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October 7, 2016 6:12 am

Obama’s Appalling Silence on Outrageous Palestinian Authority Policies

avatar by Morton A. Klein and Daniel Mandel

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama, on March 17, 2014. Photo: Screenshot.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with US President Barack Obama, on March 17, 2014. Photo: Screenshot.

Last month, the Obama administration took issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s policy of establishing a Jew-free state.

Mr. Netanyahu had said in a video, “The Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: No Jews. There’s a phrase for that: It’s called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is outrageous. It’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find this outrageous.”

To that piece of commentary, the Obama administration responded not by agreeing that the PA’s policy of creating a Jew-free state would indeed amount to outrageous ethnic cleansing, but by ignoring it and instead pretending that Mr. Netanyahu had spoken about building homes for Jews in Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria (the West Bank).

The State Department’s Elizabeth Trudeau stated, “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank.”

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But Mahmoud Abbas can scarcely be said to agree with that denial: In 2010, he said, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”

He said much the same again in 2013: “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.”

Other senior Palestinian figures have made similar pronouncements to Arab audiences (PA utterances to Western audiences are often rather different). For example, the widely touted “moderate,” Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, said in Arabic on Al Jazeera TV, “No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live or to demand to live in Hebron, in east Jerusalem or anywhere in the Palestinian state.”

The Obama administration has said nothing, let alone something condemnatory, of these Palestinian statements – but immediately criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s condemnation of them. Similarly, illegal Arab construction has never been the subject of rebuke from this administration.

This is odd. A PA policy affirming that no Jews may live in a future Palestinian state is admirably explicit.

It’s not about “settlements.” It’s about Jews living within a Palestinian state. And since the PA officially demands the entirety of the West Bank, or very close to that, this PA policy means the removal of Jews from virtually the whole of the territory. That’s ethnic cleansing, not the related but distinct issue of “opposing settlement activity.”

That being the case, why did the Obama administration refuse to condemn the PA policy of uprooting Jews from the West Bank, if, in fact, US policy has nothing to do with ethnic cleansing?

Why the indulgence of the Palestinian Arabs in asserting this policy? Because the Obama administration, while not explicitly supporting the Palestinian policy of ending the Jewish presence in the West Bank, subscribes to the widespread international orthodoxy that a Palestinian state cannot be formed unless Jews are removed from the West Bank.

But, of course, if there were to be a genuine peace agreement, there should be no reason why Jews couldn’t live in a hypothetical Palestinian state, just as 1.6 million Arabs live as citizens in Israel.

Still less so, when Jews in the West Bank live on less than 2% of the territory, and a majority of those would in any case be incorporated into Israel under any conceivable agreement. They also constitute but a fraction of the population and therefore in no way threaten the Palestinian-Arab preponderance there.

In practice, however, everyone knows, though few say publicly, that the safety of Jews could scarcely be guaranteed in an actual, as opposed to a theoretically peaceful, Palestinian state. The constant drumfire of incitement to hatred and murder of Jews that has permeated the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps ever since the PA was established in 1994 is eloquent and depressing testimony to this fact – as is the perpetual silence of Western leaders on this score.

To admit these realities would be to rain on the peace parade, so they are brushed aside. This shouldn’t surprise: creating a Palestinian state has long replaced creating peace as an international preoccupation.

In short, in their anxiety to ignore grim, underlying realities and in their impatience to produce a settlement and appease wider Arab opinion, Western countries, including the US under President Obama, press for a Palestinian state on Palestinian terms. As this episode shows, they do not appreciate being reminded of the ugly ramifications they would rather not name.

Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Dr. Daniel Mandel is director of the ZOA’ s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt and the Establishment of Israel (Routledge, London, 2004). This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Paul

    This story reflects the irony of our situation, and the double-think the Jewish Hawkish right-wing indulges in to justify our position..
    The fact is, the Palestinian Authority indeed supports behaviour that is totally abhorrent to western Culture. Not only wanting a future Palestinian state to be judenrein, but also the totally unacceptable social attitudes toward womwne, toward christians, towards their own fellow arabs, towards corrupt leadership and – you name it.
    But nobody really cares about that, because these are just primitive Arabs. On the other hand, Israel professes to be a part of the western Culture, and is regarded accordingly. Unfortunately the Israeli Government’s settlement is totally opposed to the accepted moral ideas of Western Culture. Nobody, but Nobody in the Western world (except a handful of right-wing messianic nationalists) accepts the morality of Israel’s Civilian settlement in the West Bank. And so long as Israel, supposedly a Western country adhering to Western standards, insists on what is nothing but modern-day colonialism, the world is simply not going to support Israel DESPITE so many legitimate claims about qwrong-doing by the PA. The PA does not pretend to be part of the west, and Israel does. So Israel is held to Western standards of behaviour.
    The genuinely problematic issue of the PA insistence of keeping the future Palestinian state free of Jews would be severely criticised if it were not shielding the actual aim of getting a future Palestinian state to allow the continued residence of the Jewish settlers who are being forced down the Palestinians throat by force of arms. The settlers who burn thousand-years-old olive trees want to be left to live on the ground they have taken at gun-point.

    • Bert

      The only Jewish “settlers” are people like Paul who are occupiers of stolen Indian land and who refuse to admit it. Paul is totally ignorant of history. Over 3,000 years ago a Jewish state existed in the land of Israel under King David. But only 1,400 years ago the Muslims invaded the entire Middle East in their gigantic imperialistic land grab. The Muslims stole ten million square miles and over 50 countries. America stole almost four million square miles. Paul, let us know when you are going to end your own “occupation” of stolen Indian land?

  • graylens

    From day one it was clear that Obama was/is anti Israel just read his Cairo address or remember that one of his first acts was to reestablish diplomativ relations with that westernized peace seeker Bashir Assad. Or before the election look at his advisors, Powers, Malley, Freeman, Carter,Rice, to name a few. Similarly look at Hillary with Sidney and Max Blumenthal as starters Notice how the Jewish son in law is invisible

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