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Fresh from her tete-a-tete with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas last week, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni instructed her press flack to tell her fellow cabinet ministers to remain mum on Abbas's latest "diplomatic" gambit. In the words of her communications director Shai Ben Maor, Abbas's decision to turn a document written by convicted Palestinian murderers and attempted murderers sitting in Israeli prisons into the centerpiece of his diplomatic policy is "an internal Palestinian issue" and so Israel should not be weighing in on it.
What is the context of Abbas's new initiative regarding which Israel is supposed to have no official position?
After receiving the Bush Administration's full-throated endorsement during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Washington, DC last week, Abbas sprang into action. Following Bush's characterization of Abbas as a man who "favors and speaks for peace and negotiations," Abbas - who has never lifted a finger and indeed pledged never to lift a finger to fight Hamas, Fatah or any other terrorist organization - announced that he has a new plan.
Abbas's plan has two central components. First, he wants to get the PA's Hamas government to accept the document authored by convicted murderers and attempted murderers. Second, Abbas wants Israel to allow him to raise, arm and field a new militia with 10,000 soldiers to supplement the 20,000 soldiers Abbas already hired in the lead-up to the Palestinian elections in January.
Both the Israeli and the international media have referred to the convicted terrorists' declaration as a "peace plan." London's Daily Telegraph's summation of what its editors considered the main points of the declaration represents more or less what all the mass media organs in Israel and abroad have been saying.
The Telegraph's report claims that the plan has six main components. In its words, those components are: "A negotiated settlement with Israel if the Jewish state withdraws from land occupied since the 1967 Middle East war; continued resistance, focusing on peaceful means, on land occupied since 1967 - the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem; an independent Palestinian state on all land occupied since 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital; a unity Palestinian government uniting all factions, including Hamas and Fatah; guarantee the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel and the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israel; speeding up efforts to incorporate Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which has negotiated past interim peace accords."
IF ONE were to take these terms at face value, perhaps this could be seen as a step forward. But just the barest scrutiny shows that what the jailed terrorists announced was nothing more than a new restatement of their declaration of war against Israel and a recommitment to their goal of destroying the Jewish State.
It is true that the document speaks specifically of Israel's retreat from Judea and Samaria as well as Jerusalem. Yet led by convicted mass murderer, Fatah head and darling of the Israeli Left, Marwan Barghouti, the terrorists reiterated the "liberation of the land," that is, all of Israel, as their real objective.
The Telegraph's assertion that the "resistance" to Israel is supposed to be largely by "peaceful means" leads a reader to assume this means that the terrorists are calling for an end to terrorism. Nothing could be further from the truth. In six separate clauses of the declaration, the terrorists make clear their continued commitment to carrying out acts of terrorism against Israel as part of their strategy for destroying the Jewish state. Those acts of terrorism are supposed to be conducted in conjunction with civil disturbances, negotiations with Israel run by Abbas (something that Iran and its client the Palestinian Islamic Jihad does not accept), as well as an international diplomatic campaign in cooperation with NGO allies intended to delegitimize and demonize Israel.
Far from calling for an end to terrorism, the terrorists called for the establishment of a new joint terrorist organization called the "Popular Resistance Front" that is to be composed of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah terrorists. As they put it in their declaration, this new group's job will be "to lead and engage in resistance against the occupation and to unify and coordinate action and resistance and to form a unified political reference for the front."
It is unclear what the difference will be between this proposed terrorist organization and the Popular Resistance Committees that Barghouti and his Hamas and Islamic Jihad colleagues formed in the months that preceded the outbreak of their terror war in September 2000.
The Telegraph notes that the imprisoned terrorists insist that Israel accept the so-called "right of return" of the so-called "refugees," but the newspaper, like its Israeli media counterparts, fails to recognize the true significance of this repeated demand. These murderers are demanding that in exchange for a temporary cessation of terror attacks against its citizens, Israel agree to its national destruction. The so-called "right of return" is a demand that Israel accept the unimpeded immigration of millions of hostile, foreign- born Arabs to its sovereign territory.
THESE MURDERERS devote an inordinate amount of attention in their declaration to detailing their desire to incorporate Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the Abbas-led PLO. They repeatedly call for unity between the "nationalist and Islamic" factions. That is, they call for unity in their ranks for the purpose of advancing their war for the destruction of Israel.
Finally, in a decidedly self-serving fashion, the convicted murderers emphatically call for their own release from Israeli jails and see their release as "a sacred national duty."
In short, much as one would expect, convicted Palestinian mass murderers from various terrorist organizations met in an Israeli prison yard to recommit themselves and their followers to their war for the destruction of Israel. And, much as one would expect, the international and Israeli press presented this declaration of war as a peace plan.
ABBAS TOOK the media by storm with his bold declaration last Thursday that if Hamas does not accept the prisoners' declaration within 10 days he will bring it before the Palestinian public as a referendum. "What a bold effort!" the press exclaimed excitedly. Buoyed by his success, Abbas announced the second half of his plan. In order to ensure Hamas realizes that he means business, Abbas renewed his demand that Israel allow him to receive arms and ammunition for his loyal troops. He further announced his intention to increase the size of his current personal army - Force 17 - from 2,500-3,000 men to 10,000 men.
There is very little new in the convicted terrorists' declaration or in Abbas's embrace of their declaration. Abbas has been embracing declarations of war against Israel since he joined Fatah as Yasser Arafat's deputy in 1959. There is also nothing new about Abbas's demand that Israel either supply him with arms or enable others to supply him with arms even though such arms and ammunition have been directly involved in the murder of scores of Israeli citizens since 1996.
What is new is the response of Israel's government.
Since 2000, the government has refused Palestinian requests for guns and ammunition. Yet, last week, Olmert's government allowed Abbas to receive arms and ammunition for Force 17 from Jordan and Egypt. Not only did the government allow forces committed to Israel's destruction to receive arms and ammunition, well placed sources claim that Defense Minister Amir Peretz's office was the source of the misinformation campaign that has dubbed the prisoners' declaration of war a peace plan.
In misleading Israel's citizenry about the content of the murderers' war declaration and in enabling the rearmament and quadrupling of the size of Abbas's personal army, the Israeli government and the Israeli and international media have also been egged on by the Bush Administration. US military envoy to the Hamas-led PA, General Keith Dayton has reportedly been a major supporter of Peretz's desire to arm Abbas's men. The Americans have been pushing to have this militia deployed in northern Gaza where its members will purportedly stop Kassam missiles from being fired at Israel even though Abbas, their commander has adopted a plan that calls for continued attacks against Israel.
It is hard to find polite words to describe an Israeli government that embraces enthusiastically a declaration of war against its country and enables its enemy to arm and field armies that have been trained to kill its citizens. It is hard not to view US support for the so-called "peace plan" as a repudiation of the Bush Doctrine.