Picture from The World Economic Forum Jan. 2007
Recent events centering around the attention being given to P.A. Authority President Mahmud Abbas and his Fatah Organization (formerly known as the Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO for short) makes many Israelis wonder who their true friends really are. With the P.A. now divided into two entities “Hamastan” in Gaza and “Fatahland” on the West Bank, both the Israeli and the United States governments seem to have thrown their combined support behind Abbas, even though his people were thoroughly crushed by Hamas in Gaza, and are only still in control of Palestinian held areas in the West Bank due to Hamas not yet having enough strength in these areas â€“ not yet anyway.
Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert inviting Abbas to Jerusalem for talks, together with U.S. President George Bush’s speech on Monday concerning the U.S. government’s support of Abbas’ reorganized administration and outright rejection of Ismail Haniyah’s Hamas organization, seems to indicate everyone’s acceptance of the division of authority within the P.A. Olmert in fact appears so willing to accept a “moderate” Palestinian entity that in a gesture of good faith, he has agreed to release a total of 255 Palestinian prisoners in order to cement the deal. Not only that, the Israeli P.M. is also willing to not pursue another 180 members of West Bank terror groups, such as the Al Aqsa Brigades, some of whom were definitely involved in killing and wounding Israeli soldiers and civilians in the past.
Just who are these “moderate” Palestinians with whom Israeli government leaders, including newly installed Israeli President Shimon Peres, are now willing to accept as new partners for peace? Many Israelis appear to have very short memories since previously, before groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad came into being, Israel’s Public enemy No.1 was non other than the PLO, headed by that old-time believer in armed struggles, Yasser Arafat himself. With Arafat at the helm, and being ably assisted by none other than Abbas , known better by his code name Abu Maazan, some of the worst “armed struggles” against Israelis occurred during a 25 year period leading up to the 1993 Oslo Accords. These attacks include:
1. The 1968 Savoy Hotel attack in Tel Aviv
2. The 1970 attack at Ben Gurion Airport, carried out with the able assistance of both the German Badar Meinhoff gang and the Japanese Red Brigade.
3. The massacre of Israeli Athletes at the 1972 Olympiad in Munich Germany.
4. The attack and massacre of 23 Israeli school children in the northern Galilee town of Maalot.
5. The 1978 Haifa Road bus hijacking in which more than 30 Israelis lost their lives.
6. And numerous attacks against Israelis in Nahariyah, Jerusalem, on Kibbutzim, and on army bases.
For the point of good order, it must be pointed out that all of these attacks were carried out long before the first suicide bomber blew himself up at the Hadara central bus terminal in late 1993!
In more recent times, many of these ‘moderate’ Palestinians were involved in numerous shooting incidents against both soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, and were also part of the group of Palestinians who lynched two Israeli reserve soldiers at the police station in Nablus at the beginning of the Second Intifada in October, 2000.
Moderate Palestinians? It might be argued by some that the group of 255 slated to be released on Friday are not supposed to be ones with “blood on their hands”, such as Marwan Barghouti, who was sentenced to no less than 5 consecutive life prison terms by an Israeli military court. But really now, how can it be possible that none of these persons, including several women, have absolutely clean records without even a few drops of blood on their hands? Not only that, with the P.A. now split into two separate entities, the release of even a thousand Fatah prisons will not help towards securing the repatriation of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held by a group similar to the one who held BBC journalist Allan Johnston in Gaza for nearly four months. Who knows how many Hamas and other prisoners, many whom are surely murderers, will have to be set free in order to gain Shalit’s eventual release?
“Moderates”, in reference to Abbas and his Fatah organization, is only a cosmetic term conjured up to make the whole situation seem more palatable. But ‘palatable’ for whom? The citizens of Israel who have to live with their Palestinian ‘neighbors, or for US President Bush and other nations composing the 4 nation “quartet” who have pledged to bring about a final status solution for both Israel and the Palestinians.
If this scenario is what one refers to as “palatable”, then a lot of indigestion is certainly due to take place in both Israel and within the Palestinian Authority. And acute indigestion usually leads to a severe case of ulcers â€“ bleeding ones that is.