By most accounts, the Fatah-Hamas unity deal signing ceremony Wednesday was a grand affair. Hamas terror-chief Khaled Mashaal jetted in from Damascus. PLO/Fatah/Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas flew in from Ramallah.
The ceremony was held under the auspices of the newly Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Egyptian intelligence services. UN representatives and Israeli Arab members of Knesset were on hand to witness the “historic” accord which officially put the PLO in bed with Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and a terrorist organization dedicated to the annihilation of Israel and the establishment of a global caliphate.
No less significant than the pact itself are the lengths the Left is going to obfuscate and belittle the importance of what happened. At home and abroad, leftists have used three means to hide the meaning of the pact from the public.
First, some have upheld the deal as a cause for celebration. On
Wednesday, Channel 10’s senior political commentator Raviv Drucker
opined that the deal may increase the chance of peace between Israel and
the Palestinians. Ignoring the fact that the pact paves the way for
Hamas’s integration into the PA’s US-trained security forces, and its
membership in the PLO, Raviv vapidly claimed that the villain in all of
the recent developments is none other than Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, who is destroying all chance of peace by pointing out that
the Palestinians have opted for war.
On the world stage, Drucker’s case is being made by former US president
Jimmy Carter. In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Carter
similarly praised the deal as a step forward. Never mentioning the fact
that Hamas is a terrorist organization, Carter claimed that the deal
will enhance Palestinian democracy. It will also increase chances for a
cease-fire between Hamas and Israel and peace between Israel and the
Palestinians, he promised.
The second way the leftist establishment is trying to hide the
game-changing nature of the Fatah-Hamas deal is by belittling it. Most
of the Israeli media, for instance, highlighted remarks by outgoing Shin
Bet chief Yuval Diskin asserting that the agreement is likely to be
The New York Times
emphasized the deal’s high chance of failure. But whether it succeeds or
fails is irrelevant. The point is not that Fatah and Hamas don’t like
one each other. They point is that they are terrorists.
Finally, voices in the Left have sought to hide the importance of the
agreement behind bureaucratic illusions. For example, the Obama
administration is using the artificial distinctions between Fatah – led
by Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO – led by Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian
Authority – led by Mahmoud Abbas, to claim that there is no reason to
get excited. Since the PLO signs the deals with Israel, and the PA pays
the bills, the State Department has argued that the fact that Fatah
signed a unity agreement with Hamas won’t have any immediate impact on
US aid to the PA.
Abbas himself has gone out of his way to encourage this notion. During
his meeting with a delegation of far left, retired Israeli security
brass last week, Abbas said there is no reason for concern about the
agreement because the PLO, which he leads, rather than Fatah, which he
leads, carries out negotiations with Israel.
The reason that otherwise intelligent people are willing to make such
obviously absurd statements is because they are in a state of panic.
They realize that the Fatah-Hamas unity deal discredits the
land-for-peace paradigm. If the public is permitted to recognize the
importance of what has happened, then that policy will be abandoned. All
Israeli and US support, recognition and legitimization for the
Hamas-partnering PA/PLO/Fatah will have to be ended.
The Left’s panic was revealed on Wednesday in a Haaretz report of a
classified Foreign Ministry report regarding the unity deal. Written by
unnamed officials at the ministry’s leftist-dominated policy planning
division, its authors rebuked the Netanyahu government for condemning
the agreement. They claimed that the deal represents an opportunity for
Israel. They further called on the government to “be a team player and
coordinate its response to a Palestinian unity government with the
[Obama] administration.” Doing so, the authors claimed, “will empower
the United States and serve Israeli interests.”
Obviously displeased with the government’s failure to heed their
ridiculous advice, the diplomats released their cable to Haaretz in a
bid to intimidate Israel’s elected leadership into submission before it
is too late.
This is not the first time we have been at the point of recognizing the
truth – that the PLO/PA/Fatah never turned its back on terror and that
all the commitments it has made to Israel have been subordinate to its
commitment to maintaining its support for terror. We were here in 1990
and again in 2000.
In 1990, PLO chief Yasser Arafat refused to condemn a seaborne terror
attack on Ashkelon and Tel Aviv carried out by the PLF faction of the
PLO. As is the case today, Arafat tried to characterize the subordinate
group as an independent organization in order to deny his own
culpability for their crime.
At the time, the US was engaged in a dialogue with the PLO facilitated
by the group’s November 1988 professed recognition of Israel. Faced with
this clear breach of good faith, the US Congress and the Shamir
government demanded that then-president George H.W. Bush cancel US
recognition of the PLO and end its dialogue with the terror group.
Although Bush had been a great champion of US-PLO relations, he had no
choice but to agree to this obviously justified demand.
A year later, in 1991, Bush rejected the notion of reinstating his
recognition of the PLO. Speaking to reporters he said, “To me, they’ve
lost credibility. They’ve lost credibility with this office right here.”
In 2000, Arafat again lost credibility when he rejected then prime
minister Ehud Barak’s offer of peace and Palestinian statehood at Camp
David, joined forces with Hamas and launched a terror war against
Israel. Upon returning from Camp David, Barak bragged that he had taken
the mask of peacemaker off of Arafat’s terrorist face.
But Barak’s peace-crazed leftist voters weren’t interested in the truth.
Just as they are condemning Netanyahu now for acknowledging that
Abbas’s deal with Hamas proves that the PA is uninterested in peace with
Israel, in 2000 the political Left responded with vitriol to Barak’s
announcement. From their great leader, he became their worst enemy.
Barak’s supporters’ decision to prefer their ideological commitment to
the peace paradigm over their commitment to their country or to the
facts on the ground made it impossible for Barak to act on his
revelation. If he wished to have a political future, the only thing he
could do was obey his voters, and put the mask back on Arafat’s face.
After all, the Right, which opposed his massive concessions, would never
vote for him.
So Barak dutifully elevated uber-leftist and then-justice minister Yossi
Beilin to the head of his negotiations team. He empowered Beilin to
make even more far-reaching concessions to Arafat at Taba, even as
Arafat’s security forces were lynching IDF soldiers and planning,
financing and ordering the suicide bombings.
Today the situation is closer to 1990 than to 2000. As in 1990, the US
Congress fully supports ending US funding, recognition and support for
the PLO/PA/Fatah. Even before the deal was announced, Rep. Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, had
already called for ending US financing of the PA in light of its refusal
to negotiate peace with Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Immediately after the unity deal was announced, Ros-Lehtinen reinstated
her demand that the US end all support for the PA. She noted that since
Hamas is a terrorist organization, the US government is legally barred
from providing it with assistance or recognition of any kind. Sen. Mark
Kirk has led efforts in the Senate to end US aid to the PLO/PA/Fatah in
light of the unity deal.
If Netanyahu follows the advice of his leftist critics and cooperates
with the Obama administration in its apparent bid to ignore the legal
and policy significance of the Hamas-Fatah deal, he will undermine
Congress’s ability to support Israel. No American lawmaker – or
presidential candidate – will want to be more pro-Israel than Israel’s
prime minister. And if Netanyahu bends to the will of his leftist
critics he will stop these welcome initiatives in their tracks.
So far, Netanyahu has been holding strong. His government’s decision to
freeze tax transfers to the PA in response to the agreement with Hamas
has sent a strong signal that Israel is withdrawing its acceptance of
the PA as a credible peace partner and now views it as a terrorist
entity. This move will facilitate swift congressional action to defund
the PA and limit the administration’s ability to pressure Israel to make
further concessions to Abbas.
From the perspective of US-Israel relations, the Fatah-Hamas unity pact
couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. Netanyahu’s speech before the
joint houses of Congress on May 24 provides the premier with a rare
opportunity to radically alter the terms of reference for the discourse
on the Palestinian conflict with Israel at home and in the US.
If he continues to highlight the PLO-Hamas alliance, Netanyahu can drive
the political discourse away from the false narrative of Palestinian
peacefulness and towards the truth about their devotion to terror and
war. With just one address, Netanyahu can potentially do more to
strengthen and safeguard Israel than he has in his entire career. And in
so doing, he will guarantee his place among the ranks of the great
Politically, Netanyahu has much to gain by remaining on offense and much
to lose by surrendering. Unlike Barak’s voters, Netanyahu’s voters know
that the discredited land-for-peace paradigm has failed, and they will
reward Netanyahu for speaking the truth.
On the other hand, if he bows to leftist pressure, and empowers Obama to
demand still more Israeli concessions to the Fatah-Hamas government,
Netanyahu will place his political future in jeopardy. His voters are
liable to transfer their support to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
or to one of Netanyahu’s Likud ministers. They will not understand why
they should vote for Netanyahu only to get Barak’s policy.
International affairs rarely provide the opportunity to correct past
mistakes. If Netanyahu does the right thing, he will be attacked
viciously by the mindless supporters of endless concessions. But their
condemnations will be drowned out by hoots and cheers of enthusiastic
support from the overwhelming majority of the public at home, and from
Israel’s friends in Congress and throughout the world. They will thank
him for freeing us all, finally, from the myth of peace with terrorists.
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