Palestinian Rulers Are Indifferent to Their People’s Suffering in Syria

Jan. 11 2019

In 2018, at least 82 Palestinians were tortured to death in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons; 556 have reportedly died thus in recent years. An additional 1,711 Palestinians are known to remain in Syrian custody. Yet the usual outrage from the media, politicians, and activists has not been forthcoming. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

A Palestinian who is shot by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the West Bank or Gaza Strip . . . will attract the instant ferocious attention of the international media. Many reporters prefer a story where they can point an accusatory finger at Israel than one that blames an Arab government or president. . . .

One can make excuses for the apathy of the international community toward the atrocities the Palestinians are facing in Syria. But the indifference of Palestinian leaders to the suffering of their own people is harder to justify. . . . The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank simply does not care about the Palestinians living in Syria. Palestinian leaders do not even seem to care about their people in the Gaza Strip. The PA’s President Mahmoud Abbas has imposed a series of punitive measures against the coastal territory that have further aggravated the economic crisis there. These measures include halting payment of salaries to thousands of Palestinian employees and needy families.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip care only about keeping themselves in power. Their main objective is to maintain a tight grip on the Gaza Strip and prevent Abbas and his PA from ever returning there. The 3,911 Palestinians who died in Syria in the past eight years were no more to Hamas than a blip on the radar—if that. . . .

While Palestinians were being killed and tortured in Syria, Abbas and Hamas were busy hurling insults at each other. . . . All the while, Palestinians in Syria are dying daily. Will Abbas and Hamas ever utter critical words about the Syrian leadership or any other Arabs who mistreat and murder Palestinians? Not likely. Abbas and Hamas remain silent about the suffering of their people, while the world also yawns.

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More about: Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war

 

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria