The capacity of peace-process addicts to delude themselves about the Palestinian war against Israel is as bottomless as it is peculiar. It is they, after all, whose repeated attempts at solving the conflict have failed.
The only real shift in perception and action on this issue came from former president Donald Trump.
As a businessman with no political or diplomatic background, he refused to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors in many areas, key among them the Middle East.
His approach, based on rewarding America’s allies and rejecting the appeasement of enemies, was working. His replacement in November by US President Joe Biden signaled a backslide to the tired, old, false paradigms relating to the Middle East.
Palestinian Authority leaders heaved a sigh of relief. For them, dealing with Democrats in the White House, State Department and Capitol Hill is as second nature as manipulating the European Union and United Nations.
Their satisfaction at the outcome of the US presidential election only increased with Biden’s appointment of Hady Amr – a foreign-policy wonk with a history of hostility to Israel and sympathy for Hamas – as deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian affairs. Due to his role in the new administration in Washington, Amr was handed an official letter sent to the White House last Saturday by the PA.
The letter, whose contents were revealed by the Palestinian news site Amad, averred that all factions in Ramallah and Gaza, including Hamas, agree to establish a state along the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital; commit to abiding by international law and recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The missive also included a vow to continue to exercise “peaceful popular resistance” until statehood is achieved.
TWO DAYS later, in a phone call with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s vision for “a more peaceful, secure and prosperous future for Israelis, Palestinians and the greater Middle East.”
This dream included, of course, the “belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state.”
It’s not clear whether Blinken’s chat with his Israeli counterpart on Monday was somehow connected to the PA’s lie-filled letter addressed to Biden and promptly placed in Amr’s clutches. Not that it really matters.
In the first place, Hamas and other terrorist groups, such as Islamic Jihad, haven’t confirmed the PA’s claims because they make no bones about wanting to annihilate – not live alongside – Israel. Secondly, the PA has never engaged in the so-called “peaceful resistance” it touted in the letter – unless killing Jews counts as such – and is currently in the throes of an ostensible election campaign, also staged to curry favor with the West.
Third, Biden and his team don’t need bogus assurances from the PA in order to spew two-state-solution rhetoric. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Democrats who fawn over him both love paying lip service to high ideals – albeit for opposite reasons.
The former engages in it to keep some of the so-called “international community” in blissful la-la land, and encourage the rest to blame Israel and the Jews for a lack of peace. The latter simply cannot stand the prospect of losing faith in its long-held nonsense, especially after being proved wrong time and again.
NOR HAVE Biden’s views on this score been anything but out in the open, both before and since his election. Last month, for example, acting US Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills told the UN Security Council that “under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
Mills said that “to advance these objectives, the Biden administration will restore credible US engagement with Palestinians, as well as Israeli... [which] will involve renewing US relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people.”
Biden, Mills stressed, “has been clear that he intends to restore US assistance programs that support economic development programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic relations that were closed by the last US administration.”
This is fancy diplospeak for a resumption, among other things, of funding to the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). By now, only members of the far-left continue to harbor and spread the illusion that UNRWA is not what Trump called an “irredeemably flawed operation,” whose sole purpose has been to perpetuate a manufactured “refugee crisis.”
As a side gig, the UN body that placed Palestinians in a fraudulent category all their own – one that enabled them to remain “refugees” for generations, rather than helping them resettle quickly – has also aided and abetted terrorists. It not only allows Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stockpile weapons in and under its schools; its revisionist textbooks indoctrinate Palestinian children to hate and aspire to kill Israelis.
The above is in addition to the violent, antisemitic cartoons and rantings that UNRWA teachers post on Facebook with impunity. If any organization deserves to be disbanded, let alone stripped of cash, it is that one. Thanks to Biden, however, its coffers are soon to get a hefty refill.
SPEAKING OF “economic development programs and humanitarian aid,” the financially strapped PA never paused its “pay for slay” program to incentivize terrorism. It’s a budget priority that Abbas and his henchmen haven’t abandoned, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a recent report by the research institute Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the PA spent at least NIS 512 million ($159m.) on terrorists’ salaries in 2020. PMW documentation illustrates that the actual figure is much higher, yet is being paid in a roundabout way, in order to dupe international donors.
While the PA must exhibit full transparency where its expenses are concerned, the PLO is not bound by such constraints. Still, both have confirmed that the transfer of hundreds of millions of shekels per year in rewards to terrorists is sacred and will continue.
Then there’s the tricky way in which the PA rushed to transfer a lump sum to its “prisoners’ fund,” to circumvent Israeli anti-terrorism legislation that went into effect at the end of December 2020.
The 2016 Law Against Terrorism – stipulating that anyone engaged in a transaction that “supports, promotes, funds or rewards” the commission of acts of terrorism is punishable by up to 10 years in prison – was adopted in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) last February. Though it was slated to be enacted on May 9, 2020, the novel coronavirus crisis spurred Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to postpone its implementation.
In April, three weeks before the original May deadline, PMW warned PA banks that if they don’t stop providing accounts through which the powers-that-be in Ramallah funnel salaries to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, they could face criminal charges, on the one hand, and civil suits from the families of victims, on the other.
Not wishing to subject themselves to liability or jeopardize their relations with financial institutions abroad, those banks promptly refused to serve as “pay for slay” conduits. But Abbas wasn’t going to let that stop him from remunerating the jihadists he has been cultivating.
He thus hurriedly handed them three months’ worth of salaries and got to work setting up an “Independence Bank” not bound by international contracts or laws applying to the PA. It is precisely this kind of deceit that Trump would not tolerate.
IF BIDEN imagines that the Palestinian people who are merely trying to put food on their families’ tables will benefit at all from a resumption of US aid to their corrupt and anti-peace leadership, he’s in for a disappointment.
That it shouldn’t come as a surprise to someone who spent eight years as former president Barack Obama’s second-in-command – and watched PA behavior deteriorate, despite gargantuan American efforts – goes without saying.
Sadly, it still bears reminding.