Once again a center-left government of Israel has seized on a fantasy it views as a panacea for the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a speech at an Israeli Naval base said, “An opportunity has arisen which we have not had for 40 years” to make peace with the Palestinians. In a meeting with President Bush at the White House this week Olmert vowed to support and strengthen Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) in the hopes that Abu Mazen’s Fatah organization will combat the Islamist radicals of Hamas, and be a genuine peace-partner. President Bush and Secretary of State Rice expressed their hopes for the revival of the Road Map, and both Bush and Olmert viewed this week’s declaration by Abu Mazen, that he is forming a new government and firing the Hamas Prime Minister Ismael Hanyia, as a very positive development.
These machinations - counting on one Palestinian faction to do the bidding of the USA or Israel have failed miserably in the past, and are likely to fail again for the simple reason that the difference between the so called “secular” Fatah and the Islamist Hamas is merely tactical and not strategic in nature. The end game for both Fatah and Hamas is the elimination of the Jewish State and its replacement with an Arab-Muslim state. Hamas seeks a state governed by Sharia Islamic laws, while Fatah follows the vision of the Palestinian Covenant and Constitution drafted as a Palestinian Liberation Organization document in 1968.
In 1976, then Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres permitted Saudi funds to pass to pre-Hamas Islamists in order to offset the near certain election of PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) approved nationalists, pro-Arafat Palestinians in the West Bank municipal elections. The ploy failed, and the pro-Arafat mayors were elected.
Following the Oslo Accords of September 1993, Rabin and Peres ((Prime Minister, Foreign Minister respectively) who were concerned with the rise of radical Islamism in the Palestinian territories (being fueled by Iran’s support to Sunni radical Islamist movements), counted on Yaser Arafat and his Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), to basically serve as Israel’s local policemen and clamp down on the Hamas. Shortly thereafter, Arafat gave Hamas a green light to carry out terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and coordinated with Hamas the murderous work of his own terrorist groups affiliated with Fatah such as the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades. Arafat nevertheless pleaded his innocence to the western media and the Rabin/Peres government looked the other way. The second Intifada against Israel that began in September 2000 was led by Fatah-not the Hamas.
Both Israel and the U.S. are heavily invested in Abu Mazen and Fatah. Hundreds of millions in U.S. taxpayer’s money will once again flow to the Palestinian Authority under President Abu-Mazen, just as it did under Yaser Arafat. The U.S., Israel and the EU are hoping for accelerated talks between Israel and the PA on the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
It is therefore prudent to remind American taxpayers that the PA has been the largest recipient of international aid since its creation in 1993. In fact, the per-capita aid to the Palestinians exceeds that of the Marshall Plan, which provided U.S. funds to devastated Europe in the aftermath of WWII . According to U.S. State Department figures the U.S. has since 1993 given the Palestinians an average of $85 million in economic aid annually. The U.S. has also contributed nearly $1.098 billion, from 1993-2004, to the U.N. Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA’s sole purpose is to provide economic and educational assistance to the Palestinians. No other group of people or refugees enjoys a similar privilege.
Under Arafat, the bulk of international aid to the Palestinian went into the private accounts of the Rais Arafat and his minions. This glaring corruption by the PA and Fatah leadership was the reason why the majority of Palestinians “kicked out the Fatah bums” and voted for a Hamas government in January 2006. Fatah’s fiscal malfeasance, coupled with the absence of the rule-of-law, and lack of commitment to peace with Israel, will once again dash American and Israeli hopes.
Fatah’s original charter calling for a “secular, democratic state in Palestine” has been transformed since the Oslo Accords into an Islamist movement. Fatah has competed with Hamas in the building of mosques with public funds, and hired imams to spread the message of martyrdom by encouraging suicide bombing and hatred for Jews and Christians. It was Fatah-controlled PA TV that broadcasted programs showing young children spewing hatred for Jews and Israel, and declaring their intentions to become suicide bombers. Similarly, PA textbooks have poisoned an entire generation of youth to hate Jews and Israel. Is Fatah the entity that can make peace with Israel? Will Fatah-educated children be prepared to carry out, in good faith, any peace agreements?
Abu Mazen will surely be seen and heard making declarations geared to please the western and Israeli media in which he denounces terrorism and pleads for negotiations and peace agreements, just as Arafat did. At the same time, he will signal to his own terrorist groups, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other groups we haven’t yet learned about, to resume terrorist operations against Israel “when the timing is right.”
The Fatah Jihadists are unlikely to give up the armed struggle against Israel, and while Abu Mazen might condemn unapproved terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians “that are contrary to Palestinian national interests,” he has never disavowed the “armed struggle” or the immorality of terrorism.
The Bush administration and the Olmert government are gambling on Abu Mazen and the Fatah to deliver peace, end terror, and create a functioning Palestinian state. Abu Mazen did not deliver peace with Israel nor proper governance when he served as Prime Minister under Arafat, or, as President since Arafat’s death. Abu Mazen’s incompetence and lack of leadership enabled Hamas to take over Gaza. The West Bank might also fall to Hamas precisely because of the nature of Fatah and the lackluster leadership of Abu Mazen.
Arming Abu Mazen’s Fatah goons with sophisticated weapons, and removing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as the Sharon/Olmert plan called for, will ultimately bring Palestinian terrorism to the heart of Israel. It would be another fantasy of Israel’s political left gone astray.