It’s Time to Cut Off Financial Support for Mahmoud Abbas

Dec. 15 2017

In response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the president of the Palestinian Authority has declared that he no longer consents to Washington playing a role in the peace process. Kevin Williamson argues that America should take him up on this offer:

If President Abbas desires to end diplomatic relations with the United States, the United States should think seriously about obliging him. . . .

[T]he Palestinian cause has in no small part devolved from an instrument of civilizational conflict to an instrument of ordinary grift, a phony jihad used to fortify the alliance between fanatics and financial interests that is the default model of government throughout much of the Muslim Middle East. To keep this particular grift going, it is necessary that there be no settlement between Israel and the Palestinians and no meaningful progress toward it. That means that every little step toward resolution must be met with murder and terrorism—terrorism is in fact the main Palestinian mode of negotiation. . . .

[In addition to the support it provides directly], United States is a very large contributor to UNRWA, the relief agency for Palestinian “refugees.” (There aren’t many Palestinian refugees, really, but, unlike the rest of the world’s peoples, Palestinians inherit refugee status.) The United States is also a large contributor to other UN programs and international organizations that provide aid to the Palestinians, who, thanks to their incompetent and malevolent leadership, have no real economy to speak of. In 2016, the United States gave more in aid to the Palestinians than any other country did. It is time to rethink that.

UNRWA is a troubled and troubling organization on its best day, an encourager and enabler of Palestinian radicalism. The prospects for peace probably would improve if it were dissolved. But, short of that, the United States should consider accommodating President Abbas’s demand and stepping away from the situation for a while, taking our aid money with us. If President Abbas must have his obstinacy and his cheap theatrics, then let him pay the full price for them.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians, U.S. Foreign policy

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat