Not One Thin Dime for Abbas

As State presses Congress for more aid, Fatah’s terror wing murders more Israelis.

By Andrew C. McCarthy, NRO

When will the madness end? When will the Bush administration and Condoleezza Rice’s State Department finally stop their deranged midwifery of the Palestinian terror state conceived by the Clinton administration amid the mood music of two Intifadas?

On Monday, a 21-year-old suicide bomber, Muhammad Faisal al-Siksik, self-detonated at a bakery in the coastal town of Eilat on the Red Sea. Three innocents were killed: the bakery’s two Israeli owners and their Peruvian employee (whose family hails from Miami). Soon after came the claim of responsibility. The operation was carried out by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, working in conjunction with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Aqsa Brigades are not just any group of terrorists. They are the most ruthless, accomplished terror wing of Fatah, the organization bequeathed to us by the late Yasser Arafat. The Bush administration delusionally regards Fatah and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas (also known as “Abu Mazen”), as the “moderate” Palestinian faction. There is nothing moderate about them. Yet, the administration appears determined to play this foolish game to its inevitable end because, like its starry-eyed predecessor, it is entranced by the holy grail of Israeli/Palestinian peace.

Peace, of course, would require two sides desirous of coexistence. We’re one short. Palestinians do not seek to coexist with Israel. They seek to destroy Israel. But that may have to await their annihilation of each other, with Fatah and its fellow thug, Hamas, now locked in a struggle for control.

Hamas is proudly unyielding in its announced intention to vaporize the “Zionist entity.” By contrast, Fatah is cagier but no less determined. In the Arafat style, it feints every now and again toward negotiation with Israel. There is, after all, a trough of Western billions for any Palestinian leadership willing to affect aspiration toward the Clinton/Bush nirvana: two states, Israel and “Palestine,” living side-by-side in peace. Fatah needs those billions to keep its operatives loyal. Historically, it is a pervasively corrupt, creakily socialist outfit — a former Soviet client averse to elementary economic development.

But the act is just that, an act. The Fatah constitution still calls for the “eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence[,]” through an “armed revolution” which is to be the “decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence” — a revolution that “will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.”

Consistent with this overarching plan, the U.S.-led “peace process” has been a 14-year sham — hence, the intervening Intifada and related terror gambits. Fatah may occasionally say it will live with Israel, but it has demonstrated, repeatedly, that it will never agree to the commonsense requirements of coexistence: It not only demands land and Jerusalem as its national capital; it refuses to disarm terrorist militias and insists on a refugee “right of return” — an influx of well over a million Palestinians that would effectively destroy the tiny Jewish state from within.

By our State Department’s lights, this qualifies as “moderation” — perhaps because Hamas’s direct approach is bereft of diplomatic nicety, while the savvier Fatah seems willing to attrit Israel to death. (Such new gloss on the withering Bush Doctrine is also on display in Baghdad, where the administration now regularly consults with Abdul Azziz al-Hakim, or, as the White House describes him, “His Eminence,” leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq — a creation of Iran).

The murderous Aqsa Brigades, however, put the lie to Fatah’s charade rather embarrassingly. They were officially designated by the United States government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2002 after executing a series of atrocities conjoined to Arafat’s orchestration of the second Intifada, which began in late 2000 and has never officially ended.

There is no question the Brigades are part and parcel of Fatah. Documents seized by the Israeli Defense Force established that Arafat was paying them directly. Moreover, in a 2004 interview with the Arabic daily, Asharq al-Awsat, Fatah’s Ahmed Qurei, then Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, proclaimed: “We have clearly declared that the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah[.]… We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group.” Qurei maintained that they “will not be dismantled,” and that each of the Brigades’ members had “the right to play a political role within the framework of Fatah.”

The Brigades are brazen about their intentions. They have, for example, expressed their “[i]dentification with and overall support of the position and declaration of the Iranian President [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad], who called with all honesty to wipe Israel off the map of the world[,]” adding: “We stress our support of the Iranian president’s position toward the fictitious Zionist state, which will disappear with the help of Allah.”

This should come as no surprise since, like many terrorist organizations, the Brigades receive financing from Iran and training from Hezbollah, with whom they coordinate attacks. (In fact, the Jerusalem Post reported just a few days ago that Hezbollah has provided Palestinian terror groups with “high-grade explosives that have significantly improved the effectiveness of roadside improvised explosive devices (IED) used against [Israeli Defense Force] patrols.”)

Of a piece with these alliances, the Brigades have recently taken to threatening the United States directly. Last May, while Abbas conferred with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the Brigades issued a warning that “[w]e won’t remain idle in the face of the siege imposed on the Palestinian people by Israel, the U.S. and other countries[.]…We will strike at the economic and civilian interests of these countries, here and abroad.”

Abbas keeps close ties to the Brigades. His wary confederation with Marwan Barghouti, a formative Brigades figure currently serving a life sentence in Israel for multiple murders, was essential to his 2004 election as Palestinian Authority president. The support of Barghouti and the Brigades remains key to Abbas’s hold on Fatah’s reins. Indeed, the German weekly Welt am Sonntag reported last March that Abbas has appointed another Aqsa heavyweight, Zakariya Zubeidi, to head the police force in Jenin — only after personally witnessing a demonstration of the wild popularity Zubeidi and the Brigades enjoy in that West Bank cauldron (Hat tip to the Vital Perspective Blog).

Consequently, the revelations recently reported in the Israeli press by one “Abu Ahmed,” a Fatah member and Aqsa Brigades leader, are alarming, albeit predictable. Ahmed explained that Abbas’s claim to recognize Israel’s right to exist was merely a “political calculation,” and that the aims of Fatah and the Brigades remain one and the same: the ultimate destruction of Israel. “The base of our Fatah movement keeps dreaming of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Akko,” he reportedly stated. “There is no change in our position. Abbas recognizes Israel because of pressure that the Zionists and the Americans are exercising on him. We understand this is part of his obligations and political calculations.”

Regrettably, the quixotic quest for Middle East peace has rendered Secretary Rice oblivious to Fatah’s long-entrenched and quite current record of terror. In an October 11, 2006, speech at the inaugural gala for the latest “Task Force on Palestine,” she asserted:

    If peace and dignity are to prevail in the region, then it is absolutely essential for leaders to be able to show, for moderate leaders to show, that their ideas, and their principles, and their vision for the future can offer a better alternative than violence and terrorism. That is why President Bush asked me to travel last week to the Middle East — to confer with moderate voices, with moderate Arab governments and with moderate leaders, to build a support for those people who are trying and who need our help more than ever now, leaders like … most especially, of course, President Abbas in the Palestinian territories, from whom we have just heard.

It didn’t take long for Abbas to make a mockery out of this gushing tribute. On January 11, 2007, addressing a throng of about 50,000 at Fatah’s 42nd anniversary (after laying a wreath at the hallowed grave of the terror master, Arafat), the “moderate leader” railed:

    “[W]ith the will and determination of its sons, Fatah has and will continue. We will not give up our principles and we have said that rifles should be directed against the occupation…. We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation….”

Those “principles” were reaffirmed yet again on Monday. They snuffed out the lives of three ordinary civilians whose great contribution to the “occupation” was to toil at a bakery. It was, once more, the handiwork of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the savages who do Fatah’s dirty work while America swoons.

Remarkably, the Bush administration has asked Congress to fork up $86 million in aid for Fatah’s security forces — forces in which many Brigades members now serve, and into which Fatah envisions someday folding the Brigades. That, evidently, is the “moderate” manner of “dismantling” terrorists: you simply mantle them to the regular police.

It is madness. Congress should give Abbas not one thin dime. Let’s stop making fools of ourselves. Let’s first hear Abbas unambiguously condemn the Aqsa Brigades and purge them from Fatah. Let’s hear Abbas loudly assert that all suicide bombings and other attacks intentionally targeting civilians are unacceptable. Let’s hear Abbas acknowledge that a peaceful settlement cannot realistically include a right of return.

How hard can that be for a “moderate”?

— Andrew C. McCarthy directs the Center for Law & Counterterrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

February 5, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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