Update from AIJAC
January 29, 2016
Number 01/16 #04
This Update features three articles discussing how Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fits into the more problematic aspects of Palestinian politics, such as incitement to terrorism and misuses of foreign aid – as well as his current position within his own Fatah party.
We lead with some strong comment on Abbas role in the current violence from David Horowitz, editor of the Times of Israel. He argues that while Abbas may be adept at convincing Israeli journalists and foreign dignitaries that he can be a partner for peace, the bottom line is he is “presiding over an ongoing, strategic demonizing of Israel and Israelis via his education system, political and spiritual leadership and mainstream and social media that positively guarantees Palestinian violence and terrorism.” He says the reality that Abbas will never sign on to a two-state accord and is making it impossible in future has even convinced the centre-left Israeli opposition “to publicly give up for now on the two-state solution” – while the only way forward now is a grassroots effort to change how Palestinians are educated. For this important argument in full, CLICK HERE. More on the miseducation of a generation of Palestinians from former Israeli defence minister Moshe Arens.
Next up is veteran Palestinian affairs reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, who says the 81-year-old Abbas is today being increasingly challenged from within his own Fatah party – especially from Fatah activists in Gaza, but also in the West Bank. Abu Toameh reports that the view among Fatah activists is that recent rumours of new Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks overseen by Qatar are “a smokescreen to conceal the growing discontent with President Abbas’s autocratic rule.” Abu Toameh predicts that Abbas’ unwillingness to share power or appoint a successor may lead to a split in West Bank Fatah and cantonisation of the area, and the complete independence of the Fatah faction in Gaza. For this valuable look inside the complexities of current Paletisnian politics, CLICK HERE.
Finally, Israeli deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely writes about the uses of foreign aid by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. She notes that not only do the Palestinians receive disproportionately higher level of aid compared to other peoples often in much greater need, but substantial amounts of this money is spent on both incitement and payments to terrorists and their families. She also notes that the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to address criticism of the payments to terrorists – a substantial part of the PA budget – has been purely cosmetic, merely shifting the body making the payments from the PA to the PLO, also headed by Mahmoud Abbas. For the rest of Hotelevy’s case for rethinking how aid to the Palestinians is being spent, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in:
- Jonathan Tobin’s take on Abbas’ latest effort to claim he will dissolve the PA if he does not get concessions from Israel.
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon made a speech in which he said of Palestinian terror, it is ” human nature to react to occupation,” leading to strong criticism from Israeli officials including PM Netanyahu. Detailed critiques of his remarks come from Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and Elder of Ziyon.
- Expert Jonathan Schanzer reflects on ten years of Hamas rule in Gaza – plus reports that Hamas believes it is now ready for another round of war with Israel.
- Evelyn Gordon contrasts the so-called “siege” of Gaza with the real siege of Madaya in Syria. Meanwhile, despite claims that Israel’s blockade prevents Gaza rebuilding, Qatar completes phase 1 of huge (and beautiful) apartment complex in Gaza, with 1060 units available now, and 1200 more coming soon.
- Eight Hamas militants were killed as the tunnel they were digging collapses – while Israel’s Gaza border communities hear noises that make them very concerned about tunnel infiltration.
- Israel’s electricity grid comes under massive cyber-attack.
- Isi Leibler writes to plead the need for a national unity government in Israel – especially to explain the Israeli consensus that a two-state peace is currently not achievable and find alternate ways to move forward.
- Some examples from the many stories and comments now appearing at AIJAC’s daily “Fresh AIR” blog:
- Or Avi-Guy on how Palestinian incitement continues to fuel violence – and some of it is directed against children – yet the media seems uninterested.
- Sharyn Mittelman on Israel’s landmark new program to boost equality for Israeli Arabs.
- The dates for the public appearances in Australia by Dr Efraim Inbar, AIJAC guest and noted Israeli strategic expert – who will be in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth in early February.
- Colin Rubenstein – in the Canberra Times – on how governments like Australia’s should approach Iran in the wake of lifting of the nuclear sanctions.
Op-ed: Relentless Palestinian extremism has now even managed to persuade the center-left opposition that Israeli readiness for compromise is insufficient. Whats needed is a unified effort to stop the Palestinians filling their peoples heads with murderous hostility
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken to giving press conferences to Israeli journalists of late. A picture of wounded innocence and goodwill, he has been using the opportunities to berate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to meet and talk peace with him, highlighting his forces ongoing security cooperation with Israel in the territories, and trying to wriggle out of his own personal role in fostering the vicious incitement against Israel that lies at the root of this ongoing Palestinian terror wave.
About to turn 81, Abbas may not be in politics that much longer, and there are plenty of Israelis who argue that we are missing an opportunity to make progress with him when it is clear that any successor is likely to be still more impossible to deal with.
His successor may indeed well be worse, but Abbas is impossible. His duplicitous terrorism-fostering predecessor Yasser Arafat assured the Palestinians that they had no reason or need to compromise with the Jews because we were colonial invaders, an unrooted and temporary presence that his peoples stubbornness and terrorism would eventually see off. Abbas chose not to counter that narrative, not to acknowledge to his people the Jews history of sovereignty in the Holy Land, and more recently intensified the strategic campaign of misrepresentation telling Palestinians that the Jews have no business at the Temple Mount.
Meanwhile, the Fatah hierarchy he heads has been openly encouraging attacks on Israelis, and the Hamas terror group with which he seeks to partner in government is again plotting suicide bombings, developing more sophisticated rockets, and digging tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border ahead of its next planned war.
Abbas may well be deploying his forces to keep a lid on clashes in the West Bank, but hes presiding over an ongoing, strategic demonizing of Israel and Israelis via his education system, political and spiritual leadership and mainstream and social media that positively guarantees Palestinian violence and terrorism. So effective is this process that, nowadays, when a young Palestinian has a row at home, feels depressed, or wants to make a name for him or herself, the default response is to grab a knife and go kill the nearest vulnerable Jew.
And so, last week, we buried Dafna Meir.
And today, we buried Shlomit Krigman.
Israel paid for Abbass last ostensible readiness for peace talks, in 2013-14, with the release of dozens of killers and other Palestinian terrorists from our jails. Prior to that, in 2008, Abbas spurned Ehud Olmerts extraordinary readiness to give him everything he purportedly sought: We were gone from Gaza, and Olmert offered to leave the West Bank with one-for-one land swaps and to divide Jerusalem, including relinquishing sovereignty in the Old City. If that wasnt good enough for Abbas, then obviously nothing we can offer will be.
While the United States and much of the international community refuse to internalize this, the simple, bleak fact is that everything Arafat, Abbas and Hamas have done since the collapse of the Bill Clinton-hosted Camp David 2000 attempt at forging a deal has persuaded Israelis that they dare not relinquish territory to the Palestinians, despite the imperative to separate in order to maintain a Jewish, democratic Israel.
Arafat returned from the United States and fostered the Second Intifadas onslaught of suicide bombings attacks throughout Israel that murderously demonstrated that it was not merely the territories that the Palestinians sought. That its not just the settlements, its all of Israel that is rejected.
In the years after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the rocket fire intensified, the Palestinians gave Hamas a parliamentary majority in elections, and Hamas ousted Abbass forces from the Strip in hours underlining to Israelis the dangers of leaving adjacent territory, and the ease with which Islamist forces could seize power in any vacuum. The latest Israel-Hamas conflict, in 2014, only re-emphasized the danger: If a single rocket fired by Hamas that got through the Iron Dome defenses and landed a mile from Ben-Gurion Airport could send two-thirds of foreign airlines fleeing from Israel, including all the American carriers, how could Israel possibly entertain the idea of leaving the West Bank? Hamas would be running the show within days, and our entire country would be paralyzed and isolated.
The irony, of course, is that if the Palestinians had been capable of hiding their hatred for just a short period after we left Gaza, if they had managed to pretend for even a brief time that their hearts were set on peaceful coexistence, we probably would have withdrawn unilaterally from much of the West Bank as well.
Instead, Palestinian words and deeds have persuaded mainstream Israelis those who dont want to rule the Palestinians, dont want to expand settlements in areas we do not envisage retaining under any permanent accord, dont want to have to live by the sword forever that no partnership is viable at present. Theyve even managed to kill off the optimism of the leader of the Israeli opposition, Isaac Herzog, who sadly concluded last week that a two-state solution is simply unrealistic: He yearns for it, said Herzog in a radio interview. But its not possible right now.
A grassroots approach
So, how, then, to break out of this awful new reality of more Palestinian generations strategically brainwashed to hate, and a bleeding Israel unable to advance its own interest in a safe separation to guarantee the maintenance of our Jewish democracy?
Self-evidently, there will no accord with Mahmoud Abbas. But one thing that Abbas has been saying at his recent press conferences is worth picking up on. Previous peace efforts created a joint mechanism intended to combat incitement on both sides, and Abbas has pronounced himself ready to revive that mechanism. Israel should take him up on that right away.
Netanyahu has rightly focused on incitement as a root cause of the current terror wave. We all have an interest in utilizing any and every tool that just might help alleviate some of the hostility.
It was lousy politics of Herzog to publicly give up for now on the two-state solution. If peace is not on the horizon, after all, why would Israelis elect a leader who is now acknowledging that his whole prior strategy was misguided? But Herzogs sad and sober conclusion underlines that there can and will be no quick fixes.
Whats needed, what has always been needed, to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a grassroots approach to peacemaking. An approach focused on education. An approach under which international resources and leverage are utilized to rewrite educational curricula, to marginalize extremist political and spiritual leaders, to promote moderation and peaceful interaction.
The Arafat-Abbas-Hamas strategy of hostility to Israel achieves the precise opposite of what the Palestinians purport to seek independent statehood. It has now even managed to persuade the center-left opposition, the peacemaking Labor Party, that Israeli readiness for compromise is insufficient.
Perhaps the international community so insistently led by US President Barack Obama in seeking to persuade Israelis that they can afford to take risks for peace when the bloody evidence all around them shows the contrary will learn Herzogs lesson.
Perhaps it will move to adopt the grassroots approach.
Perhaps it will use its immense leverage to gradually help create a climate in which it is not the most natural thing in the world for teenage Palestinians to set out with knives and kill Israeli mothers of six and 23-year-old industrial design graduates.
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Gatestone Institute, January 26, 2016
If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas loses control of his Fatah faction, who gets to comfort him? Could it be his erstwhile rivals in Hamas?
Abbas seems firm in his refusal to pave the way for the emergence of a new leadership in the West Bank. A split within Fatah in the West Bank seems the inevitable result. Gaza’s Fatah leaders are furious with Abbas. The deepening divisions among Fatah could drive Fatah cadres in the Gaza Strip into the open arms of Hamas.
“The talk about Fatah-Hamas reconciliation is nothing but a smokescreen to conceal the growing discontent with President Abbas’s autocratic rule.” Palestinian official.
Fatah is Israel’s purported “peace partner” — the faction spearheading efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state. Decision-makers in the U.S. and Europe might wish to keep abreast of the solvency of Abbas’s Fatah faction when they consider the wisdom of the two-state solution.
If Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas loses control of his Fatah faction, who gets to comfort him? Could it be his erstwhile rivals in Hamas?
Abbas has been facing increasing criticism in the past weeks from senior Fatah officials in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It seems that they have tired of his autocratic-style rule. Some of them, including Jibril Rajoub and Tawfik Tirawi, have even come out in public against the PA president, demanding that he share power enough at least to appoint a deputy president.
Fatah seems to be in even worse shape in the Gaza Strip. Fatah leaders and activists there have accused Abbas of “marginalizing” the faction, and are making unmistakable break-away noises.
At a meeting of Fatah cadres in the Gaza Strip last week, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership were castigated for turning their backs on the faction there.
Fatah’s top representative in the Strip, Zakariya Al-Agha, said that the faction’s leaders, including Abbas, do not want to see Fatah (in the Gaza Strip) reorganize itself and “pick up the pieces.”
Another senior Fatah official in Gaza, Abdel Rahman Hamad, took advantage of the meeting to announce that, “Some were trying to turn Fatah in the Gaza Strip into a “weary and spiritless body.”
Fatah leaders in Gaza are furious with Abbas. They have a substantial list of grievances. First, Abbas has not paid the salaries of thousands of their members there, including policemen and security officers who have been sitting at home since Hamas seized control over the Strip in 2007.
Moreover, they point an accusing finger at Abbas’s failure to include any Fatah members from Gaza in a recent decree to appoint 130 Palestinians as senior officials within the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas’s failure to hold general elections for the Fatah faction is a further issue of contention. It is roundly suspected that the PA president is deliberately delaying the vote in order to prevent his rivals in the faction from winning key positions.
Amal Hamad, a resident of the Gaza Strip and member of the Fatah Central Committee, joined the chorus of Abbas detractors, declaring, “We wish to tell our (Fatah) brothers in the West Bank that we are an integral part of you. We are an original part of this homeland. It’s time to end the state of silence and put matters on their right track.”
Hamad’s remarks are the strongest yet to be directed against Abbas and the Fatah leadership in the West Bank. Palestinian political analysts read in Hamad’s words a signal that Fatah might well be facing the threat of splintering, one group in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.
The deepening divisions among Fatah could also drive the Fatah cadres in the Gaza Strip into the open arms of Hamas. Hints to this effect have been dropped in recent weeks by Fatah officials in Gaza. They have noted that they do not rule out the possibility of joining forces with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip as a way of protesting their continued “marginalization” by Abbas.
And then there is always Qatar. As the crisis in Fatah intensifies, reports have surfaced of a fresh Qatari effort to achieve “national reconciliation” between Fatah and Hamas. According to the reports, the two parties are scheduled to hold “secret talks” in Doha in the coming days in yet another bid to form a Palestinian national unity government.
Senior Fatah officials have dismissed these reports as simply the most recent in a long line of attempts by Abbas to divert attention from the crisis he’s facing in his own backyard (Fatah).
“Each time we hear about increased tensions in Fatah and criticism of President Abbas, we suddenly receive reports about renewed efforts to achieve reconciliation with Hamas,” one official said. “The talk about Fatah-Hamas reconciliation is nothing but a smokescreen to conceal the growing discontent with President Abbas’s autocratic rule.”
Hamas aside, Qatar’s reconciliation ventures could be put to good use by Abbas: perhaps it would be willing to host a sulha (reconciliation) meeting to end the internal strife plaguing Fatah, the predominant power in the PA. Fatah’s festering dissension points to a Palestinian political scene that could be headed toward complete chaos — especially in the West Bank.
Abbas seems firm in his refusal to pave the way for the emergence of a new leadership in the West Bank. A split within Fatah in the West Bank seems the inevitable result. Palestinians may see several Fatah officials officially break away from the faction and create their own leaderships — turning the West Bank into so many cantons ruled by rival Fatah leaders. Of course, under such conditions, the Palestinian Authority would hardly hold its own as a central power in the West Bank.
As for the Gaza Strip, Fatah discontent is likely to escalate in the wake of Abbas’s continued policy of “marginalizing” the Fatah members there. Having already lost the Strip to Hamas, Abbas may soon lose his loyalists there. In the end, Gaza could see the emergence of a Fatah leadership that does not report at all to its sister in the West Bank.
Fatah is Israel’s purported “peace partner” — the faction that is spearheading efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state. Yet one wonders if Palestinians will live long enough to see their leaders lead them towards a state — or even a better life.
Decision-makers in the U.S. and Europe might wish to keep abreast of the solvency of Abbas’s Fatah faction when they consider the wisdom of the two-state solution.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.
© 2016 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
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An outsize share of per capita international aid, even as the Palestinian Authority funds terrorists.
One often-cited key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is economic development. To that end, there seems to be broad agreement about the importance of extending development aid to help the Palestinians build the physical and social infrastructure that will enable the emergence of a sustainable, prosperous society. But few have seriously questioned how much money is sent and how it is used.
Such assistance will only promote peace if it is spent to foster tolerance and coexistence. If it is used to strengthen intransigence it does more harm than goodand the more aid that comes in, the worse the outcome. This is exactly what has been transpiring over the past few decades. Large amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians are spent to support terrorists and deepen hostility.
For years the most senior figures in the Palestinian Authority have supported, condoned and glorified terror. Every drop of blood that has been spilled in Jerusalem, President Mahmoud Abbas said last September on Palestinian television, is holy blood as long as it was for Allah. Countless Palestinian officials and state-run television have repeatedly hailed the murder of Jews.
This support for terrorism doesnt end with hate speech. The Palestinian regime in Ramallah pays monthly stipends of between $400 and $3,500 to terrorists and their families, the latter of which is more than five times the average monthly salary of a Palestinian worker.
According to data from its budgetary reports, compiled in June 2014 by Israels Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the PAs annual budget for supporting Palestinian terrorists was then roughly $75 million. That amounted to some 16% of the foreign donations the PA received annually. Overall in 2012 foreign aid made up about a quarter of the PAs $3.1 billion budget. More recent figures are inaccessible since the Palestinian Authority is no longer transparent about the stipend transfers.
Embarrassed by public revelations of the misuse of the foreign aid, in August 2014 the Palestinian Authority passed the task of paying stipends to terrorists and their families to a fund managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, also led by Mr. Abbas. Lest there be any doubt as to the purely cosmetic nature of the change, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah made assurances as recently as September 2015 that the PA will provide the necessary assistance to ensure these terror stipends.
This procedural ruse apparently calmed the consciences of donor governments that continue to transfer aid. It is difficult to think of another case in which such a forgiving attitude would be taken regarding foreign aid to an entity that sponsors terror.
This situation is particularly disturbing given the disproportionate share of development assistance the Palestinians receive, which comes at the expense of needy populations elsewhere. According to a report last year by Global Humanitarian Assistance, in 2013 the Palestinians received $793 million in international aid, second only to Syria. This amounts to $176 for each Palestinian, by far the highest per capita assistance in the world. Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million refugees displaced since 2011, received only $106 per capita.
A closer look at the remaining eight countries in the top 10Sudan, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congois even more alarming. CIA Factbook data show that these countries have a combined population of 284 million and an average per capita GDP of $2,376. Yet they received an average of $15.30 per capita in development assistance in 2013. The Palestinians, by comparison, with a population of 4.5 million, have a per capita GDP of $4,900.
In other words, though the Palestinians are more than twice as wealthy on average than these eight countries, they receive more than 11 times as much foreign aid per person. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a case in point: Its 79 million people have a per capita GDP of $700, yet they receive only $5.70 in aid per person.
Between 1993 (when the Oslo Process began) and 2013, the Palestinians received $21.7 billion in development assistance, according to the World Bank. The Palestinian leadership has had ample opportunity to use these funds for economic and social development. Tragically, as seen in Hamas-run Gaza, it prefers to use the funds on its terrorist infrastructure and weaponry, such as cross-border attack tunnels and the thousands of missiles that have rained down in recent years on Israel.
In Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, the situation is equally disturbing. Aside from funding terrorists and investing in hate speech, the PA stubbornly refuses to remove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from refugee rosters, deliberately keeping them in a state of dependence and underdevelopment for no purpose other than to stoke animosity toward Israel.
It is difficult to come away from these facts without realizing the deep connection between the huge amounts of foreign aid being spent, the bizarre international tolerance for patently unacceptable conduct by the Palestinians and the lack of progress toward peace on the ground.
Donors to the Palestinians who support peace would do well to rethink the way they extend assistance. Money should go to economic and civic empowerment, not to perpetuate a false sense of victimhood and unconditional entitlement. It should foster values of tolerance and nonviolence, not the glorification and financing of terrorism.
Ms. Hotovely is the deputy foreign minister of Israel.