Amid all the hubbub over the latest wave of Palestinian Arab rocket attacks against Israel, one extremely important part of the story passed almost unnoticed. I call it Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s dirty little secret.
A news brief carried by one of the wire services reported that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced that it has “expanded its rockets’ range beyond Gaza border communities.”
The significance of the news, as presented by the media, was that a terrorist faction was boasting of new rocket ranges that could intensify the conflict. But the real significance is the fact that the PFLP is being coddled by “moderate” Palestinian leaders, even as it continues to play an active role in the terrorist war against Israel.
Remember: The entire premise of the Oslo accords and the various “peace processes” that followed was that the Palestinian Arab leadership, headed by Yasser Arafat and his deputy, Mahmoud Abbas, had sincerely given up terrorism and the goal of destroying Israel.
Arafat and Abbas claimed that they had become “moderate,” and that the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority—which Arafat led, and which Abbas now leads—were committed to peace. The PLO consists of 10 individual factions. The largest, headed by Abbas, is Fatah. The second largest is the PFLP.
Since joining the PLO at its inception in 1967, the PFLP has perpetrated numerous heinous terrorist attacks, including hijackings of airplanes and the murder of an Israeli cabinet minister. That was all supposed to have come to an end when the PLO claimed to give up terrorism at the Oslo signing in September 1993.
Except that the PFLP never gave up terrorism. It’s just that nobody talks about it.
The U.S. government knows that. That’s why the PFLP remains on the official U.S. list of terrorist groups to this day, even after other PLO member-factions were removed from that list. Former President Bill Clinton didn’t take the PFLP off that list. Neither did George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Neither has Donald Trump.
But how could it be otherwise, when the PFLP’s post-Oslo résumé includes such atrocities as the synagogue massacre of five rabbis (four died at the scene, and one died 11 months later from head injuries) and an Israeli Druze police officer in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood five years ago this week?
Despite that massacre and other outrages, Abbas has never taken any action against the group. He never expelled the PFLP from the PLO. He never outlawed the PFLP. He never sent his security forces to confiscate their weapons or shut down their safe houses. He has knowingly tolerated the terrorists of the PFLP.
And so, the PFLP has continued to grow—to the point that it even took part in the latest rocket terrorism against Israel.
Which is why American advocates of the Palestinian cause, such as J Street, never mention the PFLP. Because calling attention to it means acknowledging that Abbas aides and abets them. And that would make it much harder to convince people that Abbas (now in the 14th year of a four-year term as president) should be given a fully sovereign state in Israel’s backyard.
Understandably, Abbas is hoping that the rest of us won’t notice the terrorists who are operating under the umbrella of his PLO.
American Jewish and Zionist groups should be making the PFLP problem a major issue. They should be confronting our elected officials, educating the public and speaking out in every possible forum about the shocking fact that Israel’s so-called “peace partner” is actually a partner of terrorists.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism,” now available on Kindle.