April 30, 2011
The Palestinian Authority: What Obama Is Missing
Well-placed leaks within the last few days suggest that President Obama may be about to announce a proposal for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of the plan's tenets is expected to be acceptance of the 1967 armistice line (the Green Line) as Israel's final border.
A handful of recent events speak directly to the wisdom -- or lack thereof -- of such a proposal:
- On Friday night, March 11, a massacre occurred in the Jewish community of Itamar, in Samaria. Skirting a security fence, terrorists crept into the home of a sleeping family, taking the lives of Rabbi Udi Fogel, his wife Ruth, and three of their children, aged 11 to three months. These were not "simple" murders. On the contrary, they involved horrendous mutilations -- something, academics note, that is not unusual in the Arab culture.
Condemnation of this act by Palestinian Authority officials was lukewarm at best. A PA news agency reported that a Thai worker had committed the murders in revenge for not being paid, but Itamar has no Thai workers.
Early reports suggested that the Israeli investigation was focused on the nearby Arab village of Awarta: dozens of villagers were taken for questioning and DNA samples secured. Beyond this, all was quiet as a gag order was set in place.
- On April 17, that order was lifted, as the commander of the IDF in Samaria, Col. Nimrod Aloni, announced, "The murderers are in our hands." Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the investigation for its thoroughness. The Shin Bet and police have left no room for doubt.
The terrorists -- indeed from Awarta -- were identified as cousins Amjad Awad, 19, and Hakim Awad, 18. They were assisted by at least six others (four of them Awads), all in custody.
What particularly shocked Israelis was the cold-blooded attitude of these killers. During their confession, they described how they had heard the cries of the baby and returned to the room where her parents had been murdered to take her life as well.
Col. Aloni indicated that the motivation of terror groups in Judea and Samaria to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians is still high.
- No sooner was the capture of the terrorists announced than Dr. Aaron Lerner, who directs IMRA (Israel Media Review and Analysis), placed a phone call to S'ad Nimr, Director General of the PA Ministry of Detainees. The PA has declared a policy of seeking the release of all Palestinian Arabs held in Israel prisons -- including some convicted of the murder of Israeli civilians.
Asked Lerner, would the PA also demand the release of the two men just caught by Israeli authorities in connection with the murders in Itamar?
Yes, replied Nimr. Palestinians have "a right" and "an obligation" to "resist the occupation."
His statement can be heard in an audio recording on YouTube.
Let us be perfectly clear here: an official representative of the PA has justified as an "obligation" the brutal murder of children because of the "occupation."
One might assume that when Nimr refers to the "occupation," he is speaking of Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria. Thus, a corollary to this assumption would be that unspeakably obscene terrorist acts, such as that committed by the Awad cousins, would be a thing of the past if only Israel would pull back to that Green Line -- much as the American president is about to propose.
But this line of thinking would be dangerously in error:
- On the very night that the Fogel family was massacred, PA TV, in a program for teenagers, ran a video clip. Reports Palestinian Media Watch, the clip began with the words across the screen: "Palestine: We will return one day to our home." Following were a series of pictures of cities and regions in Israel inside the Green Line, with the names on the screen, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Galilee, Negev, Caesarea, Acre, and Jerusalem.
The message -- found in PA textbooks as well -- is clear: all of the land belongs to the Palestinians, and in time, they hope to take it.
The American president declares a firm commitment to Israel's security. But he is failing to connect the dots, and so his words ring hollow. The Obama White House has a reputation for considerable insularity; perhaps he is oblivious to what he ought to know before proposing a "peace plan."
It is to be fervently hoped that Washington's decision-makers in Congress and elsewhere, operating in less insular circumstances than the president, will make it their business to be aware of the facts with regard to PA intentions and positions.
Arlene Kushner, writer and blogger, lives and works in Jerusalem.