Sept. 25, 2018
If this intractable conflict is to have the remotest hope of resolution, then the PA must clearly recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state
https://nationalpost.com/opinion/vivian-bercovici-no-hope-for-mideast-peace-if-the-palestinians-wont-renounce-terrorism (includes photos)
On Sunday Sept. 16, a 17-year-old Palestinian, Khalil Jabarin, from a village near Hebron, plunged a knife into the back of 45-year-old Ari Fuld at the entrance to the Kefar Etzion mall in the West Bank.
Fuld, a father of four residing in the nearby settlement of Efrat, drew and shot the pistol he carried, to be used in just such a circumstance. Jabarin was wounded, ending his chase of a woman who had served him falafel moments before, his knife aloft. Fuld died immediately after. She lived.
There are many who see Fuld — and all Israeli civilians living in the West Bank — as a legitimate military target, viewing him as an illegal occupier of Palestinian land. Fuld surely saw himself as someone reclaiming his birthright to live in the biblical home of Judaism. And, therein, is embedded the vicious cycle of violence.
Since the early ’80s, when I was a student in Jerusalem for one year, I have been among those opposed to the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I spent the summer of 1985 travelling to hilltop outposts, which today are large communities with villas and malls and schools. At the time, few in Israel and no one in the West paid attention to these developments. These were the relatively tranquil days before the first Intifada, when Israelis and Palestinians interacted quite freely in daily life, however tenuous and imperfect the circumstances.
More than 30 years on and two Intifadas later, tensions are clearly heightened. Much of the West continues to publicly promote the notion of a two-state solution, while privately, many diplomats and foreign-policy experts acknowledge that such an outcome is highly unlikely. It’s an uncomfortable truth that some prefer to avoid, pretending that the shopworn and discredited orthodoxy of the Oslo years will be revived.
Today, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, a wildly rich kleptocrat, and autocrat — elected in January 2005 to a four-year term and still, somehow, in office — is perceived as a “moderate” by many.
His minister of prisoner affairs will oversee the certain approval of a monthly payment of $US390 to Jabarin’s family, recognition of the teen’s service in resisting Israeli occupation. Martyrdom is officially and openly celebrated by the PA.
His PA-controlled media reported that Jabarin had been shot by Israeli soldiers, apparently, for no reason. No mention was made of the fact that he murdered Fuld. Abbas himself has been silent regarding this incident.
Seven per cent of the PA’s annual budget of approximately US$400 million is allocated to reward the families of dead or incarcerated terrorists. According to a senior Israeli government source, a staggering 44 per cent of all aid to the PA from foreign donor countries is diverted to this form of direct support for terrorism.
In recent months, after making explicit and repeated warnings for almost two years, the Trump administration ended all U.S. funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and certain PA-controlled and funded entities. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, has been consistent in her position: As long as the PA continues to promote and finance terror there will be no basis for peace, and American funding will cease.
Perhaps, the seven per cent used for terrorism would be more responsibly allocated by the PA to health care, education and the sort of things that are critical for institutional independence, a precursor to any credible nationhood.
Also in September, the Belgian Education Ministry revoked its multimillion-dollar annual support of West Bank schools. Belgium recently learned that its donations had funded the building of a Hebron school named for Dalal Mughrabi. In 1978, she led a cell of 11 Fatah terrorists who hijacked a civilian bus travelling the coastal road in Israel, ending with the murder of 38 civilians, including 13 children.
In a sharply worded statement, the Belgian Ministry of Education deplored the glorification of terrorist attacks. “Belgium endeavours to promote a culture of respect for human rights, human dignity and tolerance. This should be reflected in curricula taught at schools funded abroad by Belgian taxpayers’ contributions as well as in the names and logos of such schools.”
In May 2017, the government of Norway demanded the return of funds it had provided to a Palestinian Women’s Centre located, ironically, in the West Bank village of “Burqa” and also named after Dalal Mughrabi.
There is a very delayed recognition in the West, these being just two examples, of the quite standard promotion of terror and incitement to violence and hatred, entrenched in school curricula and most aspects of daily life in the West Bank and Gaza.
And, no, there is not automatic symmetry or equivalency between what the PA, UNRWA or Hamas might do and the actions of the democratically elected government of Israel. And, no, this, is not blind support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or the Labour governments that preceded him and were, ironically, the original sponsors of West Bank settlement activity.
The “moderate” Abbas has stated repeatedly that in any future Palestinian state every single Israeli (code for Jew) will be expelled. Imagine if Israel was to declare the expulsion of every single Palestinian Arab from its territory.
If this intractable conflict is to have the remotest hope of resolution, or meaningful détente, then the Palestinians must clearly recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state and renounce terrorism. All the hullabaloo around Oslo notwithstanding, the PA never got around to amending its political charter to reflect such basic goodwill, as then chairman Yasser Arafat pledged to do, repeatedly. As for Hamas …
Until then, the cycle of violence and intensifying hatred will continue. And America, Norway and Belgium will continue to refuse to obligingly finance such a “government.”
— Vivian Bercovici is Canada’s former ambassador to Israel. She lives in Tel Aviv.