Wednesday, 04 March 2009

Clinton Meets with Abbas

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Hillary Clinton and AbbasSecretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) leaders in Ramallah, West Bank, on March 4, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas. Reuters news described Fayyad as the "pointman in Western-backed reconstruction plans for the Gaza Strip that freeze out the territory's Hamas Islamist rulers."

"We are very committed to your efforts in this leadership of President Abbas," Clinton told Fayyad.

Speaking at a news conference while standing next to Abbas, Clinton said that the Palestinian Authority is the "only legitimate government of the Palestinian people."

"I will remain personally engaged," Clinton said at the press conference. She added that the United States will work to "foster conditions" for the creation of a future Palestinian state.

Clinton's West Bank visit came the day after meeting with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and supports the expansion of Israeli settlements on disputed land claimed by the Palestinians within the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Saleh Rafat, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, said Abbas told Clinton that there would be no peace negotiations unless Israel agreed to a two-state solution.

The Associated Press reported that Abbas and Clinton discussed the future of Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007. Following the Hamas takeover, Israel and Egypt closed Gaza's borders.

Much of Gaza was destroyed during Israel's three-week military offensive against Hamas, which ended in an informal cease-fire on January 18. On March 2, during a conference held in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, international donors — including the United States — pledged $4.481 billion in aid to help the Palestinian economy and to rebuild Gaza strip. At that conference, Clinton pledged $900 million in U.S. aid, $300 million for Gaza reconstruction and another $600 million to support the PNA's budget shortfalls and operating expenses.

"We want humanitarian aid to get into Gaza in sufficient amounts to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza," Clinton said while in the West Bank. AP reported that she  stopped short of calling for a full opening of the border crossings.

Clinton also told reporters that "the Obama administration will be vigorously engaged in efforts to forge a lasting peace between Israel, Palestinians and all of the Arab neighbors."

Bloomberg News reported that during her visit to Ramallah, Clinton said the United States will offer budgetary, infrastructure, and humanitarian support to Abbas. She said the U.S. Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, would return to the region immediately after the formation of a new Israeli government to help get talks under way.

While almost every impartial observer of the ongoing dispute between Israel and the various Palestinian factions regards Hamas as a terrorist force (it is officially considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Canada, the European UnioHillary Clinton and Abbasn, Israel, Japan, and the United States) Abba's Fatah party, which controls the PNA government, is generally portrayed as a moderate, pro-Western Palestinian organization.

However, Fatah's history indicates that it is not the Palestinian equivalent of your community's Young Republican club. Among the founders of the original Fatah movement in 1954 was the terrorist Yasser Arafat, who was at the time the head of the General Union of Palestinian Students at Cairo University. Arafat would lead Fatah until his death in 2004. The young Fatah movement launched a failed guerrilla attack in 1965 against the Israeli National Water Carrier.

Fatah joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1967 and Yasser Arafat became Executive Committee Chairman of the PLO in 1969, Arafat's successor as PLO chairman in 2004 was none other than Mahmoud Abbas. Among the terrorist acts committed by organizations considered to be part of the overall PLO umbrella were:

  • The 1970 Avivim school bus massacre by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), which killed nine children and three adults.
  • The 1974 seizure of an Israeli school by members of the DFLP during which 26 students and adults were killed and 70 were wounded in what is called the  Ma'alot massacre.
  • The 1975 Savoy Hotel hostage incident during which Fatah was responsible for killing 8 civilians and 3 soldiers.
  • The 1978 Coastal Road massacre during which Fatah was responsible for killing 37 Israeli civilians and wounding 76.

So notorious was PLO/Fatah's leadership that on November 26, 1988 Secretary of State George Shultz rejected Arafat's request for a visa to address the UN General Assembly, with the explanation that Arafat was "an accessory" to terrorism. The official State Department document that turned down Arafat's request noted in part:

The U.S. Government has convincing evidence that P.L.O. elements have engaged in terrorism against Americans and others. This evidence includes a series of operations undertaken by the Force 17 and the Hawari organizations since the P.L.O. claimed to foreswear the use of terrorism in the Cairo Declaration of November, 1985. As chairman of the P.L.O. Mr. Arafat is responsible for actions of these organizations which are units of Fatah, an element of the P.L.O. of which he also is chairman and which is under his control.

In a report broadcast on the CBS Radio Network on November 11, 1974, correspondent Walter Cronkite commented: "The various factions that comprise the PLO have been responsible for some of the most brutal and indiscriminate slaughters in recent history, from the Lod Airport massacre to the murder of school children at Ma'alot. Since the 1967 War, Palestinian terrorists have killed at least 800 Israelis, though in reprisal the Israelis have more than tripled that figure."

Though he had long since tried to cultivate an image of moderation, just two years before Arafat's death (and the assumption of the reins of the PLO by Abbas), an article in USA Today on March 14, 2002 noted, "A leader of the largest Palestinian terrorist group spearheading suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel says he is following the orders of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. 'Our group is an integral part of Fatah,' says Maslama Thabet, 33, a leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade."

Though Abbas has attempted to cultivate the image of a moderate peace broker even beyond what Arafat could accomplish, his image is undoubtedly a charade. In an interview in The New American's print edition in July 2003, Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, a Rockford Institute foreign-affairs analyst who had spent time in Israel interviewing representatives of several rival Palestinian factions, observed of Abbas: "He's caught between the older Fatah faction, typified by Arafat, and the younger generation of suicide bombers and other terrorist diehards. If he were actually to deliver on his promises [to broker peace], Abbas faces the prospect of political — or even physical — extinction."

In addition to Abbas's terrorist connections, his coziness with the communist world casts further doubt upon his credentials as a potential peacemaker. He engaged in post-graduate studies at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, when the Soviet Union was still in existence. While there, in 1982, he completed his doctoral dissertation, entitled "The Secret Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement." In 1984, Abbas developed his dissertation into a book entitled The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism. In this book, Abbas described the Holocaust as "The Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed."

Hillary Clinton has just proclaimed: "We are very committed to your efforts in this leadership of President Abbas." Considering the man's background, one wonders why.

Photo: AP Images

For more information about Mahmoud Abbas' PLO/Fatah and the folly of supporting "moderate" terrorists as opposed to worse terrorists, see The New American article "A Bad Investment."

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