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No, Mahmoud Abbas is not a “Staunch Champion of the Oslo Accords”

The New York Times, in its Twitter feed describing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech saying that the PA would no longer participate in peace talks led by the United States, described [1] Abbas as a “staunch champion of the Oslo Accords.” It was an odd description of Abbas, and appeared nowhere in the actual report [2], because it is mistaken. Badly.

The Oslo Accords first agreed [3] to in 1993 and later extended by an interim agreement [4] in 1995 provide the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Abbas, during his time in power, has regularly acted in defiance of the terms of the Oslo Accords.

In agreeing to make peace with the Palestinians, Israel changed its longstanding insistence that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was a terrorist organization in exchange for the PLO recognizing Israel’s right to exist and promising to abandon terror. In an exchange of letters [5] prior to the actual agreement, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat committed to having all “outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations,” confirming “that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant [6] which deny Israel’s right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid,” and rejecting “the use of terrorism and other acts of violence.”

On paper, these commitments look promising; in practice the Palestinians, first under Arafat and, now, under Abbas, have to uphold these basic and necessary commitments.

After a ship, the Karine A, bringing a cargo of arms from Iran to the PA, was intercepted [7] by Israeli forces in 2002, President George W. Bush called [8] for new Palestinian leadership that was “not compromised by terror,” and in 2003 Abbas was appointed [9] Prime Minister by Arafat. In January 2005, shortly after Arafat’s death, Abbas elected to a four-year term as PA President for the first – and only – time. He still serves in the capacity, nine years after his term expired.

In addition to tolerating a vast amount of corruption [10], of which he and his family benefited [11] tremendously, Abbas has flouted a number of commitments the Palestinians agreed to with Israel more than 24 years ago.

Direct talks – In the exchange of letters Arafat committed to negotiate all “outstanding issues.” This was repeated in the 1993 Declaration of Principles, which said that all outstanding issues “shall be resolved by negotiations.” Abbas has regularly evaded negotiations—he refused to negotiate with Israel in 2010 for most of a period during which froze settlement building, and then insisted that Israel extend the freeze to continue negotiations—and sought to pressure Israel by appealing to international organizations.

Encouraging terror – Arafat committed to reject terror, an obligation echoed in the 1995 Interim Agreement that called on both sides “to insure the immediate, efficient and effective handling of any incident involving the threat, or acts of terrorism, violence or incitement.” However, Abbas in word and deed continues to encourage terror. In defiance of American demands, Abbas and the PA still spend millions to reward terrorists who have killed Israel and their families. This only incentivizes terror. In addition Abbas and other PA official have resorted to inflammatory [12] rhetoric that promotes terror.

Denying Israel’s Right to Exist – The Interim Agreement also stipulated the that the PA was obligated to “undertaking to revoke those articles of the Palestinian Covenant calling for the destruction of Israel.” Among the articles that the PA was to revoke was article 20 [13], which said that “claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.” Abbas echoed this sentiment in his speech Sunday, saying, “that Israel was “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.” This also has been a staple of Palestinian appeals to international organizations where agencies like UNESCO [14] have denied the Jewish historical connections to Jerusalem and Hebron.

To be certain, this is not a comprehensive list. For example, Abbas consistently insists that “settlements” are the biggest obstacle to peace but the interim agreement is clear that settlements is one of the “issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations.”

Mahmoud Abbas is many things, but the record shows that in no way is he a champion of the Oslo Accords.

If the Oslo Accords are dead as he claims, his record shows that it is Abbas, not President Trump, not Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is responsible.

[Photo: AFP news agency / YouTube]