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, 70% of Palestinians want Abbas to step down while only 26% want him to stay on. Of the two Palestinian regions, 64% of Palestinians in the West Bank want Abbas to resign as do 80% in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas.

Abbas’ overall approval rating is at 31% positive and 66% negative. His policies are not viewed in a positive light by the Palestinians, as 61% don’t think they can criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) “without fear” and 77% view the PA as corrupt. Only 12% view the conditions of the West Bank as “positive.”

The 70% number is an increase from 67% three months, suggesting that Abbas’ electoral prospects in an election following a reconciliation government are dwindling. The poll found that in a three-way race between Abbas, terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas would get trounced, as 41% would support Barghouti and 36% would support Haniyeh while Abbas would only receive 18% support.

The full poll results can be read here.

The poll numbers have come amidst Abbas facing pressure from Jordan and Egypt to turn down his rhetoric against the United States following President Trump’s Jerusalem move:

Abbas is refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in light of Trump’s move.

Abbas has ruled the West Bank with an iron fist. He was elected as the PA president in January 2005, he has prevented elections from being held since then in order to hold onto power. Abbas’ record includes jailing journalists and political opponents, even going as far as torturing them.

Abbas Won’t Meet with Pence After Trump’s Jerusalem Move

Photo from Flickr/Olivier Pacteau.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has declined to meet with Vice President Mike Pence as a result of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pence was hoping to meet with Abbas on December 19 during his trip to the Middle East, but Trump’s Jerusalem move “crossed red lines,” according to Majdi Khaldi, the diplomatic adviser to Abbas.

“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, told Fox News.

Pence plans on meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to Farah.

Shortly after Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, a high-ranking member of Fatah declared that Pence would not be allowed in their territory.

“In the name of Fatah, I say that we will not welcome Trump’s deputy in the Palestinian territories,” said Jibril Rajoub.

In 2008, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas most of the West Bank, a bridge to the Gaza Strip and to put Jerusalem under international control. Abbas declined the offer and has since doubled down on the notion that he will never recognize Israel’s right to exist. Under Abbas, the PA provides financial incentives for Palestinians to commit acts of terror against Jews.

Abbas’ background also consists of him writing a book that denies the Holocaust and funding the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes.

Jerusalem has long been viewed as the eternal capital of Jewish people.

Saudi Arabia to Abbas: Take Trump’s Peace Plan or Resign

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 7, 2017. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia has issued an ultimatum to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas: take up the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan or step down from your position.

The Times of Israel reports that Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman brought Abbas in for a meeting and told him to “accept Trump’s peace plan or quit” as well as to rebuff any Iranian efforts to influence the PA.

The Saudi monarchy also reportedly demanded any cooperation between members of Fatah and Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy terror group, cease immediately.

However, a Palestinian Authority official pushed back on the notion that Saudi Arabia issued any sort of threat toward Abbas.

“The talk was about coordination, and it focused on three points,” the official told Haaretz. “One, supporting reconciliation and the president’s position on the arms issue; two, economic assistance; and three, that any diplomatic and regional settlement will be based on the Arab peace initiative, without any change.”

Political analyst Mazen Safi told the Jerusalem Post that the Saudis’ meeting with Abbas was meant to establish himself as “a power broker” in light of the Gulf Kingdom’s escalating tensions with Iran.

“Support from Arab countries is crucial and Abbas’ trip reinforces the need to assist the Palestinians against all obstacles,” said Safi. “Palestinian reconciliation requires the efforts of all Arab countries—and not just the Palestinians—since it will positively affect the region.”

The Trump peace plan that Salman referred to reportedly features some type of two-state solution that attempts to make all parties happy.

“For Israel, those could include limiting settlement construction to current blocs without taking new land, recommitting to a two-state solution and redesignating a small part of the West Bank to give Palestinians more control,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports. “The Palestinians could be asked to resume full security cooperation with Israel, hold off seeking further international recognition and end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist attacks.”

Saudi Arabia has long provided aid to the PA under the pretext that the PA provides political support to the Gulf Kingdom.

With America’s blessing, Abbas signals a reconciliation with Hamas

US president Donald Trump with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a welcoming ceremony in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23. Photo by Flash90

The Trump administration is encouraging the Palestinian Authority to assume control of the Gaza Strip and leaving the door open for a role by Hamas in the subsequent Palestinian government.

But if such a move was once seen as a traditional predicate to a two-state solution, top Palestinian leaders are hedging their bets, saying they would not rule out a “one-state” solution in which Palestinians have the same one-person, one-vote rights as Israelis. Israeli leaders have long said that would mean the end of the Jewish state.

Palestinian Authority government officials returned this week to the Gaza Strip, the first en masse visit — by Cabinet and security officials along with top bureaucrats — since Hamas’ bloody ouster of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement a decade ago.

It was a visit twice blessed by the Trump administration, first through a statement last week by the Quartet, the grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and Russia that guides the peace process, and again Monday with a statement from Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s top international negotiator.

“The United States welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza, as noted in the September 28 Quartet statement,” Greenblatt said in a statement he posted on Twitter.

The Quartet statement, while itself also abjuring mention of “two states,” made it clear that it foresaw a single Palestinian entity under P.A. rule. It urged “the parties” — the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — “to take concrete steps to reunite Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.”

This week’s P.A. visit to Gaza, brokered by Egypt, a key ally to the United States and Israel, is only for several days, but Husam Zomlot, the PLO envoy to Washington and a top Abbas adviser, anticipated a consolidation of the Palestinian Authority presence there.

Zomlot, speaking Monday to reporters here, noted that Hamas dissolved its governing body last week and said the Palestinian Authority expected this week that Hamas would formally hand over governance of the strip. The final stage, he said, would be elections.

“The return of the Palestinian Authority” to Gaza “is a milestone for the Palestinian Authority and of President Trump’s deal of the century,” Zomlot said, using a phrase Abbas used in a meeting with Trump on Sept. 20.

A signal of the White House’s seriousness is the likelihood that Hamas will continue to play a role in governing the strip. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, heeding Israeli concerns, rejected any role for Hamas in Palestinian governance, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly it would be a deal breaker.

Now, however, careful phrasing by U.S. and Palestinian officials strongly suggests that Hamas will not fade into the night. Zomlot called the changes in Gaza “the return of the consensus government,” the joint Hamas-P.A. venture that existed uneasily in 2006-07 and infuriated the administration of George W. Bush.

Greenblatt in his statement nodded to concerns about Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist group, but in language vague enough to accommodate a Hamas role.

“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said.

That elides over earlier Israeli demands that not just a Palestinian government, but all of its components, must renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking Wednesday to a Likud party meeting in the West Bank, maintained — at least in part — a tough line on the terms of a reconciliation acceptable to Israel. He said Hamas must be disarmed, but did not count out explicitly keeping Hamas figures within the Palestinian Authority bureaucracy.

“We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state, and we are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said in Maale Adumim, a settlement of 40,000 located just east of Jerusalem.

“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated,” he said.

Without mentioning the two-state goal, Greenblatt’s statement nevertheless called on the Palestinian government to abide by “previous agreements.” These would presumably include the 2003 “road map” that was to have culminated in Palestinian statehood.

Still, Zomlot said the Palestinians wanted more clarity from the Trump administration.

“We cannot travel a journey without knowing a final destination,” he said. Zomlot referred to Trump’s news conference with Netanyahu in February, when the president said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

From the launch of the Oslo process in 1993 until now, Palestinian Authority officials have spoken of a one-state outcome only in pessimistic terms, casting it as a dystopia engendered by a failed process. Last month, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas in a first for a Palestinian leader said that if the two-state option collapses, Palestinians could embrace one state. It would not be a predominantly Jewish state covering Israel and most of the West Bank, an outcome popular among the Israeli right, but a binational state in which West Bank and Gaza Palestinians have full rights as citizens.

Abbas warned in his U.N. address that in the failure of a two-state solution, “neither you nor we will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution.”

Zomlot expanded on that possibility at his news briefing Monday.

“As long as we mean one man and one woman, one vote, we are fine with this,” he said, adding however that the two-state solution “remains absolutely the best option.”

Zomlot also addressed the Taylor Force Act, legislation named for an American stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian terrorist that would slash funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to subsidize the families of Palestinians jailed for or killed attacking Israelis.

Palestinians say the payments mostly go to the families of the wrongfully imprisoned. Zomlot said the Palestinians proposed a tripartite commission, to include the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that would consider whether to remove some families from the payrolls.

“We have engaged with the administration, we have a trilateral commission,” he said. “We would offer to the United States to be the sole arbitrator and we will accept [the decision]. Guess who rejected it? Israel.”

A senior Trump administration official suggested that Zomlot was overstating the offer.

“We only received a brief general outline about this proposal which did not answer key questions or present a viable solution to the real problem, which is the official policy of paying terrorists and their families,” the official told JTA.

A senior Israeli official told JTA that the offer missed the point — the Palestinians can stop the payments on their own.

“The Palestinians don’t need Israel, the U.S. or anyone else, they just need to do it,” the official said. “Unfortunately they won’t.”

Palestinian Authority seeks membership in UN tourism body

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 27. Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

A request filed by the Palestinian Authority last year to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is slated to come to a vote this week at the body’s summit in Chengdu, China.

In order for the Palestinians to gain acceptance, two-thirds of the UNWTO’s member states need to approve.

[This article originally appeared on themedialine.org]

Speaking to The Media Line, Vice President of the PA Mahmoud Al-Aloul (“Abu Jihad”) confirmed that the Palestinian leadership is being heavily pressured to not proceed with its bid.

“All I can tell you in this regard is that President Mahmoud Abbas will give a speech in China.”

He further revealed that PA is in the process of filing a request to the International Criminal Court to oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements,” among other issues.

In response, Israel has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to block the PA’s request to join the UNWTO. “Palestine is not a state and cannot be accepted as such in the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations,” according to a statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

For his part, Hassan Ka’bia, a Deputy Spokesman at the Ministry told The Media Line “that all attempts by the PA to gain memberships at the UN will ruin the serious Israeli efforts to renew peace talks and will have no effect on the ground.

“At the end of the day,” he concluded, “our allies at the UN, including the U.S., are very strong and supportive of Israel so the Palestinians will not get anything there.”

In this respect, the latest move by the Palestinians to “internationalize” the conflict comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is engaged in a push to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, having sent his top envoys to the region on multiple occasions since his inauguration. Accordingly, the proposed moves by the PA risk derailing the effort.

“We will go to the United Nations anyways as well as the International Criminal Court,” Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Palestinian official, retorted to The Media Line. He said that this was necessary because while the Palestinians had already accepted the principles of the Oslo Accords they are looking for “peace on the ground and not just on paper.”

Sha’ath stated that under ideal circumstances there would be no need for the Palestinians to look to the UN, but that Israel had not held up its end of the bargain.

Ironically, the latest row over the UN comes against the backdrop of the Arab League’s decision to green light a proposal by the PA to form a high-level committee whose purpose is to block Israel’s attempts to be elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

According to the Ma’an news agency, the case against allowing Israel a turn on the Security Council roster will include the familiar charge regarding Israeli building on lands it conquered in the 1967 war that are claimed by the Palestinians for a future state; as well as accusations directed against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of having “introduced more than 20 racist legislations reflecting a systematic policy seeking to deface the historic rights of the Palestinian people.”

There formerly existed a longstanding convention that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could only come about through direct negotiations; however, this changed on September 23, 2011, when Abbas submitted a formal application to join the UN, which was overwhelmingly accepted one month later in a General Assembly vote.

Soon after gaining overall non-member observer state status in the institution, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) became the first affiliated agency to grant full membership to the Palestinians.

But the Palestinians’ momentum was soon stunted, as U.S. President Barack Obama decided to cut off funding to UNESCO, in line with Washington’s belief that the conflict with Israel can only be solved through the direct diplomacy of the peace process. As the Americans provide a huge portion of the UN’s overall budget, other bodies got the message and the Palestinians, despite repeated warnings to further pursue the UN route, have since not been accepted into any other related associations.

That is, until the anticipated UNWTO vote this week.

Perhaps the Palestinian leadership is being driven by an absence in faith in Trump, or maybe the bid to join the UNWTO is simply a method of applying pressure on his administration, which is reportedly in the process of formulating a formal policy on the conflict.

Some analysts believe it could also be meant to send Israel a message; namely, that the status quo will simply no longer suffice.

The Mahmoud Abbas exchange, Part 3: On Israel and the Palestinian leadership struggle

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stands during a reception ceremony for Jordan's King Abdullah II in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 7, 2017. Picture taken August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Amir Tibon is an Israeli journalist who covers Washington, D.C. for Haaretz newspaper. Prior to Haaretz, Tibon was the diplomatic correspondent for Walla News, a leading Israeli news website. His writing on Israel, the peace process and the Middle East has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Politico Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tablet Magazine, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, The American Interest, and The Jerusalem Report.

Grant Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he focuses on Palestinian politics. Rumley has published in leading media outlets, including Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, and contributed commentary to The New York Times, Reuters, and Newsweek. Prior to joining FDD, Rumley was a visiting fellow at Mitvim, The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. While in Jerusalem, Grant also founded and edited The Jerusalem Review of Near East Affairs. Previously, Grant served as a consultant in Washington on issues related to counter-terrorism, the Middle East, and war-gaming strategies.

The following exchange will focus on Tibon and Rumley’s new book The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas (Prometheus Books, 2017). You can find parts one and two here and here.

***

Dear Grant and Amir,

I’d like to dedicate our third round to the complicated hate triangle between Abbas, Hamas and Netanyahu. In your book, there is a description of Abbas’ reaction to the Shalit deal, which the previous Netanyahu-led government made with Hamas:

In one conversation with a senior American official, Abbas complained that “Hamas kidnapped one Israeli soldier and Netanyahu gave them a thousand prisoners for his release. My security forces have returned to Israel more than a hundred Israelis who wandered into our territories, and we got zero appreciation for it.” Indeed, Abbas’s security forces had a policy of escorting Israelis who entered Palestinian cities and towns by mistake into the safe arms of the Israeli military. “If I behaved like Hamas, I could have a hundred Shalit deals by now—there would be no more Palestinians in Israeli prisons. But I choose to do the humane thing and get nothing in return,” Abbas lamented.

My third-round question: looking ahead to the day after Abbas, what would you like, say, an Israeli decision maker reading your book to learn about Israel’s role in the fragile Hamas-Fatah relationship? What mistakes has Israel made, does Israel have a say on the matter and should Israel pursue any specific strategy when it comes to the inevitable succession struggle? 

Thank you once again for participating in this exchange.

Shmuel   

***

Dear Shmuel,

This anecdote represents a recurring frustration that Abbas has expressed over the years in the ears of Israeli and American officials who have worked with him – that Israel, in his eyes, responds “better” (from a Palestinian point of view) to violence than to negotiations. The Shalit affair is one example he has repeatedly used in this context. The 2005 Gaza disengagement is another, and we discuss it at length in the book. Abbas and people close to him felt that instead of giving the PA a larger role in the withdrawal from Gaza, and thus empowering Abbas in the eye of the Palestinian street, Ariel Sharon insisted to go at it alone and by doing that strengthened Hamas, which told the Palestinian public that Israel withdrew under fire, and that guns and suicide bombers were more efficient in extracting concessions from Israel than negotiations.

Abbas, of course, is also painfully aware of the price the Palestinians have paid for turning to violence. That’s why despite his talk about Israel’s “encouragement” of violence, he has never actually adopted Hamas’ strategy – only lamented about it. But one important conclusion that we hope policy-makers will take from our book, is the importance of creating incentives and benefits for a leader who opposes violence and is committed to negotiations. Abbas deserves a lot of criticism – which can easily be found in our book – but even his harshest critics should give him credit when it is due for opposing violence and supporting negotiations over the years. Unfortunately, that has not happened often enough during his long career as a diplomat and a political leader.

The succession struggle that will come after Abbas is an internal Palestinian affair, in our view. Israel could perhaps affect it by, as we have suggested above, empowering moderate leaders and showing more flexibility towards those who support negotiations and compromise than towards those who support violence and strive for conflict. But they should also beware not to look too eager to support any specific candidate or faction, since that could ultimately empower the ‘other side.’ Can the damages of the past be repaired, in a way that would convince a majority of Palestinians that Abbas’ approach is more beneficial than Hamas’? We hope so, but cannot say for sure.