A few days before the Bahrain conference opened, U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt took to Twitter to issue this cry of alarm: “Fatah is calling for violence against Israelis as an act of protest. Despicable. Fatah seeks violence over the idea of exploring peace & prosperity for the Palestinian people.”
By now, much of the public probably has forgotten what exactly Fatah is and why its threats are significant. It’s worth a reminder.
Fatah is the majority faction in the Palestinian Authority. It is by far the largest faction of the PLO, of which the P.A. is an arm. Fatah is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the chairman of the P.A. and the PLO.
In a word, Fatah is the ruling party.
So when a Fatah spokesperson or publication says something, it’s the equivalent of an official statement by the Republican Party in the United States, the Conservatives in Great Britain or the Liberals in Canada. It’s a big deal.
Can you imagine the Republicans threatening violence to stop some conference of which they disapproved? How would the world react if the leaders of the Conservative Party in England called for “escalation of the confrontation” to halt an event it disliked? Or if Liberal leaders in Canada posted a photo of one of their followers poised to throw a rock at one of their opponents?
That’s what Fatah did. That’s what Jason Greenblatt was referring to.
Fatah Revolutionary Council Secretary Majed Al-Fatiani said Fatah’s council “is committed to leading the struggle to stop the great plot that is being woven against our people” and will use “all means available to it, in order to defeat the occupation.” Since Palestinian Arabs have for the past century been using bombs, knives, axes, machine-guns and rocks to “defeat the occupation,” we can assume that the Palestinian public understands what “all means available” means.
Al-Fatiani’s comments were published prominently in the official P.A. newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, on June 13.
On June 16, Fatah posted on its official Facebook page a large photo of a masked Palestinian about to throw a rock—that is, about to attempt to stone a Jew to death. The accompanying text urging Palestinians to undertake “An escalation of the confrontations with the Israeli occupation in all districts of the homeland as a sign of opposition to the deal of the century and the workshop in Manama [Bahrain]”
Five days later, the P.A.’s Al-Hayat Al-Jadida newspaper published another call to arms from Fatah. This time it came from Fatah Revolutionary Council member and Shabiba [Fatah Youth] Secretary-General Hassan Faraj.
He announced that “Shabiba—the backbone of the [Fatah] Movement and the spearhead of the resistance and defense of our people’s rights—has already declared a state of high alert among the ranks of its members.” He reminded the public that “Shabiba is prepared for every eventuality, and that its members who ignited the first Intifada and the Al-Aqsa Intifada are still capable of making the ground burn under the feet of the tyrants.”
Faraj added that “any participation by any Palestinian figure would be considered treason, shame and conspiracy against our people’s struggles—and our people and our Shabiba will respond to it with full force.” (Translations courtesy of the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch)
Whether the violence actually materializes remains to be seen. There are all sorts of factors that affect such developments.
But the significance of the threats is that they were made by the Palestinian Arabs’ ruling party. And they were made to prevent a conference devoted to raising tens of billions of dollars for the Palestinians!
This, once again, exposes the true nature of the challenge Israel faces if a Palestinian state is ever established: a people for whom violence is normal behavior, with armed forces and full sovereignty, stationed alongside Israel’s nine-miles-wide mid-section. Is that a risk Israel can afford to take?
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 Terror.”