Nearly 16 years ago, in early January 2002, the Israeli navy intercepted the Karine-A, a weapons laden ship, in the Red Sea on its way to the Palestinian Authority from Iran. The capture of the ship and the intelligence gleaned from it by Israel forced the United States to go “from viewing Arafat as an eccentric but necessary peace proponent, to viewing him as the heart of the terror problem.”
At the time, the so-called “Aqsa intifada” – a deadly campaign that claimed hundreds of lives that was planned by the Palestinian leadership after Arafat turned down a peace offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in July 2000 – had been going on for about 15 months. There was an international clamor to reduce the violence as Israel attempted to destroy the terror infrastructure that Arafat had overseen in the West Bank.
Yet, when Israel presented the U.S. evidence of Arafat’s involvement in terror, President George W. Bush responded by demanding the Palestinians find a new leader “not compromised by terror.”
After Arafat died in 2004, he was succeeded by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who still serves in that position even though he was elected in 2005 for a four-year term.
Abbas, who objected to the violence of the “Aqsa intifada,” has proven no more ready to make peace with Israel than Arafat, in addition to being corrupt. He rejected a 2008 peace proposal from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and derailed two efforts by the Obama administration to achieve peace with Israel.
This week, in a shocking display of denial, Abbas accused Jews of “faking and counterfeiting history and religion” with their claims to Israel. He said this at an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey. According to a video of the talk, Abbas said:
I don’t want to discuss religion or history because they are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion. But if we read the Torah it says that the Canaanites were there before the time of our prophet Abraham and their existence continued since that time. This is in the Torah itself. But if [inaudible] would like to fake this history, they are really masters in this and it is mentioned in the holy Quran they fabricate truth and they try to do that and they believe in that but we have been there in this location for thousands of years.
Will this be Abbas’s Karine-A moment, when the U.S. and the rest of the world conclude that peace will be impossible to achieve with him leading the Palestinians?
Denying the Jewish connection to the land of Israel is an element of the Palestinian National Charter. But how can Abbas or the PA make peace with Israel if they don’t accept the basis for Israel’s existence? For Abbas to declare this so emphatically shows that his rejection of the Jewish state’s historical rights is a deeply held belief.
Unfortunately, this part of Abbas’s speech has gotten relatively little coverage. Most coverage has focused on Abbas’s rejection of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, his assertion that the U.S. could no longer be involved in the peace process, and that he’d try to get the United Nations to take over the peace process.
If 24 years after supposedly making peace with Israel the Palestinian leader is unwilling to acknowledge the justice of Israel’s historical claim to the land, will he ever be able make true peace? Or has Abbas finally and definitively disqualified himself—as Arafat did in 2002—as an interlocutor of peace with Israel?
[Photo: Ruptly TV / YouTube]