NEW YORK—Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority (PA) headed by Fatah co-founder, Mahmoud Abbas, has held in Bethlehem it first congress in twenty years. What has emerged? – An adamant refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state; glorification of terrorists and the “armed struggle,” insistence on the so-called ‘right of return,’ and rejection of an end of claims in any future peace agreement.
When former PA prime minister Ahmed Qureia opened proceedings, he did so “in the name of shahids (martyrs, i.e. dead terrorists)” – not exactly the words of a peace partner who has accepted Israel and renounced terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder.
But this should not surprise. Fatah has never formally recognized Israel. It has never revised its Constitution, which calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 12) and the use of terrorism as an indispensable element in the struggle to achieve that goal (Article 19). Indeed, Abbas has often stated that Fatah does not accept Israel, as in April when he declared, “I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will.”
That is why Abbas has now told the conference that “we maintain the right to launch an armed resistance, which is legitimate as far as international law is concerned.”
Most statements by other Fatah leaders reflect these views.
Marwan Al-Barghouti, the jailed Fatah terrorist chief who is widely regarded as a future Fatah leader, said in an interview coinciding with the conference that “Resistance to the Israeli occupation is a national obligation, and it is a legitimate right.” Some weeks earlier, he said that “Fatah believes in a combination of all forms of struggle, and it will not abandon, thwart, or rule out any form of struggle … We in Fatah think that political activity and negotiations complement resistance, and harvest its fruits.”
Fatah spokesman Fahmi Al-Za’arir stated, “It is not possible to rule out or to marginalize the military option. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [Fatah’s armed force and a recognized terrorist group] are the jewel in Fatah’s crown ... We know that every warrior has a [period of] rest – and also we know that this does not mean the end of the national battle, but only a wait to obtain the goals, and to give the leadership sufficient opportunity for political activity.”
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And senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said, “Resistance was and is a tactical and strategic option of the struggle are part of Fatah`s policy.”
In short, terrorism is merely one of several means that Fatah uses – and which it glorified yet again at this conference, which was festooned with posters of Palestinian youth carrying rifles.
Thus, there was loud applause from assembled delegates when Qureia praised two terrorists, Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered. Qureia praised these bestial murderers as “heroes” and “shahids,” shouting “All the glory! All the glory! All the glory! All the sisters here are Dalal's sisters.”
The Fatah platform also continues to demand the so-called ‘right of return’ to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants, something that would mean Israel’s extinction. It calls for increased international pressure on Israel, opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states, and refuses to declare that Fatah has no further demands from Israel beyond a peace settlement. The platform also calls for a “strategic channel with Iran to be opened” – at a time Iran is defying the world by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Tragically, Fatah’s glorification of terrorism and the goal of removing Israel is not mere rhetoric. The PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps inculcate this ideology in the next generation. Thus, at a recent high gradual graduation, students chanted such slogans as, “In the name of the Shahids (Martyrs), in the name of the prisoners, in the name of the stone and the rifle” and “in the name of Palestine: Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, and our Arab Jerusalem” – giving a clear picture of the nature and content of Fatah’s indoctrination.
Accordingly, Israeli cabinet minister Yuli Edelstein is right to say that the latest Fatah platform is “a declaration of war. We must not act as if we haven’t heard. We must emerge from the circle of illusions that these are moderates who want peace.”
Basically, this is a fraud and mockery of peace. Not only has the Palestinian leadership never fulfilled its 16-year-old commitments to accept Israel and end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it, but it has no intention of doing so. There must be therefore an end to all negotiations, rewards and concessions to Abbas’ Fatah-controlled PA until and unless this platform is revoked and the PA fulfills its signed commitments.