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    Mahmoud Abbas Tag

    Last Thursday, Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) reported that Arab-Israeli MK Yosef Jabarin traveled to Hadarim Prison to visit with top Palestinian terror mastermind Marwan Barghouti. After the visit, Jabarin reportedly claimed to be “impressed” by the terrorist’s “serious intention” to run for chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA), despite being holed up in an Israeli jail cell:
    During their meeting, Jabarin and Barghouti discussed efforts to reconcile split Palestinian factions before the upcoming municipal elections, which are set for October. Barghouti emphasized that the success of the local government elections could pave the way for democratic elections in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the office of the chairman of the Palestinian Authority after Abbas—which would give him a chance to supersede Abbas”.
    Other than this brief mention in Arutz Sheva and an editorial in a website catering to religiously-observant Jews, I couldn’t find this news item covered by any other mainstream media outlet. That’s not surprising.

    Earlier this year, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs released a report on the so-called Knife Uprising (Intifada), The Knife and the Message: The Roots of the New Palestinian Uprising (pdf. version here). The report explored various aspects behind the Palestinian violence, which included shooting and car rammings, among other tactics, with a focus on knife stabbings. Children and young adults were both the target of incitement, and predictably therefore, the main participants in violence. Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

    Since 1967 — when Israel liberated the Jewish holy sites in eastern Jerusalem — the Temple Mount has been administered by agreement through the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian-funded trust which oversees the site’s day-to-day religious functions. The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism, sanctified as the place where the Jewish Temples existed in biblical times. It’s a place where Jews should have basic rights, including the freedom of movement and worship. But as we’ve noted in several prior posts (see here, here, here) because of the profoundly discriminatory “status quo arrangement” set in place in 1967 and subsequently upheld by Israel’s courts, Jews are prohibited from praying there for fear of potentially upsetting Muslim worshippers, stirring up tensions, and triggering violent Muslim backlashes.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Prime Minister Manuel Valls he wants to hold a one-on-one meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instead of a multinational conference in Paris. Netanyahu thinks Abbas will use the conference as a way to ignore direct negotiations with Israel. France has scheduled the peace talks for the beginning of June without Israel or Palestinian Authority representatives. From The Times of Israel:
    “The Palestinian Authority does not see the French initiative as an inducer for negotiations, but as a way to avoid them,” he said. Instead, Netanayhu said, he would be willing to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “in Paris or wherever,” and hold face-to-face negotiations without international mediation. “Every difficult issue will be on the table,” he said.
    France plans to host another conference with Israel and Palestine in the autumn.

    One the best commentaries I've seen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was published last week in Haaretz.  The article by Israeli author, Gadi Taub asked, Does Abbas Really Want Israel to Withdraw From the West Bank? Unsurprisingly the answer Taub suggests is "no." Taub's column can be reduced to 5 main points as to why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not want peace with Israel.
    1. After spending years agitating for the "right of return" there is no way he would abandon it and lose whatever little credibility he still has with the Palestinians in order to make peace.
    2. He might complain about the human rights abuses of Israel, but the Palestinian security services will be worse.
    3. Right now Abbas doesn't have to fight Hamas directly, Israel is doing most of the work. As an added bonus Israel's presence in the West Bank allows him to complain about occupation. If he gets a state by compromise he will lose the Israeli protection and he will look like he gave in to Israel.

    This is one of those things that just leave you shaking your head. And it's an important lesson of why Israel can't lose any war -- there would be no mercy shown on the Jews. In early September we covered the anniversary of the 1972 Munich Massacre, in which 11 Israelis were murdered by PLO terrorists who took them hostage in the Olympic Village. Mahmoud Abbas, current President of the Palestinian Authority, reportedly financed the operation. Here are the images of the Israelis who died:

    Former President Bill Clinton's said last week in Israel in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, that peace is up to Israel. As the Associated Press reported:
    "He refused to give up his dream of peace in the face of violence," Clinton, who formed a close bond with Rabin when both were in office, said to roars of applause. "The next step will be determined by whether you decide that Yitzhak Rabin was right, that you have to share the future with your neighbors ... that the risks for peace are not as severe as the risk of walking away from it. Those of us who loved him and love your country are praying that you will make the right decision."
    Even last year, Clinton indicated that he didn't believe that Netanyahu could make peace. But this is false history, as Jonathan Tobin at Commentary pointed out, "if there is anything that the last 22 years have taught us it is that it clearly not up to the Israeli people."

    The First and Second Intifadas were bloody, with thousands killed. The Second Intifada was particularly gruesome, with Palestinian suicide bombers blowing up restaurants, buses and just about every other civilian target they could reach. Israel reacted by constructing the security barrier and launching Operation Defensive Shield. In the past couple of weeks in particular, there has been a surge in Palestinian violence with stabbings, firebombing and rock throwing. The uptick has been fed by deliberate incitement by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority: Some Arab Israeli members of the Knesset also are involved in fanning the flames, like this Knesset member screaming at Jews to leave the Temple Mount:

    Palestinians are among the largest recipients of international aid, per capita, in the world. Yet all we hear about is U.S. aid to Israel, which is entirely military and most of which comes back to U.S. companies because it is required to be spent on U.S.-made equipment. International aid to Palestinians doesn't come back to the donor countries. That includes an average U.S. annual contribution of $400 million. (pdf.) In fact, it doesn't seem to go anywhere productive. Why don't we hear more about this? Because there is no free press in any of the Palestinian controlled areas, or independent NGOs, like there are in Israel. Whereas Israel is under a microscope by dozens of NGOs and hundreds of reporters, Palestinian authorities -- both the PA and Hamas -- are beyond much Western scrutiny. Canada-based Rebel Media has a great video report, Palestinian Authority has been given enough money to equal 15 Marshall Plans -- with nothing to show for it:
    Over the last 20 years, various countries, including Canada, have invested over US$30B in the emerging Palestinian state, with little to show for it. Calev Myers of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice explains why. "The international community made a terrible mistake in 1994," Myers says. "In order to push for two states for two peoples, they recognized Yassir Arafat as the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people and helped him create the Palestinian Authority."

    Mahmoud Abbas showed his hand today at the U.N., accusing Israel of genocide, getting a predictable reaction, via Times of Israel:
    In his address, Abbas accused Israel of committing genocide in its recent conflict with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip — calling 2014 “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people” — and said that Israel was not interested in living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors. “It’s a speech of incitement full of lies,” an unnamed source from the PMO told the Hebrew press. “That’s not how someone who wants peace speaks.” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement shortly after Abbas’s speech that the PA president demonstrated that “he doesn’t want and cannot be a partner for a logical diplomatic resolution.”
    Here is part of the speech, in which Abbas heaps verbal abuse on Israel:

    Excellent analysis in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper by journalist Ari Shavit, Waiting for the Palestinian Godot:
    There are some moments a journalist will never forget. In early 1997, Yossi Beilin decided to trust me, and show me the document that proved that peace was within reach. The then-prominent and creative politician from the Labor movement opened up a safe, took out a stack of printed pages, and laid them down on the table like a player with a winning poker hand. Rumors were rife about the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, but only a few had the opportunity to see the document with their own eyes or hold it in their hands. I was one of those few. With mouth agape I read the comprehensive outline for peace that had been formulated 18 months earlier by two brilliant champions of peace -- one, Israeli, and one, Palestinian. The document left nothing to chance: Mahmoud Abbas is ready to sign a permanent agreement. The refugee from Safed had overcome the ghosts of the past and the ideas of the past, and was willing to build a joint Israeli-Palestinian future, based on coexistence. If we could only get out from under the Likud’s thumb, and get Benjamin Netanyahu out of office, he will join us, hand in hand, walking toward the two-state solution. Abbas is a serious partner for true peace, the one with whom we can make a historic breakthrough toward reconciliation. We understood. We did what was necessary. In 1999, we ousted Likud and Netanyahu. In 2000, we went to the peace summit at Camp David. Whoops, surprise: Abbas didn’t bring the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan to Camp David, or any other draft of a peace proposal. The opposite was true: He was one of the staunchest objectors, and his demand for the right of return prevented any progress.

    The announcement recently by Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians never, ever would recognize a Jewish state garnered plenty of headlines. It quickly was followed up by a similar announcement from the Arab League and Fatah party. Watch this speech by Abbas, which led to the headlines, and read the text. It appears that the peace negotiations were a farce from the get-go. Abbas is in favor of the 1 1/2 state solution -- one for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and another half a Palestinian state within Israel itself through the unfettered and unrestricted "return" of 1948 refugess in the war started by the Arab plus their descendents. It is clear that any peace deal only is a first step. Abbas, the supposedly most moderate Palestinian leader Israel is likely to see (according to Obama-Kerry), does not accept a Jewish national entity. That's the bottom line. Transcript via MEMRI:
    Mahmoud Abbas: "Our position is that the settlements – from start to finish – are illegal. They talk about settlement blocs, or about settlements here and there, but we say that every house and every stone that were placed in the West Bank since 1967 and to this day are illegal and we do not recognize them." […] "No resolution that we agree upon with the others will be passed unless it is confirmed by popular referendum of all the Palestinians worldwide." Applause […]

    Another in my ongoing posts from Israel: Today was a rest day, with the only real activity some time at the beach in front of our hotel in Tel Aviv. The Mediterranean Sea was warm, and the waves and undertow strong.  It was great to ride the waves, but one man drowned just after we left the water. [caption id="attachment_60407" align="alignnone" width="553"](Tel Aviv beach in front of our hotel) (Tel Aviv beach in front of our hotel)[/caption] In the evening I did my part to break the boycott of Aroma Café, of which we have written before.  (Remember, Buycott Israeli companies to defeat BDS.) [caption id="attachment_60408" align="alignnone" width="413"](Aroma Café, Tel Aviv Seaport) (Aroma Café, Tel Aviv Seaport)[/caption] But the big news of the day was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released an Open Letter (read the whole thing) to the Israeli public signaling his intention to seek Cabinet Approval on Sunday to release all Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners convicted of security offenses prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords, thereby complying with a promise John Kerry had made to Mahmoud Abbas as a precondition to peace negotiations.