Tag Archive | PLO

Replacing Israel With A Palestinian State From The River To The Sea?

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BY ERIC MARGULES/ALGEMEINER.COM

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Marc Lamont Hill, a political commentator was recently fired by CNN after a video surfaced of him calling for “a free Palestine from the river to the sea”.  This phrase is often the rallying call of the terrorist group Hamas, Students For Justice In Palestine and other Islamic groups that would like to see Israel replaced by a Palestinian state.
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So you think that Israel should be replaced by a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea? That Israel should cease to exist as the world’s only Jewish nation-state — and the only democracy in the Middle East — and be replaced by a country with a Palestinian majority?
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Have you thought about what would happen if Israel disappeared? You center your debate on whether Israel has a right to exist. Perhaps we should instead imagine the hypothetical replacement of Israel with a Palestinian-majority state, and answer some obvious questions:
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What would happen to the six million Jews who live in present-day Israel? Can they count on a Palestinian-led government to protect them? Will they feel safe? Will they be safe? And if they don’t feel safe and need to flee, where will they go? Arab countries expelled them, and surely won’t allow them back in; Europe tried to annihilate them and remains a hostile environment for Jews. Perhaps Jews could flee to North America or other places that are not as hostile, but it’s quite a lot to demand of a people to give up their homeland.
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What will happen to women? Women in Israel have full and equal rights. Women in Arab countries are treated as chattel and second class citizens, often punished severely for daring to exercise rights that Muslim men take for granted.
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What will happen to minority groups? In Israel, non-Jewish minorities have full legal rights. They can vote, are members of the Knesset, and sit on the Israeli Supreme Court. In Arab countries, non-Muslims (and Muslims of the wrong sect) are not full citizens, and never treated as equals. They have no voting rights, no right for governmental representation, and restricted rights in many other aspects of life.
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Who will take over as leading the way in providing disaster aid to the rest of the world? Israel has a long, valuable, and proven track record of helping countries in disaster situations. Arab countries have no record of helping. In fact, they often don’t honor the rare pledges of money or help that they do make.

How will the government of the new country be formed? Despite opportunities, Palestinians have never formed anything but a kleptocracy fueled by foreign aid and terror. Elections haven’t been held in the West Bank in over a decade, and the government in the Gaza Strip obtained power through a violent takeover. Will Jews have any role in the new government? How will Palestinians and Jews work together with such a long history of animosity?
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What kind of government will be formed in the new country? Will it be a democracy, as Israel is? Almost no Arab state is a democracy. Will it be a dictatorship? Will it be a military-run government? Will it be a theocracy? Will there be any place in the government for non-Arabs or non-Muslims?
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What will happen to Jews who don’t live in Israel, and live as minorities in their host countries? Will Jews return to times like World War II, where they had no place to go in desperate situations? Will Jews once again be weak, downtrodden, and vulnerable in their host countries? Will the new country help Jews living elsewhere in any way?
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What will happen to the tremendous first-world economy that has been developed in Israel? Israel is a major incubator of cutting edge technology that helps the world immeasurably. Arab countries have little or no record of helping the world with any kind of product invented by them. No Arab economy is thriving, and many in the Arab world live in squalor.
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It’s not enough to argue about what may or may not have happened in Israel 70 years ago, 100 years ago, or 10 years ago. Certainly, Jews can argue their rights to the land on many levels. But those advocating the replacement of Israel by a Palestinian state need to consider the above.
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There is room for compromise, but replacing Israel should not be an option. To replace Israel with yet another oppressive dictatorship with few or no human rights or protections for minority rights would be a catastrophe. It would not be good for anybody — not Jews, not Arabs living in Israel, and not the rest of world.

Palestinian Leadership To USA – We Despise You, Now Give Us Our Money

BY BASSAM TAWIL/GATESTONE INSTITUTE

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The question of Palestinian responsiveness is once again on display as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah step up their verbal attacks on the US administration after its decision to cut $200 million in American financial aid to the Palestinians.
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Abbas and the PA leadership are again behaving like spoiled, angry children whose candy has been taken away from them, hurling abuse at the Trump administration. Recall that earlier this year, Abbas called US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog.”
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For the past 9 months, the Palestinian leaders have been waging a massive and unprecedented campaign of incitement and abuse against Trump and his administration. This campaign began immediately after Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, and the campaign is continuing to this day as a reply to the US decision to slash $200 million from the American financial aid to the Palestinians.
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Significantly, the PA and its leaders were the ones who initiated the crisis with the US administration. Their dissatisfaction with Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem may be understandable, but they chose to take their protest to an extreme by boycotting the US administration and waging a smear campaign against Trump and his “Jewish advisors and envoys.”

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It is clear that the Palestinian boycott of the US administration did not include receiving funds from the Americans. One the one hand, the Palestinians have been boycotting and badmouthing US administration officials. On the other hand, Abbas and his representatives are now crying that the US administration is slashing $200 million of its financial aid to the Palestinians. If this isn’t cheek in its finest form, what is?
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The Arabic word for cheek, by the way, is wakaha. Were Abbas to behave in the same manner towards an Arab country for cutting financial aid to the Palestinians, he would have been accused by his Arab brothers of displaying wakaha at its best. Abbas, however, would think ten times before he uttered a bad word against any Arab country.
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The Palestinians are basically telling the Americans: We have the right to condemn you every day, to burn your flags and photos of your president, to incite against you, to launch weekly protests against you, to accuse you of being under the “influence of the Jewish and Zionist lobby” and, at the same time, we have the right to continue receiving US taxpayer money.
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Judging from their actions and assertions in the past few months, the Palestinians have turned the US into an enemy. They consider the US to be in “collusion” with the Israeli government and a “full partner in Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.” They say they no longer trust the US to play any role in a peace process with Israel because of the Trump administration’s “blind bias” in favor of Israel and its “hostile” policies towards the Palestinians.
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The Palestinians, of course, are entitled to voice their anger at the US. However, if they are so fed up with the US that they are even boycotting US administration officials, why are they demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year? Where’s the vaunted Arab dignity, which requires an Arab not to humiliate himself in return for money, especially if it comes from someone you consider an enemy?
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The answer to this question can be found in a statement issued on August 25 by PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat in response to the US decision to cut the $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. “The international community is not doing the Palestinians a favor by providing them with financial aid,” Erekat argued. “This is a due duty of the international community, which bears responsibility for the continued Israeli occupation.”
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Erekat’s statement reflects a long-standing Palestinian position according to which the US and the rest of the international community owe the Palestinians money for supporting Israel’s existence. The Palestinian position stems from a belief that the international community, specifically the Americans and Europeans, were responsible for the establishment of Israel in 1948 at the cost of the Palestinians. This position was best echoed by Abbas himself, who has said that Israel is a “colonial project” imposed on the Palestinians by Western powers.
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This attitude means that the Palestinians have never seen the massive financial aid they have received from the West as a gift but rather as something that the world owes them for imposing a “colonial project” on them. The billions of dollars the Palestinians have received in the past few decades have evidently left no positive impression on the Palestinians, who feel that the funds are something they are fully entitled to because of the world’s support for the existence of Israel.
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The Palestinians, in other words, apparently do not feel they have to be grateful to those who have been funding them for decades. If the Europeans were to take a similar decision today and cut funding to the Palestinians, they too would be condemned by Abbas and his officials for being “hostile” towards the Palestinians and “biased” in favor of Israel.
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The ongoing Palestinian rhetorical attacks on the US administration are dangerous because they further radicalize the Palestinian public and turn the Americans into an enemy in the eyes of many Palestinians. In recent months, we have seen increased hostility towards American officials and citizens visiting the West Bank as a direct result of this incitement.
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Last July, the US Consul-General in Jerusalem was forced to cancel a visit to the Palestinian city of Nablus after Palestinians threatened to stage protests against him and his entourage.
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A month earlier, Palestinian protesters expelled a US consular delegation from the city of Bethlehem and threw tomatoes at their vehicles. No one was hurt, but the incident, which was documented on camera, was impolite and degrading for the Americans.
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The Palestinians are now accusing the US of attempting to “blackmail” them by cutting the funds. According to the Palestinians, the US administration wants to force them to accept Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
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It is worth noting, however, that the US administration has not yet presented its purported plan to the Palestinians or to any other party. So how can the US administration be trying to pressure or “blackmail” the Palestinians when no peace plan has ever been made public? Can the Palestinians point to one US administration official who asked them to accept the unseen plan or support Trump’s policies? Of course not.
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There is indeed blackmail going on — but in precisely the opposite direction. The Palestinians are trying to blackmail the US by claiming, absurdly, that the recent US decisions jeopardize the two-state solution and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
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These are the very Palestinians, however, who have refused to resume peace talks with Israel for the past four years, since long before Trump was elected as president.
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Common sense would have it that the US has a right to demand something from any party it helps to support — including the Palestinians. But the Palestinians see things differently. In their view, billions of dollars are owed to them as some sort of divine right. And if their behavior calls into question whether they deserve that money — well, those asking questions can just go back where they came from.

 

Regional Players Maneuver To New Israeli-Palestinian Landscape

BY JAMES M. DORSEY/ALGEMENIER.COM

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A possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, may be about more than ending the ongoing, escalating violence that threatens to spark yet another Gaza war.
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It could also be an attempt to pave the way for the return of former Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan as successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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United Arab Emirates-backed Egyptian and UN efforts to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas, with nemesis Qatar in the background, constitute yet another round in an Israeli-supported effort to politically, economically, and militarily weaken Hamas, and pave the way for the possible return of the Abu Dhabi-based Dahlan.
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Ironically, Israeli discussions with representatives of Qatar, which has long supported Hamas, constitute recognition of the utility of Qatar’s longstanding relations with Islamists and militants — relations that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain cited as the reason for their 15-month-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

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Israel and Egypt have agreed that Qatar will pay the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas government employees in Gaza. Abbas has refused to pay those salaries as part of an Israeli-UAE-Saudi-backed effort to undermine Hamas’ control of Gaza, and give the PA a key role in its administration. Moreover, in response to Abbas’ demand, Israel reduced electricity supplies, leaving Gazans with only three to four hours of power a day.
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Abbas’ economic warfare is the latest tightening of the noose in a more than decade-long Israeli-Egyptian effort to strangle Gaza economically. Included in the moves to negotiate a long-term Israeli-Hamas ceasefire are proposals for significant steps to ease the blockade of Gaza. Qatar has also been negotiating the return of two captive Israeli nationals, as well as the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
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In a statement on Facebook, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s goal is to “remove the Hamas terror group from power, or force it to change its approach, i.e., recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept the principle of rebuilding in exchange for demilitarization.”
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Lieberman said he wants to achieve this by “creating conditions in which the average resident of Gaza will take steps to replace the Hamas regime with a more pragmatic government” rather than through military force.
 

In another irony, involving Qatar in efforts to prevent Gaza from escalating out of control gives it a foot in the door as the UAE seeks to put a Palestinian leader in place who is more attuned to the Emirati and Saudi willingness to accommodate the Trump administration’s controversial efforts to negotiate an overall Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
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Speaking in a series of interviews, Qatari Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Muhammad Emadi insisted that “it is very difficult to fund the reconstruction of Gaza in an event of yet another destructive war.” He said that he has “discussed a maximum of a five- to 10-year ceasefire with Hamas.”
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Abbas, like Hamas, rejected US mediation following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this year.
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The US president startled Israelis and Palestinians by saying that Israel would pay a “higher price” for his recognition of Jerusalem and that Palestinians would “get something very good” in return “because it’s their turn next.” Trump gave no indication of what he meant by this.
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The effort to negotiate a lasting ceasefire is the latest round in a so far failed UAE-Egyptian effort to return Dahlan as part of a reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Dahlan frequently does UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed’s bidding. President George W. Bush reportedly described Dahlan during an internecine Palestinian power struggle in 2007 as “our boy.” Dahlan is also believed to have close ties to Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman.
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Since late March, Hamas has backed weekly mass protests by Gazans demanding the “right of return” to homes in Israel proper that they or their familial predecessors claim to have lost in the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the 1967 Middle East war. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said recently that “thanks to these marches and resistance” an end to Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza is “around the corner.”
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Abbas may prove to be the loser as Israel and Hamas inch towards a ceasefire arrangement that could ultimately give Dahlan a role in administering the Gaza Strip.

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“Gaza has become a de facto state as it comprises a set area with a central body that governs the population, has an army, and conducts foreign policy,” said Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “So, in a way, countries have to be pragmatic and negotiate with Hamas. Israel’s main interest is security — a period of complete calm in Gaza — and it is willing to do what is necessary to achieve this.”
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Eiland continued, “Until recently, Cairo insisted that Abbas reassume control over Gaza, which Hamas would not accept, specifically the call for it to disarm. Now, Egypt understands that this is not realistic and is only demanding that Hamas prevent [the Islamic State’s affiliate] in the Sinai from smuggling in weaponry. The only party that is unhappy with this arrangement is Abbas, who has been left behind. But this is his problem.”
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A Hamas-Israel ceasefire and the possible return of Dahlan are likely to be but the first steps in a UAE-Egyptian-Israeli-backed strategy to engineer the emergence of a Palestinian leadership more amenable to negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Whether Trump’s remark that Israel would have to pay a price for his recognition of Jerusalem was a shot from the hip or part of a broader strategy is hard to discern. The White House has since sought to roll back his remarks.
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With the jury still out, Israelis, Palestinians, and their regional allies have been put on alert as they maneuver to ensure their place in whatever emerges from efforts to reengineer the political landscape.

 

Time for the US to walk away from the PLO

by Caroline Glick

On Tuesday in Bethlehem, the Palestinians demonstrated the choice the Americans now face in their dealings with Fatah – the supposedly moderate PLO faction that controls the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. President Donald Trump and his advisers can play by Fatah’s rules or they can walk away.

On Tuesday a delegation of diplomats from the US Consulate in Jerusalem came to Bethlehem to participate in a meeting of the local chamber of commerce. When they arrived in the city, Fatah members attacked them. Their vehicles with diplomatic license plates were pelted with tomatoes and eggs by a mob of protesters calling out anti-American slogans.

After the Americans entered the hall where the meeting was scheduled to take place, some of the rioters barged in. They held placards condemning America and they shouted, “Americans Out!”

Some of the demonstrators cursed the Palestinians present, accusing them of treason for participating in a meeting with Americans. According to the news reports, the scene became tense and violent. The American officials beat a speedy retreat. As they departed the city, the Fatah rioters continued attacking their cars, kicking them and throwing eggs at them, until they were gone.

The attack on Tuesday was a natural progression.

On Saturday, Fatah members in Bethlehem-area UN camps convened to carry out a very public “people’s tribunal.” Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were tried for “racism” and “bias” against the Palestinians.

The “tribunal” found them guilty and sentenced the president and vice president to death by hanging. Their bodies, the “judges” decided, were to be burned.

In the event, the crowd burned effigies of Trump and Pence.

The implication of the “trial” was clear. Americans like Israelis should be killed.

The burning effigies themselves were a natural consequence of PLO and Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s call last month for Trump’s “house to be destroyed.”

That is, both the assault on the consular officers Tuesday and the riot on Saturday were simply Abbas’s followers carrying out his orders. He put the Americans in his crosshairs. And they are pulling the trigger – for now, with effigies and eggs.

It isn’t hard for Abbas to set his people against the Americans. Palestinians hate Americans.

As a 2014 Pew Survey showed, Palestinians are more anti-American than any people on earth. Seventy-six percent of Palestinians consider the US their enemy. Pakistan came in second place with 64% of respondents saying that the US is their enemy.

Palestinian anti-Americanism is notable given that the US has given more assistance to the Palestinians than any country other than Israel. Americans have spent the last 25 years pressuring Israel to make more and more concessions to the Palestinians.

In large part, anti-Americanism among Palestinians redounds to two things. First, incitement. For 25 years, the US-financed PA has used all the tools at its disposal to indoctrinate the Palestinians to hate America almost as much as they hate Israel.

Second, like the Iranian regime, the Palestinians view the US and Israel as two sides of the same coin. And indeed, their hatred for the US is the mirror image of Israelis’ love for it.

While the Palestinians topped the list of people who view the US as their enemy, Israel topped the list of nations that view the US as their partner. Ninety percent of Israelis view the US as their partner.

All Abbas needed to do was call for Trump’s house to be destroyed and mobs of Fatah members were only too happy to go into the streets and burn the president in effigy.

Trump, for his part, seems more than willing to walk away from the whole business. Over the past week Trump threatened to cut off all US aid to the Palestinians three times. In his appearance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Davos last week, Trump made clear that he wouldn’t be overly upset if the peace process disappears.

“I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace,” Trump said.

The Palestinians, he continued, are “going to have to want to make peace too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.”

When asked about the implications of his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for prospects for peace, Trump turned to Netanyahu and said, “You [Israel] won one point, and you’ll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it ever will take place.”

Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s chief peace negotiator, seems less sanguine at the concept that the peace process is over.

At a meeting in Ramat Gan this week with ambassadors from EU member states, one of the ambassadors asked Greenblatt whether Jerusalem is still a subject for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, or whether, as Trump said in Davos, the issue is settled and is in Trump’s words, “off the table.”

Greenblatt reportedly answered that Trump mischaracterized the situation at Davos. Jerusalem is still a topic for negotiation between the sides, as Trump made clear in his December 6, 2017, declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Greenblatt said.

Greenblatt’s statements over the past several days paint a picture of an administration unclear on what to make of the Palestinian response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. On the one hand, they continue to maintain that peace can only be based on reality and therefore, recognizing Jerusalem was necessary for peace to ever be achieved.

Along these lines, at his meeting with the European ambassadors, Greenblatt also told them that their insistent condemnation of construction in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace is wrong. Construction of housing in the settlements has no impact on prospects for peace, he insisted, rightly.

The last time any US envoy said anything approaching Greenblatt’s reported remarks was 2003.

But then, Greenblatt wouldn’t let go of the hope that the Palestinians are interested in cutting a peace deal.

Speaking in Brussels at a donor conference for the Palestinian Authority, Greenblatt repeated over and over that the US is committed to the peace process.

Then there was his fawning message to PA “Prime Minister” Rami Hamdallah, who participated in the conference.

The sole reason the conference in Brussels was convened was to raise tens of millions of dollars for Hamdallah to shove into bank accounts controlled by Abbas and his kleptocrat underlings. It would have been rather odd if Hamdallah wasn’t there to beg in person.

And yet, Greenblatt didn’t treat Hamdallah’s presence in the meeting room as no big deal. He didn’t call him out publicly for the dangerous assault by Fatah activists against US diplomats in Bethlehem the day before.

Instead Greenblatt gushed, “I am particularly pleased to see you Prime Minister Hamdallah – I hope, as a sign of the Palestinian Authority’s continued commitment to the process which we have undertaken together. Despite our differences, we remain committed to continue working together to use our best efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Given the fact that the day before Fatah members attacked US diplomats in Bethlehem, and four days earlier they burned Trump and Pence in effigy, it would have been reasonable for Greenblatt to publicly excoriate Hamdallah and the PA for their actions.

The fact that Greenblatt failed to call him to account, but rather gushed at Hamdallah’s presence like a teenage girl over a rock star, shows that the Americans are still unclear why the Palestinians have taken a sword to their relations with Washington.

Greenblatt, like his colleagues at the consulate and the State Department, don’t understand what is happening because they think that the peace process is about negotiating. But that’s never been what the peace process has been about. If it were about negotiating then the Palestinians would have been held accountable for their breaches of every commitment they ever made to Israel. But they have never been held to account. Only Israel has been held to account.

Indeed, Israel has been attacked despite the fact that it has upheld all of its commitments.

Meantime, the Palestinians have never honored any of their commitments to Israel – or to the US. They never canceled or amended the PLO Charter that calls for Israel’s annihilation. They never ended their incitement to murder Israelis. They never ended their sponsorship or finance of terrorism. They never extradited terrorists who murdered Americans to the US to stand trial. They certainly never extradited terrorists to stand trial in Israel. Indeed, they have never recognized Israel’s right to exist.

As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the peace process is a process of unconditional Israeli surrender to all of their terms. The role of the US as the sponsor of the peace process is to coerce Israel to make concessions that together will lead to its unconditional surrender. And for the better part of the past quarter century successive US administrations have played by the Palestinians’ rules.

But then Trump showed up. When Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he took something away from the Palestinians. That has never happened before. And now, reports that the administration is considering holding the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA to the same definition of “refugee” as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees means another Palestinian high card is in danger. If Trump carries out his threat, then the only Palestinians who will be eligible for refugee status will be the 20,000 Palestinians who left Israel between 1947 and 1949. In one fell swoop, Trump would wipe out the Palestinian demand to destroy Israel through mass immigration of five million foreign-born Arabs to its territory – in the framework of peace.

In an interview with Fox News, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was asked what the administration can do to placate the Palestinians’ anger and convince them to renew their contacts with Washington. Erekat said the only thing the US can do is cancel its recognition of Jerusalem. Meaning only unconditional American surrender to Palestinian demands will bring America back into the PLO’s good graces.

At the entrance to Jericho a sign is hanging saying that Americans and dogs are not welcome. Signs on shop windows in Ramallah and Jericho inform all US and British visitors thinking of coming inside that they are required to apologize for their governments’ policies.

It’s time for Greenblatt to understand that the peace process is over. And unless Trump intends to humiliate himself and America and sell Israel down the river like his predecessors did, the peace process will not be resuscitated. The longer he and his colleagues pretend away the truth, the more they imperil themselves and empower a people that will be more than happy to move beyond eggs and tomatoes and effigies and banners.

Israeli obstacles to peace

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.

The Palestinians race to the bottom

by Caroline Glick

The PLO and the Palestinian cause more generally are sinking into irrelevance and rather than reform their policies to rebuild their position, they have adopted a scorched earth policy that only intensifies their race to the bottom.

On the face of things, the situation isn’t bad. Last month the PLO got 128 nations to vote in favor of their anti-American resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One of the states that voted with them was India.

Israel was shocked by India’s move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly touts the growth of Israel’s bilateral ties with the largest democracy in the world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extraordinary visit to Israel last July highlighted the change. Netanyahu’s visit to New Delhi later this month will cement the new alliance.

Not only has Modi enthusiastically cultivated close ties with Israel, he has moved closer to Israel in its conflict with the PLO than any of his predecessors. In 2015, India abstained from an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Human Rights Council. Modi refused to visit the Palestinian Authority during his visit to Israel. And PLO chief and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to India earlier this year, Modi refused to say – as his predecessors have said – that the capital of a Palestinian state should be located in eastern Jerusalem.

And yet, last month at the UN, it felt like none of this had happened. India reverted to its previous posture of blind support for the PLO and joined the chorus in attacking America for recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

The Palestinians for their part were justifiably elated. Now, they thought, they were back in the driver’s seat. Trump is an aberration and the world – including India, continues to support them no matter what. They are today where they were in 1975 when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 3371 defining the Jewish national liberation movement as a form of racism.

Then, less than a week after the UN vote, the PLO’s envoy to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, shared a stage in Rawalpindi with the mastermind of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Lashkar e-Taibi leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is wanted by India not only for the massacre of more than 160 people in the Mumbai attacks. He is also wanted for his involvement in terrorist attacks in the city in 2006, which killed more than 200 people, and for a shooting at the Indian Parliament, an incident in which another 14 were killed in 2001.

Abu Ali didn’t think there would be any price to pay for his decision to embrace a mass-murdering terrorist. It’s what the PLO has always done. And so he posted photos of himself with Saeed online.

But it turns out that despite India’s vote, things have changed. A lot.

Indian social media exploded in rage against the Palestinians and the PLO. The most common sentiment was, “This is how they pay us back for abandoning the US and Israel to support them at the UN.”

Abu Ali’s embraces of Saeed were widely and angrily reported in the Indian media.

In response, Abbas announced that he was recalling Abu Ali. This would have been fine if it were true.

But this week it was reported that Abu Ali is back in business in Islamabad.

The PLO’s behavior with Abu Ali and India indicates three things. First, that the PLO/PA is no longer immune from criticism in quarters where it received five decades of unconditional support. Second, it indicates that the PLO/PA is incapable of changing its behavior, even when it is aware that it ought to. Finally, the PLO/PA is still operating under the impression that nations will continue to support them forever because the basis of that support is unchanged.

The problem for the PLO/PA is that the world has changed fundamentally while they were busy embracing terrorists and getting away with it.

This week, The Economist published its annual data on per capita GDP in countries throughout the world. For the first time, Israel’s GDP per capita has jumped above $40,000. According to the Economist’s data, per capita GDP in Israel jumped from $38,127 in 2016 to $44,019 in 2017. GDP grew 4.4% last year. Today Israel’s GDP per capita is higher than GDP per capita in Japan, Britain and France. The gap in Israel’s favor is expected to widen in the years to come as Israel’s GDP continues to grow and the GDPs of European states and Japan continue to stagnate due to negative fertility, continued migration of uneducated newcomers and lack of innovation.

In its own neighborhood, Israel’s neighbors remain economic and political basket cases. As Dr. Guy Bechor noted in his analysis of the data earlier this week, Egypt’s per capita GDP of $2,519 is one seventeenth of Israel’s. Jordan’s per capita income dropped last year from $4,648 to $4,135 and prospects for 2018 aren’t positive.

The situation is similarly bleak in the Gulf States, despite their oil and gas reserves. Iran, for instance, is poor and forecasts for the future are terrible. Last year, despite the $100 billion windfall the regime received from sanctions relief, per capita GDP in Iran dropped from $6,144 in 2016 to $5,879. Wars in Syria, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon and Gaza don’t come cheap.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are drawn to Israel not only because of their joint security concerns about Iran. They are also eager to expand ties with Israel to benefit from its civilian technologies in everything from agriculture and water technologies to digital communications. And they are not about to allow the Palestinians to stop their cavalcade to Israel.

As The New York Times reported last week, Egyptian intelligence officer Capt. Ashrag al-Kholi called four different television hosts last and told them that Ramallah can serve as the capital of a Palestinian state just as well as Jerusalem. Kholi was also taped telling them that the Palestinians have to compromise for peace. In his words, “How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really? At the end of the day, later on, Jerusalem won’t be different from Ramallah. What matters is ending the suffering of the Palestinian people. Concessions are a must and if we reach a concession whereby… Ramallah will be the capital of Palestine, to end the war and so no one else dies, then we should go for it.”

Kholi explained that a new Palestinian campaign of terrorism against Israel will harm Egypt by strengthening Islamic State (ISIS), Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

So while it is true that 128 countries – including India, Egypt and Saudi Arabia – voted with the PLO against Israel and the US at the UN last month, it is also true that their votes don’t signify as much as they used to. It is equally true that the Palestinians can’t try their patience by pushing anti-Israel resolutions every day as they have for the past 45 years. Because as the Palestinians keep playing their old tricks, Israel is becoming a more and more significant regional and global power and the nations of the world aren’t interested in weakening Israel when Israel is helping them survive and prosper.

As Abu Ali’s continued tenure in Pakistan shows, rather than recognize the shifting power balance and update their positions to align with it, the PLO has become even more brittle and reactionary and extreme. If Egypt doesn’t support their war against Israel, then they will take their roadshow to Tehran, or its Lebanese satrapy.

On December 31, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad met with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut. After meeting with al-Ahmad, Nasrallah told al Mayadeen TV that Fatah – led by Abbas – agreed to “activate a third intifada,” or terror war, against Israel. PA parliament members also visited Lebanon and met with Iranian-controlled Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Sunday night, Israel Channel 2 reported that terrorist incitement is rising steeply in the official PA media and social media networks. One video, of a faked shooting of a Palestinian teenage girl by an actor dressed in an IDF uniform, has gone viral. Thousands of viewers have responded to the fake scene with pledges to kill Israelis to avenge the fake death.

When later this month Netanyahu meets Modi in Delhi, India’s UN vote and Abu Ali’s embrace of Saeed will be on the agenda. And there is good reason to believe that Modi will recognize the linkage and vote differently in the future. Like Netanyahu, he recognizes that the PLO’s basic case is wrong. Peace is achieved by defeating terrorists, not by empowering them.

Moreover, Israel beckons. The economic and strategic realities of Israel cannot be ignored. Modi and his counterparts worldwide are now recognizing that the Palestinians have nothing to offer them, not even gratitude. When a critical mass of Palestinians recognize that the PLO’s jig is up, they will make peace with Israel. Until then, they will continue to serve as an irritating irrelevancy and nothing more.

The State Department drops the ball

by Caroline Glick

 

Over the weekend, The New York Times published its latest broadside against US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for what the newspaper referred to as his “culling” of senior State Department officials and his failure to date to either nominate or appoint senior personnel to open positions.

But if the State Department’s extraordinary about face on the PLO’s mission in Washington is an indication of what passes for US diplomacy these days, then perhaps Tillerson should just shut down operations at Foggy Bottom. The US would be better off without representation by its diplomats.

Last week, in accordance with US law, Tillerson notified the PLO’s Washington envoy Husam Zomlot that the PLO’s mission in Washington has to close within 90 days because it has breached the legal terms governing its operations.

Specifically, Tillerson explained, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas breached US law when he called for the International Criminal Court to indict and prosecute Israeli nationals during his speech before the UN General Assembly in September.

Tillerson explained that under US law, the only way to keep the PLO mission in Washington open is if US President Donald Trump certifies in the next 90 days that its representatives are engaged in “direct and meaningful negotiations” with Israel.

The PLO didn’t respond to Tillerson with quiet diplomacy. It didn’t make an attempt to appease Congress or the State Department by for instance agreeing to end its campaign to get Israelis charged with war crimes at the ICC. It didn’t put an abrupt end to its financial support for terrorism and terrorists. It didn’t stop inciting Palestinians to hate Israel and seek its destruction. It didn’t disavow its efforts to form a unity government with Hamas and its terrorist regime in Gaza.

It didn’t join Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their efforts to fight Iranian power and influence in the region. It didn’t end its efforts to have Israeli companies blacklisted by the UN Human Rights Committee or scale back its leadership of the international boycott movement against Israel.

The PLO certainly didn’t begin “direct and meaningful negotiations” with Israel.

Instead of doing any of these things, in response to Tillerson’s notification, the PLO lashed out as the US. Abbas and his advisers launched an all-out assault against President Donald Trump and his team of Middle East envoys led by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt.

PLO-controlled media outlets published a flood of stories which trafficked in antisemitic conspiracy theories against Trump and his Jewish American advisors. The PLO media renewed its allegations that Kushner, Greenblatt and US Ambassador David Friedman are more loyal to Israel than to the US.

Abbas’s media outlets also escalated their criticism of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE for their focus on combating Iranian aggression. These regimes are selling the Palestinians down the river, the PLO outlets have proclaimed, as Abbas’s flacks have insisted that the PLO will not accept any regional peace.

Relations between Arab states and Israel, the PLO insists, cannot be fostered so long as Israel fails to capitulate to all of the PLO’s demands.

In commentary published at the Gatestone Institute website, Palestinian commentator Bassam Tawil alleges that the Palestinian rejection of the requirements of US law and its assaults against the Trump administration and Sunni Arab states may serve as a pretext for another Palestinian terror campaign against Israel, which will be justified as a response to an American-Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian plot against the Palestinians.

Given that the US is a superpower and the largest state financier of the PA, not to mention the foundation of the PLO’s claim to legitimacy on the world stage, the US might have been expected to respond harshly to the PLO’s threats and slanders. But then, that isn’t the State Department’s way of doing things with the PLO.

Rather than shrugging their shoulders and acknowledging that Abbas and his comrades have absolutely no intention whatsoever of abiding by the terms of their mission’s operations in Washington and shutting it down, the State Department began to stutter.

Obviously we wish to continue our good relations and our position as mediator between the Israelis and the PLO.

Obviously we wouldn’t wish the PLO any harm and really, really don’t want to close down its mission in Washington.

It’s just that we have this stupid law and we have to follow it, State Department officials insisted.

And then, less than a week after Tillerson sent his letter to Zomlot, the State Department beat a hasty retreat from its earlier decision to actually abide by US law when it comes to the PLO.

Saturday, The Hill online newspaper reported that the State Department had changed its mind. It is no longer interested in following the law. Instead, it has rewritten the law. Now, it’s fine for the PLO to operate in Washington while trampling US law. It just needs to pretend it isn’t doing what it is doing.

According to the State Department spokesman who revealed State’s about face to the media, the PLO mission can continue to operate, but its operations must be “related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

And if they aren’t, well, under this new interpretation of the law, the State Department can pretend it hasn’t noticed.

Two questions arise from the State Departments reversal. First, how does this decision advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians? And second, how does this decision impact the Trump administration’s bid to realign the balance of forces in the Middle East away from Iran and toward the US’s Arab allies, led by Saudi Arabia? The answer to the first question is straightforward. By empowering the PLO to continue to breach US law – with the full expectation of continuing to receive US assistance to the tune of more than $500 million a year – the US has made itself a laughingstock. Neither Hamas nor the PLO will take the US seriously. Any pressure the US attempts to apply toward the PLO to moderate its stand toward Israel will be ignored by Abbas and his cronies in the PLO and Hamas alike.

The Palestinians have taken the Trump administration’s measure. By beating a hasty retreat from its initial decision to stand with the law against the PLO, the State Department has told the PLO that the Trump administration is a paper tiger, at best.

They can get away with publicly trashing Trump. They can get away with antisemitic attacks against Friedman, Greenblatt and Kushner. Abbas and his deputies can get away with their war to delegitimize Israel in the West and harm its economy through their boycott campaign.

And the PLO can finance terrorism, sign a unity deal with Hamas and side with Hezbollah in Lebanon against Saudi Arabia.

The Trump administration will do nothing against them. Instead, in the face of this contemptuous slap in the face to the US, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Ramallah next month and have his picture taken with Abbas the “moderate” leader and peace partner.

This then brings us to the second question of how surrendering to PLO threats will influence the US’s regional position. As Tawil reported, Al Quds, a Palestinian paper that reflects the views of Abbas and his associates, blasted the Arab League for focusing on Iran at its most recent foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo.

“The meeting ignored the Palestinian cause,” the paper complained.

“We are facing new Arab alliances against Iran, all under American pressure.

This will have a negative impact on our cause,” it warned.

For more than a generation, the State Department, and through it US Middle East policy as a whole, have been captivated by the myth that nothing can happen in the Middle East without Israel first capitulating to PLO demands.

Today, 17 years after the PLO rejected statehood and peace at Camp David and in so doing, made clear that no Israeli capitulation short of national suicide will satisfy it, and with the Sunni Arab world now eagerly working with Israel to defeat Iran and its proxies, it is clear that it is time for the US to cut the cord on the PLO.

By reversing course on closing the PLO mission, and groveling to the threatening PLO, the State Department made a laughingstock of the US and President Trump. The decision to reverse course should itself be reversed, in accordance with US law and in the interest in restoring what it is still possible to restore of US credibility in the Middle East.