One theme repeated at a special Knesset session on Thursday - in the speech of US President George Bush, as well as those of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and others - was the rejection of appeasement and negotiations with terrorists. At the same time, Bush praised Israel's concessions for peace and envisioned a Palestinian Authority state.
"You won't ever see that happen," MK Hendel shouted towards Olmert as the two right-wing MKs left the plenum.
"No nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction," President Bush told the Knesset. He adding that "we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve... The founding charter of Hamas calls for the elimination of Israel [and] the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map."
Bush then decried negotiations with "terrorists and radicals" as "the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
On the other hand, in his speech, Prime Minister Olmert said that the visit to Israel by the US President "provided another important opportunity for us to discuss the advancement of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in accordance with your vision, Mr. President, of two states for two peoples. Your personal involvement, and the commendable efforts of the Secretary of State, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, is vital for the success of the intensive negotiations taking place between us and the Palestinians."
Knesset Members Tzvi Hendel and Uri Ariel (National Union) got up in the midst of Olmert's speech and left the Knesset hall in protest. Olmert had just said that he would have the Knesset approve an agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) for a two-state solution. "You won't ever see that happen," MK Hendel shouted towards Olmert as the two right-wing MKs left the plenum.
President Bush also reinforced the idea of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel when he detailed his vision for the Middle East 60 years from now: "Israel will be celebrating the 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved - a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror."
Fatah and the PA: Not Terrorists?
In response to the speech by President Bush, Dr. Aryeh Bachrach suggested that the US President take over his position as the spokesman for Almagor, an organization for victims of terrorism.
In a letter to the American leader, Bachrach wrote: "In your forceful declarations against being 'tolerant of terrorism' and 'not to allow its perpetrators diplomatic achievements' you were giving us a voice. With one mistake - that you did not count among the terrorist groups Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, which were and are terrorist organizations that just recently gave assistance and protection to their members to murder Israelis in various circumstances."
Along similar lines, the National President of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, wrote of Fatah head and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that he is behind the "continuing promotion of terrorism, refusal to arrest terrorists, and incitement to hatred and violence within the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps."
"Here is a clear, straightforward litmus test: Does Mahmoud Abbas support preventing terrorism and jailing terrorists? Is he opposed to terrorism? Does he regard terrorism as the enemy of the peace, to which he tells Western audiences he is dedicated? If so, he should be applauding and honoring Imad Sa'ad for doing his duty in fighting terror and assisting the Israelis in doing so, as per the PA's signed obligations under Oslo and the Roadmap. At the very least, he should be immediately releasing Imad Sa'ad from prison. In reality, he has done the opposite...." Only the intervention of Israeli groups prevented Sa'ad from being executed by the PA.
Klein concludes, "There is no sense or morality in having peace negotiations with someone who arrests or executes those who help fight terrorists."
As for the Fatah's being "killers pledged to [Israel's] destruction," thus placing them outside the realm of negotiations according to the Bush vision he articulated on Thursday, it is worthwhile recalling some earlier statements by PLO and Fatah officials.
"The Palestinian people accepted the Oslo agreements as a first step and not as a permanent arrangement,
"A legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon that Arabs have against Israel." - from the official Fatah website
based on the premise that the war and struggle on the ground [i.e., locally against Israeli territory] is more efficient than a struggle from a distant land... for the Palestinian people will continue the revolution until they achieve the goals of the '65 revolution..." (Palestinian Authority Minister of Supply Abd El-Aziz Shahian quoted in Al-Ayaam newspaper, May 30, 2000.) [The "'65 Revolution" marks the first attack by the PLO, a year after its founding and prior to Israel's conquest of Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1967, and the publication of the Palestinian Covenant that calls for the destruction of Israel via armed struggle. - ed.]
"When we picked up the gun in '65 and the modern Palestinian Revolution began, it had a goal. This goal has not changed and it is the liberation of Palestine." (Salim Alwadia, Abu Salem, Supervisor of Political Affairs, quoted in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, January 20, 2000.)
The official website of the Fatah terrorist organization bluntly stated, "a legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon that Arabs have against Israel, the outpost of the imperialist powers." The statement was part of a January 1, 2002 manifesto marking the 37th anniversary of the founding of Fatah.
Pointedly emphasizing that the Fatah was founded in the late 1950s and carried out its first terrorist attack on Israel in 1965, the celebratory article states, "Fateh believes that the Zionist movement constitutes the biggest threat against not only the Palestinian national security but also against the security of the Arab world." Fatah recommends eliminating the threat through a combination of "the popular armed revolution" and other forms of the "revolution" at the "organizational, military, political, and diplomatic levels. The complementary nature of the different forms of revolution guarantees the continuity of the struggle until victory is achieved."