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Time to Put the Squeeze on Palestinian Aid
At the 1993 Oslo signing ceremony in Washington, President Bill Clinton called the Oslo accords a "brave gamble." Actually, Oslo turned out to be a tragic gamble that cost Israel almost 2,000 lives, with thousands more maimed. The reason: a concessionary policy that ignored continuing Palestinian rejection of Israel's existence as a Jewish state and support for terrorist violence against it.
Now, the Obama administration is doing the same thing. And it is Barack Obama's own secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is pretending that Palestinian terrorism -- and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it -- is nonexistent or unimportant.
Recently, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) wrote to Clinton, stating that he was "deeply concerned" about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party conference this past August.
He noted that "posters of children brandishing weapons" were displayed; senior Fatah officials routinely "glorified perpetrators of terrorism"; and leaders addressing the audience "continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel."
Accordingly, Specter urged that the $800 million in U.S. aid to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority be "predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace."
How did Secretary Clinton reply? With a flat-earth letter of rebuttal to Specter, claiming that the Fatah conference showed "a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution."
She also claimed that Abbas and Fatah "reaffirmed" their "strategic choice to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict." She noted that "some individual Fatah delegates issued problematic texts and statements ... . It is important to note that those texts and statements did not represent Fatah's official positions."
In fact, as the Zionist Organization of America has documented, the conference reaffirmed Fatah's refusal to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and did not commit itself to a nonviolence. On the contrary, Abbas himself declared: "We maintain the right to launch an armed resistance." Jailed Fatah terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, often touted as future leader, said: "Resistance to the Israeli occupation is a national obligation, and it is a legitimate right."
Another senior Fatah figure, Fahmi Al-Za'arir, said: "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 under U.S. law] are the jewel in Fatah's crown."
These are not merely the views of "individual Fatah delegates," as Clinton claims; they are unequivocal statements of support for terror by senior leaders of Fatah from Mahmoud Abbas down.
Moreover, the Fatah platform calls for increased international pressure on Israel, and opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states. It 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.
Moreover, at this conference, Fatah openly honored terrorists, including Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for a 1978 coastal-road bus-hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered.
In view of these easily ascertainable facts, Clinton's response to Specter is deeply troubling.
Ironically, as a senator, Clinton distinguished herself by pointing to the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the P.A. She stated that such incitement would have "dire consequences for peace for generations to come."
Now, however, confronting this matter and in a position to act, she ignores her own insights and advice. Worse, she praises Fatah for its commitment to peace.
The time has come for American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to demand conditioning U.S. aid to the P.A. on the dismantling of terror groups, and an end to incitement to hatred and murder in its media, mosques and schools.
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Daniel Mandel is director of the ZOA's Center for Middle East Policy.