As Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet prepares to meet US President Biden for the first time in their new respective positions, there are a number of fundamental points regarding the Israel – Palestinians subject that must be discussed. These are four of the many subjects Palestinian Media Watch believe must be raised.
There is no Palestinian leadership to talk to
First and foremost, PM Bennet must emphasize that no progress can be made on achieving peace in the absence of a clear Palestinian leadership. While the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and then the Palestinian Authority leadership was traditionally seen to represent the Palestinian people, that is no longer the case.
At the very best, the PLO/PA, which has been constantly dominated by the Fatah faction (first under the leadership of Yasser Arafat and now under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas), represents only a small portion of the Palestinians. Dogged with complaints of corruption and nepotism, in the last PA elections held in 2006, the Fatah rival, Hamas – an internationally designated terror organization – won an outright majority in the PA parliament. While Abbas deposed the Hamas government, since 2007, the terrorists have controlled the Gaza Strip.
Despite the fact that the PA constitution ostensibly requires new elections for both the position of PA chairman and the PA parliament every four years, in practice Abbas was last elected in 2005 and has simply remained in his position ever since. While the PA parliament ceased to truly function in 2006, only in December 2019 did Abbas decided to officially dissolve the parliament promising elections within six months.
After Abbas called for new elections in May this year, it soon became clear that his Fatah party would lose and that Hamas would again win more seats in the parliament than any other party. Accordingly, in the true democratic tradition of the PA, Abbas decided to indefinitely postpone the elections.
At almost 86 years old, Abbas can no longer claim to be the representative of the Palestinians. He must be recognized merely for what he is: A dictator who no longer enjoys the support of the Palestinians. Any deal struck with Abbas would not be worth the paper it’s written on. So-called “confidence building measures” that have often been adopted to kick-start negotiations would be futile, since no action of the Israeli government could reform Abbas’ image in the eyes of the Palestinians, as the leader of the corrupt Fatah faction or, no less importantly, turn back the clock on Abbas’ aging.
Accordingly, PM Bennet should stress to President Biden that in the absence of a clear Palestinian leadership capable of making decisions that would be binding for all the Palestinians, it is entirely futile to conduct negotiations with a random group of Fatah representatives that do not enjoy any internal Palestinian legitimacy.
Even in the absence of a defined Palestinian leadership, PM Bennet must present non-negotiable demands from the PA.
‘Pay-for-Slay’ must end!
PM Bennet must unequivocally demand that the PA be forced to entirely abandon is policy of paying financial rewards to terrorists. While maintaining the pretense of seeking peace, to this day the PA, the PA pays substantial monthly rewards to Palestinian terrorists and their families. Imprisoned terrorists enjoy outrageous monthly payments, released terrorists are automatically recruited into the PA and given high salaries. In addition, wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists are all also recipients of the PA payments. The recipients of these payments include murderers, mass murderers, and the families of suicide bombers, terrorist who “only” murdered Israelis and terrorists who murdered foreigners, including US citizens.
The 2018 US Taylor Force Act accurately recognizes the PA payments – now commonly dubbed the PA’s ‘Pay-for-Slay’ policy – are an “incentive to commit acts of terror.”
Over the last decade alone, the PA has spent an estimated 5 billion shekels or $1.55 billion, paying rewards to terrorists.
No negotiations can be conducted with a Palestinian leadership that continues to actively promote, incentivize and reward terror against Israel and Israelis. While the mere PLO “declarations” of peace and having abandoned the path of violence should not have been sufficient for the Oslo process, they are certainly no longer relevant today. Nothing short of a total abandonment of the PA’s ‘Pay-for-Slay’ policy should suffice. Statements and declarations in English are empty. The 2004 PA Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners, which codifies the terror payments must be repealed, together with all the regulations promulgated under the law. The PA must publicly, in Arabic, tell the Palestinian people that terrorists will no longer be rewarded.
A fundamental change in PA society must accompany the abolition of the payment of rewards to terrorists. Terrorists must no longer be glorified on official PA TV or in official PA media. Monuments erected by the PA to glorify terrorists must be torn down. The names of streets, named by the PA after terrorists, must be changed. Sporting event must no longer be named after mass murderers and the names of the 75 PA schools named after terrorists, Nazi collaborators and honoring Martyrs and Martyrdom must also be changed.
Fundamental change in education
At a press conference in the US Senate building to release PMW’s 2007 report on PA schoolbooks, then-Senator Hillary Clinton introduced the report:
“These textbooks do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination. When we viewed this [PMW] report in combination with other [PA] media [from other PMW reports] that these children are exposed to, we see a larger picture that is disturbing. It is disturbing on a human level, it is disturbing to me as a mother, it is disturbing to me as a United States Senator, because it basically, profoundly poisons the minds of these children.”
Tragically, Clinton’s words still hold true today. PA schoolbooks, along with PA culture and media, are the recipe for guaranteeing that the conflict, terror and war will continue not only into the next generation, but for generations to come.
The virulent hatred and terror glorification included in the PA schoolbooks must be removed and replaced with peace building messaging. Jews must not longer be presented as thieves, and illegitimate occupants of their ancestral homeland. Palestinian children must no longer be presented with an overwhelming plethora of maps, showing the future Palestinian state as erasing Israel entirely.
Recognize that Israel will not commit national suicide
Instead of working to find a viable solution, for the last 26 years the PA has further entrenched the notion that all the so-called “Palestinian refugees” will flood Israel. While there are only, objectively, a very limited number of the original “refugees” who remain alive, the number of refugees registered with United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has sky-rocketed from, the 711,000 in 1949, to 3,006,787 in 1994 and 5,629,829, as of the end of 2019.
By perpetuating this demand, the Palestinian leadership is selling false hope to the Palestinians and making any negotiated settlement impossible.
Accordingly, since Israel has no intention of committing national-demographic suicide by letting over 5.6 million Palestinians flood the country, the Palestinian leadership must be required to publicly abandon the notion that was forever a fallacy.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Palestinian Media Watch