This article was written jointly by Brian Goldfarb and Anne. First is Brian’s post:
“Curiouser and curiouser”, said Alice in the famous children’s novel Alice in Wonderland. In that same surreal story, Humpty-Dumpty (who, you may recall, fell off a wall and couldn’t be put back together again – sounding suspiciously like Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen) remarked that “A word means what I want it to mean, no more and no less”. In the surreal world of Middle East politics, the words “peace” and “non-violence” do not mean what their writers try to convey.
So when we come across the sort of material cited below, like the reason for the existence of the Jewish joke in the first place, if we didn’t laugh, we’d have to cry.
There follow below extracts from (as well as direct links to) three separate articles on recent developments in the Israel-Palestinian situation, two from The Times of Israel and one from The Gatestone Institute. The last is by my increasingly favourite Arab-Israeli journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, a man not afraid to tell the truth as he sees it. It’s just as well he lives in Israel, else, if he lived in The West Bank, he’d be dead by now.
The context is, again, no surprise, the now fact of the Palestine Authority-Hamas marriage, as made in hell. The first article from The Times of Israel, “Israel denounces US for accepting Hamas-backed government”, starts thus:
“Jerusalem on Monday night slammed the United States for announcing that it will work with the new Palestinian unity government, sworn in earlier Monday. In strikingly bitter comments, officials said that rather than cooperating with a government backed by a terror group, Washington ought to be urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to disband his pact with Hamas and resume peace negotiations with Israel.”
This follows the apparently straightforward statement by Secretary of State Kerry when:
“[a]s recently as Sunday, [he] called Abbas and “expressed concern about Hamas’s role in any such government and the importance that the new government commit to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements with it,” Psaki had said.
But now, just a day later, Jen Psaki is saying that:
the US believes Abbas has “formed an interim technocratic government…that does not include members affiliated with Hamas.” Therefore, she added, “With what we know now, we will work with this government.”
Either Psaki is a loose cannon, stating her own views, or Kerry is trying to have it both ways. Personally, I’m inclined to believe the latter. Kerry is, after all and unlike Psaki (who is a career diplomat), a politician – and they are inclined to say whatever suits their purpose.
Just as important, we need to note the reaction to the new love-in between Fatah and Hamas by the Israelis:
“Earlier Monday, Israel’s senior ministers decided to boycott the new government, since it is backed by Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by Israel and the US.”
I suppose that it’s possible that there are some Israelis who welcome the new friendship, but I suspect that not even my left-leaning Israeli cousins would go that far. I leave it to you to read the rest of this article and decide if you can make any more sense of the US position than I can, because I’m certainly confused about what they think it’s all about.
To turn to the Gatestone Institute and Khaled Abu Toameh. The headline to his article is wonderful: “Fatah leaders: Abbas is a dictator”. This comes from expelled Fatah leaders, thrown out because of their close ties to another expelled leader, Mohammed Dahlan, former Gaza security Chief, now living in the United Arab Emirates.
The five men – Majed Abu Shamala, Sufyan Abu Zaida, Rashid Abu Shbak, Nasser Juma’a and Abdel Hamid Masri – were expelled because of their close links to ousted Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan.
Dahlan was expelled from Fatah three years ago after falling out with Abbas and his two sons, Yasser and Tarek. Since then, Dahlan, a former security commander of the Gaza Strip and an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has been living in the United Arab Emirates.
Abbas’s decision to expel the five Fatah officials came on the eve of the inauguration of the new Palestinian unity government with Hamas. Some Palestinians believe the decision is aimed at sending a message of warning to Fatah members against opposing the unity government with Hamas.
Abbas’s move is seen in the context of his efforts to “cleanse” Fatah of “unruly” officials who pose a direct challenge to his autocratic leadership. Obviously, the 79-year-old Palestinian Authority president has no plans to retire or pave the way for the emergence of new and younger leaders.
Of course, we have to take into account that Abbas is in the tenth year of a four-year term. Without an intervening election. I bet there are lots of properly elected leaders who would love a stretched term like that, especially without the inconvenience of actually facing the electorate.
Still, don’t you just love it when your opponents can’t help falling out, and getting exiled, quite literally, as a result? Abu Toameh has a lot more detail on the failure of the Palestinian leaders to even agree on a common song-sheet, let alone sing from it, although it is not necessarily good news for Israel:
But judging from the strong reactions of the ousted Fatah officials and their supporters, it’s clear that Fatah is facing one of its worst crises in years – one that is likely to lead to a split in the faction. This, of course, will play into the hands of Hamas and improve its chances of winning the presidential and parliamentary elections, when and if they are held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
We already know that the Israelis, including most of the Left, won’t have anything to do with the new alignment between Fatah and Hamas. We can only speculate as to why this new “friendship” has come about. My theory is to assume that it is because Abbas knows that the best way forward is a two-state solution. However, to achieve that, he would have to recognise Israel as “the Jewish State”. If he does, he is, quite possibly literally as well as politically, dead. So, he sidesteps the issue and tries to get Israel to take the blame.
However, for reasons beyond his control, this might just not work, despite, apparently, having Kerry in his pocket (a man who can’t decide what the best policy is, even when his boss, the President, has told him what it is), because Abbas doesn’t have the US Congress in his pocket, as we see from this third link, the Times of Israel article: Senior US lawmakers call to cut off aid to PA.
While, as we have seen above,
“The Obama administration announced Monday that it would cooperate with a new Palestinian unity government”
- at the same time:
“…a number of lawmakers continued to push for the opposite approach — to cut over $400 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority until it proved that the new government would uphold the principles set out by the Mideast Quartet.”
We can get closer to that dissident position. Here is the Chair of the appropriate House Committee:
“The Palestinian leaders know that a unity government would trigger US law to cut off funding, so now they are trying to find loopholes in order to say that they are still abiding by the conditions our laws mandate,” said [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee.”
Note that Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican, but note also that this position is supported by Democrats as well. Of course, this is only the House; the Senate would need to come aboard as well, and, at least until next January, that’s controlled by the Democrats, although they have shown signs of cracking on this issue.
Looks like interesting times ahead, and this time for the Palestinians rather than the Israelis. Can’t say that upsets me that much.
Brian, thank you for your enlightening (if depressing) post about the US’s position regarding the PA-Hamas unity government and the background to PA-Hamas relations.
However, despite your optimism at the end of your post that the US might cut off aid to the PA because of their unity with a proscribed terrorist organization, this may become irrelevant as the rest of the world eagerly follows the US’s lead in recognizing the PA-Hamas unity accord.
Perfidious Britain swiftly followed suit in praising the PA-Hamas unity deal as expressed by Foreign Minister William Hague:
British Foreign Secretary William Hague was the first EU foreign minister to welcome the agreement signed on Monday between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. In a statement issued on Tuesday, he said reuniting the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under a government committed to peace was “a necessary condition for resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
How this mind-bogglingly stupid comment can be squared with reality is anyone’s guess. I would love to hear from the Brits – or the Americans or the Europeans – how a deal with a terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s destruction could possibly advance peace or be a necessary pre-condition for solving the Middle East conflict.
(Not that Fatah is exactly peace-loving or “moderate” either. The second of two recent terror attacks at Tapuah junction was carried out by a Fatah-associated terrorist).
As with the Americans, the British seem to be living in cloud-cuckoo land, or in a permanent state of denial:
Hague said that the British government has made clear that its continued support for the “new interim technocratic government for the occupied Palestinian territories” rested on the latter’s commitment to the “principle of nonviolence and acceptance of all previous agreements and obligations including Israel’s legitimate right to exist.”
Since the “latter’s commitment to the principle of nonviolence” is non-existent, what possible point do the British (or the Americans) think they’re making? The West needs to listen to Hamas’s words, not the empty pretty phrases of the PA:
Hamas is telling everyone not to believe Abbas when he say that the Palestinian Unity Government will renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. “The reconciliation will actually consolidate the resistance … from one intifada to another until the liberation of Palestine.” — Khaled Mashaal, leader of the Hamas political bureau. “Who is this crazy guy who would be able to go to the resistance groups and ask them to hand over their weapons?” — Mahmoud Zahhar, senior representative of Hamas.
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau, announced that his movement would never recognize Israel. “This is a red line that cannot be crossed,” he said. In other words, Hamas is telling everyone not to believe Abbas when he says that the Palestinian unity government will renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Hamas’s two most senior representatives, Khaled Mashaal and Mahmoud Zahar, have both made it clear that their movement is planning to continue “resistance” actions against Israel even after the formation of the unity government.
Zahar, who also said that Hamas would pursue the fight against Israel until the “liberation of all Palestine,” is in fact sending a warning message to the Western-funded Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank. “We believe in what was mentioned in the Quran: that Palestine, all of Palestine, will be liberated,” he added. “The Israeli entity should expect more from Hamas after our rockets reached Tel Aviv.”
The above Jerusalem Post article reports on similar delusional comments from the EU and other European countries:
… the EU welcomed the appointment of a government of “independent personalities” and the declaration by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the new government was committed to the principle of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, the recognition of Israel’s legitimate right to exist, nonviolence and respect of previous agreements.
And of course, how could we possibly manage without the UN’s contribution?
The United Nations on Tuesday welcomed the new Palestinian unity government and said it was ready to lend its full support in efforts to reunite the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a spokesman said. The announcement followed statements by the US and the EU Monday that they would recognize the new leadership in Ramallah, much to Israel’s chagrin.
David Horovitz, the centre-left editor of the Times of Israel, has written a devastating criticism of 12 ways the US Administration has failed its ally, Israel. Here is just a very short excerpt. I urge you to read it all.
What was saddest about Washington’s insistence on accepting Abbas’s paper-thin veneer over his government’s new nature — his “technocrat” ministers were all approved by Hamas — is that it represents only the Obama administration’s latest abrogation of leadership, logic and leverage at Israel’s expense. Rather than rushing to embrace a Palestinian government in which an unreformed Hamas is a central component, what was to stop the US conditioning its acceptance on a reform of Hamas? What was to stop Washington saying that it would be happy to work with Abbas’s new government, the moment its Hamas backers recognized Israel, accepted previous agreements and renounced terrorism? Not a particularly high bar. What was to stop the US making such a demand, one of tremendous importance to its ally Israel? Only its incomprehensible reluctance to do.
1. So, yes, where Hamas is concerned, you’d think that an ally would not legitimize, as part of the Palestinian government, an organization bent on the destruction of Israel, an organization declaredly refusing to change that goal, an organization with a proven, mass-murdering track-record.
Read the rest.
I am at a loss to understand the world’s rush to recognize a terrorist government anywhere in the Middle East, let alone on Israel’s doorstep. I would love to see their reaction if Israel would admit the Kahana Chai party back into the Knesset and then into the government. Our ears would ring with the denouncements and sanctions from the world.