Ahead of Monday night’s first presidential debate, Rudolph Giuliani – former New York mayor and Republican nominee Donald Trump’s current adviser – spoke at the Israeli American Council’s annual conference. Four days of intense debate preparation with Trump preceded the talk. Giuliani insisted the time has come for the US to “reject the whole notion of a two-state solution in Israel.”
It can only be hoped that regardless of who prevails in November, Giuliani’s statement will become the official position of the next US administration.
In his speech before the UN General Assembly last week PLO and Fatah chief and unelected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said many things to drive home the basic point that he is not interested in peace with Israel. He is interested in destroying Israel. But one particular demand stands out.
It stands out not because it is new. It isn’t new.
Abbas says it all the time and his advisers say it all the time. They say it to Palestinian and international audiences alike, and it always is met with support or at least sympathy.
Abbas demanded that Israel stop arresting Palestinian terrorists and release all Palestinian terrorists from its prisons. That is, he demanded that Israel allow thousands of convicted terrorists to walk free and refrain from doing anything to interfere with terrorists engaged planning and carrying out the murder of its citizens.
The overwhelming majority of Palestinians support this demand. And so does the US government.
During US Secretary of State John Kerry’s failed peace process in 2013-14, President Barack Obama and Kerry embraced Abbas’s demand that Israel release 104 terrorist murderers from its prisons as a precondition for agreeing to negotiate with the Jewish state.
Bowing to US pressure, Israel released 78 terrorists from its jails in three tranches. Ahead of the fourth scheduled release, Abbas and his advisers bragged that they would cut off talks with Israel as soon as the last group of terrorist murderers were released.
That is, they admitted that the negotiations, such as they were, were nothing more than a means to achieve the goal of freeing murderers.
Rather than condemn Abbas and his colleagues for their cynical bad faith and repulsive immorality, the Obama administration chastised Israel for refusing to play along. When Israel responded to their statements by refusing to release the last group of 26 convicted terrorists, the administration accused Israel of breaching the terms of the negotiations.
Obama, Kerry and their advisers held Israel responsible for the talks’ failure.
It’s important to consider what Abbas’s demand for free-range terrorists says about him. It is important to ponder what the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians are partners in this demand says about them as a society.
And it is worth pondering as well the strategic rationality and moral stature of a US government that supports this position.
As far as Abbas and the Palestinians are concerned, their refusal to view mass murderers as criminals tells us a great deal about who they are and what they want.
The Palestinian national movement they have come to embody was never about a deep-seated desire for national liberation. It was never about building “Palestine.”
From the time it was created by Amin el-Husseini in 1920, Palestinian identity has been about the negation of the Jewish national liberation movement – Zionism. And since Israel achieved independence in 1948, the Palestinians have defined themselves by their collective dedication to annihilating the Jewish state – hence their support for terrorists who kill Jews.
Husseini’s heir Yasser Arafat shared his view that terrorism was a both strategic goal in and of itself and a means to achieve the ultimate end of the Palestinian movement – that is, the violent eradication of Israel.
As the heir to both men, Abbas, like his sometimes partners and sometimes rivals in Hamas, has never been interested in building anything. And indeed, he hasn’t.
Consider what is loosely referred to as the “Palestinian economy.”
In an article published this week by the Hebrew-language online journal Mida, economist Uri Redler showed that the Palestinian economy isn’t actually an economy. It is an extortion racket.
Using World Bank data, Redler showed that the Palestinian economy is an optical illusion. In its 22 years of existence, the PA has almost entirely destroyed the private sector in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Seventy-five percent of its tax income comes from indirect taxes that Israel collects for it on imports. Forty percent of its budget comes from donors. Only 18% of it income comes from direct taxation. And most of that comes from deduction at source of PA employees.
Since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, only 15% of foreign aid toward the reconstruction of Gaza has been used for reconstruction projects. The rest of the money has been used as discretionary funds by Hamas. Seventy percent of the funds have come from American and EU taxpayers. This means that the US and the EU have been directly funding Hamas terrorists.
It is not surprising that the aid has been diverted.
And it is not surprising that the US and the EU have continued to provide money they know is being diverted by Hamas.
Hamas, like Fatah, has no interest in developing a Palestinian economy. Economic development doesn’t bring in the money. Terrorism does. Palestinians with economic freedom won’t be dependent on the likes of Abbas and his Hamas counterparts for their livelihoods. So they block all independent paths to prosperity.
Rather than build roads, the PA and Hamas pay people to kill Jews. The more Jews you kill, the more money you receive.
They can maintain this policy because the US and Europe pay them to do so. The more terrorism they commit, the more headlines the Palestinians receive. And the more headlines they receive, the more money they are paid by the UN and Western governments – to advance the cause of the “twostate solution.”
This then brings us to the US and Europe, and their unstinting support for Palestinian demands for the release of terrorists. What are they thinking? Earlier this month Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University Law School and the Kohelet Forum published a paper on the international community’s general interpretation of paragraph 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Protocol from 1949. The relevant clause states that an “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
As Kontorovich noted, this clause the forms the basis of the international community’s constant refrain that Israeli communities built beyond the 1949 armistice lines in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are illegal.
In other words, it forms the basis of the West’s case against Israel and, by extraction, for the Palestinians’.
Just last week during his speech before the UN General Assembly, Obama attacked Israel for its continued settlement activity.
Kontorovich investigated the same international community’s view of communities built by citizens of a dozen other states in lands occupied by their governments in armed conflicts.
He noted that the activities of Moroccans in the Western Sahara, of Turks in Northern Cyprus, of Indonesians in East Timor and of other nationals in multiple other territories are legally indistinguishable from Israel’s activities in the areas it took control over from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israel war.
In none of these other cases, however, has the US, EU, UN or any other international or national authority ever invoked the Fourth Geneva Convention or otherwise claimed that those activities are a breach of international law. In other words, the legal basis for the criminalization and political condemnation of Israel in relation to the Palestinians is entirely specious and discriminatory.
In other words, US support for the so-called twostate solution, like the international community’s support for it, is really just a means of discriminating against Israel. It does not advance the cause of peace or justice, for Israelis or for Palestinians. It merely empowers terrorist gangsters to kill Israelis and extort both the Palestinians and the international community.
So again, Giuliani is absolutely right.
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