The Economist weighed in on the US president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with a Dec. 7th article titled “Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital makes peace less likely”. The piece reinforced the media’s gloom and doom narrative over the the implications for the peace process following US recognition, suggesting that Palestinians may now feel they have ‘no alternative’ than to engage in violence.
This leaves the Palestinians isolated, a sentiment palpable on the streets of East Jerusalem this week. They feel abandoned not only by America but by the Arab world and even by their own senior leaders. Jawad Siam, a local leader in Silwan, an Arab neighbourhood of Jerusalem, has harsh words for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. “Abbas is always saying there is still a chance for diplomacy and now Trump is making Abbas very small in front of his people.” Ever since his election in 2005, Mr Abbas has rejected violence and called upon his people to pursue statehood through diplomacy. Now the calls from within the Palestinian national movement for a return to intifada, ie, a violent uprising, are growing.
The claim that Abbas has “rejected violence” for the past 12 years mirrors a popular but completely erroneous media theme about the Palestinian movement since the death of Yasser Arafat – one repeated recently by former Secretary of State John Kerry.
However, the facts tell a different story.
Whilst his Fatah Party, and countless Palestinian officials, continually incites terror against Jewish civilians, Abbas himself, despite calling for peace at times in English, routinely (in Arabic) glorifies Palestinian terrorists who committed deadly attacks, and has sent messages to Palestinian society encouraging more violence.
Here are just a few examples:
In 2014, he gave a speech promoting violence in the name of Islam.
That same year, he told Palestinians to use any means necessary to prevent Jews from “defiling” Muslim holy places.
In September, 2015, Abbas hailed Palestinian rioters on the Temple Mount, saying any blood spilled in “defense” of the holy site was “pure.”
The following month, Abbas gave a speech justifying violence related to the Temple Mount, including the murder of Israelis, as a legitimate ‘defense’ of al-Aqsa.
In 2016, he praised as a “martyr” a young Palestinian woman who attempted to kill an Israeli soldier in a car ramming attack, writing “We see in her a martyr who watered the pure earth of Palestine with her blood,”
In July 2017, he encouraged ongoing violent rioting over al-Aqsa, even after Israelis removed controversial metal detectors from the Temple Mount which were installed following a deadly terror attack on the compound.
Bottom line: The Economist’s claim that the Palestinian President has “rejected violence” since 2005 fails to pass even the most minimum critical scrutiny.