Why a Middle East peace deal is difficult

Middle East Peace Dove Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Washington Times , by Bridget Johnson, May 87 2017:

President Trump is intent on achieving the Middle East peace deal that President Obama sorely wanted as the linchpin of his legacy, and warmly welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House with praise for his new peace partner.

But the realities that have prevented an agreement include roadblocks that even the best boardroom negotiator won’t be able to deal-make away.

And though Mr. Trump said he’ll “do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement” and declared a such a pact “maybe not as difficult as people have thought,” Israel should not be pressured to take the plunge if the security risks remain as they are now.

Yes, those risks are many despite Mr. Abbas‘ smooth talk at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where he proclaimed “a new opportunity, a new horizon.” He publicly heaped praise on Mr. Trump for his “leadership,” “determination,” “courageous stewardship,” “wisdom” and “great negotiating ability,” and the “Art of the Deal” negotiator gobbled up the adulation.

At a press conference alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Mr. Trump declared “the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility” and asked the prime minister to “hold back on settlements for a little bit,” while the Palestinians “have to get rid of some of that hate.” With Mr. Abbas, Mr. Trump said, “Hopefully, there won’t be such hatred for very long.”

Here’s how that hate manifests, and why it’s not so easy to sing kumbaya. Just before the Trump-Abbas sit-down, Hamas released an ostensibly softer version of their principles document with the same jihadi fine print stressing their duty to seize all of Israel. “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” the terror group said before suggesting openness to an initial 1967 borders agreement to pique the gullible giddiness of those who crave an agreement at any cost.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal then appealed to Mr. Trump to seize the “historic opportunity to pressure Israel,” telling CNN that the president has a “greater threshold for boldness” than his predecessors.

Hamas, of course, controls Gaza and is a terrorist organization with nefarious ties and a mission to destroy Israel, regardless of the new PR campaign. If a peace deal is forged with only Mr. Abbas‘ Fatah party, then you’ve only dealt with the West Bank and Hamas will not abide by the security agreements. If you manage to bring Hamas in on the deal, then you’ve automatically created a state that is a state sponsor of terrorism. As difficult as people have thought, and more.

Not that Mr. Abbas exactly has his hands clean in the terror market: Can a peace deal be forged with a government paying monthly stipends to the families of terrorists? Can a territory hospitable to Hezbollah, al Qaeda and ISIS ever be a partner in providing the kind of security needed to ensure the safety of Israelis and the Jewish state’s existence? No wonder Mr. Abbas did enough of a song-and-dance that Mr. Trump praised him as being a faithful fellow foe of ISIS.

Israel says recognition of the Jewish state is a must-have in any peace deal.

The Palestinians have made clear this is a no-go. If Israel gives in on this demand over its very definition, then the Palestinian jihad wins a battle that will reverberate through and give empowerment to the global terrorist community. Even a limited victory will further empower those who insist all of Israel is theirs for the taking.

Learn from Gaza: If you give jihadism an inch, be prepared for terrorists to take a mile. No matter what good will leads up to any future partition, the rockets can start flying the day after the pullout. And a truly workable deal needs to be backed up with international support: with the United Nations still unabashedly anti-Israel, who would enforce Palestinian violations of a peace pact?

It’s also foolish to believe that jihad doctrines, kids’ shows or school textbooks in the territories will stop calling for the destruction of what’s left of the Jewish state if the Palestinians win 1967 borders. Thus, the painful round of facepalms when Mr. Abbas assured Trump that Palestinians “are raising our youth on a culture of peace.”

The time is not now until the Palestinian Authority has leaders who want peace instead of what their textbooks preach, who combat violence instead of rewarding terrorists, who are willing to change the culture of never-ending jihad and refuse to welcome terror groups who vow “al-Aqsa, we are coming.”

Mr. Abbas, whose Fatah party lauded the killer who stabbed to death 13-year-old Israeli-American citizen Hallel-Yaffa Ariel last year as she slept and whose government cuts a monthly check to the killer’s family, is not that leader.

Hopefully the president sees through his sweet talk before Khaled Mashal gets the next White House invitation between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte.

• Bridget Johnson is a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center and D.C. bureau chief for PJ Media.

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Watch: Netanyahu Tosses New Hamas Charter into Trash

Trump Tells Abbas to Stop Violent Incitement and Terrorist Salaries

by IPT News  •  May 4, 2017

Palestinians cannot expect to see a lasting peace until their “leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to … violence and hate,” President Donald Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a White House meeting Wednesday. The president also raised concerns over the PA’s program of paying terrorists and their families.

Abbas is unlikely to end the program, with a top aide calling the idea “insane.”

Amid growing pressure to halt this practice, it is important to note that Abbas is directly behind the policy surrounding terrorist transfers. By amending the Palestinian Prisoners Law in 2010, Abbas increased monthly installments from approximately $275-$1110 to $390-$3320 per month, reports Palestinian Media Watch.

“Who else has elevated the cause of the Palestinian prisoners other than President Mahmoud Abbas?” asked Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein, in a 2014 interview on Official PA TV, adding that “all the laws, the tenfold increase of the budget of the Ministry of Prisoners’ [Affairs] – [all this] was done during the tenure of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and according to the wishes of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas…”

That year, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) assumed responsibility for paying terrorist prisoners in an effort to mask PA’s involvements. Longer prison sentences lead to more money for terrorists’ families, which further encourage future generations to engage in terrorism.

Abbas previously acknowledged that the PA “ordered” Palestinians to engage in terrorism during the Second Intifada, in an effort to justify payments to convicted terrorists and secure their eventual release.

“This is war. One [Israel] ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance (Palestinian term referring to violence). This person killed and the other person killed,” Abbas admitted in a 2005 interview on official PA TV and translated by PMW.

Abbas may claim that Palestinians are raising youth in a “culture of peace,” but overwhelming evidence shows that the PA and other Palestinian factions systematically promote violence against Jews and Israelis.

In March, Abbas met with Palestinians who conducted attacks during the most recent Palestinian terror campaign, including a 14-year-old who tried to stab Israeli civilians in September.

Abbas’ incitement in September 2015 helped spark a wave of violence against Israelis when he called for Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering Al-Aqsa mosque with “everything in our power.”

“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem…Every martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah,” Abbas said in a speech, segments of which were aired on official PA TV and posted on his website.

Also see:

Senators to Trump: Tell Abbas, Palestinians Payments to Terrorists Must Stop

Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, May 2, 2017:

A delegation of leading Republican senators is urging President Donald Trump to demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas end his government’s longtime practice of paying terrorists and their families for attacks committed against Israel, according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and sent Tuesday to the White House.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) are urging Trump to lay down a marker when he hosts Abbas later this week for a round of meetings on the Middle East peace process.

The lawmakers are pushing Trump to reverse a years-long policy under the former Obama administration that sought to downplay the Palestinian Authority’s support for terrorism and put the onus for peace directly on Israel.

“One of the most troubling aspects of the Obama administration’s handling of this issue was the double standard applied to the two parties,” the lawmakers write to Trump. “This double standard saw Israel criticized and condemned regularly, while the Palestinian Authority and its leadership were rarely, if ever, held accountable.”

“This unwillingness to speak out when the PA rewarded and glorified terrorism left many with the mistaken impression that the PA was earnestly seeking pace—and that Israel was the impediment,” the lawmakers write.

The PA, which receives millions in funding from U.S. taxpayers, spends roughly $300 million a year—or eight percent of its total budget—on salaries for Palestinian terrorists who are imprisoned in Israel for their crimes as well as the families of terrorists who attacked the Jewish state.

“Far from being an information practice, these payments are codified in Palestinian Authority law,” the lawmakers write. “If these facts seem hard to believe, it is because for many years they were obscured by an administration that found them inconvenient to the narrative it sought to promote.”

Trump must take bold action and demand that Abbas end these payments immediately. The president should also make clear that continuation of this practice will force the United States to publicly blame Abbas for stalling the peace process, according to the senators.

“The United States cannot treat the Palestinian Authority as a partner for peace, or take seriously president Abbas’s claimed desire for peace, so long as the PA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year funding and incentivizing terror,” the letter states.

The lawmakers additionally ask Trump to publicly express support for the Taylor Force Act, a new piece of legislation that would cut U.S. funding to the Palestinians until payments to terrorists cease.

Also see:

Report: Obama Gave $221 Million to Palestinians in Last Hours

Getty

Getty

Breitbart, by Joel B. Pollack, January 23, 2017:

The Associated Press reported Monday that former President Barack Obama released $221 million in U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority on the morning of Friday, January 20 — just hours before he was to leave office.

The AP details:

A State Department official and several congressional aides say the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning, just before Donald Trump became president.

More than $227 million in foreign affairs funding was released at the time, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations.

At least two GOP lawmakers had placed holds on the Palestinian funds. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding.

This was not the first time Obama had granted funding to the Palestinian Authority despite Congress’s wishes. In 2012, for example, he unblocked nearly $200 million that had been frozen in response to Palestinians’ unilateral actions at the United Nations, using a legal waiver included in the Palestinian Accountability Act.

Republicans have increasingly called for blocking or canceling funding to the Palestinian Authority, not only because of unilateral diplomatic moves toward statehood, but also because of increasing evidence that funds are used to incite violence and provide financial rewards to terrorists.

The Palestinian Authority reportedly provides compensation to the families of terrorist prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons, as well as to those who have killed themselves in attacks on Israeli civilians. The total amount allocated by the Palestinian Authority budget for “the Care for the Families of the Martyrs” was reportedly about $175 million in 2016, and an additional $140 million was reportedly allocated for payments to prisoners and former prisoners.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was also among the first world leaders that President Obama called after taking office in January 2009.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Funding Terrorism – The Buck Stops Here

funding-terrorism

by Patrick Dunleavy
IPT News
December 6, 2016

“Follow the money” – that fundamental rule for investigating organized crime – also holds true for uncovering terrorist organizations. But if the search leads to your own doorstep, immediate and decisive action must be taken.

This may be the case for the U.S. government in light of recent statements by Mahmoud Abbas, the current president of the Palestinian Authority. The 81-year-old Abbas, who has been president since 2005, is calling for unifying the Fatah party government with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. President Bill Clinton’s executive order first labeled Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1995.

Hamas was included among terrorist groups whose “grave acts of violence … disrupt the Middle East peace process [and] constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

The State Department followed that up by labeling Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Those actions make it prohibited by law for any U.S. citizen to provide material support, including currency, to the organization. That means that if you or I gave a dollar to them or their pseudo charities, we can go to prison.

The U.S. provides approximately $400 million annually to the Palestinian Authority (PA). That support cannot continue legally if the PA unites with Hamas,  unless two critical conditions are met. First, Hamas would have to recognize “the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist.” And second, just as crucial, Hamas must accept all previously negotiated Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Under its current charter – which calls for Israel’s destruction – this will never happen. Hamas is an Islamic organization, formed in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood by a group of men including radical Islamic cleric Sheik Ahmed Yassin.  Its very name is an acronym, Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas wants a fundamentalist Islamic state on the very land allotted to the nation of Israel by the United Nations in 1948.

Since its formation, Hamas has been responsible for suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and other heinous acts resulting in the deaths of innocent men, women, and children. It has also stolen (or re-directed) funds and support provided by the United Nations relief organizations and other charities intended to help the people of Gaza rebuild. Hamas has used the materials to build tunnels, buy weapons and construct military installations used to attack Israel.

Do we really think that they would not be able to siphon off money from the funds the U.S. provides to the Palestinian Authority if an alliance government is formed? That would be foolish naiveté and dangerous diplomacy.

In combating terrorist organizations like al-Qaida, ISIS, and Al Shabaab, counter terrorism experts strive to cut off funding to these groups. That’s because if you cut off the finances, the organizations will not be able to reconstitute or recruit. Giving them a handout or opening another spigot from which they could water the fertile soil of jihad is counter to the goal of eliminating the threat posed to Western democracies by radical Islam.

Having just gone through eight years of an administration that refused to use the term “radical Islamism” when discussing terrorism, the U.S. must say “NO” to the Palestinian Authority/Hamas alliance. Otherwise we will find ourselves, the U.S. taxpayers, providing material support to a radical Islamic terrorist organization. Enough with the handouts. The buck stops here.

IPT Senior Fellow Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.

Mahmoud Abbas and Other Soviet Ghosts

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Front Page Magazine, by Caroline Glick, Sept. 9, 2016:

Channel 1’s report Wednesday that in 1983, current Palestinian Authority Chairman and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas served as a KGB agent is hardly the story of the year, but it does remind us of certain half-forgotten facts about the Cold War that are becoming ever more relevant today.

The PLO’s close and servile relationship with the KGB was first exposed in a systematic way in 1987, with the publication of Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, the exposé of Soviet and Romanian Cold War operations written by former Romanian intelligence chief Lt.-Gen. Ion Pacepa. Pacepa, who defected to the US in 1978 after serving as the head of the DIE – Romania’s KGB – was the highest ranking intelligence officer from the Soviet bloc to ever defect.

In his book, Pacepa revealed that “the PLO was dreamt up by the KGB.”

Pacepa explained how Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, at the direction of Moscow, convinced Yasser Arafat to employ political warfare, centered on phony protestations that he had abandoned terrorism, to weaken the West’s resolve to defend itself and to cause Israel to doubt its own legitimacy.

Wednesday’s Channel 1 report on Abbas was based on new revelations from the Mitrokhin Archive. Vasili Mitrokhin was a senior archivist in the KGB who surreptitiously copied KGB documents for many years and hid his copies in his home. In 1991 Mitrokhin defected to Britain and took his archive of 25,000 copies of documents with him.

In 2004, the second volume of his edited archive was published. The volume, titled, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, focused on the KGB’s efforts to use the Third World as a strategic weapon in its battle against the West. The volume devotes two chapters to the KGB’s campaign against Israel.

Mitrokhin revealed that for the KGB, Israel was a target of subversion second only in importance to the US. The KGB fielded multiple political agents on the Israeli Left and multiple Palestinian agents in the PLO’s terrorist nexus.

According to the Channel 1 report, Abbas began his official service for the KGB in 1983.

In truth his KGB ties were already longstanding by 1983.

In 1982 Abbas received a doctorate from the Patrice Lumumba University – or KGB U – in Moscow. According to KGB defectors, 90 percent of the university’s faculty and staff received their paychecks from the KGB. Its purpose was to train KGB agents from the developing world, including terrorists. Abbas’s fellow alumni included master terrorist Carlos the Jackal and future Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Abbas received a doctorate for a thesis denying the Holocaust. That is, he used the cover of academia to vilify the Jewish state and deny Jewish history and suffering – a practice that has been his stock in trade in trade ever since.

Rather than devote his energies to murdering Israelis, along the lines of the subversive program Ceausescu presented to Arafat, Abbas’s main focus was the subversion of the European and the Israeli Left.

Until the mid-1970s, Arab terrorists were unable to make inroads in Israel because there were no significant political forces in Israeli society that questioned the justice and morality of the state or saw the PLO as anything other than a terrorist organization bent on the annihilation of Israel and the massacre of its citizens.

The situation changed with the rise of the Likud and the Right to power in 1977. As the Likud supplanted Labor as the largest party in Israel, the far Left became more susceptible to subversion.

Abbas focused his efforts on developing ties to the Israeli far Left. His efforts culminated in the 1993 Oslo peace deal which Abbas negotiated with Israeli leftist activists affiliated with then-foreign minister Shimon Peres through his deputy Yossi Beilin.

The PLO’s success in convincing the Rabin- Peres government that it had abandoned its goal of annihilating Israel came two years after the demise of the Soviet Union. In other words, the KGB’s campaign of anti-Western subversion outlived the Soviet Union.

Indeed it carries on with ever greater force and consequence. Today, the subversive campaigns that first bore fruits in the Vietnam War have brought about a situation where increasingly, Western elites cannot accept the basic morality of their societies.

Read more

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How Would You React to a Terror Attack?

by Paul Alster
Special to IPT News
March 7, 2016

1373Have you ever wondered how it feels to suddenly find yourself in the midst of a terror attack, and how you would react? It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, but for a growing number of people in Israel over the 5 ½ months since the latest Palestinian uprising began, it has been a shocking reality.

Since September 13th, 32 Israelis and one Palestinian have been murdered, most by Palestinian attackers. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs counts “195 stabbings and attempted stabbing attacks, 79 shootings, and 40 vehicular attacks” involving the ramming of pedestrians. The attacks continue and the figures are updated almost daily.

More than 170 Palestinians reportedly have been killed by Israeli security forces or armed Israeli civilians during the same period, most during or in the aftermath of a terror attack; the remainder in clashes at violent demonstrations.

Apologists for the terrorists cite a perceived lack of hope and opportunities for Palestinian youth, but a 17-year-old attacker killed by Israeli security forces on Friday held a U.S. passport. This attempted attack provided yet another apparent example of the deep-seated, institutional indoctrination of young Palestinians considered to be a major part in their decision to attack Israelis. Urged on by Palestinian state media that routinely glorifies attackers, and lauded by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently told the families of 11 terrorists “Your sons are martyrs,” the violence shows no sign of ending.

In October, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told citizens with licensed firearms to carry them at all times as a response to the random killings. Last week, following the stabbing to death of unarmed 21-year-old off-duty soldier Sgt. Tuvia Weissman in a West Bank supermarket, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot reversed a previous directive and instructed all off-duty soldiers and those traveling home on leave to carry their weapons with them.

But even if a soldier has his weapon, how well equipped is he to react to a sudden attack in the midst of chaotic scenes?

Last week, I was invited to an IDF base in the south of the country to see new cutting edge technology, including tank and armored personnel carrier simulators. In view of current events though, it was the hi-tech simulators recreating potential terror scenarios that were of particular interest.

“Some come to us for three or four-day courses, others come for longer periods,” the lieutenant in charge of training said. “The courses are tremendously helpful to new soldiers and those who have trained before and need to keep their shooting skills up-to date. We use a wide variety of weapons including the M4 and Micro Tavor rifles. People develop their skills for many different units within the army. This new technology brings you as close to real situations as it is possible to get.”

A simulated shooting range recreates both urban warfare and battlefield conditions. Even crosswinds are added to train as realistically as possible. Computer graphics show where each bullet went. Alongside the instructor’s guidance, it highlights when a soldier is aiming too high or too low, if his stance is wrong, or even using his elbows incorrectly when in a prone position, for example. After the range, the soldiers move on to the terror attack simulator. I was invited to try it out alongside the lieutenant. I was somewhat skeptical that it would come close to recreating the feeling of a real, unprovoked attack.

IDF training

Facing a cinema-style screen, I am a soldier waiting at a bus stop where something may or may not happen. The images are filmed on location and are uncannily realistic. A man walks towards me on screen and asks if I have a cigarette. I felt like answering him. People are waiting close by for the bus. A car approaches at speed, but it’s just dropping someone off. I’m prepared for the worst but he goes peacefully on his way. Then another car pulls up and, without warning, a man wielding a large knife suddenly charges in our direction after stabbing a passer-by. Even though I know this is not real, I feel a surge of panic, take aim and fire a series of shots. Unarmed civilians are close by.

The attacker soon falls to the ground. If he hadn’t been hit, I am told, he would have stabbed again. My heart is pounding. For me, unexpectedly, the simulator vividly brought back to mind a real attack I endured 17 years earlier. It went quite a long way toward recreating the utter shock and split-second decision-making that can be the difference between life and death when confronted with someone intent on ending your life.

The simulator’s computer system recorded all that happened. 12 shots were fired; 11 missed. There were no non-lethal hits, but there was one lethal hit, and that was the one that killed the terrorist in this instance. Clearly, I’m no sharp shooter. Trained soldiers would react faster and with more accuracy, particularly after undergoing training.

The instructors note that no figures are available showing how much this new, enhanced training has helped soldiers during real attacks, but anecdotal evidence suggests it is making a difference. However, the wholly unpredictable nature of people’s reactions to a sudden attack was tragically demonstrated in an almost copycat real-life tragedy that uncannily occurred just 48 hours later.

The Jerusalem Post, February 24, reported as follows:

“Capt. (res.) Eliav Gelman, 30, was killed by ‘friendly fire’ in the midst of a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon. Soldiers from an IDF unit securing the junction saw a Palestinian armed with a knife charging at Gelman, an IDF spokeswoman said. They fired at the assailant, striking both him and Gelman… Gelman died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The terrorist [26-year-old Mamdouh Tousef Amru, a Palestinian from the Hebron area] is in moderate condition.”

Through the use of the latest technology, efforts are being made to minimize “friendly fire” incidents, but as unpredictable terror attacks continue to occur anytime, anywhere, there can never be a cast-iron guarantee that innocent bystanders will not be caught in the crossfire.

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter @paul_alster and visit his website: www.paulalster.com.