Much of the world appears to believe that Israeli/Palestinian peace is there for the making. As a consequence, many believe that Israel should negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA). Indeed, the November 29 United Nations General Assembly resolution supporting ‘Palestine’ as a non-member state was largely the result of numerous governments believing, or claiming to believe, that moderate Palestinian leaders (Fatah) needed support against the radicals (Hamas in Gaza) which had just launched a rocket barrage upon Israel.
Finland, for example, asserted that it voted in favor of the resolution to support the “moderate forces” that were committed to the peace process. (Never mind that the ‘moderates’ of the Fatah/PA have declined to negotiate for years, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton observed last week). Switzerland, to take a second example, supported the resolution to help “unblock the current stalemate.” Well, the ‘moderates’ have been supported; the stalemate is ‘unblocked’ – and Fatah is seeking unity with the destroy-Israel-at all-costs Hamas.
In recent days, Khaled Meshaal, senior leader of Hamas, which calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the global murder of Jews, delivered a speech in Gaza. What did Meshaal say and how did Abbas’ Fatah/PA respond?
“Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea … is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it. Palestine … belongs to the Arab and the Islamic world …. and to nobody else … Israel is illegitimate, and will remain so … The liberation of Palestine – all of Palestine – is a duty, a right, a goal, and a purpose … Jihad and armed resistance are the proper and true path to liberation and to the restoration of our rights, along with all other forms of struggle … All these forms of struggle, however, are worthless without resistance … How wonderful was your shelling of Tel Aviv … There is no alternative to a free Palestinian state with real sovereignty on the entire land of Palestine.”
Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad welcomed Meshaal’s speech as “very positive” and urged implementation of a unity government deal drafted by Fatah and Hamas last year. In other words, Abbas’ Fatah wants to unite with the Hamas movement whose head just reiterated publicly that, whatever else happens, Israel must be destroyed.
It is unlikely that this is response from Fatah/PA that the bulk of states voting in the United Nations last week thought they were encouraging. But that this is the Fatah/PA trajectory could only surprise someone who pays no attention to what the Fatah/PA actually says and does.
It was the PA’s former top negotiator and ‘foreign minister’ Nabil Shaath who, only days after the Gaza ceasefire, addressed a Hamas ‘victory’ rally in Gaza, offering his “congratulations to the martyrs, and Allah’s mercy upon the hero Ahmad Ja’bari” – the slain Hamas terrorist chieftain soaked in the blood of murdered Israelis. Shaath, long regarded as a moderate among moderates, added, “The battle that you are waging has been going on for a hundred years … It is defending Jerusalem and Palestine in its entirety, by all means of resistance [i.e. terrorism].” Shaath also called for Fatah/Hamas unity on his return to Ramallah.
Indeed, Fatah/PA continues to glorify and honor Jew-killing terrorists. Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah/PA figure, has stated openly that Fatah, the party co-founded by arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and Abbas and which controls the PA, has not renounced terrorism. Senior PA officials Nimr Hammad and Nabil Abu Rudaineh reiterated only weeks ago that there has been no change in the PA’s support for the legally baseless so-called ‘right of return,’ by which Palestinian refugees of the 1948-49 war and their millions of descendants would be resettled in Israel itself, rather than within any future Palestinian state or abroad, thus ending Israel as a Jewish state. And two days after the UN vote, PA radio broadcast a song extolling suicide bombing.
This is the popular culture of the Palestinian society – before statehood. To believe that Palestinians are ready to embrace peace – or will do so more readily now that the UN is pretending it is a state – is akin to believing that a man who abuses his fiancee will mellow after they tie the knot.
The Roman statesman Cato the Elder is remembered by history for concluding his speeches with the words, “Carthage must be destroyed.” Today, the refrain from Hamas is that “Israel must be destroyed” – and Fatah wants to unite with them. The international response? Negotiations with Fatah/PA. Where the facts are so radically at variance with received wisdom, change comes hard and slow. But until Israel drops the politically correct pretense that the Abbas regime is a peace-maker, it is difficult to imagine this changing.
Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America.