Palestinians Get More Bad Advice
By Jonathan S.
to most media accounts, President Donald Trump did it again when he met with
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland.
Trump complained that the Palestinians had “disrespected us” when they
refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the Middle
East this week, it was cast as just another example of how the president’s
thin skin and easily bruised ego was damaging U.S. foreign policy. Just as the
administration’s principled decision to finally recognize Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital and to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy there was
depicted as a payoff to donors or conservative Christian backers, the
withholding of some aid to the Palestinians was put down as just another
pointless Trump snit. The mainstream media talking heads and foreign policy
establishment “wise men” shook their heads in dismay at Trump’s supposed
foolishness in trying to hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) accountable for its
support for terrorism as well as for its abandonment of the peace process.
most interesting point about the reaction to Trump’s comments is that most of
those speaking about it acted as if they were unaware or uninterested in PA
President Mahmoud Abbas’ Jan. 14 speech in which he cursed Trump, vowed never
to negotiate with the U.S. and engaged in a long, bizarre anti-Semitic rant that
made it clear Israel’s supposed peace partner considered the Jewish state an
illegitimate colonial entity planted in the Middle East by Europe.
hardly surprising because Abbas’s speech got minimal coverage in the
mainstream media. So, as has often been the case with the Middle East, those
opining on the subject only concentrated on Trump’s alleged sins while never
acknowledging that Abbas had trashed the president even though Trump had left
the door open for a two-state solution in his Jerusalem statement. Had the
Palestinians wanted to restart negotiations with the U.S., they could have done
so and perhaps have reaped the benefits of his desire for the “ultimate
deal.” The fact that they didn’t said very little about Trump and volumes
about their inability to give up their century-old war on Zionism.
problem this episode highlights isn’t just a Palestinian political culture
that is rooted in irredentism rather than a desire to create an independent
state. Rather, it is the terrible advice they are getting from Westerners who
can’t stand Trump, Israel and Netanyahu.
to Trump’s latest Middle East comments from liberal Americans as well as
Europeans illustrated a dangerous trend. Rather than focus on Abbas’s foolish
decision to burn his bridges with the U.S. and his rejection of peace, those
damning Trump’s comments about being “disrespected” were essentially
telling the Palestinians to ignore the American demands.
troubling as that might be, even more worrisome was the report that their former
U.S. negotiator and ally was also telling them the same thing. As Ma’ariv
reported Wednesday, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with Hussein Agha,
a Palestinian official close to Abbas in London. At the meeting, Kerry told Agha
to pass on to Abbas the message that he should “hold on and be strong” in
his dealings with the U.S. Kerry advised Abbas, “He should stay strong in his
spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President
if he disagrees with Trump, for a former secretary of state should openly seek
to undermine U.S. foreign policy with a foreign leader in this manner is
outrageous and a break from accepted behavior every bit as much as Trump’s
tweets and often bizarre comments. But more than that, it is terrible advice.
Instead of counseling Abbas and the Palestinians to avoid peace talks, Kerry
ought to be urging them to negotiate with Trump and Israeli Prime Minister
given the fact that he never held Abbas and the Palestinians accountable for
terrorism or for repeatedly blowing up the negotiations he kept trying to
sponsor while he was in power, why would we think he would do so now? Kerry
believed the only path to peace involved brutal U.S. pressure on Israel to make
dangerous territorial concessions for which he never seemed prepared to demand
the Palestinians give up a culture of terror and hate that was the true engine
of the conflict.
report of the meeting—which was confirmed by the PA if not Kerry—also said
that the former secretary of state predicted Trump might not last out his term
in office. This is highly unlikely but even if true, do Kerry or the
Palestinians think Pence would be less friendly to Israel than Trump or be more
inclined to be give them a pass for paying salaries and pensions to those
convicted of terrorist crimes? That Kerry also speculated about running again
for president in 2020 is a sign that he is just as delusional about politics as
he is about the Middle East.
also ironic that liberals are mocking Trump’s talk of being insulted by Abbas
when they were often so quick to back up President Barack Obama’s accusations
that Netanyahu insulted him and Vice President Joe Biden. In point of fact,
Abbas really did insult Trump personally as well as demonstrating his contempt
for the history of the Jews. Obama’s insults—such as the one about the
announcement of a housing project in Jerusalem during a Biden visit to
Israel—were ginned up spats designed to create the “daylight” Obama wanted
between the U.S. and the Jewish state.
consequence of the messages being sent to the Palestinians by Kerry and other
Trump critics is that they needn’t budge an inch from their rejectionism. Many
world leaders have been telling them the same thing for decades. They continue
to believe that all they have to do is “stay strong,” as Kerry put it,
without recognizing that the long war against Israel is lost, and someday the
world will hand them Israel on a silver platter.
It is the Palestinian people, who suffer under a cowardly dictator like Abbas and the terrorists of Hamas, who pay the price for this evil counsel. And they will continue paying for it until they realize they’d be better off listening to an alleged foe like Trump than to a friend like Kerry.