Almost five years ago, on September 30, 2015, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rose to the podium at the United Nations General Assembly to deliver a speech in which he highlighted all the ills his people had encountered under what he called illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.
“We do not respond to the Israeli occupation’s hatred and brutality with the same”, Abbas said, “Instead, we are working on spreading the culture of peace and coexistence between our people and in our region, and we are anxious to realize it and to witness the day when all of the people in our region will enjoy peace, security, stability and prosperity.”
This is the face of Abbas the man of peace. Yet this is not the only Abbas we have become to know. Two weeks earlier, in the mid-September 2015, we had seen face of Abbas the man of violence. During an interview on Palestinian television, Abbas said, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every shaheed will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”
Then he went to add, “All of their steps, we will not allow them. All these divisions, Al-Aqsa is ours, and the Holy Sepulcher is ours, everything is ours, all ours. They [the Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet and we won’t allow them to.”
Every time Abbas speaks to his international audience, he is the great victim with an innocent and peaceful face. But when he speaks to his own people, he becomes a man with a guerilla face, a man known by his kunya name of Abu Mazen.
After President Donald Trump’s Peace Vision was released, many commentators judged it as unfair because the Palestinian leaders had not been consulted. Now the question arises, which of the two faces of Abbas had not been asked for opinion, the guerilla or the victim?
The answer is, as it will be shown, the guerilla face. Yet virtually all negative reactions to the Trump’s peace plan are based on the narrative of victimhood of Abbas.
After the plan’s release, the Muslim Brotherhood leaning Middle East Monitor published an opinion of Iqbal Jassat, a South-African Islamist media person. Jassat wrote that the peace plan is “no less than a crazy move to legitimise the Occupied Palestinian Territories as Apartheid-era Bantustans through.”
Surprisingly or not, the World Council of Churches’, or the WCC, general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit had very similar tones. On the same day with Middle East Monitor’s publication, Rev. Dr. Tveit declared, “this plan makes permanent the fragmentation of Palestinian territory in a matrix of Israeli control, not unlike the Bantustans of South Africa’s apartheid system.”
I have not seen anyone at the WCC being concerned about the fact that Tveit’s choice of words coincide Iqbal Jassa who openly celebrates Jihadism. When famous terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, a.k.a. “Blind Sheikh,” passed away in 2017, Mr. Jassa published a festive obituary on his Facebook profile. Abdel-Rahman was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that plotted the assassination of the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1980. The reason for Sadat’s brutal murder was the Egypt–Israel peace treaty in 1979. No wonder Mr. Jassa rejected the Trump plan.
Of course, the Peace to Prosperity document is not enough for any extreme, Israeli or Palestinian. It might satisfy only those who are ready to accept compromises. One may reject the plan by claiming the land reserved for Palestinians is too small and with no necessary water resources. Some people say, the vision patronizes the Palestinians and is thus humiliating. It indeed is, but not for Abbas the victim but for Abbas the guerilla.
In fact, the Oslo I and Oslo II Accords were humiliating too. This is the problem with any road map to peace. Yasser Arafat never wanted peace. Like Abbas, he was a two-faced buccaneer. He said that he is a “freedom fighter” but never showed his Jihadi face to his western fans. To them, he spoke about peace. To his fellow Arabs, he preached Jihad. Arafat hated the peace process. When it was the time to sign the Gaza–Jericho Agreement in May 1994 in Cairo, Arafat refused to put his name under certain articles. The President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was there standing in the line along with other representatives. Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin believed in peace, and Mubarak was mad at Arafat who tried to fool everyone in the house. Many people heard when Mubarak angrily hissed into Arafat’s ears, “you son of a bitch.” That moment, Arafat was humiliated, and he signed the deal. Everybody clapped hands. Six months later, Arafat accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
However, when President Bill Clinton finally presented his parameters, Arafat rejected the plan. He never intended to sign any final treaty.
Abu Mazen a.k.a. Mahmoud Abbas makes no difference. On Saturday, February 2, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told why it would have been so humiliating to accept the Trump peace plan as the framework for future peace talks. During the Arab League meeting in Cairo, he said, “I will not have it recorded in my history that I have sold Jerusalem.”
Two days later, in the official Palestinian Authority daily paper al-Hayat al-Jadida, Fatah declared that “Palestine Is not a homeland that is sold and purchased But rather a piece of the Quran that we will defend with [our] blood and souls.”
The problem is that bishops, activists, politicians and researcher in western countries hear only Abbas the victim but never Abbas the guerilla.
We must go back more than forty-five years in history in order to understand the Palestine Liberation Organization, or the PLO. In June 1974, the PLO, held the twelfth session of the Palestinian National Council in Cairo. In the conference, the PLO adopted the so-called Ten Point Program, which enabled the organization to engage in anti-Israel activity not only by means of terrorism but also in nonviolent ways, including compromises, and even diplomacy. In short, the PLO adopted a plan of which the goal was to destroy Israel through different stages. This was self-evident for Yasser Arafat when he agreed to engage in the Oslo process in the early 90s.
Considering the latest incitement messages uttered by the Palestinian Authority, it seems that they have never abandoned the 1974 plan of which the second article states, the “Palestine Liberation Organization will employ all means, and first and foremost armed struggle, to liberate Palestinian territory and to establish the independent combatant national authority for the people over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated.”
The worst thing here is not that Israel suffers from the situation. Of course, you can smell the trauma in the streets of Tel Aviv. You can have heart-breaking evidence of the vast environmental crime conducted by Hamas at the Gaza border. The worst thing, however, is that the Palestinian civil society will continue to suffer from their leaders’ relentless selfishness and corruption. Abbas says, he will not have as his legacy that he has sold Jerusalem. What he leaves unsaid is that he will not have as his legacy that he ended the incitement of little children to walk in the path of Jihad, that he ended corruption, that he replaced brainwashing textbooks with common sense education, and that he stood up against UNRWA teachers who celebrate Adolf Hitler and Hamas.
Finally, while the WCC general secretary laments the deal was not fair enough to Palestinians, the harsh truth is that the WCC is among groups, which for all these years have turned a blind eye on the Palestinian government’s abuse of their own people. The Palestinians deserve their peace to prosperity. That can happen only when the western liberal church bodies, NGOs, politicians, and activists stop enabling the Palestinian guerilla leaders to use the narrative of victimhood against their own people.