Following the massacre on the Simchat Tora holiday, prominent Western leaders have expressed support for Israel and its war on Hamas. President Biden, the Prime Ministers of Britian and Italy and the Chancellor of Germany all visited Israel last week as a sign of solidarity. It has become clear that Hamas is a murderous terror organization, along the lines of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, whose existence Israel cannot live with. At the same time, these friends of Israel insist that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian public and stress their commitment to a two-state solution.
In a speech from the Oval Office, Biden said “We cannot give up on peace. We cannot give up on a two-state solution”. Britian’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s President and stressed his commitment to a Palestinian state. In Cairo, Italy’s Prime Minister Georgia Meloni met Abu Mazen as well, and announced that the PA is “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”. Amid the total war on Hamas, we are witnessing the restoration of the PA’s image and its return to the front stage of state policy. It isn’t unlikely that after the battle with Hamas, Israel will face a new wave of pressure to promote a PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) state in the Judea, Samaria and Gaza territories. We must not fall into this trap and accept the dichotomy between “bad” Hamas and the allegedly “moderate” PA.
Despite the feeble official condemnations of the PA’s dominant organization Fatah, their open incitement to murder Israelis continues in Arabic. As MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) reveals, the Fatah Central Committee published an announcement praising the “Armies of Heroism…protecting…the West Bank and Gaza” and called for “intensifying the confrontation with the conqueror”. On the 14th of October, Abbas Zaki, an organization official, promised in a joint interview with a Hamas operative on Lebanese television, “to smash the skulls of the Jews” and hoped for similar terror attacks in Judea and Samaria. The organization’s secretary in Lebanon, Fathi Abu Al-Ardat, marveled at the signs of “Palestinian unity” and stressed that “our unshaken position is that all of our weapons should be pointed at the Zionist enemy”.
This isn’t cheap rhetoric and braggadocio aimed at the Palestinian masses. The PA dedicates close to 300 million dollars a year to terrorists (“shahids”) and their families. The PA’s financial support of terrorists comprises 7% of its budget; more than a fifth of the international aid it receives. The payments are not limited to murderers from the ranks of the PA and Fatah and will most probably find their way to the Simchat Tora murderers and their families as well. The PA rewards terrorists in other ways too, such as giving released prisoners hiring preference to official positions and holding them up as role models. The PA promotes and glorifies an ideological war on Israel and Zionism which it disseminates to the people through the education system, religious institutions and official media. According to the Palestinian narrative, shared by all political factions, the Jews are not a people but a religious group that faked its connection to the land of Israel and has never governed a sovereign state in Palestine. The never amended PLO convention rejects any historical ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and their very nationhood as well. Only a month ago, Abu-Mazen, speaking at a PLO convention, baselessly asserted that Ashkenzi Jews are the descendants of a Turkish tribe who converted in the Middle Ages. According to him, antisemitism, including the Nazi Holocaust, were a result of Jewish exploitative behavior, such as loaning with interest.
The push to grant Gaza the PA on a silver platter ignores the circumstances that brought Hamas to power in the first place. When Israel forcibly evacuated the Jewish settlements in Gaza, it handed the keys over to the PA. In 2006, under pressure from then-President George Bush, the PA held elections. Hamas won the majority of the votes, and the rivalry between the PLO and Hamas led to a civil war in 2007. After a few weeks of struggle, Hamas succeeded in ejecting the PA from the Strip, not before hurling some Fatah operatives from Gazan towers. In May of 2021, PA President Abu Mazen delayed the first elections in 17 years, fearing another victory by Hamas. Israeli, Jordanian and Egyptian Heads of Security met with Abu Mazen to warn of a Hamas electoral victory. The most recent polling from July 2023 shows that most respondents in Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem express support for Hamas. There is therefore no reason to assume that the PA can prevent Hamas or some other extremist organization from reclaiming power.
The Hamas is one organization, but it represents and expresses a wider worldview extant among the Palestinian public. Not only “official” Hamas terrorists participated in the massacre on Simchat Torah but also a Gazan mob, joining in the wanton murder, torture and looting. Security cameras from the Be’eri Kibbutz show Gazan civilians entering the Kibbutz to burn and loot. Many Israeli civilians were taken hostage by “regular” Gazans. One Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri, admitted in an Al- Jazeera interview that Gazan civilians took an active part in the slaughter. A clear and horrifying example perfectly capturing this is the phone call recorded by a terrorist, where he boasts to his parents about killing ten Jews with his own hands. His proud Mom and Dad bless him in the name of God.
Even now, the IDF and Israeli security forces are fighting Hamas in Judea and Samaria. The PA cannot prevent Hamas from gaining power in its own territory. The little it does do under international and Israeli pressure is criticized by the Palestinian public. Large swathes of Palestinians see the PA as tyrannical, corrupt, and collaborative. Moreover, its future, once Abu /Mazen the 87-year-old departs, is unclear. There is therefore no reason to believe that the PA can prevent radical Islamists from taking power in the Gaza Strip or would even want to.
Around two weeks ago, the Jewish nation was bloodily reminded that our struggle for a Jewish state in the land of Israel hasn’t ended. We cannot deceive ourselves that the murderous hatred is confined to the Hamas organization alone. The PA is not a partner for peace and is not a moderate actor. For decades now, its officials and institutions teach young Palestinians to “oppose”, incite violence and reward terrorists. The Palestinian people loathe the PA, weak and thoroughly corrupt as they view it. It cannot be expected to fight extreme and murderous elements within the Palestinian public, even it wanted to. We should not exchange Hamastan for PLO-land. Our continued existence in the land of Israel demands we set up a wall of iron against all our enemies.
First appeared in Hebrew on Hashiloach