Special Report Mahmoud Abbas: Peacemaker or Terrorist?

Special Report Mahmoud Abbas: Peacemaker or Terrorist?
Vol: 22 Issue: 28 Monday, July 28, 2003

Palestinians cheered and sounded car horns in noisy celebration on Sunday as an Israeli army bulldozer tore down a key West Bank checkpoint and opened a road leading to dozens of villages. Palestinian traffic flowed freely through the Surda checkpoint north of the city of Ramallah for the first time since the army erected the roadblock a few months after the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

Palestinians interviewed by an MSNBC reporter chanted in praise of Abbas, who met President Bush in the White House on Friday.

The Palestinians should be chanting praises for Abbas. He has managed to accomplish what Arafat ultimately could not make promise seem like actions. The current mantra about a new day in the Middle East is just that a mantra to be repeated over and over until it becomes the accepted truth .

At the meeting on Friday, President Bush praised Abbas for what Bush called his bold decisions and promised him that the United States would “strive to see that promises are kept,” and monitor the progress toward creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel..

An article in the Toronto Star was headlined Abbas Future Said to Rest on Israeli Concessions”. The article explained helpfully that if Mahmood Abbas isn t able to bring home an acceptable deal to the Palestinians, he might be deposed. However, what constitutes an acceptable deal to the Palestinians varies widely. And any deal has to pass muster with Yasser Arafat, meaning that Abbas is really just an empty suit to begin with.

Assessment:

Spin is spin, whether it emanates from the right or from the left. And arguing that there is anything resembling a mutual effort towards peace is enough to leave any honest observer dizzy. Let s set the Way Back Machine to start of the process, and try and stop the rotation long enough to see some of the details as they actually are.

On June 24, 2002, President Bush set forth the conditions that the Palestinian Arabs must fulfill in order to merit U.S. support for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. Among the major obligations are that the Palestinian Arabs must “dismantle the terrorist infrastructure,” “end incitement,” “elect new leaders not compromised by terror,” and unequivocally embrace democracy and free market economics.

In March 2003, Yasser Arafat chose Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the number two man in the PLO since the 1960s, as the new prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas took office on April 29, 2003.

Less than a day later, the Bush administration unveiled its “Road Map” plan, which set forth conditions that the Palestinian Arabs must fulfill prior to the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. The Road Map stipulates that the Palestinian Arabs are required to undertake concrete steps to combat terrorist groups and democratize Palestinian Arab society.

Point One: “Cease All Violence”

What They Are Required to Do: “In Phase 1 [May 2003], the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence.” Note the words, unconditional cessation they are supposed to have meaning.

On June 29, 2003, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah issued statements saying that they would suspend attacks on Israelis for a period of 90 days IF Israel ceases all counter-terror operations and releases all imprisoned terrorists.

This is one of Abbas bold actions. Morphing an unconditional cessation of violence as part of a first step into a temporary conditional truce six weeks after the fact.

During the first 12 weeks since Abu Mazen became prime minister and the Road Map was published, there have been a total of 338 Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks or attempted attacks, in which 51 people were murdered and 318 wounded.

Point Two: “Call for Recognizing Israel and Ending Violence”

What They Are Required to Do: The Road Map obligates the Palestinian Arabs to “issue an unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere.”

Compare denouncing terror under Mahmoud Abbas government to that of Yasser Arafat s record. For example, the comments of Abbas Minister of Information Nabil Amr — Doha Al-Jazira Television, June 14, 2003:

“As regards the word ‘terrorism’, I do not know why when the Palestinians denounce the word terrorism, certain people think that this means resistance. There is no text anywhere that says that the Palestinian people’s resistance is terrorism, which we denounce…Yes, we denounce terrorism. Anyone who says that denouncing terrorism means denouncing resistance is doing an injustice to legitimate resistance and is in effect labeling it with terrorism.”

Point Three: “Dismantle the Terrorist Infrastructure”

What They Are Required to Do: The Road Map obligates the Palestinian Arabs to carry out the “dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”

The PA did NOT outlaw Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, or any other terrorist groups; there were no reports of the PA shutting down any bomb factories or terrorists’ training camps; the PA continued to ignore Israel’s 45 requests for the extradition of terrorists; there were no reports of the PLO leadership punishing PLO factions that are engaged in terrorism, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

Abbas said in no uncertain terms last week in Africa that he had no intention of cracking down on any of the terrorist organizations in the PA s jurisdiction for fear of starting a civil war .

Point Four: “Confiscate Terrorists’ Weapons”

What They Are Required to Do: The Road Map obligates the Palestinian Arabs to “commence confiscation of illegal weapons.”

In mid-July, there were media reports that PA security forces had confiscated 20 illegal weapons from individuals in Gaza. TWENTY illegal weapons! And as it turned out (but went unreported in the mainstream) Israel Radio reported on July 12 that the individuals were common criminals, not terrorists.

On July 14, after media reports claiming that PA policemen were searching cars for weapons, a “senior PA security official” denied the reports, telling the Jerusalem Post: “What you saw on television was not real; it was part of a drill. We carried out an exercise with the participation of 600 policemen. That’s all.” (Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2003)

No steps have been taken to democratize Palestinian society, no elections have been scheduled or are being seriously contemplated, there are no plans to draw up a Palestinian constitution or draw up legal reforms. There has been no effort at separating powers, and Yasser Arafat remains in charge in fact, if not in name.

In short, I can see no evidence of the bold actions on the part of Mahmoud Abbas to justify all the lavish praise.

Instead, what I see is Israel making ALL the concessions, and Abbas making all the demands. Any demand by the Israeli side for a modicum of Palestinian compliance is immediately rebuffed as Israeli stonewalling and any demand no matter how outrageous that is not immediately met by the Israelis is grounds for the fragile cease-fire (that is the substitute for an immediate and unconditional cessation of violence) to be broken by Abbas not-so-secret weapon of renewed terrorist attacks by the groups Abbas is unable to control thanks, in some way, to the Israeli crackdown on terrorism.

As we ve noted many times, in any other universe but this one, the Israelis would be the good guys and the Palestinian Authority would have as much legitimacy as a government as does al-Qaeda.

But the Palestinian Authority is fighting against Israel. And when it comes to Israel, no Arab violation is too egregious to derail the road map while no Israeli violation is too slight to qualify as justification for a new round of terror.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3)

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About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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