U.S., Britain Resume Aid to Palestinian Authority
The United States and Britain announced this week that they will give millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Other nations, including Israel, plan to do the same. This endowment is part of an international effort to bolster the wobbly administration of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the new Palestinian government formed after the dissolution of the Hamas-Fatah government during Hamas’s bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.
The carnage in Gaza revealed the viciousness of Hamas, and the terrorist group was rightly condemned by Western governments. Now the international community is wholeheartedly investing its hope and trust in the “moderate” government of Mahmoud Abbas.
Western leaders may have distanced themselves from a violent lion, but are they coddling a cunning fox?
On Monday, President Bush announced plans to give $190 million to the Palestinian Authority. The cash is to be used to help rebuild Palestinian security forces loyal to Abbas and to provide aid to the thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip suffering in the poor conditions caused by Hamas’s violent coup. Additionally, the president has approved $228 million in loans to help Palestinian business-owners resurrect their companies.
Britain also announced this week it would give the PA £3 million to begin paying off its private-sector debts. “Helping the Palestinian Authority to pay its debts increases Palestinian companies’ ability to continue trading, and so to invest and employ more people,” explained Douglas Alexander, secretary of state for international development. “This will boost the economy, and demonstrates our clear support for the new government.”
Additionally, Mr. Alexander implored “other donors to step up and enable the new government to support the Palestinian people as soon as possible.”
The decision by America and Britain to inject aid into the Palestinian government isn’t strictly humanitarian. These nations are trying to strengthen and add legitimacy to the “moderate” Abbas government. Tens of millions of dollars may put more food on the tables of Palestinians, rebuild infrastructure and stir the economy, but it will also strengthen Abbas’s security muscle and enhance the reputation of his government—or so the West apparently believes.
Strengthening this view, a Near East Consulting poll shows support for Hamas among Palestinians is dwindling since the terrorist group overran the Gaza Strip. “The poll of Gaza residents shows a backlash. Hamas got only 23 percent support, down from 29 percent in the previous survey last month, while Fatah climbed from 31 percent to 43 percent,” the International Herald Tribune reported on Sunday. Additionally, the poll “showed that 66 percent of Hamas supporters said they would vote Fatah if it undertook reforms.”
Clearly the waning support for Hamas is providing Fatah with a strategic opportunity: Abbas (with support from his Western allies) could try to position his government as the strong, stable and legitimate alternative to the ailing Hamas administration.
However, as politically expedient as it may seem for America and the West to marginalize Hamas by propping up the “moderate” Palestinian Authority, there is plenty of cause for concern over vesting trust, confidence and money in Mahmoud Abbas.
Next to trigger-happy Hamas terrorists, the “moderate” government of Abbas may appear mild. Reality is, however, both groups are aligned in their ultimate purpose. Palestinians in general believe life would be a lot easier without Jews, and any political party seeking the support of the people must hold this belief.
Consider what Abbas said during a speech earlier this year in Ramallah, in which he called for Palestinian factions to end their fighting. “Shooting at your brother is forbidden,” Abbas stated. “Raising rifles against the occupation is our legitimate right …. We should put our internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation” (emphasis mine).
America and Britain are giving hundreds of millions of dollars to this man!
As the Philadelphia Daily News once put it, Abbas “has consistently held the hardline anti-Israel agenda since his years as a student. His doctoral dissertation was a full-blown foray into Holocaust denial and aimed to prove that Zionism and Nazism are branches of the same tree. … [Abbas] may wear a suit while [his predecessor Yasser] Arafat wore fatigues, but much of their world view is still the same—the destruction of Israel remains on the ‘to do’ list” (Jan. 8, 2005).
In the New York Post this week, John Podhoretz further questioned the wisdom of showering money upon a man who has such an affinity for terrorism: “Right now, America is raining half a billion dollars on the Palestinian government solely because it’s kinda-sorta acting a little bit like it’s maybe possibly giving up on terror,” he wrote.
President Bush may believe Abbas has it in him to be the Gandhi of Ramallah and the Martin Luther King Jr. of Hebron—but Abbas was also Yasser Arafat’s trusted aide, and one thing about Arafat and his trusted aides is that they were and are a bunch of shameless, slimy, monstrous thieves.
The history of Western aid to Palestinians is an unending and repugnant tale of graft, theft and pilferage.
Podhoretz noted Abbas’s poor track record with running a government that sustains and benefits the daily lives of the Palestinian people. “One of the main reasons for the terrifying success of Hamas at the polls in early 2006 was Palestinian rage at the inability or unwillingness of the Arafat/Abbas government to do anything—anything—that offered any kind of improvement in the day-to-day lives of the people living under its yoke.”
Why are America and the West so quick to open their wallets and shell out millions of dollars to a man with such a glaring history of governmental corruption and mismanagement?
To most world leaders and the international media, Mahmoud Abbas appears to be a moderate, peace-loving, Western-friendly Palestinian leader who seeks reconciliation with Israel. Perhaps he looks moderate and peace-loving when compared to Osama bin Laden or Ismail Haniyeh (the leader of Hamas), but even a fox appears good-natured when standing beside a lion.
Ever since he has taken office, Abbas has repeatedly mocked his “moderate” status with provocative words and radical actions. He promised Palestinians that he would fulfill Arafat’s goals of securing Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” and seizing control over eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. He has publicly called Israel the “Zionist enemy.” Rather than cracking down on terrorist activity, he approved sending government financial aid for the families of multiple thousands of suicide terrorists, as well as for terrorists who are wounded or sitting in Israeli prisons.
Terrorism has thrived under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. Ideologically, Abbas is more on the side of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas than he is of Israel and the West.
Israel has been jam-packed with crisis and calamity in recent months. The Israeli government is unstable; Gaza is spiralling into chaos; Palestinian politics are shaky; Hamas remains a threat; war with Syria (and Hezbollah) appears imminent, and Iran looms dangerously on the eastern horizon. Conditions could hardly be more fragile. Peace hangs by a thinning thread.
This kind of political environment demands wisdom and extreme caution.
Israel, America, Britain and Europe need to rethink their support of Mahmoud Abbas. They could be rushing headlong into the mouth of a shrewd fox.