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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Continuing in Arafat's tradition

The PLO's first leader, Yasser Arafat, was notorious for saying one thing in English to western audiences and another in Arabic to Arabs. Until organizations like Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI came along, most of the world wasn't even aware that Arafat was talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Now, with those fine organizations making material available to us, we are all aware of what Arafat's successor, 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen says in Arabic.

Elliott Abrams argues that if President Obama is as serious about peace as he claims to be, Abu Mazen's continuing incitement in Arabic has to be met head on and stopped.
Why should Israelis, or Americans for that matter, believe his commitment to peace in English, when in Arabic he treats war as an acceptable option?

President Obama is well aware that popular incitement remains a thorn in the side of serious talks. In May, the President said that he had "mentioned to President Abbas in a frank exchange that it was very important to continue to make progress in reducing the incitement and anti-Israel sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools and mosques and in the public square, because all those things are impediments to peace."

At a dinner for Abbas during his Washington visit, I confronted him with several recent examples of incitement, as well as the denial that he made to the President. His reply was that of a bureaucrat, not a peacemaker: He did not deny the allegations, but said that if true they should be raised at a tripartite committee (the United States, the Palestinian Authority and Israel) that had been established by the Oslo Accords.

If peace is our goal, such a response is deeply inadequate. Abbas should handle incitement by stopping it, not seeking committee meetings - and especially not by denying that incitement occurs in the first place. Of course, it's easy to see why, politically, Abbas and others in the PLO and Fatah leadership avoid confronting these organizations' long involvement in terrorism, but if they cannot do so, the chances for real peace are slim. A leadership whose maps do not even show an entity called Israel is unlikely to tell Palestinian refugees that it has given up their "right of return" or that their long-hoped-for Palestinian state within the 1967 borders will not include control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


Obama is right to keep raising this subject with Abbas, but Presidents have been raising it for years. As the Palestinian leadership never seems to pay any penalty for its words, America's seriousness about the peace process is in doubt.

If the Obama administration is dedicated to a major peace effort in the coming year, the incitement issue should be at the top of its agenda. Because when direct negotiations do finally begin, the key test of Palestinian commitment to peace will not be what Abbas and his colleagues say to Americans in English, but what they say in Arabic to Palestinians - about Israel, about terrorism and about real peace.
Read the whole thing.


At 4:32 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Is Abu Bluff going to talk to Israel? "The Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has poured cold water on calls by the United States and Israel to resume direct talks on a Middle East Peace agreement."

"In a letter to the US president's special envoy, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said direct talks are not appropriate because indirect talks have yielded nothing." Fatah says "no" to direct talks. As if that was a surprise. Is George Mitchell going to apply pressure on Ramallah? Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

We know where chief bottle washer Erekat stands. Why every one is running around wasting their time looking for something that will never happen is one of the Middle East's real mysteries. Why is Obama torturing Mitchell with such a pointless errand?

More here: Fatah Rejects Calls To Resume Direct Talks

What could go wrong indeed


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