“What the Europeans fail to get,” Oren said, “is that by encouraging Abbas not to enter negotiations with Israel and the U.S., they are harming the Palestinians themselves. It creates a situation where Abbas cannot enter negotiations. People are giving the Palestinians terrible advice.”
That those persecuting Christians come from a wide variety of racial, linguistic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds — from African, Arab, Asian, and Caucasian nations — and share little in common with one another, except for Islam, sadly only further underscores the true source of the persecution.
by Caroline Glick
Vice President Mike Pence gave an epic speech at the Knesset this week. His was the most powerful embrace of Zionism and the Jewish people any foreign leader has ever presented. Pence’s fluency in Jewish history, and his comprehension of the centrality of the both the Bible and the Land of Israel in the vast flow of that history in far-flung-exile communities across time and space was spellbinding. He touched the hearts of his audience, causing knots in the throats of most of the people sitting in the Knesset on Monday afternoon.
Pence’s speech was rendered poignant and the friendship he bore became tinged with urgency with the publication, the very next day, of the latest Pew Center survey on American views of Israel.
Speaking in the name of the American people he represents, Pence said on Monday: “The friendship between our people has never been deeper.”
And when it comes to the Republican voters who elected President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence a year and two months ago, Pence is certainly correct. But the Pew data showed that on Israel, as on so many other issues, the cleavage between Republicans and Democrats is vast and unbridgeable.
Most of the coverage of the Pew survey focused reasonably on its main finding. The good news is that overall American support for Israel over the Palestinians remains more or less constant, and overwhelming. Forty-six percent of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians while a mere 16% of Americans support the Palestinians against Israel. The numbers haven’t changed much since polling began in 1978.
But then the news becomes more fraught. The disparity between Republican support for Israel and Democratic support for Israel has never been greater. Whereas 79% of Republicans support Israel over the Palestinians, only 27% of Democrats do. Moreover, the further one goes to the Left among Democratic voters, the more anti-Israel the respondents become. Liberal Democrats are now nearly twice as likely to support the Palestinians over Israel as they are to support Israel over the Palestinians. Thirty-five percent of liberal Democrats support the Palestinians against Israel. A mere 19% support Israel more than the Palestinians.
Conservative and moderate Democrats still support Israel far more than they support the Palestinians with 35% of moderate and conservative Democrats supporting Israel over the Palestinians, and 17% supporting the Palestinians more than Israel. But the level of support for Israel among this demographic has dropped precipitously in the last year and a half. In the previous survey, which took place in April 2016, support for Israel was 53%, or 19 points higher.
In other words, the last year and a half has seen a precipitous drop in Democratic support for Israel even as Republican support for Israel has grown ever higher.
For Israel’s leaders, as distressing as these numbers are, they don’t give an indication of how Israel should relate to the vast disparities in US support for Israel as they plot policies for the future.
The survey does provide that answer though. The last question in the survey asked respondents about the viability of the so-called two-state solution.
They were asked, “Can a way be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully or not?”
The answers were notable. While among the general population, faith in the two-state solution runs 49% to 39%, that support is indirectly proportionate to respondents’ support for Israel. The more they support Israel, the less they believe in the two-state solution.
Americans who support the Palestinians more than they support Israel, believe in the viability of the two-state solution runs 64% to 28%. Americans who support Israel more than the Palestinians view the two-state solution as nonviable by a margin of 40% to 51%.
On the face of things, this seems like an anomaly. For a generation, three successive administrations have insisted not only that the two-state solution is the only path to peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all insisted that Israel’s very survival as a Jewish state is contingent on it surrendering land it has held for 50 years to the PLO. Americans have been told that the only way to truly care about Israel is to support the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
And here we see that the US public has reached the opposite conclusions. Americans who oppose Israel support the establishment of a Palestinian state along the lines set out by Clinton, Bush and Obama. Americans who support Israel view such a prospect as impossible.
What explains this disparity? Two data points in the survey point to a reasonable explanation.
According to the survey, the greatest leap in Republican support for Israel occurred since 2001. In the past 17 years, Republican support for Israel leaped from 50% to 79%.
On the Democratic side, an opposite trend occurred. Since 2001, Democratic support for Israel has dropped from 38% to 27%.
Two events occurred in 2001 that set the parties on disparate paths: the September 11 attacks and the disputed results of the 2000 presidential race between Al Gore and Bush.
The September 11 attacks caused Republican voters to study the Middle East, including Israel, more closely than they ever had before. And the more familiar they became with Islamism, jihad and the other pathologies of the Arab world, the more supportive of Israel they became. The fact that the Palestinians rejected peace at the Camp David summit in July 2000 and that by the time the September 11 attacks occurred they were engaged in the largest terrorist onslaught against Israel in history, reinforced the sense among Republicans that Israel is the US’s closest ally in the war on Islamic terrorism.
On the other hand, the Democrats’ rejection of the legitimacy of the 2000 election results set the party on a course of radicalization. The best indication of the Democrats’ radicalization on Israel came with the precipitous downfall of senator Joseph Lieberman.
Lieberman was a liberal hawk, an ardent supporter of Israel and a proud Jew. In 2000 his positions had sufficient traction among Democratic voters to cause Gore to select him as his running mate in the presidential election.
Just six years later, a transformed Democratic party rejected Lieberman when he ran for reelection to his senate seat in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. His challenger, Ned Lamont, defeated Lieberman after running a campaign laced with antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Lieberman’s longtime ally, then-senator from New York Hillary Clinton, who was looking forward to the 2008 presidential race, refused to support him.
Today Democratic presidential hopefuls like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker have discarded their previous support for Israel to satisfy their party’s increasingly radical, anti-Israel base.
The Democrats’ move to the Left has caused them to ascribe increasingly to identity politics as the basis for policy-making. Identity politics dictate a pecking order of victims. The greater a group’s status as victim, the more the Democrats support it. In this taxonomy, Israel has been determined to be an oppressor, and the Palestinians are defined as the victims.
The problem with identity politics, at least insofar as Israel is concerned, is that there is no basis in fact for the determination that Israel is the bad guy and the Palestinians are the good guys. To the contrary. As the steep rise in Republican support over the past 17 years demonstrates, the more you know, the greater the likelihood that you will support Israel.
Rather than being a fact-based conclusion, the determination that Israel is bad and the Palestinians are good is an ideological dictate. And this presents Israel with an intractable problem as far as Democrats are concerned.
Israel cannot reason Democrats out of an anti-Israel position that they weren’t reasoned into. Israel has no ability whatsoever to convince the Democrats to rethink their animosity, when they never thought about it to begin with. They simply accepted the dictates of their political and ideological camp.
This brings us back to Pence, and the Trump administration’s extraordinary, voter-supported friendship for Israel and what it means for Israel today, as the prospect of an impossibly hostile Democratic administration in as little as three years lurks in the corner.
The most significant “news” that Pence announced in his address was Trump’s determination to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. This is important because, given the hostility of the Democrats, there is every reason to believe that if a Democratic administration takes power in 2021, Trump’s decision to move the embassy will be canceled if it hasn’t already happened.
Just as this is the time for the US to move its embassy to Israel’s capital, now is also the time for Israel to ditch the failed two-state model before it is too late.
Israel will never have a better opportunity than it has today to convince an American administration to abandon the anti-Israel narrative at the foundation of the two-state formula. That narrative, which asserts that there is no peace because there is no Palestinian state, places the blame for the absence of peace between the Palestinians and Israel on Israel alone.
Today there is an administration that is open to hearing an alternative narrative that portrays Israel properly as the good guy, and the Palestinians as the hopelessly intransigent foe that they have always been.
Now is the time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government to be speaking this plain truth in one voice. And now is the time for them to decide on, explain and implement a policy based on Israel’s rights and interests that will secure Israel’s strategic viability and position vis-à-vis the Palestinians for years to come. Such a policy, which will involve applying Israeli law over large swaths of Judea and Samaria, is clear, easy to explain and will successfully ensure the civil rights of Jews and Arabs alike for generations.
No, Israel’s efforts to explain itself will not crack through the closed intellectual circle of identity politics and partisanship. But that is why Israel needs to act now so that the new policy is explained and implemented along the same timetable as the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem.
By the time the 2020 US election campaign begin, Israel should have already determined and implemented its new policy. As Pence demonstrated so eloquently at the Knesset this week, Israel has a friend the likes of which it has never seen in the White House today. And if President Trump is not president in January 2021, Israel will face an administration that will make us miss Obama.
Pence and Pew showed us what we have and what awaits us. Now is the time for Israel to act.
By John Stonestreet/Breakpoint.org
The State Department is sitting on a classified report that states what anyone who reads the first paragraph in Wikipedia about the UN agency caring for Arabs who left Mandatory Palestine during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence: after 70 years, those refugees are almost all gone.
According to that classified State Dept. report, The Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday, the actual number of authentic refugees hovers around 20,000.
One of the questions on the FAQ page of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) website is: “Who is a Palestine refugee,” the answer to which is: “The operational definition of a Palestine refugee is any person whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period June 1, 1946 to May 15, 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”
The FAQ page then continues: “Palestine refugees are persons who fulfil the above definition and descendants of fathers fulfilling the definition.”
In other words, a person who was born in a refugee camp somewhere in the Middle East and lived there all his life, never having been inside Israel, is considered as if he himself had been uprooted from Palestine between 1946 and 1948. Which is why UNRWA, whose original list of uprooted dependants included 860,000 persons, today cares for more than five million, in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that UNRWA was created to make sure that some day Israel would be forced to resettle within its borders not only those whose feet touched the ground there before 1948, but all their offspring. There is also no doubt that UNRWA was created to cultivate a demographic time bomb specifically against the Jewish State. Because, unlike all the other refugee agencies, UNRWA is the only one dedicated to prevent the rehabilitation of its clients by keeping them as eternal refugees.
UNRWA is the only refugee agency which is separate from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the main UN refugee agency, which is responsible for aiding non-Palestinian refugees all over the world. Unlike UNRWA, UNHCR has a specific mandate to aid its refugees to eliminate their refugee status by local integration in the country to which they fled, resettlement in a third country, or repatriation when possible.
In other words, while UNHCR’s business is to cut down on the number of displaced persons by helping them move on with their lives, UNRWA is dedicated to keep them displaced – to the tune of at least $1.1 billion annually, the US share of which in 2016 has been $368 million.
That’s a lot of mullah for 20,000 actual refugees.
According to the Beacon, any US official who wishes to read the report must have top-secret security clearance and access to a secure facility containing the documents.
Or plug “UNRWA” and “UNHCR” in their Wikipedia search window.
According to the Beacon, The UNRWA report was first commissioned in 2015 by former senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who then forwarded a congressional amendment to require the State Department to provide Congress with a report on the number of refugees served by UNRWA who actually lived in the territory now known as Israel between 1946 and 1948. But the State Department classified its report, and never informed the senator.
When Congress heard about it in 2017, it directed the State Department to provide an unclassified version of the report – which was ignored.
by Caroline Glick
The Trump administration may be just about done allowing the PLO to use the US as its piggy bank and punching bag. The same unfortunately cannot be said of the PLO’s Israeli supporters in the media, in politics and in the top echelons of the IDF.
In his two-hour speech to the PLO’s Central Committee in Ramallah on Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, attacked Israel, Jews, US President Donald Trump, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
The US’s first response to Abbas’s call for Trump’s “house to be destroyed” was to announce on Tuesday that it will postpone the transfer of $65 million of its annual $370m. contribution to UNRWA. UNRWA is the UN agency that serves as Hamas’s logistical base in Gaza and generally perpetuates Palestinian misery by dooming the Palestinians to four generations of destitution and limbo with no resettlement and no civil rights.
On Wednesday, Haley indicated that the hold on the funds was not going to be the administration’s last move.
Speaking to Voice of America, Haley said the administration is done being the Palestinians’ patsy.
She pointed to the PLO-initiated General Assembly resolution last month that condemned the US for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said, “They go and take us to the United Nations and are basically very hostile in what they say and what they do. We are not going to pay to be abused. It doesn’t make sense.”
On Thursday, Israel Hayom reported that Haley isn’t UNRWA’s only problem. The US Justice Department is conducting an investigation of UNRWA’s relationship with the PLO and Hamas for the US Congress.
Compare the Trump administration’s determined response to Abbas’s assault against America to Israel’s reaction to his assault against it.
Abbas said that Jews have no ties to the Land of Israel. He said the Zionist movement – that is, the Jewish national liberation movement – has nothing to do with the Jews. Rather, Abbas the historian, who got a doctorate for his dissertation denying the Holocaust, said that Zionism is a European imperialist conspiracy cooked up by Oliver Cromwell four centuries ago and implemented by mercantile mariners from the Netherlands.
True, outside the fever swamps of the radical Left, the consensus response to Abbas’s speech was condemnation. Everyone who is anyone said the mask has come off and Abbas is no man of peace, after all.
But then the news cycle passed and the excuses began.
On Tuesday, Channel 2’s diplomatic reporter Dana Weiss had a “scoop.”
It works out, she revealed, that Abbas only torched his relations with the Americans because he was desperate and hopeless, poor thing. His representative had just been to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis told him the details of Trump’s developing peace plan. Trump, it seems, is willing to give Abbas far less than he is demanding.
Obviously, under the circumstances, he had no recourse but to call for Trump’s home to be destroyed and to curse Trump’s ambassadors.
As ridiculous as Weiss’s scoop was on its face, it was even more ridiculous at second blush. Abbas has never met an offer he liked. In 2008, then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered him everything he demanded, and Abbas walked away.
So the fact that Abbas now rejects the draft of the Trump proposal is no surprise.
Weiss’s story tells us more about the Israeli media than it does about Abbas.
Her report, which every major and minor Israeli media outlet then re-reported, begs the question: What is our problem? Why do we make excuses for our enemy?
For 25 years Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat, and the PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority more generally, have not hidden that they are Israel’s enemies. They have said outright that they will never make peace with Israel, and seek our destruction.
And for 25 years, our media and security and political elites have made excuses for them.
Right after Arafat signed the initial Oslo Accord on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, he jetted off to give a speech at a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa. A courageous member of the Jewish community recorded the speech.
Arafat told the faithful that the peace process was a Koran-inspired ruse. He was simply following the example that the Prophet Muhammad set with the Quraish tribe of Jews in Arabia. When Muhammad started out, the Jews of Quraish were more powerful than he. So he signed a peace deal with them. When the balance of power shifted in his favor, he invaded their territory and annihilated them.
When news of Arafat’s Johannesburg’s speech reached Israel, the media, along with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-foreign minister Shimon Peres, were quick to dismiss its importance.
What did you expect Arafat to say, our betters sneered? Did you expect him to be a Zionist? And anyway, what does it matter what he says? If he so much as tries to continue his terrorism, we’ll crush him like a bug and send him packing back to Tunis.
And when the suicide bombers started exploding on buses and cafes, they said it wasn’t Arafat, it was Hamas.
And when Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s peace and statehood offer at Camp David in 2000, the media said it was Barak’s fault. He was rude and domineering. The two men just didn’t have the right chemistry.
And when Arafat launched the largest terrorist campaign against Israel in its history, our elite said Arafat was a patsy. He was too weak to stop the attacks so we shouldn’t blame him. And then they turned around and said Arafat was the only one who could stop the attacks, so we needed to be nice to him.
Finally they said, true, Arafat was our enemy. But it didn’t matter because Abbas was replacing him and Abbas was a real peacemaker.
And when Abbas wouldn’t make peace, it was our fault. And when he financed Hamas and paid hundreds of million a year to terrorists, he had no choice. If he didn’t finance terrorism, he would be overthrown.
And when he incited terrorism and said Jews were poisoning Palestinian wells and “polluting the Temple Mount with their filthy feet,” well, he was hopeless and frustrated, and anyway, he’s really old.
The thing of it is that the public has never bought these excuses. Rabin was elected on an anti-PLO platform in 1992. And despite the fact that the media and the Left said the entire right wing was responsible for Rabin’s assassination in November 1995, the public’s desire not to be associated with the murder couldn’t surpass its desire not to be murdered. So less than six months after Rabin was killed, the public voted in the Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu into power.
But the media believe their fake news. And so do their favored politicians.
Less than 24 hours after Abbas delivered his latest anti-Jewish screed, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Barak himself were giving speeches and statements blaming everything on the political Right.
True, they said, Abbas is an antisemite and no partner for peace. But the Right is the real danger because its supporters won’t surrender Judea and Samaria and large swaths of Jerusalem to Abbas.
Livni and Barak’s tired claim is that the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are so numerous that together with Israel’s Arab citizens, they will soon outnumber the Jews.
Their demographic data is specious. But assuming for a moment that they are telling the truth, they have known that Abbas and the PLO/Fatah/ Palestinian Authority is Israel’s enemy for 25 years. Is it possible that in all that time the only policy they’ve come up with is surrender?
If so, why is it so? What is their problem?
Did they never consider militarily defeating the Palestinians?
Or how about restoring their right to vote in the Jordanian parliament, which Jordan’s King Hussein illegally stripped them of in 1988?
Then there is Gaza. There’s been an independent Palestinian state in Gaza since 2005. Why can’t they vote there?
And then there is the fact that according to Palestinian surveys, more than a million Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria wish to emigrate. Whole villages around Ramallah are ghost towns because their residents live elsewhere. Why is this not relevant to the likes of Livni and Barak?
Why do the Israeli media fail to report these basic facts rather than make excuses for a tin pot dictator who spends his time inciting the murder of Israelis and pretending that the Palestinians are the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the Hittites, all rolled in one?
According to The Jerusalem Post, Trump intended to cut off US funding of UNRWA entirely this week. But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster convinced to simply reduce it.
According to the Post, “Israel” sided with the trio. But other reports over the past several weeks made clear that whereas Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu supports ending US support for UNRWA, the IDF General Staff opposes the move. Likewise, the IDF has scuttled repeated congressional bids over the years to end US funding of the Palestinian Authority due to its funding of terrorism and its antisemitic incitement.
The arguments are always the same. UNRWA, like Abbas’s security forces, “stabilizes” the situation.
Is there no one else who might “stabilize” the situation better than they do? Where might the Palestinians be today if the US had cut off their terrorism-encrusted leaders 17 years ago? Is there no option other than empowering regimes and institutions that indoctrinate and work toward Israel’s destruction?
Netanyahu responded to Abbas’s diatribe by saying that in a way, Abbas did Israel a favor. He showed that he really doesn’t care how big or small Israel is. He rejects Israel’s right to exist and objects to its existence regardless of its borders.
Netanyahu’s insight is true as far as it goes. But so long as the same failed and vapid elites who gave us the PLO as our peace partner 25 years ago still call the shots, his insight doesn’t go very far at all.
by Caroline Glick
For decades, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has been touted by American leaders as a moderate man of peace.
U.S. leaders from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and from Condoleezza Rice to John Kerry, all insisted that Abbas is the Palestinian leader who will make an historic deal with Israel.
President Donald Trump has met three times with Abbas since taking office.
On Sunday night, Abbas showed them what he really thinks.
He cursed Trump saying that the U.S. President’s “house should be destroyed.”
He attacked U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in lurid, antisemitic language:
“U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is a settler who is opposed to the term ‘occupation.’ He is an offensive human being, and I will not agree to meet him anywhere. They requested that I meet him and I refused, not in Jerusalem, not in Amman, not in Washington.”
Abbas then threatened U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
“She [Haley] threatens to hit people who hurt Israel with the heel of her shoe, and we’ll respond the same way.”
He called Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan “a slap in the face,” and said, “we will slap back.”
Abbas declared “dead” the peace agreements he and his colleagues in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed with Israel for the Palestinians since 1993. He pledged to block any future U.S. involvement in peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel: “We will not accept American leadership of a political process involving negotiations.”
Abbas then turned his attention to Israel and the Jews.
“Israel,” he said “is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews.”
“Europeans wanted to bring the Jews here to preserve their interests in the region. They asked Holland, which had the world’s largest fleet, to move the Jews,” he said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that Abbas’s remarks harken back to “things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”
Abbas’s Ph.D. thesis, which he wrote for a Soviet university controlled by the KGB in the 1960s denied the Holocaust.
Over the past 25 years, the Western and Israeli leaders that have hailed Abbas as a moderate dismissed the significance of his doctorate – which he later published in Jordan as a best-selling book – saying it was a relic of the PLO’s former rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
The problem with Rivlin’s statement is that it ignores Abbas’s record.
Contrary to Rivlin’s view of Abbas’s racist assault on Jews as a throwback to an earlier time, antisemitic diatribes have been a consistent feature of Abbas’s public statements, whether he is speaking to Arab or Western audiences.
In a speech before the European Parliament in 2016, for instance, Abbas recycled the medieval blood libel that Jews poison the wells of Christians. That blood libel incited the death of thousands of Jews through the ages.
Speaking to European lawmakers, Abbas said, “Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.”
As for his Holocaust denial being a thing of the past, Abbas posted his doctoral thesis on his official website. His lies are taught as fact in Holocaust education in the Palestinian school system – which he controls.
Then there is his anti-Americanism.
Abbas controls every aspect of the Palestinian Authority (PA), including the rent-a-mobs.
Over the years, protesters have greeted every senior U.S. policymaker who has visited Abbas in Ramallah.
In 2013, 150 protesters demonstrated against then-president Barack Obama when he met with Abbas. In 2007, protesters who worked for Abbas’s government greeted then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with signs calling for Hezbollah to bomb America.
So in stark contrast to Rivlin’s statement, Abbas’s speech was not a throwback to a long ago time. It was a throwback to what he said yesterday, and the day before yesterday and the day before that, and what the Palestinian newspapers and television – which he controls — reported the day and week and month and year before that.
Another explanation of Abbas’s scorched-earth speech Sunday is that he scorched the earth in preparation for his resignation from office. Abbas, Israel’s commentators were quick to note, is 82 years old. So it seems reasonable to conclude that his decision to launch a frontal assault against Jews and Americans was a sort of valedictory address.
But here too, the assessment is contradicted by Abbas’s record.
It is true that Abbas is approaching his 83rd birthday. But he is also approaching the 14th year of his four-year term of office. Abbas has repeatedly refused to stand for reelection since his four-year term ended in 2009.
Not only has Abas rejected repeated calls from his Palestinian colleagues and from successive U.S. administrations to designate a successor, he has sidelined and exiled all of his political rivals in the PLO.
Then there are the steps he has taken to coopt Hamas and so minimize the threat Hamas poses to his maintenance of power.
The Hamas terror group ousted Abbas and his U.S.-trained PLO forces from Gaza in 2007. Rather than launch a U.S.-backed counterstrike against Hamas, Abbas chose to collaborate with Hamas. He has funded Hamas’s government. That funding has enabled the jihadist group to launch a series of missile wars against Israel.
Moreover, Abbas has used the PLO’s position at the UN and in Europe to protect Hamas from criticism and wage a political war against Israel. The goal of this war is to end Western support for Israel’s right to exist by delegitimizing Israel as a colonialist implant of European imperialists.
A man interested in retiring would not have eliminated all of his potential heirs to cling to power, or agreed to a power-sharing deal with Hamas to keep everyone at bay.
So if Abbas isn’t planning to retire, why is he cursing Trump and his senior advisors? Why is he recycling anti-Jewish blood libels from the 12th century and announcing that the deals he signed with Israel and the peace process as a whole are dead?
The simple answer is that Abbas is acting as he is because he is certain that he can. This is how he has always acted. There is nothing new in his speech. And he doesn’t think that he will suffer any consequences for behavior.
Abbas expects President Trump to disregard his statements and continue to bankroll his terror-supporting regime in the name of “the peace process,” or “humanitarian assistance” just as Bush and Obama did.
Abbas gave his speech at start of a two-day conference of the PLO’s Central Committee, which he convened to determine a response to President Trump’s announcement on December 6 that for the first time in nearly seventy years, the U.S. recognizes that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
Trump’s Jerusalem declaration placed Abbas and his colleagues in a conundrum. On the one hand, his declaration had no practical implications. Trump signed a waiver delaying the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. No immediate plans have made to move the embassy.
Moreover, the State Department insists that there is no practical significance to Trump’s statement. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield told reporters the day after Trump’s announcement that his statement does not change U.S. policy barring American citizens born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their country of birth on their official documents. Indeed, Satterfield refused to answer a question regarding whether Jerusalem is even in Israel.
On the other hand, simply by recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been Israel’s capital for nearly 70 years, Trump broke with the longstanding U.S. policy of denying observable reality in relation to Israel in order to advance “peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Only by denying reality can anyone pin hopes on the PLO as a peace partner. Since its inception in 1964, the PLO has rejected Israel’s right to exist. It has rejected that the Jews are a people. It has denied the history of continuous Jewish habitation of the land of Israel for 3,500 years. And it has denied the fact that the Jews built two temples in Jerusalem.
When Abbas said on Sunday that Israel is the creation of European imperialists, he was merely echoing the PLO’s charter.
By recognizing the truth, Trump took a red-hot poker to the PLO’s false, antisemitic founding narrative.
As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in response to Abbas’s remarks, “For too long, the Palestinian Authority has been pampered by the international community which didn’t dare tell them the truth – not about Jerusalem and not about recognizing Israel. That has changed. I think Abu Mazen [Abbas] was reacting to that. This is the first time somebody’s told him the truth to his face.”
Trump and his top advisers have made several statements in recent weeks that indicate that his Jerusalem declaration last month was not a one-off.
The President threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Abbas’s regime.
Haley threatened to cut off aid UNRWA, a UN Palestinian refugee agency that works hand and glove with Hamas in Gaza.
Tuesday, the Trump administration informed UNRWA that it is withholding “for further consideration” $65 million of its $370 million annual contribution to UNRWA’s budget.
Statements by Trump’s senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Friedman condemning Palestinian Authority finance of terrorism and incitement to murder Israelis have also been groundbreaking.
So far, Tuesday’s hold on a fraction of U.S. funding to UNRWA is the only substantive policy step the Trump administration has taken. Its other moves have been declaratory. They have signaled the beginnings of a new U.S. policy towards Abbas, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, but the new policy has not yet been articulated, let alone felt on the ground.
By attacking Trump, his advisers, Israel and the Jewish people on Sunday, Abbas was effectively daring Trump to act on his words.
Abbas is betting that Trump is bluffing so the White House’s next moves will be determinative.
The partial funding postponement to UNRWA is notable, but not significant enough to make clear that the U.S. is serious in its policy shift. If no further practical, indisputable steps are taken to translate Trump’s stated positions into a clear move away from the past 25 years of unconditional American support for the Palestinians, Abbas will be empowered to continue to treat him and his administration with the same contempt he exhibited towards Obama and Bush.
by Caroline Glick
It’s that time of the year again. In accordance with the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act, by Sunday US President Donald Trump must either certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama concluded with the Iranian regime, or he must announce that Iran is breaching the accord.
Last October, after angrily certifying compliance at his two previous deadlines, Trump decertified Iranian compliance.
Trump could have walked away from the nuclear deal by reinstating the sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas industries, its banking sector and other foundations of Iran’s economy that were lifted when the deal was implemented. Doing so would have effectively killed the nuclear accord.
But Trump opted instead to pass the burden on to Congress. He gave lawmakers 90 days to put together a new sanctions bill that he would sign that could punish Iran’s misbehavior while presumably leaving the nuclear deal intact.
Congress failed to respond. No sanctions were passed. Democrats, keen to protect Obama’s most significant foreign policy legacy, have promised to filibuster any sanctions bill.
So now it is Trump’s problem to deal with, again. And he faces the same options.
Trump can stick with the deal, or he can walk away.
Media reports from the past two days indicate that Trump has opted to stick with the deal. Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has convinced him to certify Iranian compliance.
Reportedly, Trump’s biggest problem with the nuclear deal is not that it gives Iran a clear path to the bomb inside of a decade. It is that the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act requires him to revisit the issue every 90 days.
The certification process puts Trump in a no-win situation. If he certifies Iranian compliance, he angers his supporters and the overwhelming majority of Republican lawmakers. If he refuses to certify Iranian compliance, he will face the wrath of the media, the Washington foreign policy establishment, and the European Union.
All of the deal’s defenders argue that canceling it will destabilize the international security environment while empowering Iran’s “hard-liners.”
On Wednesday The Washington Free Beacon reported that McMaster, together with Sens. Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively, are lobbying Trump to agree to a package that would amend the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act to strip him of the need to recertify Iranian compliance every 90 days. As for sanctions, the amended law would call for sanctions to be reinstated in six years, if Iran is not complying with the agreement.
The implications of McMaster’s reported proposal are enormous. Trump would lose his power to abrogate the deal, while Iran would be immune from sanctions until a really long time from now. The US would lose its leverage against the deal in respect not only to Iran but toward the Europeans, Russians and Chinese as well.
On the face of it, McMaster is right to want to keep the Iranian nuclear issue on the back burner. After all, there is the nuclear crisis with North Korea to consider. Moreover, the Europeans are dead set on protecting the deal.
On Thursday, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Commissioner Frederica Mogherini and her French, British and German counterparts met in Brussels with Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif to pledge their allegiance to the nuclear deal and stand as one against a possible US pullout from the agreement.
The Europeans will certainly be very angry if Trump walks away from the deal they made with Obama. But then, it isn’t clear why that should matter. Aside from passive aggressively voting against the US at the UN, as they did last month, Mogherini and her comrades don’t have much leverage. Will they prefer economic deals with Iran to their trade with the US?
THIS BRINGS us to North Korea.
Iran and North Korea are partners in nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation. They partnered in building the nuclear installation in Syria that Israel reportedly destroyed in September 2007. Iran’s ballistic missiles are based on North Korean designs. Iranians have reportedly been present during North Korea’s nuclear tests.
All of this information is public knowledge, and we can only speculate how much deeper their collaboration actually is. Given what is known and must be assumed about their collaboration, it is beyond foolish to treat the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs as unrelated to each other.
If North Korea cannot be set aside, neither can Iran.
Then there is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been on the streets for weeks calling for the overthrow of the regime due to its squandering of Iran’s national wealth on wars and graft.
Nuclear deal supporters insist that reinstating sanctions will only harm the protesters. The regime, they argue, is not harmed by sanctions. The regime passes the economic losses Iran incurs from sanctions onto ordinary citizens. They suffer while the regime prospers through whatever sanctions busting trades they concoct with the Turks, Qataris, Russians and Chinese.
This claim is both morally repugnant and contradicted by the protests themselves.
If the regime were able to support itself without pilfering from the public, there wouldn’t be any protesters on the streets calling for Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to die.
Iran received more than $100 billion in sanctions relief from the nuclear deal. Obama administration officials promised the regime would not use the sanctions relief windfall to underwrite terrorism and war and develop advanced weapons. Instead, Obama and his underlings promised it would go to ordinary Iranians. Iranian prosperity, they offered, would cause the regime to become moderate and peaceful.
On Thursday Iran sanctions expert Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tweeted, “A US official I spoke to today believes Iranian expenditures on foreign adventures, nuclear research and missiles, coupled with losses from graft and corruption, have cost the regime $150b.-$200b. since the signing of the [initial draft nuclear deal with Iran in late]… in 2013.”
In other words, the regime is a parasite that has lives on international welfare and the wealth of its people. Instead of developing Iranian society, Khamenei and his henchmen steal the people’s wealth and national treasure and use both to line their pockets and pay for their wars abroad.
In an interview with Lee Smith at RealClearPolitics, Iranian banking expert Saeed Ghasseminejad revealed that in addition to squandering their earnings from sanctions relief, the regime has been stealing the savings of the Iranian middle class. First, regime-controlled banks, (including those that will be barred from the international financial system if Trump reinstates the sanctions) gave large loans to regime officials who never repaid them. The losses were passed to the regular account holders.
Second, Ghasseminejad related details of a regime-licensed Ponzi scheme. Private banks offering high interest rates appeared out of nowhere. Their high rates attracted middle class investors who deposited their life savings.
When depositors tried to withdraw their money, the banks declared bankruptcy.
No one has been prosecuted and a large number of formerly middle class Iranians are now impoverished.
According to Ghasseminejad, these newly impoverished Iranians are now in the streets calling for the regime to be overthrown.
If Trump decides to keep sanctions frozen, it will serve as a rebuke to the protesters. And if media reports that the protests are dissipating are to be believed, then a decision by Trump to certify regime compliance with the nuclear deal will be their death knell.
It isn’t that there is no risk to killing the nuclear deal. As The Jerusalem Post reported this week, in an interview with Iranian television Wednesday, Behrooz Kamalvandi, the deputy chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, threatened Trump that if he reinstates sanctions, “Iran is ready to increase the speed of its nuclear activities in various areas, especially enrichment, several times more than [in the] pre-nuclear deal era.”
And he may be telling the truth.
But the financial pressure on the regime will be far greater and the headwinds now facing the protesters calling for its overthrow will become a tailwind if Trump walks away from the deal. Middle class families that have not joined the protesters are more likely to take to the streets if sanctions are reinstated. Not only will they be hurt financially, they will become convinced that the regime is not invincible.
Whereas the deal’s proponents insist that leaving killing the deal will harm “moderates” in the regime, if the protests tell us anything, they tell us – once again – that there is no distance between so-called “moderates” like President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif, and so-called “extremists like Revolutionary Guard Corps terror boss Qassem Suleimani. Their theft of the wealth of the Iranian people, their corruption and sponsorship of terrorism is no different than Suleimani’s. The only way to help the Iranians on the streets is to weaken the regime as a whole, because the regime as a whole oppresses the Iranian people and robs them blind.
Israeli experts who were close to the Obama administration are calling for Trump to keep the deal alive. A paper published on Thursday by the left-leaning Institute for National Security Studies called for Trump to keep the deal alive, but enforce it fully.
Co-authored by Obama’s ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and former security brass who oppose the Netanyahu government, the paper claimed that the US should insist that Iran open its military nuclear sites to UN inspectors.
The problem with the recommendation is that there is no chance it will be implemented. Iran refuses to open its military sites to inspectors, and the Europeans side with them against the US.
Trump is right that he’s damned if he maintains Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and damned if he kills the deal. But his supporters are right on this issue and the Washington establishment, Europe and the media are wrong.
If Trump walks away, he will empower the Iranians calling for a new regime. He will weaken the regime’s ability to maintain its global war against the US and its allies. He will force the Europeans to abandon their love affair with the corruption kings in Tehran by making them choose between the US market and the Iranian market.
And he will accomplish all of these things while freeing himself from the quarterly requirement to either lie and pretend Iran is behaving itself and be pilloried by his supporters, or tell the truth about its behavior and be pilloried by the people who always attack him.
Most important, by walking away from a deal built on lies, distortion and corruption, Trump can quickly pivot to a policy based on truth. Unlike the nuclear deal, such a policy would have a chance of ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions, its sponsorship of terrorism, and its oppression of its long-suffering people once and for all.