Zionist Organization President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
President Trump’s speech at the Israel Museum on May 23, 2017 – was excellent in numerous respects, including President Trump’s commitment to stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions and worldwide terror; enhancing U.S.-Israel defense cooperation; and combatting international, Hamas, and Hezbollah’s terror; and the President’s poetic statements affirming the Jewish people’s eternal ties to the Holy Land, and praising the freedom of worship that people of all faiths have in Israel.
However, we were concerned that President Trump’s speech relayed the belief that Mahmoud Abbas is ready for peace. Abbas’ actions and words show he is not.
The Speech’s Great Positives:
ZOA praises and very much appreciates President Trump’s commitment to stopping Iran and strong statements: “The United States is firmly committed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias. (Applause.) So we are telling you right now that Iran will not have nuclear weapons. (Applause.)”
One of the biggest applause lines of President Trump’s Israel Museum speech was his beautiful statement: “The ties of the Jewish people to this Holy Land are ancient and eternal.” So true! This statement was particularly meaningful because President Trump was standing in Jerusalem when he said it. The President’s statement was an important counterweight to the attempts by the United Nations (and Mahmoud Abbas) to deny the Jewish people’s eternal connection to the land of Israel. President Trump went on to also poetically state that the Jewish people’s eternal ties to the Holy Land “date back thousands of years, including the reign of King David whose star now flies proudly on Israel’s white and blue flag.”
Freedom of worship that Israel affords to all is unique in the Middle East. It is one of the many reasons why Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem must remain intact and be recognized by the U.S.
If Palestinian/Arabs attained sovereignty over any of Jerusalem and the remaining areas of Judea/Samaria, freedom of worship would cease there. The Palestinian Authority/PLO’s record on religious freedom is abominable: Palestinian Arabs attacked and demolished the holy ancient Jewish site of Joseph’s Tomb – and murdered Jews who were praying there – when the area of Judea/Samaria containing this ancient Jewish holy site was turned over to PA control pursuant to the Oslo Accords. In the PA, selling land to a Jew is punishable by death. Abbas has vowed that no Jew “will step foot in” a state of Palestine. Abbas infamously incited the recent murderous “knife intifada” against innocent Jews and western tourists by asserting that both the Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulcher belong to the Muslims – and that Jews and Christians are “defiling” these holy places with their “filthy feet.” (“Abbas: We Won’t Allow Jews’ ‘Filthy Feet,’” Palestinian Media Watch, Sept. 17, 2015.) The Palestinian-Arabs’ persecution of Christians after the PA obtained control of Bethlehem was so horrendous that most of Bethlehem’s Christians had to flee en masse to Israel.
ZOA was also pleased to see that President Trump continued to promote the real objective of “peace” – and did not fall into the trap of promoting “Palestinian self-determination.” We note that President Trump’s approach of not promoting a particular outcome is wise and consistent with his core principle set forth in his famous book, The Art of the Deal, of maintaining flexibility and maximizing options. The President wrote: “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach.” (See “Donald Trump’s Core Business Philosophy from his Bestselling 1987 Book ‘The Art of the Deal’,” by Richard Feloni, Business Insider, Jun. 16, 2015.)
But Does Abbas Show “Readiness for Peace”:
The President stated during his Israel Museum speech: “I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace. I know you’ve heard it before. I am telling you — that’s what I do. They are ready to reach for peace.”
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no evidence that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA/PLO are really “ready for peace.” All their actions and all the evidence point to the contrary. This past weekend, Abbas, the PA and Fatah (the PA’s governing party, headed by Abbas) named two more PA public squares in honor of Israeli-Arabs who kidnapped and brutally murdered a former Jewish classmate. At the Jenin square naming ceremony, PA and Fatah officials conveyed greetings from Abbas expressing “honor and pride” to the Palestinian-Arab murderers and their families. (See “As Trump Meets Abbas in Bethlehem, the PA Names Squares in Jenin and Tulkarem After Murderers,” Palestinian Media Watch, May 22, 2017.)
The White House readout of President Trump’s meeting with Abbas on the morning of President Trump’s Israel Museum speech confirms that Abbas is taking no action to end his and the PA’s incitement against Jews and Israel, and payments to terrorists to murder Jews – despite the fact that President Trump has repeatedly asked Abbas to fulfill these most basic requisites for peace. This is also despite the fact that the PA’s incitement and payments to Jew-killers violate Abbas and the PA/PLO’s written commitments in the Oslo Accords 22 years ago, and in subsequent agreements.
Instead, this fundamental issue was relegated to the bottomless pit of “continuing discussions.” The White House readout of the Trump-Abbas meeting states: “President Trump and President Abbas agreed to continue their discussions on the issue of payments to Palestinian prisoners and the need to improve the Palestinian economy.” (“Readout of Meeting Between President Donald J. Trump and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, May 23, 2017.)
What’s to discuss? In the wise words of President Trump’s “Art of the Deal,” Abbas can no longer “con people”; it’s time for Abbas to “deliver the goods.” (“Donald Trump’s Core Business Philosophy from his Bestselling 1987 Book ‘The Art of the Deal’,” supra.)
Either Abbas and his PA/PLO/Fatah must immediately end incitement and stop paying terrorists – or all concerned should take off their rose-colored glasses about Abbas and the PA/PLO/Fatah’s “readiness for peace” and take strong action to hold Abbas and the PA/PLO/Fatah accountable for promoting terror, including by cutting U.S. direct payments to the PA/PLO and indirect payments through UNRWA.