Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas now wants us to believe that the Palestinian "youths," who are sent out to murder Jewish soldiers and civilians, are acting out of "despair." He wants us to believe that these "youths" decided to murder Jews because their dream of a two-state solution has not been realized. Abbas is also trying to convince us that these "youths" are upset about Israeli checkpoints, construction in settlements, and visits by Jews to the Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount).
These latest statements by President Abbas show that he is either completely disconnected from reality, or else thinks that everyone will believe whatever he tells them. His claim -- that the Palestinian assailants who carry out stabbing and car ramming attacks against Israelis, are frustrated because the two-state solution has not yet been realized -- is, frankly, an insult. We still have never encountered one case -- ever -- where a terrorist complained about the absence of a two-state solution. Also, contrary to Abbas's claim, none of the terrorists has ever complained about settlements or checkpoints. In fact, these "youths" that Abbas is talking about are mostly affiliated with Hamas, and do not believe in any two-state solution. Like Hamas, these terrorists want to see Israel wiped off the map.
Abbas's "youths," who, since the beginning of October, have murdered 22 Israelis and wounded dozens of others, set out on their missions because their leaders have been telling them that the Jews are planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. These "youths" are driven by hatred, not by 'despair," as Abbas has been claiming. His allegation that the "youths" are "lone wolves" acting on their own initiative is also not true. What is true is that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have publicly admitted that some of the terrorists were members of these two Islamist groups.
Take, for example, the most recent case, of 21-year-old Abdel Muhsen Hassouneh, the east Jerusalem terrorist who rammed his car into a group of Israelis at a bus stop earlier this week. He wounded 14 people, including an 18-month-old infant who remains in hospital in critical condition. Shortly after the attack, Hamas announced that this terrorist was one of its group.
Similarly, Islamic Jihad also endorsed some of the terrorists who carried out the recent attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank -- again exploding the claim that the "youths" were acting on their own. On October 3, Islamic Jihad took credit for a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City, in which two Israeli men were killed. The group announced that the terrorist, Muhannad al-Halabi, was an active member of Islamic Jihad.
A review of the Facebook accounts of most of the terrorists shows that their main intent was to murder as many Jews as possible in order to become "martyrs." Their goal was to impose a reign of terror and intimidation on Jews to force them to leave Israel.
Abbas is well aware that the "youths" are not complaining about the "occupation" of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. The "occupation" these " youths" have a problem with is the one that began with the creation of Israel in 1948. As recently as last month, official Palestinian Authority TV was stating this, adding that Israel would cease to exist: "The occupation must know... [Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, Nazareth] - all of this land belongs to us... and will return to us."
Jewish visits to the Noble Sanctuary, or Temple Mount, are merely an excuse being used to proceed with the plan to eliminate Israel. The Al-Aqsa Mosque has not been destroyed or desecrated by Jews. The terrorists nevertheless continue to launch attacks against Israelis under the pretext that Jews are seeking to destroy Islamic holy sites.
The person who bears much of the responsibility for these attacks is Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. His ongoing lies and inflammatory, anti-Israeli rhetoric have contributed significantly to the poisoning of the hearts and minds of many of these "youths." It was Abbas who told his people, a few days before the current wave of terrorism erupted, that he would not allow Jews to "contaminate with their filthy feet our holy sites." It was also Abbas who announced that, "Every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood."
The Palestinians, unfortunately, have already seen this movie. In September 2000, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority lied to their people about Ariel Sharon's visit to the Noble Sanctuary. Then, Arafat and the PA told Palestinians that Sharon and the Jews were planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. As a result of this incitement, Palestinians took to the streets and we found ourselves in the midst of something called the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which lasted from 2000 until 2005, and consisted of a wave of suicide bombings and various terror attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians. This intifada was supposedly meant to prevent the Jews from "destroying" the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Palestinians knew -- they saw -- that Sharon and the Jews had not destroyed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, yet that did not prevent them from waging a massive campaign of terrorism against Israel. The Al-Aqsa Mosque stands, as always, unharmed in its place.
Today, history seems to be repeating itself, as a new generation of Palestinians has once again been deceived into believing that the Jews are plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Palestinian youths were not driven by "despair," and they are not driven by "despair" now. They are driven by hatred and bigotry towards Israel and Jews. The generation of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, like the " youths" of today, believed that suicide bombings and drive-by shootings would ultimately lead to the destruction of Israel.
We are now witnessing the same scenario. Although the Al-Aqsa Mosque has neither been desecrated nor destroyed, the stabbings and car attacks continue almost on a daily basis. Would you like to know why? Because there is a new generation of Palestinians who believes that this from of terrorism will bring them closer to achieving their goal of destroying Israel.
President Abbas knows that he is lying when he talks about the "despair" of Palestinians because of checkpoints and settlements. The terrorists from east Jerusalem held Israeli-issued ID cards which gave them the right to travel around freely and work in Israel.
The only difference between these terrorists and an Israeli citizen is that they cannot vote for members of parliament. One of the east Jerusalem terrorists, Abu Jamal, was even working for the Israeli phone company, Bezeq, and was receiving a monthly salary of nearly USD $4500. He and the other terrorists were certainly not driven by "despair."
Some of the terrorists who came from the West Bank had Israeli-issued permits to work inside Israel. The permits did not stop these terrorists from setting out to murder Jews. Take, for example, the case of Raed Masalmeh, 36, who murdered two Israelis in Tel Aviv last month. He had a work permit and was employed at a restaurant in Jaffa. He was neither unemployed nor restricted in his freedom of movement. He is the last person who can be described as "desperate."
The current wave of terrorism against Israelis is not linked to settlements, checkpoints or a two-state solution. Nor, as Abbas falsely claims, does it have to do with the Al-Aqsa Mosque or a feeling of "despair" and "frustration." The terrorists have one thing in mind -- destroying Israel and killing as many Jews as they can.
What we are witnessing these days is an attempt by a new generation of brainwashed Palestinians to eliminate Israel. These "youths" want to replace Israel with an Islamist empire. We have not heard even one of them complain about a checkpoint or settlement, or that he or she is seeking a Palestinian state next to Israel. This latest wave of terrorism is not about "despair." It is not about unemployment, poor living conditions or freedom of movement. Instead, it is another attempt by Palestinian "youths" to eliminate Israel, by again using the false excuse that Jew are "desecrating" and "destroying" Islamic holy sites. This is something that President Abbas knows very well, but does not have the courage to admit. He prefers to continue lying not only to the international community, but even to his own public.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.