Abbas has always played both sides


In his new book, Dr. Shaul Bartal explains in detail how Fatah & the other Palestinian groups have a common goal — Israel’s destruction. The difference between terror organizations & “moderate” Abbas, as shown by Palestinian Media Watch, is only in the way they speak, but not in the way they think, nor in their actions.

By Nadav Shragai


Although the scene I am about to describe was watched by viewers of Palestinian television 33 times over the past 22 years, Israeli viewers never saw it even once. A Palestinian singer in a suit and tie performed in a packed auditorium for a Fatah event, sweeping the audience with enthusiasm as he sang a song that promised “to stand behind Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] until Judgment Day and return to our pure soil from Rafah to Rosh Hanikra and Beit She’an, from Haifa to Tantura [Dor Beach] and the borders of the Jordan Valley.”

Fatah celebrates 48 years with images of rockets fired at Tel Aviv – Photo: Palwatch

When the first of the cities named above were mentioned, all the high-ranking officials of the Palestinian Authority and of Fatah, including Abbas, his chief of staff Tayeb Abdel Rahim, Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu Al-Einen, and Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee members Hanan Ashrawi, Yasser Abed Rabbo, and Abbas Zaki, sat in their seats, smiling and applauding.

Who else sat beside them? None other than Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli member of Knesset who, to put it mildly, remained undisturbed when the singer added, “However long the nights we spent on foreign soil, I am returning to you, O purest land, land of the free.”

Also, according to the maps and crossword puzzles published by the PA’s official newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, Beersheba, Lod, Acre, Tiberias and Tel Aviv are Palestinian cities or “occupied” cities, as are Mount Carmel and Mount Meron. Many of the PA’s textbooks hew to this line. Abbas, our partner in peace, according to various people, continues to play both sides. Both Facebook pages that were recently created with the name “President Mahmoud Abbas” contain two supposedly identical letters signed by him. One describes all of Israel’s territory as “territory occupied by Israel,” while the other describes only the territory captured in 1967 as “occupied.”

The harsh exchanges of words between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres about Abbas’ true intentions and the question of whether he is a partner or a con man in the style of former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat make the material now being published by Palestinian Media Watch more relevant than ever.

Dr. Shaul Bartal’s new book, “The Way of Jihad in Palestine” (published by Carmel), deals with similar material and the same question. Bartal, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University who held a series of security-related positions in Judea and Samaria over many years, does not deal with Abbas. Rather, he touches on the question of the PA’s true intentions from an unexpected angle: that of the “rejectionist groups.”

Bartal mapped these groups and their ideological writings, which he encountered during his research and his work. He has studied all of them, from Hamas to the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel to groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Liberation Party. For Hizb ut-Tahrir, which aspires to reinstitute the Islamic caliphate, Hamas is “pro-European” and Abbas “works contrary to Islamic law.” Yet they still hold a common goal.

This radical movement (its power bases are concentrated in east Jerusalem, Nablus and Hebron), which has been acquiring more and more followers in the West Bank, sees no difference between itself and the Palestinian Authority when it comes to the final goal: the liberation of all of Palestine and the destruction of Israel.

“The difference between them, according to Hizb ut-Tahrir, which sees Israel as the source of all evil, is the method and its particulars,” Bartal says. “The difference is tactical, not strategic. The members of the Palestinian Authority, our ‘partner in peace,’ and the Liberation Party and the rest of the Islamic groups all share a common goal.

“According to Hizb ut-Tahrir, the disagreement concerns a basic question of Islamic religious law: whether it is permitted to negotiate with the Jewish entity called Israel in order to accomplish the final goal of liberating Palestine.”

A “like” for Israel’s destruction

The reports recently published by Palestinian Media Watch deal with just this issue. One report, which deals with Abbas himself, cites statements made in recent years both by Abbas himself and by his close associates — statements that allegedly show that the PA conducts its talks and behaviors with Israel on a tactical-practical basis rather than a basis of substance.

Playing both sides? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – Photo: Reuters

In one such statement, Abbas tells his interviewers on Palestinian television that he does not demand that Hamas, Fatah or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine recognize Israel — but that he, as the PA chairman, had no choice because “how can the Palestinian finance minister reach understandings with the Israeli finance minister about the return of funds if he does not recognize him?”

Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, also said that the object of the oft-talked-about interview on Channel 2 about two months ago was to influence Israeli public opinion. In the interview, Abbas talked about a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and even said that he would like to visit Safed, his birthplace, but not live there (after the interview, Abbas himself published a correction to his statements saying that he had not given up the right of return and that his statements were no more than an expression of his “personal position”).

Several interesting sources of information that provide a glimpse into the inner workings of Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party headed by Abbas, are its Facebook pages, which can be viewed by anyone. They are filled with hatred, together with the glorification of terrorism and a world without Israel. Last December, Fatah twice published photographs depicting small children holding rifles almost as tall as they were.

On one of the photos, the following was written: “The 48th anniversary of the outbreak of the Palestinian revolution. My mother bore me to fight, and Fatah gave me the gun.” Another photograph shows a girl marching with a rifle. Beside her, the page’s manager wrote the following: “Fatah is the spark of the Palestinian revolution, the revolution that transformed the refugees into combat fighters. …” Another photograph depicts columns of refugees that Arafat turned into combat fighters “with his keffiyah and his revolution.”

For several days running, the cover photo on Fatah’s Facebook page showed a masked man holding an automatic rifle and three Palestinian flags flying over the Temple Mount. In recent weeks, the page’s manager even published a photograph of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in uniform, holding a rifle. Alongside the photo were statements praising “the holy martyr, President Saddam Hussein.”

On its Facebook page, Fatah continues to glorify terrorists, such as the eight terrorists who perpetrated the attack at the Savoy Hotel in 1975 and Dalal Mugrabi, who led the terror attack on the coastal highway in 1978 in which 37 civilians were murdered. Her photograph appears there with the following text: “The heroine of the Kamal Adwan martyrdom operation, the bride of Jaffa and the life energy of Fatah.”

In addition, Fatah publishes maps on its Facebook page that negate Israel’s existence, together with photographs of a map of Palestine in which Israel does not exist. In one of the photographs, the last letter of the acronym Fatah embraces all of “Palestine,” and the Palestinian flag in the photograph symbolizes political sovereignty over the entire area.

Last December, the map on Fatah’s Facebook page was even more explicit. It was covered completely in the Palestinian flag and marked, in addition to Palestinian cities, the Israeli cities Safed, Acre, Tiberias, Haifa, Beit She’an, Nazareth, Jaffa, Ramle, Beersheba and Jerusalem. In the upper left corner, a photograph of Dalal Mugrabi appeared alongside photographs of Arafat and Abu Jihad, the founders of Fatah, which is responsible for many attacks on Israelis.

Other photographs on Fatah’s Facebook page continue to glorify various forms of violence and terrorism against Israel. Often, the photograph shows a pen dripping blood, hinting at the dozens of letter bombs that were sent to American and Israeli diplomats all over the world in the 1970s. Often, they feature rifle bullets forming the words “Fatah ’48” or photographs praising terrorists who launch rockets.

Terrorism, terrorism and more terrorism

Against this backdrop, the song that was played on Palestinian radio in early December, only two days after the Palestinian Authority received the status of an observer state in the U.N., praises suicide attacks against Israelis and portrays them as Islamic acts worthy of praise. The Palestinian singer Abu Arab sings enthusiastically: “We are bombs, O people. … The enemy’s heads are cut off. … Do not be sad, Mother; do not weep for my torn flesh. … Courageous men are calling challenge upon death. We praised (Allah) and went to martyrdom. We put on bomb belts and put our trust in Allah. … Forward, men, to the paths of fame.”

Members of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – Photo: AP

Alongside these lyrics, which the Palestinian Authority’s radio station plays regularly for its listeners’ pleasure, Palestinian television serves up a generous dose of venom as well. “People of Israel, do not become haughty. … The hands of time are moving, as they must. … The theft of our land will not frighten us. … You cut off the tops of the trees, but the roots remain.” Thus the enthusiastic television hostess reads on the program “Raise Your Voice,” which is produced in cooperation with the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation and with European support.

“With us, expect the unexpected. … We are in all the airports and all the travel tickets. … We are coming to Rome, Zurich and under the rocks,” says the hostess of a poetry program, invoking the hijacking of an aircraft in 1968 and the attempt to hijack a plane in Zurich the following year. She adds, “Always remember that the U.S., with all its importance, is not strong, all-powerful Allah. … A small rifle in the hand of a small child can kill a grown-up.”

What can we say? It is any wonder that Fatah’s high-ranking officials sound relatively mild in their statements about firing Hamas rockets at Israel? Here are a few of their harsher statements:

Zaki: “My feelings toward Hamas have softened. I salute them. … May Allah bless Islamic Jihad. … Nothing interests me anymore but the defeat of Israel.”

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhsin: “…We glorify and salute every hand that fired a rocket at Israel from the Gaza Strip.”

Fatah Central Committee member and former head of the Preventive Security Force Jibril Rajoub: “…Out of loyalty to your blood, Yasser Arafat, we will not sheathe the sword again until the state is established. Resistance, in all its forms, is Fatah’s strategic choice. We are ready. If they shoot, we shoot. If they demonstrate, we demonstrate….”

In their statements, the spokesmen of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, also speak of the armed struggle as a “legitimate right.”

Religious unity

In the closing chapter of “The Way of Jihad in Palestine,” Dr. Bartal cites a joint poster of all the resistance movements in Palestinian society that was never reported in Israel. The document, which was written in 2004 after the Disengagement Plan was made public, was published in a book written by several authors, one of whom is the PLO’s legal adviser, Thafer bin Hatzraa.

Bartal believes that this document comprises the common denominator of the Palestinian secular movements, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The poster, which is signed by Hamas, Fatah and the Popular Front among others, states in part: “We see the Zionist withdrawal from any part of our blessed land as a victory for our nation. … If the thieving enemy does not want to withdraw from all portions of our land of its own free will, (resistance will continue). … Any Zionist withdrawal that (the enemy) willingly carries out shall be without reservation or condition, and with no promise or guarantee of the enemy’s security. (The withdrawal) shall continue until it drives out the occupation.”

Bartal notes that the “occupation” is a term that includes not only the territory that was captured in 1967, but all parts of historical Palestine. Also, the term “resistance” is used not only by the Islamic resistance organizations, but also by movements that have no military wing and that see themselves as part of the resistance to Israel.

Bartal’s book, which was published recently, was completed in Nov. 2011. A year later, Bartal identifies exactly the same danger that Netanyahu warned against — the danger that Hamas could take over the West Bank as well. “Fatah officials say that the PA is collapsing and high-ranking Hamas officials are already saying that they are ready to take over the leadership. Several weeks ago, a large rally marking Fatah’s 48th anniversary was held in Gaza for the first time in several years. High-ranking Fatah officials received official permission from the Hamas government to come and participate.

“It is obvious that this was not free. We are witnessing the Palestinians uniting against Israel. Seventy percent of the Palestinian public currently supports the Islamic movements, and this trend is only getting stronger as compared with the 1950s and 1960s,” says Bartal. “Today, the Israeli-Arab conflict is religious, not national, in nature. The challenge of the State of Israel is to continue to manage the conflict with the Muslim world even at the price of compromises that are sometimes painful.”

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