Mahmoud Abbas Does Not Oppose Terrorism
With his astonishing declaration last week that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opposes terrorism, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert managed to rise from the political graveyard and reinsert himself into the public conversation, if only for a few moments. What he said was a bald-faced lie, of course, but it achieved its objective: headlines for Olmert and a badly-needed bit of public relations assistance for Abbas.
Olmert might not be remembered quite so harshly by future generations of Israelis if he had taken a lesson from David Ben-Gurion and retired in a quiet, dignified manner. After a tumultuous and impactful career, Israel’s first prime minister retired from politics in 1970 and spent his final years living in near-solitude on a kibbutz in the Negev.
Olmert’s political life was also tumultuous, but not for the right reasons. During his brief three-year stint as Israel’s prime minister, he fought two wars which ended with Israel’s enemies still standing (against Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in 2008). Then Olmert was convicted of taking bribes and served 16 months in prison. Upon his release, having turned 71 and with his political career in ashes, you would think he would have left public life. But some people just can’t resist the spotlight.
So there he was in Manhattan last week, trying desperately to rescue the Palestinian Authority chairman from his latest self-inflicted wounds.
Offered a Palestinian state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem in exchange for laying down his arms, Abbas of course said no — just as he said no, in previous years, to similar offers from Olmert himself, from Barack Obama, and probably from a few others along the way.
To keep the international community from recognizing Abbas as the rejectionist and the obstacle to peace, Olmert rushed to New York to proclaim that Abbas is opposed to terrorism.
Yet at the very moment Olmert was making his travel arrangements, Abbas was proving, for the millionth time, that he is not opposed to terrorism at all.
It happened in Jenin, one of the largest cities in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew Israel’s troops from those cities in 1995. So for the past 25 years, the people of Jenin have been governed by Abbas’ PA. The PA police and security forces are in charge of law and order there.
On Thursday, February 6, Israeli troops briefly entered Jenin in order to carry out the demolition of the home of a Palestinian terrorist named Ahmad Qanba. He was convicted of involvement with a murderous Hamas cell in the city. Israel’s courts have repeatedly upheld the use of house-demolitions as a deterrent to terrorists.
Before I recount what happened next, let’s consider the context. Abbas and the PA are obligated, according to the Oslo Accords, to stamp out terrorist groups. And the PA happens to have one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. So after 25 years of ruling Jenin, there should not be any Hamas cells operating in the city.
When Abbas wants to eliminate somebody, he has no problem eliminating them. The PA police and security forces intimidate and brutalize their targets, routinely torture prisoners, and use whatever tactics they choose to get the job done.
We hear plenty about how the PA and Hamas are mortal enemies. The “moderate” PA is supposedly the arch-nemesis of the “extremist” Hamas. Yet somehow, Hamas cells continue to flourish right under the PA’s nose — thus forcing Israel to send its troops into the city to take action.
Don’t forget that the PA is obligated by the Oslo Accords to use its media and schools to educate the Palestinian Arab public to live in peace with Israel and to oppose terrorism. The current generation of Palestinians should have been raised on 25 years of anti-terrorist education. Yet when the Israelis showed up to take action against the Hamas terrorist, the residents of Jenin turned out en masse in support of the terrorist.
According to Al Jazeera, “heavy clashes broke out with young Palestinians throwing rocks at the Israeli troops, witnesses said.” The Israeli army spokesman said that “armed terrorists hurled explosive devices and fired towards them.”
Where, you might wonder, were the PA police — the police of the “anti-terrorist” Abbas — during the violence? It wasn’t as if the police didn’t know what was happening. There was a police station within a stone’s throw of the riot. How do we know? Because a stray Israeli bullet hit and killed a PA police officer standing outside the police station.
Al Jazeera’s reporter, Nida Ibrahim, wanted to make a point about how the awful Israelis had murdered an innocent PA police officer. After reviewing security camera footage of the incident, here’s what Ibraham said: “It appeared to be that he was just looking and not doing anything.”
Not doing anything. Abbas is opposed to terrorism, yet his police forces quietly watch and do nothing as an Arab mob tries to stone, burn, and shoot Israelis to death. PA police officers are under orders to stand idly by when Jewish blood is shed.
The list of ways in which Abbas fails to oppose terrorism is well-known and obvious: Like failing to outlaw or dismantle terrorist groups. Refusing to extradite terrorists to Israel. The notorious “Pay for Slay” program of giving financial rewards to terrorists and to their families.
But if anybody needs even more evidence that Olmert was lying and that Abbas does not oppose terrorism, look no further than what happened in Jenin this month. That says it all.
Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s US division and a candidate on the Herut slate in the 2020 World Zionist Congress’s US elections. Herut is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War II Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Herut’s website is https://herutna.org.