Why the Palestinian Authority Leadership Does Not — and Will Not — Emulate Egypt’s Anwar Sadat
This weekend marked the 39th anniversary of slain Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem — a move spurred by the late Arab leader’s decision to switch from the Soviet axis to that of the United States.
Instead of facilitating this monumental Mideast shift, US President Jimmy Carter — the Democrat whose mixture of leftism and incompetence led to the election of Republican contender Ronald Reagan — did his best to botch it up.
Because he was delusional about the nature of global politics and the concept of peace, Carter attempted to prevent Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin from working out the delicate process by themselves, and pushed for the involvement of the Soviet Union, his country’s sworn enemy, in the negotiations.
This made it necessary for Sadat and Begin to go behind the back of the very person who should have been championing their effort to block Moscow.
This is why the iconic photo of Sadat, Begin and Carter shaking hands on the White House lawn at the completion of the treaty — which would result in Sadat’s assassination — is nausea-inducing. If anyone should have been left out of that picture, it was Carter. And in fact, within less than a year, his single term in office would be terminated by the American public for his outlandish efforts at weakening the country’s international standing. Even his wide grin could not camouflage the fact that US diplomats had been taken hostage in Tehran by the Islamic revolutionaries who ousted the Shah of Iran, while Carter sat back and did nothing.
Another famous, and far more disturbing, snapshot outside the White House was taken 14 years later. It shows US President Bill Clinton shaking the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat. They are beaming over the Oslo Accords, the signing of which catapulted the arch-terrorist into ill-deserved legitimacy, earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, to boot, and ultimately resulted in Rabin’s assassination.
By this point, the Soviet Union had collapsed — thanks to Reagan — leaving the US the world’s sole superpower. Therefore, there was no realpolitik impetus for the so-called “peace treaty” in question — other than the misguided fantasies of Israel and America about appeasing Arafat into relinquishing his aim to annihilate the Jewish state.
This goal was yet again made crystal clear in 2000, when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak tried to seal the deal at Camp David, by offering Arafat every possible concession other than the mass drowning of the Jews in the Mediterranean Sea. Arafat’s response was to wage a suicide-bombing war of attrition against innocent Israelis on buses and at cafes. And it worked.
Though Barak suffered a humiliating electoral defeat by Ariel Sharon — precisely due to his mishandling of a major terrorist threat by imagining that Arafat had changed his colors — it was Sharon who would confront the daily carnage by yanking every last Jew out of Gaza. Within less than two years, Hamas would take over the enclave and transform it into an Islamist missile base.
Meanwhile, throughout the decades — in spite of rampant antisemitism in the Egyptian press and on the street — the treaty with Cairo remained intact. The peace has not been a warm one, but the Arab nation ceased going to war against Israel. And under its current president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, there has been more progress on that score than during the past four decades put together.
But the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of Arafat’s successor, President Mahmoud Abbas, continues to incite against Israel and encourage terrorism, while continually announcing to the world that Israeli settlements are the key obstacle to peace.
In his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the difference between Egypt and the Palestinians in this regard. Abbas, he said, refuses direct negotiations without preconditions. What Netanyahu did not say is that destroying the Jewish state isn’t the only reason for Abbas’ behavior.
More crucial to him personally is remaining relevant — and staying at the helm long enough to ensure that his sons are not killed by his successors. The only way to do this is by vilifying Israel, a practice he knows he can rely on, given the resurgence in the West of antisemitism.
A perfect microcosm of this travesty unfolded in South America on Sunday. The wife of Israeli Ambassador to Chile Eldad Hayet was not invited to a charity fair at which the spouses of all foreign envoys to the country gather every year.
The organizers of the event explained that Michal Hayet could not attend because the venue selected for the event was the Club Palestino — Palestinian Club — in Santiago. Her participation, apparently, would offend those members of the upscale social and sports club who were going to be there.
Other ambassadors, among them from the US, the EU and Germany, decided to stay home in protest. But the fact that the incident occurred at all shows the power of the Palestinian lobby, in cahoots with a Western government, in shunning the Jewish state.
As this was going on, reports emerged in the Arab media that the French-initiated international conference to reawaken the comatose “peace” process between Israel and the Palestinians will not take place, after all. Not that it matters one way or the other. Israel said it would not be attending, and nothing could possibly come of it.
As was the case with Sadat in 1977, the only viable impetus for reaching an absence-of-war treaty in an ongoing conflict is self-interest on the world stage. From Abbas’ perspective, reaching an agreement with Israel constitutes the exact opposite.
The only thing that the international community — particularly the United States — can do is stop making it worthwhile for any Palestinian leader to ally himself with what George W. Bush termed the “axis of evil.” Period. Let us hope that President-elect Donald Trump emerges as that figure.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.