Palestinians Can Thank the U.S. For Their International Stature

A kleptocratic, corrupt, racist, terrorist-sponsoring political organization led by liars and thieves feels sufficiently emboldened to demand of the U.N. Security Council recognition of its sovereignty – and almost succeeds.

How did we get here?

The Palestinian leadership submission of a resolution to the U.N. Security Council on December 30th to recognize the State of Palestine was an act of hubris that makes Vladmir Putin’s interference in the Ukraine look like small potatoes. And doomed though it was, the fact that the Palestinians had the temerity to take such action, in violation of international commitments they have made, in abdication of their responsibility to negotiate all final matters of the disposition of the West Bank territories in good faith with the State of Israel, is an indication of how woefully removed is the world from any sort of balanced perspective on the Middle East conflict. 

Blame for this atrocious mess can be meted out to many, but let’s start with the United States itself.

It is true that the U.S. worked tirelessly to defeat the U.N resolution and was able to bring both Nigeria (which has traditionally voted against Israel on the Security Council) and Rwanda into abstention on the vote, ultimately defeating the measure on December 31st.   But that does not excuse its own conduct over the past 25 years in paying the PLO and its political embodiment, the Palestinian Authority, the virtual recognition of a sovereign state – a designation it has not earned and whose continued stature as a respected political institution only gives it more leverage to destroy what is left of the peace process.


It should never be forgotten that the Palestinian Authority was a creature of the Oslo Peace Process; it was formed from the bones of  the PLO – a terrorist organization – to provide a trustworthy face of Palestinian intentions to the world – one in which its leader, Yasser Arafat, a life long terrorist, would be transformed into a statesman. The idea was that if Arafat were given this badge of respectability he would take his statesmanship role seriously and would forswear violence for the sake of negotiation.  If it worked in Ireland, then why not in the Middle East?

It was the first mistake. Arafat never lived up to any of his commitments and then turned a blind eye to terrorism from within his own ranks.  Then in the year 2000, when he walked out of the Camp David peace talks between himself and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, he decided to renounce statesmanship altogether in a return to terrorism.  For four years he led a hopeless insurrection against the Israelis, which ended with thousands of Palestinians either dead or injured and with himself a virtual prisoner in his Ramallah compound.   All the while he insisted that he had no control over the insurrection that he had masterminded and ruthlessly directed.

Almost all of this was known to the presidents, secretaries of state and associated political leaders in the George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.  Yet Clinton entertained Arafat as his guest at the White House for seven years a record 18 times, according him the status of a Head of State. Arafat took the dignity that this lent him to the bank – winning the open arms and financial support of the Europeans and many African and Asian nations.

George W. Bush, succeeding to office in 2001, wisely determined that nothing good could come from dealing with Arafat and refused to even meet with him – in the White House or anywhere else.

However, following Arafat’s death in November 2004, the new Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas became a regular visitor to the White House.  Bush now referred to him in official communications as “President” instead of “Chairman,” as was done with Arafat.  Abbas visited the White House while receiving the honor of a head of state on six different occasions.

But Bush went further in his second term. He allowed his Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, to begin extensive discussions with Abbas, as the Administration developed an increasingly impatient attitude with the Israelis and an increasingly acquiescent one with the Palestinians. Nothing was done to condemn Abbas’ continued violations of the PLO’s commitment under the Oslo Accords.

The Obama Administration has outdone both of the previous administrations in its obsequious coddling of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian mafia.  Its heavy-handed approach to Israel, while requiring nothing of the Palestinians in terms of compromise or fulfillment of prior obligations, has been a mark of shame for the administration. Repeated condemnations of Israeli building policy while failing to recognize that Abbas will not even concede a very basic proposition upon which successful negotiations hang  – the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – has led to an entirely lopsided Middle East policy that has leaned heavily on Israel and left the Palestinians alone to do as they wished.  This, once again, only served to undeservedly enhance the stature of the Palestinians and has emboldened them to take measures and advance policies that are entirely at odds with American positions.

The Palestinians' second drive for U.N. recognition has failed but that does not mean that the Palestinians are likely to be drawn back into the orbit of the United States. To the contrary, the day on which the resolution failed, the Palestinians announced that they had signed the International Criminal Court's founding document, the first step in joining it - which would bring the Palestinians within the court’s jurisdiction and open up Israeli political and military leaders to possible indictment under international law.  Once again the Obama Administration will need to use its leverage to defeat this outrageous violation of previous Palestinian commitments.

But will it apply any real muscle?

The State Department on Wednesday condemned the Palestinian Authority for signing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, claiming that it was “deeply troubled” and that the Palestinian move was “counterproductive” and that it “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

When is that ‘deeply troubled ‘sentiment going to translate into real consequences for the Palestinians?  When is the Obama Administration going to realize that the United States has raised a wayward child which has now turned against its parent and that funding it and providing it diplomatic cover is tantamount to enablement?  It should be recognized that Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is no different in character from Arafat’s version of the same entity and has transformed into just another rogue regime, opposed to the United States and U.S. national interests.

Mahmoud Abbas has led the U.S. in a clever dance for a decade, feigning interest in an accommodation with Israel while refusing to engage in serious negotiations.  It is time for the U.S. to make the Palestinians recognize that there is a price to be paid for defying their benefactors. Close the PLO offices in Washington D.C.; make future diplomatic recognition of the Palestinian Authority dependent on compliance with its internationally sanctioned agreements; tie all future funding to a proper accounting of Palestinian Authority finances and stop receiving Mahmoud Abbas in Washington D.C. as if he is a head of State, rather than the thieving, tin pot autocrat we know him to be.

These measures will give the Palestinian leaders the jolt they deserve and go some way to bringing them into line with U.S. policy and U.S. national interests.

Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of the Intermediate Zone