The Jerusalem Post
Hady Amr’s pointless pursuit of Palestinian statehood
While US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr was visiting Ramallah this week as part of his mission to bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah henchmen were fine-tuning a list of preconditions.
Abbas’s ploy a couple of months ago to reject a call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the grounds that it should have been his “equal,” President Joe Biden, on the phone, clearly worked. As Abbas has understood from the get-go, Biden is nothing like his predecessor.
Indeed, unlike former president Donald Trump, who started off by laying down the law to the petty little dictator, Biden is not only a throwback, but his administration is rushing to embrace paradigms about the “conflict” that have been tried ad nauseam and failed bitterly – thanks to Palestinian intransigence.
Never mind that the Abraham Accords perfectly illustrate that the road to peace doesn’t lie with, or even pass through, the PA. Team Biden prefers to believe the Palestinians’ lying eyes rather than any concrete evidence to the contrary. And the Palestinian leadership has good cause for optimism on this score, now that Amr is their point man in DC.
Ironically, it’s Hamas, not Fatah, to which Amr has been historically sympathetic. The author of The Need to Communicate: How to Improve US Public Diplomacy with the Islamic World and The Opportunity of the Obama Era: How Civil Society Can Help Bridge Divides between the United States and a Diverse Muslim World, he served as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC, and as founding director of the think tank’s Doha Center in Qatar.
Still, when it comes to viewing Israel as an obstacle and a culprit, he and similar foreign mediators make little distinction between rival Palestinian groups that share a death wish for the Jewish state.
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was therefore able to conduct with him what sources in the know described to The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh as a “very positive” meeting on Tuesday. Though Palestinian self-aggrandizement is as untrustworthy as it is par for the course, the sources in question were on the mark when they said the Biden administration was keen on improving its relations with the Palestinians. After all, the White House and State Department have been open about that aim all along.
They’ve also begun a push to put their money where their mouth is. Literally. This means restoring massive amounts of funding to Palestinian institutions that Trump had slashed – a move that spurred and was in the spirit of the Taylor Force Act, a law born of the need to prevent American tax dollars from financing the PA’s “pay for slay” policy.
The Trump administration took the welcome action as a result of Abbas’s refusal to cease providing hefty monthly stipends to terrorists and their families. It also recognized the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for the corrupt organization that it is: one that perpetuates a “refugee” crisis of its own making, employs Hamas members or sympathizers, and indoctrinates children in its schools to hate Israel.
But the new sheriffs and their appointees in Washington see things differently, or at least present them in a way that ignores past history and present reality. At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, for example, US Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power argued that despair among Palestinians would be of no benefit to anyone, and assured Republican critics that no economic assistance would end up in Hamas coffers.
It’s incredible that she was able to say this with a straight face. Even more astounding was her statement that “part of what we need to do is unlock some of the funding that is going to be very important for the reconstruction effort and for economic development.”
POWER SOUNDED like a broken record dusted off from the days when Barack Obama was president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, was engaging in fruitless “shuttle diplomacy” until the egg ON his face was crusty.
Power and her ilk ought to have realized by now that Hamas isn’t interested in rehabilitating Gaza. Its goal is to rebuild the network of cross-border attack tunnels and replenish the supply of rocket launchers that Israel destroyed in May during Operation Guardian of the Walls.
If Hamas ever cared about the sorry condition of the residents of the enclave that it rules with an iron Islamist fist, it would have allowed the billions of dollars, euros and shekels transferred to the Strip over the decades to be spent on the betterment of civil society. With all that money, each family in Gaza could be living in a villa with a swimming pool at this point, not sifting through rubble and wracked with fear of the goons who use them as human shields for propaganda purposes.
Furthermore, Hamas sparked the latest war with Israel to enhance its growing popularity among Palestinian voters in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) ahead of the PA legislative elections that were slated for the end of May. Abbas claimed that he canceled them over Israel’s ostensible ban on ballots from east Jerusalem Arabs.
This was a complete lie, of course. The real reason for the maneuver was his justified trepidation that Hamas was going to emerge victorious.
Which brings us to his latest manipulation, this one targeting Biden and the pro-Palestinian Democrats in the US Congress: a set of demands that have to be met before he’d even consider entering into talks with Israel. That he never wanted a so-called “twostate solution” in the first place doesn’t seem to cross the minds of the indefatigable “peace brokers.”
Or perhaps their fervor comes from the lucrative nature of striving for Palestinian statehood. The livelihoods of Abbas and the slew of others involved in the endeavor depend on it. Just ask Amr.
Be that as it may, the PA’s demands for Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to consider include: reopening Orient House and other Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem that have been closed since 2001; restoring the previous status quo on the Temple Mount (reducing the number of Jews allowed to visit the site and curbing police activity around al-Aqsa Mosque); proceeding with the release from Israeli jails of the fourth tranche of Palestinian prisoners and return of the bodies of dead terrorists; ceasing the entry of IDF troops into Palestinian cities; returning confiscated weapons to Palestinian security forces; and increasing the number of Israeli work permits for Palestinian laborers.
Whether Amr was given a sneak preview of the draft is not clear. What’s pretty obvious, though, is that he missed the opportunity to observe Palestinian children enjoying fun in the sun at a PA summer camp run by the Fatah Youth Institution for Young Boys and Girls.
In a July 10 video posted on Facebook – reported by Palestinian Media Watch – kids at the camp are seen holding poster-sized photographs of dead mass-murderers: PLO chief Yasser Arafat with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; Arafat next to Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin; and Arafat alongside arch-terrorist Khalil Al-Wazir, otherwise known as “Abu Jihad.”
According to PMW, these images are accompanied by the text, “We do not forget to remind our children of those who brought us glory.”
At another camp sponsored by Abbas’s Fatah faction and revealed by PMW, children are taught that “Palestine” extends from the “river to the sea,” with Israel eliminated in its entirety. It’s a message that’s drummed into Palestinians, from the cradle to the grave, and displayed proudly on social media.
This phenomenon will not abate through US funding and fantasies. On the contrary, as has been proven beyond all doubt, throwing money at the problem only exacerbates it.
Not to worry, however. When Amr’s efforts flop, he can always blame Israel.