Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
It’s hard not to admire Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s brazenness.
Two weeks ago, Abbas signed on to 15 international agreements that among other things require the PA to respect human rights and punish war criminals.
And this week, he signed a unity deal with two genocidal terror groups all of whose leaders are war criminals. Every leader of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two parties that signed the deal with the PLO, are war criminals. Under the Geneva Conventions, which Abbas signed onto just a couple of weeks ago, he is required to put them on trial, for their war crimes.
Here it is worth noting that under the Geneva Conventions, every single rocket launch from Gaza into Israeli territory is a separate war crime.
Abbas was only able to sign the Geneva Conventions on the one hand, and the unity deal with terrorist war criminals on the other, because he is utterly convinced that neither the US nor the European Union will hold him accountable for his actions. He is completely certain that neither the Americans nor the Europeans are serious about their professed commitments to upholding international law.
Abbas is sure that for both the Obama administration and the EU, maintaining support for the PLO far outweighs any concern they have for abiding by the law of nations. He believes this because he has watched them make excuses for the PLO and its leaders for the past two decades.
When it comes to the Palestinians, the Western powers are always perfectly willing to throw out their allegiance to law – international law and their domestic statutes – to continue supporting the PLO in the name of a peace process, which by now, everyone understands is entirely fictional.
Why do they do this? They do it because the peace process gives them a way to ignore and wish away the pathologies of the Islamic and Arab world. The peace process is predicated on the notion that all those pathologies are Israel’s fault. If Israel would just surrender Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, then the Arabs writ large, and the Muslim world as a whole will cast aside their support for jihad and terrorism and everything will be fine.
At least that is how Abbas analyzes the situation.
And so far, the US has not disappointed him.
The Obama administration’s immediate response to Abbas’s unity with terrorist war criminals deal involved pretending it didn’t understand what had just happened.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, shortly after Hamas war criminal Ismail Haniyeh signed the deal with Fatah and Islamic Jihad, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged that the deal is bad for the peace process. But she wasn’t willing to reach the inevitable conclusion.
Rather, she averred, idiotically, “I think the ball, at this point, is in the Palestinians’ court to answer questions to whether this reconciliation meets the US’s long-standing principles.”
Two days before the unity deal, a reporter from Al-Monitor asked Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar if Hamas has given up terrorism.
Zahar responded, “Anyone who claims so must be drunk. How has Hamas abandoned the resistance [that is, terrorist] effort? What are the manifestations of it doing so? Where have we prevented the launching of rockets?” No ambiguity whatsoever there.
And Abbas just signed a deal Hamas, and with Islamic Jihad, the official representative of the Iranian mullahs in the Palestinian war criminal lineup.
No ambiguity there, either.
If the US is willfully blind to who the Palestinians are, what they are doing, and what they stand for, the Europeans are so committed to the Palestinians that they invented an imaginary world where international law protects war criminals and castigates their Jewish victims as international outlaws.
In the EU’s view, Hamas is an attractive organization.
During a meeting with Abbas last October, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, urged Abbas to sign a unity deal with Hamas. A statement from her office read that she views reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas “as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a twostate solution.”
And while unity between terrorist factions is something that Ashton considers conducive to peace, in her view, Jewish presence in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is tantamount to a war crime.
In a statement released by her office last week, after Baruch Mizrahi was murdered by Palestinian terrorists while driving in his family car, with his wife and young children, to a Passover Seder, Ashton gave no more than a perfunctory condemnation of the war crime.
Four-fifths of her statement involved condemning Israel for respecting Jewish property rights and the rules of due process and international law in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
In the EU’s imaginary world, being in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem while Jewish is a war crime. Murdering Jews is merely impolite.
The deal signed on Wednesday is the fourth unity deal Fatah has signed with Hamas. After the first one was signed in 2007, the so-called Middle East Quartet, which includes the US, the EU, the UN and Russia, issued three conditions for accepting the unity government: Hamas has to recognize Israel’s right to exist, abjure terrorism and accept the legitimacy of the previous agreements signed by the PLO with Israel.
As Zahar and every other Hamas leader has made clear repeatedly, these conditions will never be met.
But regardless of how Hamas views them, in and of themselves the Quartet’s conditions are deeply problematic. They themselves constitute a breach of international law.
The Quartet’s conditions assert that if Hamas and Islamic Jihad agree to them, they will be accorded the same legitimacy as the PLO. In other words, the Quartet members have committed themselves to granting immunity from prosecution for war crimes to all Palestinian terrorists.
Providing such immunity is arguably a breach of international law. And it exposes a profound and irrational dependence on the mythical peace process on the part of Western policy-makers.
Reacting to this week’s unity deal, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, “The agreement between Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad brings the Middle East to a new diplomatic era. The Palestinian Authority turned into the largest terrorist organization in the world, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv.”
And under international law, including the agreements that Abbas acceded to just two weeks ago, Bennett is absolutely right.
Apologists for Abbas note that this week’s deal is as unlikely as all its predecessors to be implemented.
But even if they are right this doesn’t mean that Abbas’s repeated practice of signing unity deals with war criminals should be cast aside as insignificant.
They expose the lie at the heart of the peace process. The time has come to call things by their names. Abbas is a terrorist and the PA is a terrorist organization.
In light of this incontrovertible fact, the time has come to treat the PA in accordance with international law.
Perhaps shocked by Abbas’s behavior, perhaps overwhelmed by the serial failure of every one of its foreign policies, the administration acknowledged that Israel can’t be expected to negotiate with a government that doesn’t accept its right to exist.
Administration officials even said that the US would have to revisit its relationship with the PA in light of the agreement with Hamas.
No doubt, the administration is convinced that it can revert to form and ignore reality once again the moment the smoke as cleared. But whatever its intentions, the administration’s acknowledgment of Abbas’s bad faith opens the door to action by both Israel and the US Congress.
The Israeli government and the US Congress should take the steps necessary to bring their national policies toward the Palestinians into accordance with the law of nations.
On Thursday, the security cabinet rightly decided to end negotiations with the PA. But this cannot be the end of the line. Israel must also stop all financial transfers to the PA.
Just as critically, Israel must stop cooperating with PA security forces in Judea and Samaria.
It must end its support for US training of those forces and call for the US to end its mission to assist PA security forces.
Israel must begin arresting and prosecuting Palestinian officials who incite for the murder of Jews, and charge them with solicitation of murder.
The government should assist Israeli citizens in submitting war crimes complaints against Palestinian officials and the PA generally at international tribunals for their involvement in war crimes, including their incitement of genocide.
As for the US Congress, last week, with the passage into law of Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill banning terrorists from serving as UN ambassadors, the Congress showed that it is capable of acting to force the administration to uphold US anti-terror laws.
To this end, in accordance with those laws, Congress must act to immediately end US military support for Palestinian security services.
The Office of the US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories that trains Palestinian military forces should be closed straightaway. Its personnel should be redeployed out of the area forthwith.
So, too, given that the Palestinian Authority now inarguably meets the US definition of a foreign terrorist organization, the US must end all financial assistance to its operating budget. Also, in accordance with US law, the US banking system must be closed to PA entities. Foreign banks that do business with these entities should be barred from doing business with US banks.
Abbas is not interested in peace. The two-state model isn’t about achieving peace. It is about blaming the victim of the absence of peace for the absence of peace.
Abbas knows his apologists, both in Israel, and most important in the US and Europe. He knows they will go to any length to defend him.
The Israeli Left does so because without the phony peace process, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the Labor Party and Meretz become political irrelevancies.
The administration and the EU defend Abbas and the phony peace process because they don’t want to acknowledge the plain fact that Israel is the only stable ally they have in the Middle East and the stronger Israel is the more protected they are. Doing so contradicts their ideology.
So now Abbas is telling them that the deal is good for peace since it brings Hamas-controlled Gaza into the PLO and so reunifies the PA, which has been operating as two separate entities for seven years. And they may go along with it.
They’ve been perfectly willing to embrace utter nonsense countless times over the years.
Only the Israeli government and Congress can stop them. And they must stop them.
These phony peaceniks’ preference for Jew-killers over international law comes with a prohibitive price tag. Jews are murdered, war criminals are embraced, and the rule of law is rent asunder.
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