- The purpose of ABU MAZEN WATCH: to expose the reality of Abu Mazen’s administration. It will run as a private venture, since government agencies must contend with diplomatic constraints.
The Western world, eager to see progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, interprets the January 9 election of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as an indication of democracy in the Palestinian Authority. Already there is talk of providing additional funds for the PA, in order to make it easier for Abu Mazen to proceed. There is eagerness to push Israel to show “good faith” through gestures such as releasing terrorists convicted of murder. All of this is highly premature. International pressure to grant the PA a state, without fulfilling basic obligations on its part, will spell disaster for Israel and the region. The PA as it now stands, with Abu Mazen at its head, has not renounced the PLO goal of dismembering Israel in stages and has not established any genuine democratic institution.
ABU MAZEN WATCH will monitor the performance of Abu Mazen and draw on the appropriate intelligence experts who are fluent in Arabic.
ABU MAZEN WATCH will provide timely, brief and succinct reports to be presented by experts to staffers of the Knesset, the US Congress, the Canadian Parliament, the European Parliament and to other appropriate venues.
ABU MAZEN WATCH reports will address four criteria:
1) Terror. The terrorist infrastructure must be dismantled, and the terrorists disarmed. There is at yet absolutely no indication that Abu Mazen intends to take on this difficult but very essential task. In fact, during his campaign he made a point of saying that he would not do battle with any Palestinian and would protect gunmen from Israel. Establishment of a hudna would not be sufficient. A hudna is simply a temporary cease fire that requires no permanent laying down of arms and gives terror groups the opportunity to regroup and renew violence at will. All criticism of terror voiced by Abu Mazen has been pragmatic: he says this is not in the best interest of the Palestinian Arabs because it backfires on them and does not help them achieve their goals. Implicit in this message is the appropriateness of utilizing terror if it should be useful to them. There has been no ethical criticism of terror – no embrace of a policy of achieving goals via exclusively peaceful means. What is more, Abu Mazen has pledged to seek the release from Israeli prisons of terrorists such as Marwan Barghouti.
2) Incitement. For more than ten years now, the Palestinian Authority has inundated its people with hateful anti-Semitic messages inciting to jihad, and denying the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. This incitement – delivered to the people in Arabic via PA textbooks, newspapers, radio, sermons, and popular culture – is the single greatest indicator of PA intentions.
Textbooks must be revamped so that they recognize the legitimacy of Israel and of the Jewish connection to the land, cease promulgating anti-Semitism, and teach peace instead of “martyrdom.”
Similarly, messages that go out via a variety of PA-controlled outlets must deliver new peaceful messages.
We must remind the world that every word that is printed in PA textbooks and every word that emanates from PA media outlets is tightly controlled by Abu Mazen.
3) Freedom of speech and right to dissent. There is at yet no indication that genuine freedom of speech and the press — a primary hallmark of a true democracy — is permitted in the PA. Hundreds of Palestinians await trial for the crime of dissent. Until basic freedom of speech is possible, without fear of repercussions, it cannot be said that the PA has established a democracy.
4) Palestinian Arab refugees. A fourth generation of Arab refugees languish in UNRWA camps in areas administered by the PA continue to be utilized as political pawns by the PA as well as by UNRWA. The PA has from the beginning made it clear that the refugees would not be included in the body politic of a future state, and has been reluctant to provide assistance to the refugees, who were presumably within PA areas only temporarily: the PA fashioned itself as their “temporary host.”
Abu Mazen has focused on this theme by heavily utilizing the promise of “right of return” to 1948 villages and homes in Israel in his campaign. So long as he sustains this policy, it is clear that he intends the destruction of Israel. The “return” would eliminate Israel as a Jewish state. What is more, promoting a false and unobtainable hope in the Palestinian Arab refugees generates rage and frustration, which increases terrorist tendencies. His promotion of “right of return” is antithetical to peace.
Abu Mazen must cease and desist from his talk of “return.” The time has come for the PA to embrace Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants as part of their body politic and to provide them with permanent homes and a humanitarian solution to their plight, and to put an end to the specious premise and promise of the right to return to homes that no longer exist.
(US tax-deductible) funds for ABU MAZEN WATCH may be sent to:
Center for Near East Policy Research
PO Box 1783, Brookline ma 02446-0014