by Ari Lieberman
Palestinian breach of legally binding accord puts to rest an agreement that was DOA.
Reports are emerging that the Palestinian Authority’s unelected “president” Mahmoud Abbas will soon announce the nullification of all past agreements with Israel, including the infamous 1993 Oslo Accords. Abbas will then declare “Palestine” to be a state under “occupation.”
The architect of this new approach is none other than Saeb Erekat, a senior figure in Abbas’s inner circle and one of the PA’s primary rejectionist figures. It was Erekat who was the driving force behind Abbas’s September 2014 decision to seek admission into various UN and international bodies including the International Criminal Court.
Erekat has long been a behind-the-scenes troublemaker for Israel. He is also an unrepentant liar and fabricator. During last summer’s Operation Defensive Edge, Erekat outrageously claimed that 12,000 Palestinians (nearly all civilians of course) were killed. The actual figure is more like 2,000, at least half of whom were combatants. Shortly thereafter, he charged the Jewish State with burning mosques and churches and compared Israel’s prime minister to ISIS. In 2002, he accused Israel of committing a “massacre” in Jenin even though the allegation was soundly debunked by a UN fact-finding commission that was actually hostile to Israel.
Abbas’s September 2014 decision to implement various diplomatic undertakings on a unilateral basis at Erekat’s behest represented a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords, which specifically prohibited such actions. In fact, the PA has never really abided by any of its signed agreements.
Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the PA has systematically breached every one of its substantive provisions. Other subsequent understandings, meant to solidify the shaky Oslo Accords such as the 1995 Taba Agreement, the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 1999 Sharm el Sheikh Agreement, were similarly discarded by the Palestinians.
In fact, when Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, peace was the farthest thing from his mind as evidenced by a secret recording of what Arafat thought was an off-the-record talk in a Johannesburg mosque. On May 10, 1994 less than a year after signing the Oslo Accords, Arafat compared his agreement with Israel to one signed by Muhammad with the Quraysh in Mecca. That 7th century treaty was later abrogated by Muhammad after his forces secured military parity with their adversary. The Quraysh were slaughtered and those who survived were enslaved and their property expropriated – ISIS style.
Arafat cynically exploited the Oslo Accords to advance his pernicious agenda and utilized Muhammad’s 7th century political machinations as a model for his own dealings with Israel and the West. He instantly went to work subverting the accords in incremental fashion.
For example, the accords specified that the PLO was to have a force no larger than 9,000 troops and its weapons were limited to automatic rifles. However, the force soon swelled to 30,000 and then 50,000. PLO officials, including Arafat, took advantage of their VIP status to smuggle weapons outlawed under Oslo, such as Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft guns.
The Oslo Accords were effectively terminated on a de facto basis once Arafat unleashed his Al-Aqsa intifada, also known as the Oslo War, in September 2000. Contrary to common belief, the outbreak of hostilities was not a spontaneous display of Palestinian discontent but was rather a preplanned affair prepared in meticulous fashion by Arafat and his lieutenants. Arafat erroneously believed that terror would force Israel’s hand but his nefarious plan backfired miserably rendering him an untrustworthy, political leper.
Arafat was succeeded by Mahmoud Abbas, a man who has unjustifiably been labeled a “moderate” by some Western media outlets and government officials. Abbas and Arafat share the same vision of dismantling Israel through a staged process, sardonically known as the “salami slices” approach.
This approach calls for the dismantling of Israel piecemeal though a combination of diplomatic pressure aimed at securing territorial concessions, boycotts, propaganda and terrorism or “armed struggle” in Palestinian lexicon. Any doubts about Abbas’s intent were put to rest in 2013 when the PA’s Religious Endowments Minister, Mahmoud al-Habbash, issued a religious sermon in which he echoed the same malevolent sentiments expressed by Arafat in that Johannesburg mosque. Seated in the front row during that sermon was none other than Mahmoud Abbas.
We now come full circle with Abbas on the verge of formally renouncing the Oslo Accords. The renunciation however, is merely a formality since the Palestinians have not abided by the accords in either letter or spirit from day one.
The PA in recent years has somewhat perversely become the darling of the EU and the Obama administration. As a consequence, they’ve acted brashly and brazenly by dismissing Israeli overtures and violating treaties. They are guided by the belief that they possess the diplomatic upper hand and can do no wrong in the eyes of the West. To some extent, that assessment is accurate, but the Palestinians are overlooking two main factors. First, regardless of the prevailing diplomatic winds, Israel will not be cowed into submission. The Israelis are cognizant of the ever-increasing dangers around them, and given the choice between an EU-Obama tongue lashing and suicide, the Israelis will choose the former. Second, as Arafat bitterly learned in 2000, there’s a limit to the West’s naiveté and indulgence. Abbas may be seriously overplaying his hand with his latest diplomatic chicanery and it may very well backfire on him and cost him whatever diplomatic capital he’s gained over the years. Moreover, the United States Congress will not sit idly by in the face of such a transgression.
The late Israeli statesman Abba Eban astutely noted that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. That is an accurate observation. They have repeatedly rejected generous Israeli offers once thought unfathomable. Their formal renunciation of internationally recognized legal agreements will put a nail in the coffin of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation once and for all. To Eban’s insightful observation I would simply add that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
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