One wonders if or when the U.S. administration and the Europeans might ever be serious about promoting real peace and prosperity in the disputed Palestinian territories. Sadly, the White House, in pinning all its hopes on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, has just been trying to hook its cart to someone not only with a shelf-life that officially expired years ago, but who is also too corrupt to be of any help to his people.
In backing Abbas, whose four-year term in office ended in 2009, both the White House and Europe have tragically undermined a productive future for the Palestinian people -- in the same way that strengthening the Castros' dictatorship in Cuba has dealt a death blow to a productive future for the people of Cuba. As with Iran, these are rulers that do not need to be need strengthened, they need to be removed.
Instead, at a White House meeting with Abbas in March 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama commended him as "somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security -- a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors."
That would have been superb if any of it were true. Obama seems to have acquired the bad habit of either hoping that if he says something, his mere voice magically makes it true ("You can keep your doctor;" "Al-Qaeda is on the run," and the Iran deal will "prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon"), or, bluntly, of lying: saying something that is not true all the while knowing that it is not true.
In an interaction with Israel's President, Reuven Rivlin, ahead of the White House Hanukkah party recently, Obama said there was "the need for leaders like President Abbas to unequivocally condemn violence which has been taking place, the need to end incitement, also the need for Israelis and Palestinians to find mechanisms in which to dialogue and arrive at peace." Now that was true: there is the need. There is just no one on the Palestinian side to do it.
The current crop of Palestinian leaders appears to think that cozying up to racist, Jew-hating European elites, and to unelected, untransparent and unaccountable organizations such as the UN and the EU, might, in contravention of piles of international agreements, hand the Palestinians statehood, free of diplomatic cost, free of obligations, and free of any responsibility to treat either its people or its neighbors in a civilized way.
Abbas, like his former boss, Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, has never been a man of peace. Even now, he continues calling for Jewish blood.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking on PA television, September 16, 2015.
Israel, however, ever since its creation in 1948, has offered peace deal after peace deal – never to receive even so much as a single counter-offer -- apart from war. Israel has, since its creation, been a tireless advocate for peace with Palestinians. All Israel asked in return were defensible borders, as agreed to by all parties in UN Security Council Resolution 242; no "right of return," so that Israel will not become the twenty-second Arab state (and a radicalized one, at that), and an agreement to the end of conflict to prevent war from being reignited every few weeks, as sometimes appears to have become a Palestinian habit. Israel also insists, as it must, on an undivided Jerusalem -- both to ensure freedom for all faiths, and -- as it learned the hard way -- that Jerusalem will not become another Palmyra of devastation or the headquarters of an Islamist State. Israelis no doubt remember all too well that when east Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan, before 1967, its Arab inhabitants took 38,000 ancient headstones from the Jews' sacred Mount of Olives cemetery to use as flooring for their latrines.
In keeping with the policy of his predecessors, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said in the UN General Assembly this year: "I am prepared to immediately resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever."
In addition, it is only thanks to round-the-clock protection from Israel's security forces that the Abbas is literally able to exist. Hamas, as he is well aware, would have killed him long ago.
While Netanyahu had always worked with the existing security, economic and civil cooperation of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian leadership, regrettably, seems never to have tried to bring its people either peace or development. In August 2005, Israel forcibly removed more than 8,500 Jewish residents from the Gaza Strip -- with no conditions for the Palestinians – to let the Palestinians make this exquisite section of seaside land into another Côte d'Azure or Singapore. The Israelis even left their greenhouses there to give the Palestinians an economic head start. Within hours, every last greenhouse was looted or destroyed.
Then the Gazans, in free and fair elections, voted in Hamas -- which the U.S. designated a terrorist group -- to run their government. In just a few weeks, Hamas was throwing Palestinian Authority officials off the highest floors of Gaza's buildings and expelling whoever had not yet fled. Abbas, to this day, cannot visit his own house in the Gaza Strip.
As a notable postscript, reliable accounts indicate that if the Palestinians on the West Bank were to hold free and fair elections to replace Abbas tomorrow, they, too, would elect Hamas.
In addition, in conformity with the Jew-hating members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, (OIC), the Palestinian leadership indulges in daily incitement promoting violence to eliminate Israel. This scenario has not changed since Arafat and the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, concluded the Oslo accords in 1993; it may even have intensified.
Notwithstanding its occasional diplomatic postures, the Palestinian leadership has proceeded with its practice of hatred and violence against Israelis and Jews. Successive Palestinian leaderships have ideologically followed the policies of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and friend of Adolf Hitler, who "created the permanent problem of Palestinian violence."
The Palestinian leadership keeps insisting -- possibly in the belief that history can be shaped to whatever is said the loudest (especially if accompanied by a sword) -- that there is no historical connection between the Jews and the land of Israel/Palestine. They market this misrepresentation even in the teeth of massive historical and archaeological evidence which proves the opposite. This year, they defrauded an all-too-willing UNESCO into renaming the clearly Jewish sites -- Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs -- Muslim sites. Obviously there never were any Muslim "patriarchs," let alone a Muslim woman named Rachel. So this treacherous act was a cultural theft in broad daylight, and committed with the full complicity of that club of dictators and anti-Semitic racists, which should, in a decent word, be closed down.
Never mind that for nearly four millennia there has been a land that is named Judea. Never mind that the Temple Mount is sacred not only to Muslims, but also to Jews, as the site of their two ancient Jewish Temples, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE. Palestinian leaders insist that Muslims alone have a right to be there. (Jews are already not allowed to pray there: it might be advisable to take that as a warning.) Jews can be no more than dhimmi, a tolerated but subordinate religious minority, under the paid protection of Muslims -- never a sovereign people equal to a Muslim Palestinian state, or its Jews to Muslim nationals.
The Palestinian Authority, in conformity to Muslim anti-Semitism, still refers to Jews as "apes and pigs" intent upon destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, despite all evidence to the contrary. PLO Executive Committee member Mahmoud Ismail has declared that the presence of "settlers"(meaning "Jews" -- in the view of many Palestinians, all of Israel is one big "settlement" and all Jews are "settlers") is "illegal," and every measure taken against them is "legitimate and legal," and a "national duty."
The Palestinian Authority has done much to start, and nothing to stop, the recent violence against Jews that the ISIS-inspired Palestinian youths have been indulging in throughout Israel. And members of Abbas's Fatah party have openly been "part of the incitement campaign."
Fatah has also been distributing leaflets honoring terrorists; photographs include pictures of Abbas as well as Arafat. Rockets have been fired at Israel by Fatah's military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Abbas himself has deliberately fueled the flames of terror against Jews.
He has recently been trying falsely to claim -- again in an echo of the Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini -- that the al-Aqsa Mosque was threatened by the Jews.
Far from condemning calls by Hamas for a "Day of Rage, Abbas chose to refer to it as a "popular uprising." Abbas also regularly lionizes terrorists and continues to hand them awards.
In 2013, he posthumously celebrated Abu Jihad, head of the PLO's military wing, accused of planning attacks that killed 125 Israelis. Abbas described Abu Jihad as "the model of a true fighter and devoted leader." In 2010, Abbas gave a military funeral to one of the key planners of the PLO's terrorist attack that murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. And so on.
Sometimes, Abbas harps on Israel's settlement policy as the sole reason for the absence of peace in the region. But before 1967 there were no settlements -- and still no peace. What, then, was the Palestine Liberation Organization "liberating"? If you look at any current map of "Palestine" from the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, it blankets every inch of Israel -- "from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea," as the Palestinians openly admit. Both the Hamas Charter and the PLO Charter (which has never, contrary to rumor, been amended) call for the destruction of all of the State of Israel.
The reality is that Abbas, like Arafat, seems never to have been serious about honoring his agreements -- probably now more than ever, when the whole world can see that Iran is being generously rewarded for repeatedly violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
One could easily discern Abbas's real designs in what he said at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last year: "For how long will this protracted Israeli occupation of our land last? After 67 years, how long?" He is saying that for him, the "occupation" has existed since the day of Israel's creation – not since 1967. For Abbas, the timeline starts in 1948, when Israel was founded, not after the 1967 Six Day War, which led to Israel assuming control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Abbas is not what some political leaders may wish him to be: "among the last of Arafat's generation of leaders who led the Palestinians from brutal terrorism to recognition of the state of Israel".
Palestinians have long been in a bad way, denied of all fruits of development in modern times. Despite that, the rulers of both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the extreme Islamist Hamas, ruling the Gaza Strip since 2006, are too preoccupied with their own comforts and luxuries to think of the masses. Abbas is estimated to be worth $100 million. In 1997, a Palestinian administrative report found "$326 million of the Palestinian autonomy government's $800 million annual budget had been squandered through corruption or mismanagement." Abbas and his cronies have squandered the money of Arab refugees.
In the Gaza Strip, the situation is even worse. Hamas has planned to pay salaries to their tens of thousands of employees by distributing among them 1000 dunams (247 acres) of land -- part of which once housed the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.
The land was supposed to provide a solution to the severe housing crisis in the Palestinian-controlled area. Hamas seized total control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, and has transformed it into a base for various Islamist groups to launch terror attacks against Israel and Egypt.
At the same time, the Jewish state is flourishing in almost all fields of life, including advanced science and technology, medicine and renewable energy sources. It is hard not to think how beneficial it would be for the Palestinians if they had a leader who actually cared about them, one who could even co-exist with the Jewish state and take advantage of its advances.
Jagdish N. Singh is a senior Indian journalist based in New Delhi.