Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on his people to step up "popular resistance activities" to protest US President Donald Trump's ostensible "conspiracy." Abbas's non-stop incitement has resulted so far in the deaths of three young Palestinian men in the West Bank, who were killed by the Israel Defense Forces while attacking soldiers with firebombs. Pictured: Abbas denouncing Trump peace plan in Ramallah on January 28, 2020. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is on his way to the United Nations Security Council to speak against US President Donald Trump's plan for Middle East peace -- "Peace to Prosperity" -- after having incited his people, yet again, against Israel and the US.
Abbas's non-stop incitement has resulted so far in the deaths of three young Palestinian men in the West Bank -- Nidal Ahmed Nafleh, 19, Yazan Munther Abu Tabeekh, 19, and Mohammed Salman Haddad, 17 -- who were killed by the Israel Defense Forces while attacking soldiers with firebombs.
Why did the three men take to the streets to attack IDF soldiers? Because Abbas called on his people to step up "popular resistance activities" to protest the ostensible Trump "conspiracy."
Such incitement is seen by Palestinians in the West Bank as a green light to attack Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers with rocks, knives, car-rammings, explosive devices and firebombs.
Nafleh, Abu Tabeekh and Haddad most likely never even read the 180-page peace plan against which they were they were protesting. They undoubtedly went out to attack IDF soldiers because they were informed by their leaders, including Abbas, that Trump's plan is an "American-Zionist plot to liquidate the Palestinian cause." The plan, on the contrary, offers the Palestinians most of the land captured by Israel in 1967 that more than doubles their territory; a government with realized human rights and institutions of democracy, such as a free press, and $50 billion -- all as part of an extraordinary opportunity to build a flourishing Palestinian State.
As the journalist, Tom Gross, observed:
"Other stateless people can only dream of being offered independence and $50bn by the US president.... If only the Yazidis or Baluchis or Kurds or Rohingya Muslims were so lucky."
If the Palestinians keep insisting on "all or nothing," why should anyone be surprised that they keep ending up with nothing? They have never even submitted a counter-proposal. The co-author of "Peace to Prosperity," Jared Kushner, has invited the Palestinians to suggest alternatives. The response by Abbas's Fatah organization to the plan was to suggest that Trump knew where he could put it.
Abbas's incitement against the Trump plan and Israel began long before the "Peace to Prosperity" blueprint was announced in late January. For the past two years, Abbas has been strongly denouncing the plan as the "slap of the century" and a "dangerous conspiracy" designed to deprive Palestinians of their right to establish their own independent state.
After the current plan was announced, Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction and media outlets stepped up their incitement against the US and Israel, and vowed that the Palestinians will not allow the "deal of shame" to pass. Urging Palestinians to launch mass protests against the plan, PA officials declared a "day of rage" against the Trump plan and encouraged Palestinians to take to the streets and burn US and Israeli flags, as well as photos of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It is important to note that the three men who were killed while attacking Israeli soldiers were actually heeding Abbas's call for mass protests and increased "popular resistance." The men, however, evidently decided that it was not enough just to stand in the street with a sign rejecting the Trump plan.
They went a step further and decided that the opposition to the US peace plan should also include trying to kill Israeli soldiers with firebombs. Clearly, they understood Abbas's harsh criticism of the plan as a license to kill.
It is one thing to demonstrate against a plan you may not like, but why kill? How does killing a Jew stop the Trump plan?
It is Abbas who is responsible for the death of the three Palestinians: it is his daily incitement against Israel and the US that drives Palestinians to go out and try and kill the first Jew they meet. Abbas could have come up with an alternative plan or presented a different vision for peace or expressed reservations about portions of the Trump plan. Instead, he chose to unleash a new wave of vitriolic incitement against Israelis and Americans that has thus far claimed the lives of three of his own people.
Apparently, Abbas's wakaha (audacity) knows no bounds. Instead of working to calm the situation and urge his people to refrain from engaging in terrorism, he has, on the contrary, rushed to hold Israel responsible for the "dangerous escalation" in the West Bank, particularly the killing of the three Palestinians attackers, who presumably were supposed to be allowed to murder IDF soldiers with impunity.
Abbas and his senior officials, Nabil Abu Rudaineh and Saeb Erekat, have gone as far as even blaming the Trump plan for sparking his own latest upsurge in violence in the West Bank.
"Trump's Deal of the Century created escalation and tensions because it tries to impose false realities in the ground," Abu Rudaineh said in a statement. "The Palestinians will stand united against all conspiracies."
Erekat, for his part, claimed that the Trump administration's plan of "annexation, apartheid and legalization of occupation and settlements was responsible for deepening the cycle of violence and extremism." Erekat, of course, did not forget to hold Israel responsible as well.
Incredibly, Palestinian leaders seem to believe that no one understands that it is their own incitement that is instigating violence, not a peace plan yet to be implemented.
A glance at the Facebook page of Abbas's ruling Fatah faction shows how serious is the anti-Israel and anti-American incitement. In addition to glorifying Palestinian terrorists who carry out attacks against Jews, the page carries many posts, videos and photos encouraging Palestinians to step up their "resistance" against Israel. Even the cartoons published by Abbas's loyalists include messages that encourage Palestinians to throw Molotov cocktails at Israelis or that describe the Trump plan as an act stabbing Palestinians, rather than offering them an uncorrupt, prosperous future.
Abbas, who directly triggered the current wave of violence through his incitement, is hoping to arrive at the UN Security Council while the violent protests are continuing in the West Bank. His Fatah officials have even called for escalating the protests on the day Abbas delivers his speech before the Security Council. Abbas is seeking to leverage the violence to blame Israel and the Trump administration for its outbreak. He is seeking to deceive the 15 members of the Security Council and the rest of the world by hiding his own responsibility for the rejection, the violence and his consistent intransigence.
Palestinian leaders believe that by resorting to violence and incitement, they can get from Israel and the US what no peace plan or negotiations would give them. Some Palestinians want 100 percent of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, while others are demanding all the land from the Jordan River to Mediterranean Sea -- meaning all of Israel. To achieve their goal, these leaders are prepared to send their young men to die whenever Israelis decline to allow themselves to be murdered.
Abbas has no peace plan. That is probably why he is now hoping that the violence he incited will force Israel and the US to surrender even greater concessions to the Palestinians.
While Abbas is encouraging Palestinians to engage in violence in the West Bank as his response to the Trump plan, Hamas is responding with its own counter-offer by launching dozens of explosive-laden balloons, mortars and rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Abbas and Hamas seem to agree that the best way to respond to any peace proposal is by increasing terrorist attacks against its neighbor.
It now remains to be seen whether the Security Council and the international community will demand an end to continued Palestinian terrorism and rejection. Failure to do so will only allow Abbas and Hamas to proceed with their long-standing scheme of inciting their people to pursue terrorism every time they are offered a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Finally, a word of advice for the families of Nafleh, Abu Tabeekh and Haddad: hold Abbas, not Israel, responsible for the death of your sons. If they had not attacked soldiers with firebombs, the three young men would be alive today. The blood of these men is on the hands of Abbas and his officials, who are continuing to wage a massive campaign of incitement against the US and Israel for no reason but the publication of a plan that offers the Palestinian people hope for a better future.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.