Only a few hours before the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas appeared at a joint press conference in Ramallah together with the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades.
The press conference was held shortly after a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israelis near the West Bank city of Hebron: Rabbi Yaakov Litman, 40, and his son, Netanel, 18. Five other family members -- Litman's wife, three daughters aged 5, 9, 11, and a 16-year-old son -- suffered minor wounds. The Jewish family was driving to a pre-celebration of a fourth daughter's wedding when the Palestinian terrorist opened fire at their vehicle.
At the press conference in Ramallah, however, President Abbas again chose to ignore the terrorist attack that was carried out by a Palestinian. Although Abbas knew that a Jewish man and his son had just been murdered, he refused to condemn the attack.
Since the current wave of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis began in early October, Abbas and the PA leadership have refused to condemn the murder of Israeli civilians and soldiers. Instead, President Abbas has repeatedly condemned Israel for killing the terrorists who carried out the attacks.
As President Abbas was speaking at the press conference in Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians attended a rally in the city to commemorate Muhannad Halabi, the Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3: Aharon Banita, 21, and Nehemia Lavi, 41.
The rally in Ramallah could not have been held without permission from President Abbas's security forces, who are armed and funded by the U.S., Europe and other Western countries. At the rally, Palestinians praised the terrorist as a "hero" and "martyr" and promised to follow in his path.
In yet another gesture to honor the terrorist, the Palestinian Authority decided to name a street after him in his village of Surda-Abu Kash, near Ramallah. By authorizing the move to name a street after the terrorist, President Abbas and the PA leadership are sending a message to other Palestinians that those who murder Jews will be honored and glorified by their people. The Palestinian Authority has also set up a monument for the "martyr" Halabi on the main road between Ramallah and the town of Bir Zeit.
Less than three hours after Abbas appeared at the press conference in Ramallah with his Cypriot guest, he and his spokesmen issued statements condemning the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Abbas's condemnation of the Paris attacks shows that the Palestinian Authority believes that there are good and bad terrorists. In the eyes of Abbas and the PA, the terrorists are "heroes" and "martyrs" when they murder Jews. But the terrorists who murder French nationals are bad and deserve to be strongly condemned.
This is the same Palestinian Authority that has refused over the past five weeks to denounce the terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, including an 80-year-old woman, a father and his son, and a couple who were murdered in front of their four children.
This position again exposes the hypocrisy and double talk of President Abbas and his Western-funded Palestinian Authority. By refusing to condemn the anti-Israeli terrorist attacks, President Abbas is giving his tacit approval for the murder of Jews. In fact, he is doing his utmost to support the terrorists and their families.
Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority announced that it would rebuild the homes of Hamas terrorists who murdered Eitam Henkin and his wife, Naama, in front of their children last month. The Israel Defense Forces demolished the homes as part of a policy to deter potential terrorists. The decision to rebuild the destroyed houses will only encourage terrorists to carry out more attacks against Jews because they know that President Abbas will take care of their families and even build them new homes.
Abbas's Fatah faction, which has been praising and endorsing as heroes the Palestinian terrorists involved in attacks on Jews during the past weeks, is now trying to tell the French people that it is opposed to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Once again, Abbas's Western-funded loyalists are hoping to convince the world that there are good and bad terrorists. The good terrorists are those who murder Jews, while the bad terrorists are those who target French citizens.
The funniest episode in this show of Palestinian hypocrisy, however, can be found in the responses of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The two Islamist groups, whose ideology and aspirations are not particularly different from those of the Islamic State, were quick to publish statements "condemning" the terrorist attacks in Paris, claiming they are opposed to the killing of "innocent civilians."
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have long been involved in the business of targeting Israeli civilians. The two groups are responsible for the murders of hundreds of civilians during the past three decades. They have used all forms of terrorism against civilians, including the launching of rockets, shooting attacks and suicide bombings. Still, the two Palestinian groups have had the cheek to "condemn" the brutal killings of civilians in Paris.
Less than 24 hours before condemning the Paris attacks, Hamas and Islamic Jihad issued separate statements applauding the "heroic" shooting attacks that killed the Jewish father and his son near Hebron. Like President Abbas, the two terror groups draw a distinction between "good" terrorists who murder Jews and "bad" ones who target French civilians.
The story of Palestinian hypocrisy and double standards is not new. In fact, it is as old as the 67-year-old Israeli-Arab conflict. Unfortunately, countries such as France avoid confronting Palestinian leaders about their lies and hypocritical policies.
The French and other Westerners need to wake up to the reality that the Palestinians who are condemning the terror attacks in Paris are the same ones who are praising terrorists who murder Jews and naming streets and squares after them.
The French government should have the courage to dismiss the Palestinian "condemnations" publicly, and send a warning to President Abbas, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stop supporting and glorifying Muslim terrorists not only in Paris, but also those who live amongst them in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip.
Spot the difference...
For the war on terrorism to succeed, France and the rest of the Western countries also need to fight those who are harboring terrorists, glorifying murderers, and to stop financing the practitioners of terrorism who now regard it as a big, cherished business.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.