Caving In To Palestinian Pressure

By | by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen
Friday, September 23rd, 2005 @ 5:47AM

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Nothing seems to disrupt the momentum towards the creation of a Palestinian state that supports martyrdom, not even repeated, clear statements by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. “[Martyrs] receive their reward in the Garden of Eden,” he told a group of students returning to school in Gaza on September 4. Those who died “according to a national order,” he said, including suicide terrorists “brought about the withdrawal from Gaza.”

These are fighting words, not those of a leader committed to living side by side in peace with Israel. That Abbas sounds just like the leaders of HAMAS and Islamic Jihad, has not stopped the Quartet, the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union from giving $750 million to the PA by the end of 2005. Nor did it stop the Japanese from giving $49.7 million in aid to the Palestinians through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), nor the Canadians from giving $36.7 million in aid to the PA this year.

In addition, the European Union gave $342.8 million in 2005, on top of $272.35 million from independent European states. These European donations are given to the PA apparently as a reward for reforms they have achieved thus far. According to EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, “Having led the way in support for reform efforts in the Palestinian Authority, we are now helping to lay the foundations for a viable Palestinian economy.”

But the news from Gaza indicates anything but reform. The reports from the region are filled with chaos, violence and continuing corruption. Yet, disregarding the facts, the EU continues to fund Palestinian violence and corruption as they did throughout the Oslo years and especially during the latest intifada. It is easy to understand that the world yearns to see a democratic and self-sustaining Palestinian state. But it is very difficult to understand why more good money should be thrown after the $7 billion in wasted post-Oslo aid to the PA. But the EU is not alone in its denial. “Our task is now to seize the momentum to help the Palestinians build a model so they can govern,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a joint news conference with other Quartet leaders.

However, testifying before Congress, on September 21, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, C. David Welch, warned: “Although President Mahmoud Abbas has taken some steps to assert control, overall Palestinian Authority performance to date has been far from satisfactory. The [Palestinian Authority] must move quickly to establish order and to take steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terror.” Despite these concerns and the ongoing chaos, the U.S. has just granted $50 million to the PA, bringing the total U.S. aid to $225 million in 2005.

Secretary Rice and the other donors claim that it is critical to help Abbas at this time. Otherwise, HAMAS is likely to win the upcoming election. However, there is great similarity between statements made by Abbas and HAMAS officials; on August 15, Abbas said, “The withdrawal should not be only from the Gaza Strip, but also from the entire West Bank, including Jerusalem. This is an important step for us, but it’s just the beginning.” And on September 16, Al Jazeera TV carried HAMAS Imam Sheikh Nazzar Rayan who said, “The vanquishing of the enemy in Gaza does not mean that this stage has ended. We still have Jerusalem and the pure West Bank.” See any difference? Despite universal denials, this convergence of the PA and HAMAS ideologies is nothing new. In January 2003, Farouq Al-Qaddoumi, head of the PLO political bureau and secretary general of Fatah’s Central Committee, stressed: “We were never different from Hamas. On the contrary; [Hamas] is a national movement and is part of the national movement. Strategically, we are no different from it.”

Furthermore, Qaddoumi emulated bin Laden’s statements about the importance of oil as a weapon against the West, saying, “By using the weapon of oil. That is, by raising its price so that the people will feel the pressure, will be angry at their leadership, and will force it to play a more active role. The most important thing is to rely on the Palestinian people and the resistance,” he stated also in January 2003.

As we know, the rising oil prices are dictated by the oil producing countries, led by the Saudis. And the results are, as Qaddoumi recommended, increased pressure on the Western markets, people and governments. These pressures apparently lead to the concessions made for the Palestinians. And according to the bin-laden/Qaddoumi logic, could lead to Israel’s eventual elimination. To halt this agenda, the donors community should stop funding the corrupt, dictatorial and terror oriented PA. If the PA is striving, as it claims, to establish a democratic regime, they could start by retrieving the billions that they have stolen since the Oslo process begun, and use it to develop a political and social infrastructure for the disenfranchised Palestinian people. Only when the PA proves capable of ruling, the international donor community, including the U.S. should help, but not before.

Categories: U.S. Policy

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