The Palestinians, who often rush to express their views on various regional and international conflicts, have been careful not to take sides in the war between Russia and Ukraine. “Close ties with Russia stop Palestinians from taking sides in Ukraine war – analysis,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, February 26, 2022:
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip have long maintained good relations with Russia.
Ties between the Palestinians and Russia are of long standing. In 1957 the Soviets put terrific pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the Sinai. In 1967 the Soviets took the Arab side in the Six-Day-War, and promptly resupplied the depleted armories of both Egypt and Syria. I was in Russia during the Six-Day War, studying Russian, and I well remember the newspaper headlines: “We are with you, Arab brothers!” and “Arabs Heroically Defend Their Motherland,” which allowed one to conclude that the Israelis, against all odds, were on Arab soil, and had won.
That’s why they [the Palestinians] have neither come out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine nor expressed any opinion about the conflict, at least not by Saturday night….
A week into the war, and the Palestinians still haven’t criticized Russia for its invasion. And they won’t. How could Mahmoud Abbas, who studied in the Soviet Union for years, and wrote his Holocaust- minimizing (“only 800,000 Jews, at most, were killed”) thesis at Patrice Lumumba University — The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism — ever turn his back on Russia, where he first learned how to promote antisemitic lies that have stood him in good stead ever since? And why should the Palestinians care if Vladimir Putin, a dictator very much to their liking, tries to reconstitute what he can of the former Soviet Union?
Russia for decades supplied money and weapons not just to such Arab enemies of Israel as Egypt and Syria, but also backed Arafat’s PLO. And after the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War, when it became clear that the Arabs should pivot to a diplomatic campaign against the Jewish state, the KGB helped create the campaign to convince the world that Israel had “stolen land belonging to the ‘Palestinian people’,” a newly-invented demonym concocted in Moscow, designed to change the perception of the Arab gang-up on Israel as, instead, a war between “two peoples,” the Jews and the Palestinians, who should split “Palestine” by having the Jewish state squeezed back within the 1949 armistice lines, with a nine-mile wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea.
Given this history of Russian financial, military, diplomatic, and “moral” support for the Palestinian Arabs, and Mahmoud Abbas’ personal ties to Russia, it would have been impossible to break with Moscow.
Over the past few weeks, a growing number of officials in Ramallah have expressed disappointment with the failure of the US administration to fulfill its promises to the Palestinians, including the reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem and exerting pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank.
The PA leadership criticizes Biden for not fulfilling his promise to re-open the “consulate to the Palestinians” in Jerusalem. Abbas and Co. are apparently unaware that the Bidenites have now realized that there is something called the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that requires any consulate that is to be opened or reopened to first receive the express consent of the country where the consulate is to be located. Bennett and Lapid have made clear that they will never give such consent to a consulate in Jerusalem. The Biden Administration’s hands are tied.
There is another matter, too, that may lead the Bidenites to change their current policy toward the Palestinians. The Biden adminitratioin has restored hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the PA. In so doing, they have violated the Taylor Force Act, that prohibits giving aid to the PA as long as it keeps in place its “Pay-For-Slay” program, by which it provides generous monthly payments to imprisoned terrorists or to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out their attacks. The Bidenites claim that the money they are giving is allowed under an exception in the Taylor Force Act for “humanitarian aid.” But there is no such exception. Congress ought to call out the Administration on this, so as to force an end to the aid to the PA that violates both the letter and the spirit of Taylor Force. Then it will be clear to the PA that no matter how capitulationist the Bidenites may be – see their hair-raising concessions made to Iran at Vienna – they still must respect American laws and international treaties to which the U.S. is a party.
Obviously, Abbas has no intention of taking a stance towards the Russia-Ukraine war for fear that such a move would strain the PA’s relations with Moscow and sabotage his efforts to convince Putin to play a significant role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas does not realize it, but there is no chance that Russia will continue to be accepted, after its invasion of Ukraine, as a member of the Quartet. The other members of the group – the U.N., the E.U., and the United States — now regard Russia as a pariah. And as long as Russian troops occupy the Ukraine, which could be for a very long time, not only will Russia not be welcome to continue as part of the Quartet, but given the diplomatic mess he has created for himself if he continues to keep an army of occupation in Ukraine, it’s unlikely Putin will want to take on the thankless and distracting task of trying, as a member of the Quartet, to fashion a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The only way such a permanent peace can be established is not through treaties but through deterrence, which requires Israel’s military to be overwhelmingly more powerful — and to be readily perceived as such — than its enemies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, the PFLP, the Houthis in Yemen and, of course, Iran. Treaties will not keep the peace. Any treaty Muslims sign with non-Muslims may be violated by the Muslim side, emulating the behavior of Muhammad in 628 A.D. It was in that year that Muhammad, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and Model of Conduct (uswa hasana) made an agreement with the Meccans that was to last for ten years. But after 18 months, sensing that his side had grown sufficiently strong, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked the Meccans. That remains the model for Muslim treaty-making today.
Putin will either be kicked out, or voluntarily bow out, of the Quartet.
On the first day of the war, PLO Executive Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh announced that he had a phone call with Russian Deputy of Foreign Affairs Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. At first glance, it appeared as if the senior Palestinian official – a possible successor to Abbas – discussed with the Kremlin’s top diplomat the crisis in Ukraine.
But Sheikh said in his statement that he discussed with Bogdanov the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC), which met in Ramallah earlier this month.…
On the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abbas’ likely successor, Hussein al-Sheikh, talked by phone with the Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. But not a word was said, apparently, about the most significant military operation in Europe since World War II. Instead, the conversation was all about the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council – to which no one but the Palestinians pay the slightest attention – to suspend its recognition of Israel and to end security cooperation with the Jewish state. Foreign Minister Bogdanov expressed his country’s “support for peace in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and justice,” which is code for all those U.N. Resolutions denouncing Israel. This Kremlin claim to support “international legitimacy and justice” is hard to swallow on the same day that 190,000 heavily armed Russian troops began their invasion of Ukraine.
The timing of the phone call may seem bizarre but it was clearly intended to send a message to the Russians that the PA does not want the Ukraine crisis to affect its relations with Putin….
Of course not. Why should a little thing like invading Ukraine get in the way of Palestinian-Russian relations? The Palestinians only wish they had 190,000 men under arms and Russian weapons, so that they too could emulate Putin by crushing underfoot the Jewish state.
Like the PA, the Hamas leadership is also keen on preserving its good relations with Moscow, especially in light of the group’s increasing isolation in the international arena.…
Hamas has been having a rough time of It lately. More countries have ceased to distinguish between the “political” and the “military” wings of Hamas, designating both as indissoluble parts of one terrorist whole, and outlawing the group. The heaviest blow was delivered by the British government, which in late 2021 outlawed all of Hamas, and made support of the group a crime. No wonder Hamas wants to keep the support of Russia.
That’s why Hamas was quick on Saturday to deny a statement attributed to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. According to the statement, Mashaal reportedly said that Putin “must halt his invasion of Ukraine and the killing of civilians.”
Concerned that the alleged statement would alienate Putin, the Hamas leadership denied the “fabricated” remarks attributed to Mashaal. “Mashaal did not make any statement to any media outlet regarding the Ukrainian crisis,” said a Hamas spokesperson.
Hamas mustn’t make Putin mad. So it had to deny that Mashaal had ever said such a thing. And if he did deplore the killing of civilians, should we not remind him that his very own Hamas lobbed 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians back in May, and has made Jewish civilians its main target ever since the terror group came into being in 1987?
The only Hamas official to comment on the Russia-Ukraine crisis was Abu Marzouk, who wrote on Twitter that the lesson of the war was that the era of America’s status as unipolar superpower has ended.
But America lost its “status as a unipolar superpower” not because it must share that status with Russia, a country that has a minuscule economy, with a GDP of $1.4 trillion, as compared with the U.S.’s GDP of $21 trillion, but because it must share it with China. Russia has a population of 145 million, compared to 332 million people in the U.S. and 1.4 billion in China.
The US, the Hamas official argued, “was unable to take the decision of war in the face of Russia.”
The US got off to a slow start in helping Ukraine resist Russian aggression, but it has now found its footing, and is certainly not cowed by Putin. It has delivered close to $1 billion in weaponry, via Poland, to the Ukrainians, and has also helped persuade 27 European nations to supply more than $1 billion in weapons and other assistance. In addition, the U.S. has imposed the farthest-ranging financial sanctions ever imposed anywhere, on Russia. Surely all that amounts to taking “the decision of war in the face of Russia.”
If Russia takes weeks to subdue Ukraine, rather than the days that analysts had earlier predicted, and If it loses thousands of troops, as well as significant numbers of planes and tanks, Putin may not be able to survive politically. He appears all-powerful now, but if Ukraine turns into a morass, if a huge occupation army is required to keep a nation of 45 million subjugated, and if he cannot find a way to become unstuck from what will have become Tarbaby Ukraine, he will be in great trouble at home. Already, in the third day of fighting, some in his circle of billionaires – Fridman, Deripaska, Abramovich — called for an end to hostilities, which means the Russians should halt their invasion. What will he do if his loyalists desert him?
Any successor will be an anti-Putin, ready to pull out of Ukraine, and likely to look with disfavor on those who supported Putin’s Ukraine aggression, like Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They’ve hitched their wagon to what I suspect will be a falling star.