ZOA: Bush learned little
from Oslo disaster
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President George W. Bush’s speech yesterday for making the same mistakes as President Clinton and the late Prime Minister Rabin made when they promoted the false premise that Yasser Arafat was a moderate peacemaker who would make peace with Israel if Israel made major concessions. President Bush is now promoting the false premise that Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate peacemaker who is able and willing to make peace if strengthened with a better police force, more U.S. funds to the tune of $190 million and $228 million in loan guarantees, and major Israeli concessions. As with Arafat, U.S. and Israeli concessions and funding are not being made contingent on Abbas and the PA fulfilling their 14 year-old signed agreements to stop terrorism, arrest terrorists and end incitement to hatred and murder in the PA.
“President Bush wrongly claims that the Arab states have “put forward a plan recognizing Israel,” that Arab terrorism has been prompted by being “confronted with the prospect of peace” even though there was no peace and no ‘settlements’ before 1967. Bush also made the same repeated demand of Hamas/Fatah compliance with no consequences even hinted at if his demand was not heeded. Despite a rising chorus of experts saying Palestinian statehood would simply mean establishing another terrorist state, Bush is pushing that idea as a panacea, ignoring the fact that Iran, Syria and North Korea are states, yet their cultures are not peace-loving and supportive of the West. He also welcomed the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative, rather than rejecting its departure from the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 242, which every American president since Lyndon Johnson has supported ( White House , July 16).
Analysis of President Bush’s speech:
- “This is a moment of clarity for all Palestinians … a hopeful option. It is the vision of President Abbas … of a peaceful state called Palestine … [This is a] leader who rejects terror”: The facts: Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are not the moderates that President Bush insists they are. Before Hamas was elected in January 2006, Abbas had been president of the PA for over a year. During that time, he did precisely nothing to fulfill Palestinian Arab commitments under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. He did not jail terrorists, confiscate illegal weapons, or close the bomb factories. He did not end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed terrorism. It is Abbas and Fatah who have all along controlled, and retain control today, over the content of Palestinian textbooks and the media, both of which promote hatred of Jews, Israel, Christians and America. Until now, not only has Abbas not lifted a finger to stop terrorism against Israelis, he has praised terrorists wanted by Israel as ‘heroes fighting for freedom’ and declared that ‘Israel calls them murderers, we call them strugglers.’ Abbas has also described Hamas terrorist chieftain Sheikh Ahmad Yasin as a ‘martyr.’ Abbas’ Fatah, especially the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, are just as much involved in suicide bombing and other acts of terrorism as Hamas, the Popular Front, the Popular Resistance Committees and other Palestinian Arab terrorism groups. Both Fatah and Hamas have each murdered nearly 500 Israelis in nearly 7 years of suicide bombing and terrorism. It also should be understood that, to this day, Fatah’s own Charter, like that of Hamas, labels Zionism racist (Article 7) and calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 12) and the use of terrorism as an essential element in the struggle to achieve that goal (Article 19). The previous agreements signed with the PA, Oslo I, Oslo II, Hebron, Wye River, the Roadmap and so on all failed. Why would President Bush assume that it will be any different this time?
- “[Abbas and Fatah are] working to strengthen the Palestinian security services, so they can confront the terrorists and protect the innocent.” The facts: It is Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that carries out much of the terrorism perpetrated against Israelis. Abbas has explicitly refused in the past to disband this internationally recognized terrorist group. Nor has he arrested, or called for the arrest of, any terrorists, whether as prime minister or president of the PA. To the contrary, he wants to incorporate its personnel into the PA security forces. How exactly does this idea amount to fighting terrorism and protecting the innocent? How also does his call for the release of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails and removing their names from Israel’s wanted list assist the fight against terror?
- “Palestinians have held free elections, and chosen a president committed to peace … the United States is taking a series of steps to strengthen the forces of moderation and peace among the Palestinian people.” The facts: President Bush ignores the fact that in January 2006, Palestinians elected Hamas in legislative elections, whose Charter calls for Israel’s destruction (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). The President also asserts, as he has in the past, that Palestinian terrorism is the work of fringe elements who want to derail peace efforts. But this only shows that he has still not understood that rejection of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state is the majority, not the minority, position of Palestinian Arabs. Successive Palestinian polls show that most Palestinians support terrorism against Israelis and reject a final peace settlement with Israel even if it means no Palestinian state. A February 2006 Near East Consulting poll found that 75 percent of Palestinians oppose its existence. A September 2006 poll indicated that more than two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs (67 percent) opposed Hamas recognizing Israel. Another September 2006 poll found that 61 percent of Palestinians supported terrorist attacks upon Israeli civilians. Also, a July 2006 poll found that 60 percent of Palestinians support the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks upon Israel from northern Gaza, and 68 percent approve of the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. These figures and others like them suggest that hatred, incitement to murder and religious extremism fostered unremittingly by the Palestinian Authority’s media, mosques, schools and youth camps determine Palestinian attitudes toward Israel, not the absence of a Palestinian state, something the Palestinians have turned down on each occasion — 1937, 1947, 2000 — it has been offered. President Bush is acting as though these facts simply did not exist.
- “Arab states have put forward a plan that recognizes Israel’s place in the Middle East… Re-launching the Arab League initiative was a welcome first step.” The facts: By welcoming the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative, President Bush did something no other U.S. president has done before — departed from American support for United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 242 as the framework for peace-making by praising and welcoming the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative, which contradicts UNSC 242 in vital aspects. UNSC 242 calls only for ’ Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ not ‘full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories’ as demanded by the Arab Initiative. Further, the Arab Initiative demands the so-called ‘right of return’ which would inundate Israel with tens of thousands of Palestinian Arab refugees and their millions of descendents and which is therefore incompatible with Israel’s continued existence as Jewish state. Furthermore, this Plan demands irreversible Israeli concessions before the Arab states will even consider taking steps to end hostilities with Israel.
- “We will work with Congress and partners around the world to provide additional resources once a plan to build Palestinian institutions is in place. With all of this assistance, we are showing the Palestinian people that a commitment to peace leads to the generous support of the United States.” The facts: The U.S. has already donated approximately $1 billion to the PA over the years, without this producing peace or a reduction in terror and bloodshed. Why exactly is President Bush now rewarding this terrible record by giving further money to Abbas’ PA, before a single one of the Palestinian commitments under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan have been fulfilled? President Bush should stop talking of Palestinian commitment to peace and instead focus on Palestinian fulfillment of obligations under Oslo and the Roadmap.
- “This year, we will provide the Palestinians with more than $190 million in American assistance … To build on this support, I recently authorized the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to join in a program that will help generate $228 million in lending to Palestinian businesses. Today, I announce our intention to make a direct contribution of $80 million to help Palestinians reform their security services — a vital effort they’re undertaking with the guidance of American General Keith Dayton.” The facts: By promising Abbas $190 million in aid, plus over $200 million in loan guarantees, President Bush is repeating the terrible mistake made by both Israel and the U.S. when they falsely stated that Yasser Arafat was a moderate peacemaker, and on that false premise made concessions to his Fatah regime which resulted in a surge of terrorism, the loss of thousands of innocent lives and placed Israel in greater danger. The U.S. has expended nearly $1 billion on the PA only to see terrorism and extremism flourish. One cannot buy love, nor can one buy peace and moderation. Now the President wants to continue the flow of money to the PA despite its non-fulfillment of all its commitments whereas any further Israeli concessions should be contingent upon Palestinian fulfillment of their 14-year old commitments.
- “The conflict in Gaza and the West Bank today is a struggle between extremists and moderates.” The facts: To base policy on the idea that Abbas and Fatah are moderates is a prescription for frustration and failure in the last 18 months of the Bush presidency. By presenting the issues involved as if the choice between Fatah and Hamas were one between moderation and extremism, President Bush shows that he does not understand the nature of Palestinian politics and society. Fatah and Hamas are simply struggling for power. It is not a struggle about competing visions of peace and war. All Palestinian parties are committed to Israel’s elimination and to the use of violence. It is notable that on the occasions when Abbas has criticized Palestinian acts of terrorism against Israelis, it has always been in terms of the harm done to Palestinian interests, not because the acts are inherently barbaric and evil. That is why Abbas has insisted that he will never launch an offensive against terrorist groups, whose goals he shares.
- “We will continue to deliver a firm message to Hamas: You must stop Gaza from being a safe haven for attacks against Israel. You must accept the legitimate Palestinian government, permit humanitarian aid in Gaza, and dismantle militias. And you must reject violence, and recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties.” The facts: No-one can expect that the President uttering some strong words about Hamas will induce that terrorist organization to change its policy and conduct. In this policy speech, there is no ‘or else,’ no statement of what the consequences will be if Palestinian Arabs do not abandon the path of terror and extremism. The emphasis should be on fulfillment of signed commitments, not simply ‘committing’ to them.
- “The Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope — not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror. The Palestinian government must arrest terrorists, dismantle their infrastructure, and confiscate illegal weapons — as the road map requires. They must work to stop attacks on Israel, and to free the Israeli soldier held hostage by extremists. And they must enforce the law without corruption, so they can earn the trust of their people, and of the world.” The facts: For 14 years, the U.S. has said that the PA must end terrorism and even occasionally incitement to hatred and murder, then simply continued supporting the PA with aid and diplomacy no matter what it did. No consequences followed their non-fulfillment. Why then would Abbas and the PA this time take seriously this U.S. statement which carries no ‘or else’ clause and therefore, like all previous statement on the subject, is doomed to produced no change?
- “More than five years ago, I became the first American President to call for the creation of a Palestinian state… I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution.” The facts: Under current conditions, a Palestinian state would only be another terrorist regime. Giving the PA sovereignty would merely facilitate its goals to continue the fight against Israel’s existence, not bring peace. Iran, North Korea and Syria are all states, but that has not made them peaceful and law-abiding. It is noteworthy that distinguished figures like former Israel Defense Forces Chief-of-Staff, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, former CIA Director R. James Woosley and the doyen of Middle East historians, Professor Bernard Lewis, have all come out publicly in recent months against the formation of a Palestinian state because establishing one under current conditions is a recipe for more war, instability and bloodshed, not peace.
- “All the steps I’ve outlined are designed to lay the foundation for a successful Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.” The facts: Hamas has completely taken over Gaza. How is Gaza supposed to be part of the President’s ‘successful Palestinian state’ under the control of Abbas’ Fatah?
- “[Negotiations] could lead to a final peace in the Middle East — a permanent end to the conflict, and an agreement on all the issues, including refugees.” The facts: In his May 2004 letter to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President Bush stipulated that any future peace settlement would involve resettlement of Palestinian Arabs in a state of their own, not in Israel. Why then has he now left this issue open, instead of reaffirming this important commitment that he made to Prime Minister Sharon? By doing this, Bush has re-opened the door to the Arab so-called ‘right of return,’ demanding that Israel take in tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants.
- “Israel has a clear path. Prime Minister Olmert must continue to release Palestinian tax revenues to the government of Prime Minster Fayyad. Prime Minister Olmert has also made clear that Israel’s future lies in developing areas like the Negev and Galilee — not in continuing occupation of the West Bank … So unauthorized outposts should be removed and settlement expansion ended.” The facts: Until 1967, neither Judea and Samaria nor Gaza were under Israeli control, but under the control of Egypt and Jordan. Yet there was no peace and much terrorism and the Palestinian movement did not speak of liberating these territories to create a Palestinian state but of destroying Israel instead. Both Egypt and Jordan were illegal occupiers of these lands, whereas these areas had been part of the larger territory earmarked for a Jewish state by the League of Nations, making them unallocated territories under international law. Yet instead of referring to them as disputed territories, President Bush calls them occupied. He also opposes the development and expansion of growing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, thereby in effect calling for their stifling, as though preventing Jews from living and thriving there was essential to peace. Moreover, Israel has already conceded to the PA half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza, with the result that 98% of Palestinian Arabs live on territory controlled by the PA, yet President Bush still speaks about the need to end Israel’s occupation. Lastly, he demands major Israeli concessions upfront before any Palestinian concessions have been made. Why is the President asking for more Israeli concessions before Palestinians have fulfilled any of theirs? Should not any Israeli concession be contingent upon Palestinian fulfillment of their 14-year old commitments?
- “Confronted with the prospect of peace, extremists have responded with acts of aggression and terror.” The facts: Terrorism against Israel has been a feature of Israeli life since its establishment in 1948. The terrorism described by President Bush did not originate because of the prospect of peace supposedly opening up with the Oslo peace process or any diplomatic process that has followed it. President Bush’s statement implies that terrorism would cease if peace efforts were non-existent.
- “We can help them show the world what a Palestinian state would look like — and act like.” The facts: The PA has had 14 years to show the world how it uses the highest per capita international aid in the world. It has not created a modern, thriving society, but a deeply corrupt, terrorist entity. The PA has had more years than that given to most governments to build up its economy and society and has not done so. In these circumstances, it is clear that President Bush will be wasting taxpayer money on an unreformed PA, which will remain a beggar nation for years to come.
- “After the wave of killing by Hamas last month, a 16-year-old girl in Gaza City told a reporter, “The gunmen want to destroy the culture of our fathers and grandfathers. We will not allow them to do it.” She went on, “I’m saying it’s enough killing. Enough.” That young woman speaks for millions — in Gaza, the West Bank, in Israel, in Arab nations, and in every nation.” The facts: President Bush is misleading himself and other in arguing that the words of 16 year old Gazan girl, following the bloody fighting between Fatah and Hamas, has anything to do with Palestinian moderation or yearning for peace with Israel. The girl in question spoke clearly about Gazan Palestinians being weary of the bloodshed in their own cities and towns, not about recognizing Israel, abhorring terrorism or wanting peace with Israel. This is but a further example of basing policies on groundless notions of Palestinian Arab moderation.
- “Now Arab nations should build on this initiative — by ending the fiction that Israel does not exist, stopping the incitement of hatred in their official media, and sending cabinet-level visitors to Israel.” The facts: The ZOA commends the President for raising the issue of Palestinian terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder, which together doom all peace efforts, and for arguing that these steps and others are essential to peace-making. The President is undoubtedly correct in this, which causes us only further doubt about the wisdom of an overall plan that rewards Palestinian Arabs with U.S. taxpayer funds and major concessions even before the PA has done anything to merit such support, not least ending terror and incitement to hatred and murder.
Klein added, “Unfortunately President Bush has shown by this major address on the Middle East that he continues to succumb to the illusion that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are moderate peace partners and has decided to have another throw of the dice on securing peace by outlining a program of massive rewards and preemptive concessions to Abbas and international negotiations aimed at leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.
“By insisting that Palestinians face a choice between moderation as represented by Fatah and extremism as represented by Hamas, Bush has given Abbas and Fatah a free pass despite years of on-going terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder. If Abbas is to be praised as a peacemaker and lavished with funds and concessions, then why would he make the hard choices to fulfill vital steps like fighting terrorism and ending incitement to hatred and murder within the PA? There is simply no accountability expected of Abbas. Surely, if funds and concessions are to be given to him, shouldn’t these follow only after he has taken these steps?
“This announcement of strong and almost unqualified support for Abbas and Fatah simply ensures that, as in the past, they will not fulfill their commitments to peace-making and will therefore doom the President’s policy. The President is making same mistake as Bill Clinton & Yitzhak Rabin when they accepted the false premise that Yasser Arafat was peaceful moderate and that major Israeli concessions would bring peace. Now President Bush is promoting the false premise that Abbas is a peaceful moderate, despite Fatah’s Charter, its on-going major role in terror, and Abbas’ call in January for Palestinians to aim all their guns at Israel.
“President Bush would appear to be pursuing this misconceived policy simply for the purpose of trying to appease Arab regimes and international anti-American sentiment by appearing to be doing something to further negotiations and the making of Israeli concessions that so many believe are the key to their success. It follows that, as so often before, pressure will fall on Israel to make more one-sided, unilateral and perhaps irreversible concessions to the terrorist- sponsoring PA. Former Prime Minister Sharon was right to remark of this trend back in 2001 that, ‘We can only rely on ourselves and from now on we will only rely on ourselves … I turn to the United States and say don’t go back on the same mistakes as the democracies made in 1938. That is when Czechoslovakia was sacrificed for a convenient, temporary solution. Do not appease the Arabs on our account. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. We will defend ourselves.’ That statement was correct then and is correct now. This is truly a speech of folly. As a policy it will fail and will cast a cloud over the last year and half of the Bush presidency.”