Denies points made in Sen. Specters letter
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, criticizing her response to a strong and principled letter she received from Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), in which she both whitewashes and ignores the Abbas/Fatah Conferences rejection of a final peace settlement with Israel, continuing support for terrorism, praising of terrorists and suicide bombers and the embracing of Iran by the by Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas Fatah Party at its Bethlehem conference, which had prompted Senator Specter to write to her.
Secretary Clinton wrongly claims in her response to Senator Specter that the Conference showed a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution. In fact, as the ZOA documented at the time, the August 2009 Fatah Conference reaffirmed Fatahs refusal to accept Israels existence as a Jewish state, glorified terrorists living and dead by name, praised the armed struggle, insisted on the so-called right of return, and rejected an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel.
Reports on the Fatah Conference led the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to issue a statement saying, Statements by Abu Alaa [former PA prime minister Ahmed Qureia] 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.
Senator Specter wrote earlier this month to Secretary Clinton, saying that he was deeply concerned with reports of extremism and glorification of terror, including the featuring at the Conference of posters of children brandishing weapons senior Fatah officials routinely referenced and glorified perpetrators of terrorism; and perhaps most discouraging leaders addressing the audience continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel 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. Referring to the $800 million in U.S. aid to the PA, Senator Specter urged Secretary Clinton that This support ought to be predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace. He also urged her 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.
However Secretary Clinton has responded in an October 23 letter to Senator Specter, where she whitewashed the anti-peace, pro-terror, anti-Israel themes of this Conference by inaccurately stating that, At the Congress, President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah leadership reaffirmed Fatah’s strategic choice to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict and respect for the Quartet principles, including previous commitments of the PLO. Among those who were elected during the Congress to the new Fatah Central Committee and Fatah Revolutionary Council, there appears to be a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution. As you point out in your letter, however, some individual Fatah delegates issued problematic texts and statements during the Congress. It is important to note that those texts and statements did not represent Fatahs official positions and the overwhelming majority of Fatah delegates at the Congress made clear their support for peace and a negotiated two-state solution.
In a letter to Secretary Clinton, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, National chairman of the Board, Dr. Michael Goldblatt, Executive Committee Chairman Dr. Alan Mazurek and Treasurer Henry Schwartz said, We view with deep concern the major discrepancies that exist between what has been reliably reported by, among others, prominent Israeli Arab Muslim journalist Khalid Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post, about the Fatah Conference and your subsequent description of it to Senator Specter. As we noted at the time of the Conference, Fatah did not commit itself to a non-violent path. To the contrary, at the Conference, Mahmoud Abbas himself declared that We maintain the right to launch an armed resistance. Jailed Fatah terrorist leader, Marwan Barghouti, often touted as future Fatah leader, said Resistance to the Israeli occupation is a national obligation, and it is a legitimate right and, only weeks earlier, also stated that Fatah believes in a combination of all forms of struggle, and it will not abandon, thwart, or rule out any form of struggle We in Fatah think that political activity and negotiations complement resistance, and harvest its fruits. Another senior Fatah figure, Fahmi Al-Zaarir, said that It is not possible to rule out or to marginalize the military option. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [Fatahs armed force and a recognized terrorist group under U.S. law] are the jewel in Fatahs crown. Also, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub declared that Resistance was and is a tactical and strategic option of the struggle are part of Fatah`s policy while yet another senior Fatah official, Husam Khader, said flatly, Fatah has not changed its national identity, and it retains the option of resistance and armed struggle.
These are not merely the unrepresentative views of some individual Fatah delegates as you maintain in your letter to Senator Specter they are unequivocal statements of support for terrorism by well-known, senior leaders of Fatah from Mahmoud Abbas down. Nor can it be said, as you contend in your letter, that these statements do not reflect the platform of the Fatah Conference. On the contrary, the Fatah platform calls for increased international pressure on Israel, opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states and refuses to declare that Fatah has no further demands from Israel beyond a peace settlement. The platform also calls for a strategic channel with Iran to be opened at a time Iran is defying the world by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. These facts are matter of public record.
We are, of course, aware that, at the Conference, Mahmoud Abbas asserted , as he often does to Western audiences, that Palestinians reject all forms of terrorism, but this disavowal of terrorism is meaningless when one recalls that Palestinians do not consider terrorism against Israelis to be terrorism, but legitimate resistance. Indeed, when Abbas said those words he immediately added that Palestinians would reject, in the words of the Jerusalem Post report (Aug. 4), any attempt to label their struggle as an act of terror. In these circumstances, any language in the Fatah platform concerning acceptance of Quartet principles and peace are simply disingenuous and not credible, based on 16 years experience.
Please bear in mind that, at this Conference, Fatah did not even define itself as a party, but as a national liberation movement which means, not a negotiating party or even a government-in-embryo, but an entity dedicated to armed violence. This is, incidentally, the same way that Hamas, Hizballah and the Syrian regime define themselves. Also bear in mind that the resolutions of this Conference were virtually identical to those passed by Fatah at its previous Conference, 20 years earlier, when all recognize that it was a terrorist movement. And please recall that the Conference unanimously passed a resolution claiming that Israel had murdered Yasser Arafat. A party that does these things is clearly guilty of all and more than Senator Specter pointed out in his original letter to you.
At this Conference, former Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qureia, now head of Fatahs Department for Recruitment and Organization, welcomed delegates with the words In the name of shahids (martyrs, i.e. dead terrorists). Fatah explicitly honored terrorists, including Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered. Qureia honored their killers by declaring, We have in our midst the hero Khaled Abu-Isbah, hero of the operation [terror attack] led by the Shahida [Martyr] Dalal Mughrabi [loud applause from the audience]. We salute him and welcome him. And [we salute] the hero, the Shahida (Martyr) Dalal. [He shouts:] All the glory! All the glory! All the glory! All the sisters here are Dalals sisters.
In view of these easily ascertainable facts, we are surprised and deeply concerned at your response to Senator Specter. As Senator, you distinguished yourself by pointing to the poisonous and vile incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the Palestinian Authority. You even said that such incitement would have dire consequences for peace for generations to come and that It is clear that the Palestinian Authority, as we see on PA TV, is complicit in terrorist attacks and that we should condition U.S. aid to the PA on a cessation of Palestinian propaganda and hateful rhetoric. Yet, to our dismay, we find now that you are not only neglecting to recognize the clear extremism of the Fatah Conference ant its platform but actually praising it for its commitment to peace and rebutting Senator Specters urgings to condition funding to the Palestinian Authority on it upholding a truly moderate and peaceful approach. We strongly urge you to review this vital matter. It would be a terrible, avoidable tragedy if further U.S. funds go to support an unreconstructed regime that encourages terrorism and engages in incitement and if the Obama Administration fails to take the necessary steps to urge an end to this behavior as you yourself once urged.