Burning Down the Palestinian House
The tightrope [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas walks, between Palestinians already unhappy with him for social, political and economic reasons and those who will be more unhappy if he agrees to Israel's basic requirements for "end of conflict, end of claims," is one largely one of his own making.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to "suspend unilateral action" against Israel for some indefinite period of time. It is, his spokesman says, to "give a sufficient chance for [US Secretary of State John] Kerry's efforts to succeed." By this, Abbas apparently means he will not make any additional unilateral efforts in the UN or try to convince the International Criminal Court to take up action against Israel.
This is the functional equivalent of agreeing not to swing the wrecking ball after you've set the house on fire.
Last summer, Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group predicted - and justified - the emergence of a "third intifada" in the New York Times, blaming Israel for not reaching a deal with Abbas. It was odd timing because by summer 2012, Abbas had his hands full with angry Palestinians protesting just about everything except Israel. A wave of public discontent through the fall and into 2013 has been focused on police brutality, the cost of living, government-imposed austerity measures, and Abbas himself. Salam Fayyed, the unelected prime minister and a U.S. ally, was the focus of unhappiness over limited economic prospects. Pro-Abbas gangs have assaulted protesters, and journalists have been arrested and beaten. Palestinian officials even cracked down on Western activists supporting the protesters. "The involvement of Western nationals in protests against the Palestinian Authority is completely unacceptable," one official said. "We will be forced to cut off all ties with non-Palestinians who incite against the Palestinian leadership."
At some point, it was necessary for Abbas to turn that public anger away from his own shortcomings and toward Israel. After scaling back security cooperation with the IDF, in December, the PA authorized Friday post-mosque pro-Hamas rallies near IDF checkpoints in the West Bank. The rallies predictably turned into skirmishes. Tension between the IDF, Israel border police, and Palestinians has continued to escalate; Palestinians have been injured and Palestinian rock throwers left an Israeli infant in critical condition.
Back in January, the biggest fight was among Palestinian factions in the Balata refugee camp on the West Bank. According to The Times of Israel, "The PA security forces arrived… in the early morning to arrest [two men], leaders in Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, who were caught on camera by Israel's Channel 2 TV station on Thursday parading their weapons around the camp and firing into the air. They were protesting ill treatment by the PA." The arrest failed when camp residents burned tires to block the entrance. Around the same time, shots were fired at the Jenin governor – whose predecessor died of a heart attack after shots were fired at his home. There were protests in Ramallah over the PA's failure to pay salaries and over a PA decision not to collect money owed by refugee camp residents to the electric company (non-refugees wanted the payment amnesty, too).
So Abbas has been pouring anti-Israel gasoline on the passions to try to preserve his rule.
Without specifically calling for suicide bombers (futile, since the security fence makes it almost impossible for them to reach their targets) Fatah honored a 2002 suicide bomber on its Facebook page. "The name of Wafa Idris is still a lesson that terrifies the Jews." "At least 2,000 Palestinians participated in the symbolic funeral (this month) marched for Wafa Idris behind an empty wooden coffin… draped in the Palestinian flag." They "called 'Wafa is a hero' while armed men fired in the air to salute Wafa."
In late March, Fatah honored Um Nadal, mother of three sons: one invented the Qassam rocket (he was killed when one went off prematurely), one was a suicide bomber and one was killed with Hamas. Um Nadal told Palestinian TV that the day her son went to a school in Jerusalem and killed five students was "the best day of my life. I feel that our Lord is pleased with me, because I am offering something [my son] for Him. I wish to sacrifice more [sons] for Allah's forgiveness, and for the flag [of Islam]."
Ahlam al Tamimi, one of the organizers of the Sbarro Pizzaria bombing in Jerusalem, gave an interview widely disseminated in the PA territories. "You know how many casualties there were? This was made possible by Allah. Do you want me to denounce what I did? That's out of the question. I would do it again today, and in the same manner." The casualties included 15 killed and over 130 wounded, including eight children, six members of a single family, a pregnant woman and another woman who was left in a permanent coma.
The fact that all of these were women was a not-so-subtle challenge to the Palestinian male psyche.
Abbas got the conflagration he sought. The death of Maysara Abu Hamdiya – complete with a phony picture purporting to show his arm handcuffed to a hospital bed, and lies about his lack of treatment for cancer – precipitated angry demonstrations in the West Bank, and two young men throwing firebombs at an Israeli police post have been killed. The riots and demonstrations will likely escalate, and an Israeli response is assured. Whether Abbas can stage-manage the demonstrations is less assured.
The tightrope Abbas walks, between Palestinians already unhappy with him for social, political and economic reasons, and those who will be more unhappy if he agrees to Israel's basic requirements for "end of conflict, end of claims," is one largely of his own making. The chances of success for the Kerry mission are dim – it will be remarkable if he can escape without having the Palestinian house collapse around him.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.
Reader comments on this item
|I sure hope Abbas signs the Rome Statutes [30 words]||Gee||Apr 5, 2013 14:43|
Comment on this item
by Denis MacEoin
"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.
"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.
In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.
by Yaakov Lappin
Hamas's long-term ambitions are indistinguishable from those of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Hamas will now focus on its next goal -- trying to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and eventually toppling the Palestinian Authority from power there, just as it did in Gaza. If Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would certainly find such a goal easier to accomplish.
Nothing keeps the flames of jihad alight, and Hamas's popularity secure, like frequent wars.
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Timon Dias
"Arab leaders are a reflection of their people. Arab leaders don't come from Mars or the sun, they emerged from among the people and share the same beliefs... I challenge any Arab citizen who may become a ruler to do anything beyond what current Arab leaders are doing." — Anwar Malek, Algerian author.
If anyone was trying to commit "genocide" during the Gaza War, it was clearly Hamas.
What the protestors in the Netherlands also revealed is that a killed Palestinian is only worth demonstrating for when the blame can be pinned on Israel.
The normalization and common approval of slogans that actually call for the destruction of the entire Jewish State, Israel, contribute to an atmosphere of hatred, violence and anti-Semitism that now seems as acceptable as it is overt.
by Anne Bayefsky
Why couldn't the UN... sponsor a conference on combating global antisemitism?
In theory the UN Charter demands equality of... nations large and small. In reality the UN mass-produces inequality for Jews and the Jewish nation.
The UN has launched a "legal" pogrom against the Jewish state. A "legal" pogrom is a license to kill.
Modern antisemitism targets Israel's exercise of the right of self-defense because self-defense is the essence of sovereignty.