The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the meeting granted yesterday to Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas by Israeli president Shimon Peres at the presidential residence, Beit Hanassi, in Jerusalem at a time when Abbas’ PA and Fatah have praised freed terrorists like Samir Kuntar and Dalal Al-Mughrabi. Kuntar, in April 1979, carried out a terror attack in Nahariya in which he and other terrorists seized Danny Haran, 28, and his 4-year old daughter, Einat, in their home and removed them to the Nahariya beachfront where Kuntar shot Danny Haran in front of his daughter, then drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead, before smashing the 4-year-old’s skull with a rock and crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Dalal Mughrabi led the March 11, 1978 coastal road attack upon Israel in which 36 people were murdered and 71 wounded.
The PA sought the return of Al-Mughrabi’s remains so she can be honored with a funeral in Ramallah. Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, described Mughrabi as “the first Palestinian woman to carry out one of the most courageous operations in Israel … We want to turn Dalal’s funeral into a national wedding, a major celebration … The operation she carried out off the shores of her hometown of Jaffa was heroic and exemplary. She will always be remembered as a symbol for the Palestinian women’s struggle.” Ahmed also praised Kuntar as a “stubborn and firm fighter in the ranks of the Lebanese resistance who led a very courageous operation.” (Khaled Abu Toameh, ‘PA wants ‘festive’ funeral for coastal road killer,’ Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2008). Abbas himself sent his greetings to Kuntar upon his release while Abbas’ Fatah party organized a rally in Ramallah to celebrate the event (Khaled Abu Toameh, ‘Haniyeh: Release thousands for Schalit,’ Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2008). Moreover, since its inception, the PA has honored Mughrabi by naming many schools and various institutions after her. An article published in Thursday’s edition of the PA-funded Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper hailed Mughrabi as a “living legend and a wonderful example for all women.” (Khaled Abu Toameh, ‘PA wants ‘festive’ funeral for coastal road killer,’ Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2008).
Other recent examples of praise for terrorists from Abbas and Fatah:
· March 2008: Mahmoud Abbas’ official PA daily newspaper, Al Hayat Al Jadida, honored the murderer of the eight high school students at Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav seminary as a Shahid – [Holy Islamic Martyr] and placed a picture of the killer on the front page, with the caption, ‘The Shahid Alaa Abu D’heim.’ In a Page One article on the terror killings, his act was defined as a ‘Shahada achieving’ action. (Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, ‘Killer of eight young men is Holy Martyr- Shahid: Action should cost PA $150 million in US aid,’ Palestinian Media Watch, March 9, 2008).
· February 2008: All three newspapers controlled by Abbas’ PA glorified the two suicide bombers who struck in Dimona on February 4, 2008. One suicide bomber detonated his belt, killing one Israeli and wounding 11 others, while the second bomber, injured by the blast of the first, was killed by an Israeli security officer before he could detonate his belt. The daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida said that, “The perpetrators of the operation died as shahids [glorious martyrs] … an Israeli was killed and eleven were wounded in the Dimona operation” (Feb. 5), while the dailies Al-Iyam and Al-Quds also defined the bombers as glorious martyrs (‘PA glorifies Dimona terrorists,’ Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2008).
· January 2008: Abbas praised Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine founder and leader George Habash, who orchestrated several hijackings and airport massacres, at his death, saying, “The death of this historic leader is a great loss for the Palestinian cause and for the Palestinian people for whom he fought for 60 years” (‘PFLP founder George Habash mourned as “historic leader for Palestinians”‘,’ Daily Star [Beirut], January 28, 2008).
On July 11, the ZOA published a longer list of such examples of PA honoring terrorists.
Despite public PA praise for these terrorists, Abbas was still given the high honor of a meeting at Beit Hanassi, the first time that any PA leader has been granted such an honor by an Israeli president. Abbas’ meeting with Peres included all the trappings of a visit by a foreign dignitary, including PLO flags alongside Israeli flags and a red-carpet reception. PA negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who also attended the meeting with Peres, said that he and his colleagues were seeking to recruit Peres to help “halt settlement expansion” (Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, ‘A First: Fatah Chief in the President’s Residence,’ Israel National News, July 23, 2008).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Mahmoud Abbas and the PA have a long and shocking record of glorification of terror and terrorists which demonstrates, as little else can, why he and his Fatah-backed PA are neither moderate nor peace partners. It should come as no surprise that this glorification of terror and terrorism continues when Abbas’ Fatah calls to this day in its Constitution for the destruction of Israel (Article 12) and the use of terrorism as an essential element in the campaign to achieve that goal (Article 19).
“The record shows that within the PA, few opportunities are missed to glorify a terrorist, celebrate a suicide bomber, or inculcate Palestinian youth into worshipping cold-blooded murderers. The record also shows that all aspects of PA life — the schools, youth movements, sports teams, newspapers, TV, even the names of streets — are made vehicles for honoring and praising terrorism. This in turn breeds more terrorists and bloodshed. Only recently, Abbas’ Fatah issued a 43rd anniversary poster, showing Israel, described as ‘Palestine’ draped in a Palestinian head-dress, including pictures of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and a Kalashnikov rifle.
“Given this shocking record, we deplore the meeting granted to Abbas by Shimon Peres, especially almost at the very moment that the PA has honored murderers of Jews. What more damaging signal could Israel send to Palestinians than this – that Israel will meet with and honor PA leaders, no matter what they say or do, no matter that they honor bloodthirsty murderers as heroes?
“Only when Palestinians reject the idea that it is a religious and national duty to murder Jews and honor those act on these vile ideals will there be any prospect of peace.”