An analysis of the Palestinian arena points to a terminal split and dead end. The Palestinian Authority has chosen now, of all times, to reject American aid money, while Hamas openly scoffed at Qatar’s humanitarian aid yet immediately accepted it through the back door.
Throughout history, the PLO’s terrorist tentacles—and the Palestinian sumud (“steadfastness”) at its core—have been funded by Arab countries and the West, in a lethal brew of fear-mongering and anti-Semitism. Many of the countries were essentially paying “protection money,” either willingly or through blackmail, to help resolve the “Palestinian problem” and out of concern that the PLO would do them harm. Other countries used the organization as an “attack dog,” a proxy to pursue their interests.
At the same time, Palestinian terror was used against us as a “bonus” to leverage the PLO’s main existence as a corrupt, parasitic and profitable economic entity (similar to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA). The reality, however, has changed. Now the Western coalition is fighting alongside the Arabs against Islamic terror. But everyone remembers that the Palestinian (and their Muslim Brotherhood) architects of terror are in essence the “mentors” for these radical Islamist terrorist groups currently perceived as a global disease.
In the meantime, the Palestinian issue has been marginalized and is threatening to “burn the house down,” as the world is focused on the threat posed by Iran and its proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. As Israel’s relations with the Arabs gradually improve, the Palestinians are realizing—helped by American aid cuts to UNRWA’s budget—that the fictitious narrative of Palestinian refugeehood is dissipating.
While Israel is viewed as a vital component in the regional alliance against terror, the Palestinian Authority is still confined in a straitjacket, drumming on about “refugees” returning to Israel in a flood and that Jerusalem—the reason for Zionism—will become their capital through international pressure.
How, then, can Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas—who orchestrates this terror, collects the protection money and whose existence depends on donor states—dare to reject American aid money earmarked for the security apparatuses assisted by Israel to keep him in power?
The millionaire Abbas and his brazen rejection of American money stems from Hamas’s accusations that he is an Israeli collaborator (which is true), and from the American demand that the P.A. expose itself to lawsuits by victims of terror. No crime syndicate would concede to having its extortion money return to its victims. Abbas is struggling to internalize that without this collaboration with Israel, Hamas would devour his government and the assets he has amassed through corruption, very similar to the situation in Gaza.
In global marketing terms, it isn’t easy to sell a false story about an “imaginary country for a divided nation” whose people kill one another. According to the Arab allegory, “the Gazans are in one ditch, and the residents of Judea and Samaria are in another.” No magic wand can unite the hostile tribes in Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. Even their murderous hatred of the Jews isn’t enough.
Now Abbas is preparing to hold separatist elections in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The Palestinians, it seems, have never earned a shekel that wasn’t “protection money.” Therefore, in light of the current geopolitical conditions and dwindling “donations,” the P.A. will become a demilitarized Palestinian-Jordanian autonomous enclave in Judea and Samaria.
In Gaza, Hamas’s situation is getting worse. The organization is scrounging money through cash-filled suitcases and smuggling from Turkey and Iran, and from its fundraising operatives in Africa and Malaysia; but the people are hungry, crippled and exhausted. Hamas is still pursuing its self-declared goal of exterminating each and every Jew “hiding behind every rock and tree;” but in Gaza the only thing to be found behind the rocks and trees are unemployment, illness, drugs and despair.
Amid the claims and denigrations against Hamas by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it, too, has collaborated to sell out the resistance against Israel of some fuel and dollars, Hamas publicly rejected Qatar’s cash assistance. In actuality, the money is reaching its pockets with certain conditions attached—and Israel’s agreements—through a circuitous and “humanitarian” path via banks and U.N. clerks in Gaza (who are Hamas activists anyway). Hence, everyone is happy: Hamas isn’t collaborating with the enemy, and Israel remains humanitarian.
The deflated and defeated Hamas, however, is trying to sell the masses a version whereby Qatar’s help is actually Israeli “protection money” in exchange for peace and quiet on the border. Gazans are satisfied for now, but Hamas is convincing itself that this is what’s actually happening. A grocer once told me that “back in the days,” he beat the hell out of a “protection” collector. According to the grocer, the man didn’t die, but no one ever came back to “collect.” This approach seems to work.
Dr. Reuven Berko was the adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem district police and a writer for Israel Hayom.