Palestinian Authority elections dashes hope for the future - opinion

The results of a student council election held at Bethlehem University appears to signal a dim future for Palestinians living under PA rule, as well as for Israelis.

 STUDENTS SEEN on the Bethlehem University campus. That students would openly support a radical terror group spells trouble for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
STUDENTS SEEN on the Bethlehem University campus. That students would openly support a radical terror group spells trouble for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

There was an election held in the Palestinian Authority recently. No, the apparent PA president-for-life Mahmoud Abbas didn’t suddenly hold the long-promised presidential and legislative elections, but the results of a student council election held at Bethlehem University appears to signal a dim future for Palestinians living under PA rule, as well as for Israelis.

As first reported by The Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, “a list consisting of supporters of various radical groups, including the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), won the majority of the seats in the student council.”

Abu Toameh continues his report, “It said that only two student blocs competed in the election. The first consisted of the PFLP and other groups strongly opposed to any peace process with Israel, while the second represented Abbas’s Fatah faction.”

Pressured by the Europeans, Abbas did consent to holding local municipal elections last week. Boycotted by Hamas and other groups, the candidates were largely independent; although, it’s likely there were Hamas members among them. No one at the university hid behind an independent label.

For those who hold the post-Oslo dream that it would be the next generation of Palestinian youth who will give up the claim that “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea” and to an unrestricted right of return within Israel, the students’ widespread support of the PLFP should serve as a wake-up call.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Since joining the PLO at its inception in 1967, the PFLP has perpetrated numerous heinous terrorist attacks, including hijackings of airplanes and the murder of an Israeli cabinet minister. That was all supposed to have come to an end when the PLO claimed to give up terrorism at the Oslo Accords signing in September 1993.

Except that the PFLP never gave up terrorism. It’s just that nobody talks about it.

The American government knows that, and that is why the PFLP remains on the US State Department’s foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) list to this day, even after other PLO member-factions were removed. Former presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump didn’t take the PFLP off the list and neither has President Joe Biden.

But, how could it be otherwise, when the PFLP’s post-Oslo résumé includes such atrocities as the synagogue massacre of five rabbis (four died at the scene, and one died 11 months later from head injuries) and an Israeli Druze police officer in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.

Despite that massacre and other outrages, the PA under Abbas has never taken any action against the group. He never expelled the PFLP from the PLO. He never outlawed the PFLP. He never sent his security forces to confiscate their weapons or shut down their safe houses. He has knowingly tolerated the terrorists of the PFLP.

And so, the PFLP continued to grow to the point that it took part in the most recent round of rocket terrorism against Israel from Gaza and has successfully made inroads into the thinking of Palestinian college students. That students would openly support a radical terror group spells trouble for Abbas not just at Bethlehem University but throughout the PA. Nor will Israelis be immune from the radicalization of Palestinian college students as their strident support for a terrorist group as young adults continues into full adulthood.

Maybe you are tempted write off this student council election by naively comparing the support given by Bethlehem University students to a terrorist organization to American kids who wear tee shirts bearing the image of Che Guevara, but don’t be. The Palestinian students who support the PFLP know precisely what it stands for, the PFLP’s record is no secret. For American college students on the other hand, Che Guevara just looks good on a colorful tee shirt.

The writer is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror and a new citizen of Israel.