Mahmoud Abbas Wants to ‘Turn the Screws’ on the U.S.
Why exactly are we coddling him in his preposterous demands?
The Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, wants to “pressure” the American government to do his bidding before Biden visits the Middle East on a trip scheduled for this July. A report on the rich fantasy life of Abbas is here: “Feeding Palestinian delusions,” by Mitchell Bard, JNS.org, June 8, 2022:
“Palestinian Leadership Plans to Increase Pressure on U.S. ahead of Biden’s Visit.”
This headline in the Daily Alert was illustrative of why Palestinian delusions are mainly responsible for their plight. The article associated with the headline said the Palestinians want to “turn the screws on the White House in order to secure lucrative overtures from the Americans.”
Excuse me. Who is the superpower in this equation?
Somehow believing the United States would care about yet another empty symbolic gesture, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced that he is considering suspending the Palestinians’ 1994 recognition of Israel. At the time, Yasser Arafat’s letter was viewed as a game-changer. Palestinians finally acknowledged reality and took a necessary step to convince Israel to negotiate with the PLO leader. It was not sufficient, however, and ultimately [that recognition of Israel by the PA] has proved meaningless as Abbas repeatedly states that the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state; the Palestinians have spent every year since “recognition” engaged in terror; he and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, rejected all peace offers; and the Palestinians have not abandoned their pipedream of establishing a state replacing Israel.
Who cares if the PA suspends its recognition of Israel? How will Israel be harmed, given the Abraham Accords that have allowed it to normalize ties with four Arab states, with more members in the offing, including Saudi Arabia? It is the PA that is on the ropes, abandoned by its most important Arab allies, not the Jewish state that with each passing year becomes stronger economically, militarily, and politically. Israel is the original Start-Up Nation that has become a technological powerhouse; every major American tech company now has offices in Israel. Israel has more tech companies that are “unicorns” – that is, upon their IPO, they are valued at more than $1 billion — than any country except the U.S. itself. After China, Israel is the foreign country with the most companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. After Japan, Israel is the foreign country with the most American patents.
A few years ago, Israel was an importer of natural gas. Now — with its Tamar and Leviathan fields – it has become a major exporter, to Egypt and Jordan and, soon, via Egypt’s LNG terminals, to the EU, where Israeli natural gas will replace some of the Russian gas that is no longer available as a consequence of the Ukraine war. Israel is a major military power, coming up with such spectacular advances in weaponry as the Iron Dome and Iron Beam anti-missile systems; it is among the top ten exporters of weapons, with $11.3 billion worth of weapons exported in 2021. Meanwhile, the PA holds out its begging bowl for the foreign aid that keeps it – just barely — afloat.
Abbas also reportedly “scolded U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call.” Abbas, the kleptocrat who has stayed in office 13 years beyond the end of his term, berated the person bending over backward to help keep him in power. Blinken should have slammed down the phone rather than taken any guff from the tinpot dictator.
Blinken is, like the rest of the Bidenites, an appeaser by temperament, but even he must have been taken aback at being scolded by someone so totally dependent on American aid, now that both the EU and the rich Sunni Arab states have slashed their own aid to the PA. As Bard says, Blinken ought to have slammed down the receiver instead of patiently listening to the angry whining of the rais in Ramallah.
Palestinian sources also told Ynet news, “if President Biden intends to come to the meeting with [Abbas] offering only a modest economic relief package, then it is better that he not come at all.”
That ought to teach the most powerful person in the world a lesson!
Oh dear. If Biden doesn’t bring us all we want, the PA says, then it “would be better that he not come.“ How terrible that would be for Biden, to have to keep his hundreds of millions of dollars in proffered aid, unless he also assures Mahmoud Abbas that the “consulate to the Palestinians” will be reopened in Jerusalem, and the PLO office reopened in Washington, and furthermore, let’s not hear any more talk about the Taylor Force Act, okay?
Restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from U.S. taxpayers isn’t enough for the Palestinians, whose sense of entitlement is one reason for their Arab brethren all but cutting off funding to people they see as inferior ingrates.
The Palestinians are also apparently taking a page out of the Iranian playbook by demanding that Biden remove the PLO from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The PLO remains the granddaddy of terrorist organizations and is no less malevolent than the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which earned its place on the list. What is odd is that while two organizational members of the PLO (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) are on the list, the PLO is not.
As noted in my [Mitchell Bard’s] earlier column, the Biden administration is genuflecting to demonstrate its commitment to the Palestinians and providing hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars in violation of the spirit if not the letter of U.S. law. And this is the thanks it gets?
The Biden Administration is violating not just the spirit, but also the letter, of the Taylor Force Act, passed by Congress in 2018. That act requires the American government to withhold all aid to the PA as long as it continues its “Pay-For-Slay” program, which provides generous lifetime payments to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, and to the families of terrorists killed during their attacks. The Bidenites have simply chosen to ignore Taylor Force, claiming – most unconvincingly — that it does not apply to “humanitarian aid.” Aid dollars are fungible; money given by the Bidenites for soi-disant “humanitarian aid” frees up other sums that can be spent on anti-Israel propaganda, terrorist incitement, weapons, and of course, on the “Pay-For-Slay” program that the Taylor Force Act was intended to end.
I know the Palestinians like to emulate the Jews, but this behavior gives new meaning to the word “chutzpah.”
If the administration were consistent about its claim to be concerned with human rights, it would refuse to provide a nickel to the Palestinians until they ended their abuses, which include paying salaries to terrorists who have murdered Americans, continuing to incite violence, denying their people civil and political rights, and being so corrupt and inept that the overwhelming majority want Abbas to resign.
In continuing to provide hundreds of millions of dollars aid to the PA, despite its refusing to end “Pay-for-Slay,” we are subsidizing a program that rewards past, and incentivizes future, terrorism. The Palestinians continue to incite violence not merely by subsidizing, but also by honoring, terrorists. They name streets, parks, and sports competitions after terrorists, living and dead, so that they are permanently held up for admiration and emulation. The PA’s children’s television shows are full of incitement to commit acts of terror, beginning with cute little preschoolers who are shown making stabbing motions with their pretend knives as they sweetly proclaim their desire to “kill Jews.” The PA’s president is now in the 17th year of his four-year-term; he deals with his critics by arresting them or even, as in the recent case of Nizar Banat, one of the most persistent critics of Abbas for his corruption, by having them killed. In Banat’s case, he was beaten to death by Abbas’ goons. In recent opinion polls, 80% of Palestinians said they wanted Abbas to resign. Yet this is the murderous despot whom the Bidenites continue to support with massive amounts of aid. They never protested the murder of Banat, nor have they complained about any other violation of human rights by the PA. Why?
Then again, Biden is also going to grovel when he arrives in Saudi Arabia as part of a scheduled trip next month. After making a point of criticizing the Saudis’ human-rights violations and shunning Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the president now believes, like his predecessors, that it is more important to be solicitous of the Saudis. He needs Saudi goodwill to increase the flow of oil to lower gas prices and perhaps save his presidency….
Unlike the impotent PA, the Saudis do have the power to harm or help our economic interests, by refusing, or agreeing, to produce more oil that will halt the current steep rise in gas prices that, political commentators agree, are causing Biden’s unfavorable ratings to slip steadily downward. According to the latest polls, only 39% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Biden; he needs that extra Saudi oil to come on the market ASAP, so that the price of gas can decrease sufficiently in time to affect the 2022 elections.
The Palestinians appear to believe that their continued intransigence – they twice turned down generous deals from the Israelis, first in 2000 when Arafat walked out on talks with Ehud Barak, and again in 2008, when Abbas walking out on talks with Ehud Olmert – will in the end result in Israel being pressured by the Americans to completely capitulate, so that the Jewish state returns to the 1949 armistice lines that Abba Eban described as the “lines of Auschwitz,” with a nine-mile-wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea.
Instead of returning to the old, failed policy of making unilateral concessions, the administration should be putting the screws on Abbas. Alas, as we’ve seen in the administration’s negotiations with Iran, appeasement seems to be Biden’s modus operandi.
The Bidenites have continually appeased Iran in the Vienna negotiations, but now even they have reached a demand from Iran on which they will not concede. Biden has announced there will be no granting of Iran’s insistence that the terrorist designation of the IRGC be removed. This impasse may scuttle – thank god – the return to the 2015 deal with Iran. And there may be a point, too, when even Biden will have had his fill of Mahmoud Abbas’ demands, and no longer use up his own political capital in Washington to satisfy them. He may no longer be willing to indulge Abbas in his insistence on keeping his “Pay-For-Slay” program, while receiving American aid, and may drop any further attempt to re-open the “consulate to the Palestinians” in Jerusalem, and the office in Washington of the PLO, an umbrella group for terrorist factions.
Other than the progressives sabotaging his domestic agenda and impeding his foreign policy, and the Arabist hacks he brought back into the government, what constituency does Biden think he is serving with his policy towards the Palestinians? His policies towards both the Palestinians and Iran are entirely out of step with the views of our regional allies.
The members of the anti-Israel Squad, led by Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and the “Arabist hacks” – such as Robert Malley and Hady Amr – now called back to the government by Tony Blinken, are the only ones who support Biden’s appeasement of both Iran and the Palestinians. The American public does not.
On this one occasion, Biden should channel Donald Trump and read the riot act to Abbas. Instead of showering him with gifts and promises of pressuring Israel and opening a Jerusalem consulate, the president should lay down the law that the Palestinians won’t get economic or diplomatic support until they fall in line with American values and interests; stop the corruption and human-rights abuses; halt payments to terrorists; end incitement; and accept the reality that Israel is here to stay.
Mitchell Bard argues that there is no need to coddle Mahmoud Abbas by taking seriously, and trying to meet, his preposterous demands. Instead, he should be told that there is no possibility of reopening the “consulate to the Palestinians” in Jerusalem, as it had been located until Donald Trump closed it down, because the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) requires the agreement of the “receiving” state – in this case, Israel — and both Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid have said forcefully that Israel will not agree to that consulate being re-opened in Jerusalem. There is no way for the Bidenites to get around the express terms of that Vienna Convention.
Perhaps Mahmoud Abbas should now take stock of the PA’s real situation, including its abandonment by former Arab donors, annoyed by the PA’s lack of gratitude for past financial, diplomatic, and military help, and for its refusal to accept past Israeli offers for territorial adjustments. He might also note that the EU, too, formerly so accommodating to the PA, is now determined to withhold funds until the PA makes good on its promise to remove the omnipresent antisemitism from its schoolbooks.
Abbas is in no position to be making “demands” on the U.S. or on anyone else. Rather, he should be making “requests.” In the case of the consulate, he should concede that there is no way around the Vienna Convention, and merely ask that a “consulate to the PA” be opened in Ramallah which, after all, is the seat of the PA government offices. The colossal corruption also has to stop. While the Palestinians have become increasingly impoverished, Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons Tarek and Yasser have been steadily amassing a family fortune now worth some $400 million dollars. Some of that ought to be disgorged to help the PA pay its bills. Perhaps, when Abbas finally retires or dies, his successor – such as Mahmoud Dahlan, his old enemy, who is more popular than any of Abbas’ henchmen – will be able to claw back from his sons some of those $400 millions for the PA’s treasury. There is no reason for American taxpayers to be paying for the colossal sums stolen by the corrupt Mahmoud Abbas, his sons, and their loyalists.