New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President George W. Bush for praising Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, as a moderate who is “willing to speak out and act on behalf of people who yearn for peace” and whom he “can’t thank enough for the courage you have shown” (White House, September 20) President Bush’s remarks came only a day after addressing the UN General Assembly, where he stated that “President Abbas is committed to peace, and to his people’s aspirations for a state of their own” (White House, September 19).
President Bush’s praise for the Palestinian leader stands in stark contrast to Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to honor signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan by fighting arresting, extraditing and jailing terrorists and confiscating their weaponry and ending the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds it; his long-standing support for the so-called ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants to Israel, a measure that would see Israel overwhelmed by hostile aliens and is therefore inimical to its existence; Abbas’ repeated praise for Palestinian and other terrorists; his failure to condemn as a moral obscenity and crime Palestinian terrorism committed against innocent Israeli civilians; his approval of legislation mandating financial benefits to families of shahids [i.e., dead terrorists]; and his recent endorsement of the so-called ‘Prisoners’ Plan’, a document produced by jailed Palestinian terrorists that endorses continued terrorism against Israel, legitimizes the murder of Jews, does not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and abrogates Palestinian obligations under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, and insists on the so-called ‘right of return.’
Past statements by Abbas:
- Praised the Lebanese Islamist terrorist group, Hizballah, for its hostilities with Israel, saying that it is a source of pride and sets an example for what he termed the “Arab resistance” (Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2006).
- Condemned Israel’s killing of four Palestinian terrorists in a military operation as a “barbarous slaughter” (Voice of Palestine, May 30, 2006).
- Opposes terrorism only on tactical grounds, because “It harms the Palestinian interests.” (New York Times, October 26, 2005) and for its timing, not because it a crime, “I say to them [the terrorists], this is not the time for this kind of attack” (Washington Times, January 3, 2005).
- Refused to fight and dismantle Palestinian terrorist groups, saying that is a “red line” that must not be crossed (Washington Times, January 3, 2005).
- Described wanted Palestinian terrorists “heroes fighting for freedom.” (The Age [Melbourne], January 3, 2005).
- Described Israel as the “Zionist enemy” (CNN.com, January 7, 2005).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA cannot understand President Bush’s lavish praise for Mahmoud Abbas as courageous peacemaker. Where has Mahmoud Abbas demonstrated any such courage to merit the President’s praise? Mahmoud Abbas is a man who was not only Yasser Arafat’s deputy for 40 years, masterminded the Munich massacre and wrote a PhD thesis and book denying the Holocaust, but he has completely failed as PA president to dismantle the terrorist groups, to arrest terrorists, to close bomb factories, stop the arms smuggling from Gaza and end incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps as well as renaming the streets, schools, and sports teams named after Palestinian suicide bombers. It should also not be forgotten that he heads the Fatah Party, a movement whose Charter to this day calls for terrorism against Israel and its destruction. Mahmoud Abbas has never even amended the Charter of his own party, let alone provided moderate or courageous leadership for the Palestinian Arabs. Someone with so abject a record of extremism should not be praised as courageous peacemaker.
“To praise Mahmoud Abbas is a disservice to truth and bad for both Israel and the US. It is bad for American interests if President Bush feeds the illusion that Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate and genuine negotiating partner. When peace-making in these circumstances fail, as they must, the blame for that failure will not be placed on someone the President has called a courageous moderate, but upon the US itself. President Bush should not raise expectations which are sure to be disappointed.”