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The Two Faces of Mahmoud Abbas

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
July 14, 2010
New York Daily News

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"I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we're not doing that," claimed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to the White House in June.

It is unfortunate for the prospects of Middle East peace that this denial by Abbas (who is also head of the PLO and Fatah) was just plain untrue. In fact, this two-faced stance of Abbas and his cronies - proclaiming peaceful intentions to the international community while inciting their population to hatred of Israel - is one of the primary impediments to any sort of solution to the longstanding crisis.

And yet there are countless examples of pronouncements or actions by Abbas and other Palestinian leaders that suggest a glorification of violence and terrorism and undermine the belief that they seek peace. This very month, for example, Abbas publicly mourned the death of Mohammed Oudeh, mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre: "The deceased was one of the prominent leaders of the Fatah movement and lived a life filled with the struggle, devoted effort, and the enormous sacrifice of the deceased for the sake of the legitimate problem of his people."

Abbas also told Arab journalists in Amman, Jordan, that "We are unable to confront Israel militarily, and this point was discussed at the Arab League summit in March in [Libya]. There I turned to the Arab states and I said: 'If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor. But the Palestinians will not fight alone because they don't have the ability to do it.' "

Why should Israelis, or Americans for that matter, believe his commitment to peace in English, when in Arabic he treats war as an acceptable option?

 

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