An Abundance of Christmas Gifts for Abu Mazen

A special star must have been shining brightly above Ramallah, a place not too far from Bethlehem in miles, but light years away in spirit, when Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, was born. Abu Mazen had always been Chairman Arafat’s right hand man, and has credited himself with having had encouraged Arafat to walk away from the negotiating table at Camp David, yet he has been regarded by most as a more reasonable interlocutor than Arafat, a new-born Messiah, who can deliver the goods.

Earlier this week, Mahmoud Abbas was bestowed with a multitude of gifts of the Magi. The first is a gift that keeps on giving—that of extending President Mahmoud Abbas’ term until elections are held.  Abbas had previously extended his own term in office by not holding the scheduled January 2010 elections. Had elections been held, there would have been a distinct possibility that Hamas would have triumphed. After all, it is the well-honed skills of the IDF that is keeping Fatah alive in the West Bank.  As of Wednesday, December 16th, the PLO Central Committee has officially bequeathed him with no term limits.

Abu Mazen has also just been given the gift of impatience by the European Union.  This took the form of an EU declaration that was issued this past Friday, December 18th ,which read “The European Union again calls for the urgent resumption of negotiations…”

He has been bestowed with the gifts of billions of dollars in aid that has been pumped into the West Bank so that Fatah is regarded as a more reasonable alternative to Gaza-governed Hamas. This past Friday, President Obama approved a budget that will give an additional 500 million dollars to the Palestinian Authority, 100 million of which will be going to General Keith Dayton’s forces, under the absurd premise that this bestowal of American magnanimity will never be turned against the Israeli populace.

And Mahmoud Abbas has been bestowed with the greatest gift of all, a failure of the world’s collective memory, a virtual lobotomy of the international brain. They totally have forgotten the results of the Gaza withdrawal, a gift the Israelis gave to the Palestinians, of a place to prove to the world that they can govern themselves in peace. They have forgotten how it has been used as a beachhead to launch a barrage of more than 10,000 rocket missiles on the citizens of the Israeli border town of Sderot.  And they apparently have also forgotten that when Israel exercised Article 51 of the United Nations Charter that calls on the legitimate right of every nation to protect its own citizens, they were handed the Goldstone Report—holding Israel to a standard that would make it vitally impossible to defend her civilian population, because her enemies are non-uniformed combatants that fire their rockets in densely crowded urban population centers.

Given this history it would be irresponsible for any Israeli interlocutor to accept what is now the newest Palestinian pre-condition for negotiations: a return to the pre-1967 borders. That would make every Israeli city within easy target of a Kassam rocket missile. Just one missile on Ben Gurian airport would paralyze and isolate Israel.

Yet, the European Union, in their statement said, “The European Union reiterates that settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law.“

This is a gross misreading of international law. United Nations Resolution 242 never called for the withdrawal of all of Israeli armed forces from all the territories. It left room for the Israelis to negotiate which territories they would need in order to reach the condition outlined, but highly ignored within 242,calling for “the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

In fact, as President Lyndon Johnson had declared at the time “an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4th”, (before the outbreak of hostilities), “is not a prescription for peace, but for renewed hostilities.”

But Abu Mazen has been blessed to have been born into a world that suffers from collective amnesia.

About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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