columnIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Penalizing Palestinian lawfare

In response to the P.A.-spurred UNGA resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on Israeli “occupation, settlement and annexation,” the new administration in Jerusalem is launching a counter-offensive.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech regarding the coronavirus outbreak, at the P.A. headquarters in Ramallah, May 5, 2020. Photo by Flash90.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech regarding the coronavirus outbreak, at the P.A. headquarters in Ramallah, May 5, 2020. Photo by Flash90.
Ruthie Blum. Credit: Courtesy.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, an author and award-winning columnist, is a former adviser at the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced on Friday plans to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for its latest act of lawfare aggression against the Jewish state.

The P.A. was behind the Dec. 30 United Nations General Assembly resolution urging the International Court of Justice to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory,” and investigate its maneuvers “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

“The current government will not sit idly by in the face of this war and will respond as necessary,” the PMO said in a statement, following the first meeting of the country’s 11-member security cabinet on Thursday evening, when the retaliatory measures were forged.

These moves include: the transfer of approximately 139 million shekels ($40 million) from P.A. funds to Palestinian terror victims; the offsetting of the P.A.’s “pay for slay” scheme that incentivizes and rewards “martyrs” and their families; the denial of benefits to Palestinian dignitaries; the monitoring of Palestinian NGOs engaged in hostile activity “under the guise of humanitarian work” and the imposing of a moratorium on Palestinian construction [i.e. illegal land grabs] in Area C.

Not surprisingly, the powers-that-be in Ramallah and Gaza aren’t pleased. Figures such as P.A. Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, for instance, certainly don’t want their Israeli VIP cards rescinded. Rather than trying to rectify the situation, however, they are doubling down on the very lies that elicited the above response in the first place.

Nothing novel about that, other than dread on their part, perhaps, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “full, full, right-wing” administration won’t be bullied into backtracking. Fear-inspired false bravado was equally evident early last week in a televised address on P.A. TV, delivered by Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki.

In his speech (translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute), Zaki warned the new government in Jerusalem that if it carries out its election-campaign promises, Israelis “will have to choose between two options: either leaving by way of the sea, or wading in a sea of blood.” He also lauded those whom the West refers to misleadingly as “lone wolf” terrorists—due to their lack of affiliation with any specific Jew-hating organization.

“Our children perform miracles,” he said, listing a number of young Palestinians who lost their lives in the process of targeting innocent Israelis for slaughter. “Our heroes, by themselves, without even receiving any orders, are making Israel lose sleep.”

In contrast to the insomnia-driven Jews in question, he added, “We will not be afraid of the settlers. They should think about leaving.” As an afterthought, probably for potential foreign consumption, he asserted, “We gave peace every chance. The time has come to prepare for all available options.”

It’s not clear why any member of the United Nations—or resident of the P.A., for that matter—would swallow these words without choking. In the first place, the Arabs in the disputed territories have rejected each peace overture, even when they involved heavy Israeli compromises and were brokered by pro-Palestinian politicians in Washington and Brussels.

Secondly, the idea that the P.A. hadn’t been “preparing for all available options” prior to the advent of the current Netanyahu-led coalition is not only preposterous in light of repeated past and recent attempts to eliminate Israel. The claim that the “time has come” to do so is particularly absurd, given the content of the rest of Zaki’s oratory, which accurately portrays the murderous intentions and accomplishments of Palestinian officials, regardless of their factions.

But then, talking out of both sides of their mouths is a rhetorical art form that Palestinian honchos have been perfecting for decades. Of course, they’ve been aided in this endeavor by apologists the world over who prefer to overlook or dismiss inconvenient contradictions.

Those whose dissatisfaction with the outcome of the Nov. 1 Knesset elections is reaching hysterical heights ought to be careful not to fall under this category. The irrational reaction to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount on Tuesday indicates a worrisome onset of amnesia where Palestinian ploys are concerned.

Indeed, the P.A. was using Judaism’s most sacred site (and Islam’s third holiest one), as a key weapon in its propaganda-and-incitement arsenal before Ben-Gvir was born, let alone ahead of his becoming a household name with negative connotations in certain circles. The irony is that Zaki—a proponent, like Abbas, of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat’s “plan of stages” to wipe Israel off the map—is just as aware of this as Ben-Gvir.

And the Fatah bigwig has been open about this in Arabic for many years. For example, in a 2011 interview with Al Jazeera TV (documented by Palestinian Media Watch), he explained that “Abbas understands, we understand and everyone knows that it is impossible to realize the inspiring idea or the great goal [of the destruction of the Jewish state] in one stroke. If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, uproots the settlements … removes the (security) fence, what will be with Israel? Israel will come to an end. … [which would] be great, great, but … You can’t say it to the world. You can [only] say it to yourself.”

This has been a key recurring theme in Zaki’s and boss Abbas’s careers. It’s the message conveyed in the P.A. education system, media and religious sermons—all of which glorify terrorism and encourage violent riots over the deceitful accusation of Jews “storming Al Aqsa,” the mosque on the Temple Mount, to desecrate and destroy it “with their filthy feet.”

It is, as well, the guiding principle of Palestinian efforts to erode Israel’s existence through international delegitimization and criminalization. The launch of a concrete counter-offensive is but one of many welcome policy initiatives emanating from Jerusalem.

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”

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