This is another guest post from frequent contributor and reader Brian Goldfarb.
Most, if not all, of the visitors to this site will be of the opinion that the Fatah-Hamas rapprochement is purely a means for allowing Mahmoud Abbas to avoid having to recognise Israel as the Jewish state. While he is many things, stupid or simple he isn’t, or so we would expect, even hope. He is well aware that if there is to be a genuine two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine question, then this recognition has to be part of it. It is also, vitally, either the starting point or close to the starting point for the whole process. Many commentators have claimed that Arafat not only knew this, he openly acknowledged it. He never completed the “peace process” for reasons having nothing to do with this issue and are not part of this article, either.
The obvious conclusion has, thus, to be one of the following: Abbas fears that if he reaches an agreement along the lines usually suggested by Western commentators not blinded by their ideological inability to see Israel as it actually is, he will be at best deposed, at worst, assassinated (and he likes power and wealth as well as life); he genuinely believes that for a solution to be possible and to persist needs Hamas to be on board (and perhaps needs a revision of whether he is, actually, stupid or simple); or he is actually a true believer – Palestine from the river to the sea and if not, a return of the “refugees” to what is now Israel, in either case, destroying the Jewish state.
The first makes him merely mortal and/or venal; the second has been dealt with and the third threatens a state of permanent war – or at least no peace. As an aside, this last possibility might help to explain the rise of Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, with their emphasis on the need for most of the Haredi (Ultra Orthodox Jews) to serve in the armed forces or undertake some form of civil service in the real economy.
The real problem, oddly enough, doesn’t, necessarily, lie in the region itself, but in the fact that those who ought to have most influence in the region (because they pay the most to the Palestinian Authority) appear to be least concerned at the game the PA is playing. And we’re talking of the USA and the EU here. Actually, in the case of the US, perhaps that should be narrowed to the actual Administration, as there are stirrings in Congress as to what the US is getting for its money and some suggestions that it should be more than they actually get: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”.
However, not all commentators on this matter are so easily taken in. One very notable exception is Colonel Richard Kemp, late of the British army. He is so highly regarded by the IDF that (as he told us, when he came to address our synagogue) before his deployment to Afghanistan, he asked the Israeli Embassy if he could have an hour or so of the Military Attaché’s time to discuss anti-terrorist measures. No, they said, you can’t. We’re flying the IDF expert on this matter over to the UK to meet with you at the Embassy for an afternoon session. Kemp says he learned so much that he didn’t lose a single soldier to terrorism activity, be it roadside bombs or any other method of attack. For further evidence of his attitude towards the IDF and its political masters, watch this You Tube video from UN Watch of him telling it like it was regarding Operation Cast Lead, back in 2009.
If that isn’t enough, there’s this article from The Algemeiner of 28 February this year: “Former British Commander Richard Kemp: Amnesty report will incite even moer hatred“, rubbishing the Amnesty report on supposed IDF brutality on the West Bank.
However, this is about the Fatah-Hamas supposed love fest. On the 1st of May, he published an article on The Gatestone Institute: The Fatah-Hamas Agreement site on this very matter. He starts as he means to go on, with the following:
“As we saw with the Iranian arms shipment aboard the Klos-C last month, Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism continues unabated — even as the international community is rehabilitating its extremist regime.”
No beating about the bush there. Just to make sure we know where he’s heading to next, he follows, immediately, with the following:
“Three hundred and thirty two drone attacks against Al Qaida and Taliban targets on Pakistani territory since 2005 demonstrate U.S. President Barack Obama’s strong resolve against terrorists that threaten the United States. Only last week, the latest wave of air strikes launched or enabled by his government against Al Qaida networks in Yemen killed 55 suspected extremists, possibly including master bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.
Of course no one expects the U.S. to send drones in reply to the news that the Palestinian Authority [PA], upon which he has lavished billions of dollars and thousands of hours of diplomacy, was going into business with Hamas, which the United States has branded a terrorist organization.”
Can’t you just hear the “But…” hovering in the background, bursting to get out? And here it comes:
“But one could hope for something more forceful from Washington than State Department spokesman Jen Psaki’s weak and vacillating response in which she attempted to take the heat off Hamas and the PA by taking a gratuitous dig at Israel. “There have been unhelpful steps from both sides throughout this process,” she said.
If the US response was feeble, the EU’s was treacherous.”
That’s telling Catherine Ashton! Pity she won’t be listening. Kemp knows this (but doesn’t have to like it), because he goes on to say that:
“The EU has contributed its taxpayers’ money to paying the salaries of convicted Palestinian terrorists via unconditional donations to the PA amounting to billions of dollars since 1994. Some of this money has also been spent on school textbooks, television programs and other PA propaganda that incite hatred and terrorism against Israel.”
That’s bad enough, he implies, but the soldier in him sees worse in the whole EU attitude towards the region (even if individual governments take a different stance – Merkel of Germany consistently, and Hague, UK FM, at least some of the time):
“Ashton and the EU have called repeatedly for an end to the Israeli-Egyptian security operation on land and sea around Gaza. The operation is designed to prevent predominantly Iranian-supplied munitions and materiel for terrorism from entering the Gaza Strip, and to stop Gaza terrorists and weapons moving to attack Israeli or Egyptian targets.”
Naturally, Kemp doesn’t stop there, because the point needs to made absolutely crystal clear:
“At the same time, the EU, like the UN, has usually remained mute in the face of volley after volley of Iranian-supported rocket attacks from Gaza directed against the civilian population of Israel. These rockets are fired mainly by Hamas and their terrorist bedfellows, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Silence and inaction by such significant international bodies as the UN and the EU must, in these circumstances, add up to at least a degree of culpability.”
So far, Kemp has merely made sure that his audience understands the inability of the West – the parliamentary democracies par excellence – to understand the nature and position of the only parliamentary democracy in the region (and therefore their natural ally). Now he goes on to make sure they understand why Israel has done what it has: suspend (at the very least) the peace talks, and for good reason. After all,
“Were Hamas indeed to commit – plausibly – to such undertakings, then Israel could of course continue peace negotiations and cooperation with the PA on current terms. But other than Abbas’s words to Serry [of the UN], there is no indication of this and, in the real world, Hamas is not likely to even consider such conditions.”
It therefore follows that:
“Prime Minister Netanyahu therefore had no choice other than to suspend the peace process. This was his obligation to the Israeli people and to the international community. How could he possibly continue to negotiate with an entity that is itself negotiating with a vicious, murderous and unrelenting terrorist group hell-bent on the destruction of Israel and outlawed around the world?
Of course Abbas knew full well when he agreed to unity with Hamas that this would end the peace negotiations.”
Which was what I implied at the very beginning of this piece. There’s more, and it makes for fascinating reading, not least knowing that there are people out there who aren’t fooled by the tactics of the PA and its allies.
Brian, thank you for bring this excellent article to our attention and for your analysis and commentary. I for one wasn’t aware of Col. Kemp’s continued involvement on Israel’s behalf in the Middle East after that wonderful video of his in the UN, so I am very grateful for this.
Sadly, I have my doubts that his words will reach the ears of those who really need to hear them: the US Administration, and the EU headed by the revolting Catherine Ashton, both of whom seem set on a course of self-destruction, taking Israel along with them.
Interestingly, in today’s Times of Israel we are told that Israel has proof that the Palestinians purposely planned to sabotage the peace talks long before Israel refused to release the last batch of prisoners, leading to the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement:
In the April 22 letter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, revealed that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat wrote a policy paper in March in preparation for a Palestinian rejection of American mediation efforts and Israeli overtures — nearly a month before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a unilateral move to sign 15 international conventions, ostensibly in response to Israel’s refusal to honor its commitment to release the final round of prisoners, Haaretz reported Wednesday.
In fact, Cohen said, according to a copy of the latter published alongside the report (PDF here), Erekat had planned the maneuver weeks before Israel announced its refusal to release the prisoners — timing that, according to Cohen, demonstrates that the Palestinian leadership never intended to follow the peace talks through.
This means that the Americans knew ahead of time that the Palestinians were negotiating in bad faith, which makes their blaming Israel for the breakdown in the talks all the more egregious.
One further comment: you wonder whether the rise of Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid, and their agenda of haredi enlistment in the IDF, is connected to the threats emanating from Iran and their terrorist proxies. I rather think that their platforms were connected to domestic economic and social policies, i.e. both parties want the haredim to integrate into Israeli society via IDF enlistment or civilian national service and by joining the work force (which they can’t do without national service), thus raising their economic standard of living. Having a larger standing and reserve army to face off against Iran would simply be a side-benefit, and isn’t really the main aim of either party.