ZOA Praises Sen. Specter For Conditioning $800M US Aid To Palestinians To Their Commitment To Peace
October 15, 2009

In same letter to Clinton, Specter criticizes

pro-terror Abbas/Fatah Conference



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly praised United States Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) for writing a letter (October 9, 2009) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to “predicate” the $800M in annual US aid to the Palestinian Arabs to their commitment to peace.  About the $800M, Specter wrote, “This support ought to be predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace.”


The ZOA also praised Senator Specter for strongly criticizing in the same letter to Sec’y Clinton the August, 2009 Bethlehem pro-terror/anti-peace Conference of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority, of which Abbas is President.  Specter wrote, “I am deeply concerned with reports that the Conference served as a platform for participants to launch vitriol against Israel, incite violence and further impede the peace process.  Among the more offensive examples which have been brought to my attention are reports that the venue featured posters of children brandishing weapons, that senior Fatah officials routinely referenced and glorified perpetrators of terrorism; and perhaps most discouraging, that leaders addressing the audience continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel.


“This Conference could have been an opportunity for Fatah to repudiate hateful sentiment and help advance the peace process.  Yet, it appears this opportunity was wasted as it is my understanding that the platform Fatah adopted at the Conference includes calls for increased international pressure on Israel and opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab States.


“I urge you to explore the validity of the aforementioned reports regarding the Fatah Conference.  If they are determined to be accurate, I further urge you to communicate disappointment to your counterparts in the Palestinian Authority and advise them that the Conference and similar events are counterproductive and will not be tolerated.


“Thank you for your attention to this matter.”


Specter further wrote to Sec’y Clinton, “I’d appreciate your looking into this matter and acting on it.”



Israeli Officials/American Jewish Leaders Criticize Fatah Conference


Sen. Specter was not alone in his deep concern and criticism of the Fatah Conference.  Israeli Officials and American Jewish leaders also made strong statements criticizing it. 


Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said about this Conference, “It has buried any chance of an Israeli Palestinian peace agreement in the next few years.”  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “The rhetoric coming from the Fatah Conference and the positions being exposed are grave and unacceptable to us.”  Former Israeli Shin Bet chief and Internal Security minister Avi Dichter said, “Fatah’s statements are clearing the way to what may eventually be the third intifada. Once you say that the fight will go on by all means necessary – anyone in their right mind understands that spells an armed conflict…  What I find particularly disturbing is that it’s the moderates that plan to have the convention vote on an article titled ‘continuing the fight against Israel by all means necessary.’  Sixteen years after the Oslo Accords, it’s Fatah’s way of saying they see an armed conflict as a legitimate way to conduct dialogue with Israel.  The chances of any bilateral progress with the Palestinians are practically nonexistent….  The Palestinians are about to lose their way again, just like after Oslo.”


Israeli Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein referred to the Fatah Conference as “a declaration of war.  We must not act as if we haven’t heard.  We must emerge from the circle of illusions that these are moderates who want peace.  They explicitly say that they support continuing the armed struggle.  Are these the moderate leaders the world wants us to hold negotiations with?  My feeling is that we are not interested in listening to the voices calling for an armed struggle.  We are pretending not to hear the clear trend demonstrated by Abu Mazen (Abbas) and his people to adapt themselves to Hamas.  Our main task is to act in the international arena and explain the difference between dreams and reality.  There they are doing the easiest thing – accusing Israel of refusing to freeze construction in Jerusalem.  They don’t see that what is happening in Bethlehem and what is being said there is not being said by Hamas, Hezbollah or (Syrian President) Bashar Assad.  This is Fatah we are talking about, those who the international community is allegedly pushing us to negotiate with.”  Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said, “The draft version for Fatah’s meeting is a declaration of war against Israel.”


Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein and Alan Solow, also sharply criticized the statements made by former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Alaa and other Fatah officials at the Fatah Conference.  They said, “Statements by Abu Allah praising suicide bombers who have killed dozens of people is wholly unacceptable and represents the true challenge to the chances for peace in the region.  Statements by other Fatah officials urged the continuation of armed resistance and asserted that Fatah would not recognize the State of Israel.  These declarations, made by the so-called ‘moderate’ Palestinian faction puts into sharp focus the question of the real beliefs of the party with whom Israel is to negotiate.  Such rhetoric cannot be dismissed as it glorifies murderers and incites others to emulate their example.  The U.S. has urged the Palestinians to address the issue of incitement, which is both an immediate and long-term obstacle to the prospect of meaningful negotiations.  Too often such statements have been dismissed.  But as history has shown, it is a serious impediment, not only undermining the confidence of Israelis, but exhorting this and future generations to violence and hate.  The leadership of the Palestinian Authority must speak out against these actions to declare and take steps that all such incitement be stopped.”  During the conference, former PA Prime Minister Abu Alaa welcomed Khaled Abu-Usbah to the conference and referred to him and Dala Mughrabi as Palestinian heroes for carrying out the bus hijacking in 1978, which killed 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children.”  The Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Abraham Foxman said, “We would like to see this administration express some disappointment on some of the rhetoric coming out” of the Conference.  “It’s not in line with the American initiative to bring the parties closer together.”  The American Jewish Committee called the Conference “a slap in the face” to those interested in peace.


ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA strongly praises US Senator Arlen Specter for his principled and moral stand criticizing the recent pro-terror, anti-peace Abbas/Fatah Conference in Bethlehem.  At this Conference, terrorists were glorified by name, while many speakers promoted the “armed struggle” against Israel, and stressed they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state.  Mahmoud Abbas himself said there, “we maintain the right to launch an armed resistance.”  The Palestinian Arab leaders should have condemned violence and terrorism against Israel and Jews, instead they honored and encouraged it.


“U.S. Senator Arlen Specter deserves special credit for exposing this deeply troubling and horrific Abbas Conference; a Conference which makes a mockery of any movement toward a real peace.


“Sen. Specter is also to be applauded for making it clear that the U.S. should finally condition almost a billion dollars in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Arabs to compliance of their agreements and with a real Palestinian Arab movement toward peace.


 “We agree with Sen. Specter that Sec’y of State Hillary Clinton should act forthwith to hold Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority accountable for this reprehensible Conference – one that even Yasser Arafat and Iran’s Ahmadinejad would be proud of.”


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