It didn’t take long for President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to be shown up as inept political leaders following the much-publicised visit by President of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Chairman of Fatah its largest faction – Mahmoud Abbas - to the home of Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz.
Their two-and-a-half hour’s meeting was Abbas’s first in Israel since meeting then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem in 2010.
Whilst Bennett privately criticized Gantz’s intention to hold the meeting and expressed resentment about the hosting of Abbas in Gantz’s home – he did nothing to prevent it occurring.
Some Ministers in Bennett’s Government were not so circumspect.
Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin said:
“I wouldn’t have invited to my home someone who pays salaries to murderers of Israelis and also wants to put senior IDF officers in prison in The Hague, including the host himself.”
Elkin was referring to Abbas’s:
- Pay for slay policy: paying monthly stipends to terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of slain terrorists killed while committing terror attacks. These annual payments now total over US$300 million – about 8% of Abbas’s budget.
- Campaign to see Israeli security officials - including Gantz — a former Israeli chief of staff — being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court as war criminals.
Israel’s Communications Minister - Yoaz Hendel – said he:
“personally wouldn’t have met” with Abbas, who “in my eyes is still a Holocaust denier and is playing a very strange double game.”
However Abbas’s visit brought this effusive response from US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price:
“The US is very pleased Defense Minister Gantz hosted PA President Abbas at his home in Israel. We hope confidence-building measures discussed will accelerate momentum to further advance freedom, security, and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike in 2022."
Abbas walked away with a bag of goodies - but Gantz got nothing in return.
Among the benefits bestowed by Gantz on Abbas were:
- A NIS 100 million loan (US$32.2 million) on tax revenues Israel collects on Abbas’s behalf.
Gantz had handed Abbas a similar NIS 500 million advance (US$160 million) last August –after meeting with Abbas in Ramallah following the formation of the current Israeli government in June 2021.
No doubt these moneys will come in very handy in maintaining Abbas’s pay for slay policy – which also runs counter to America’s Taylor Force Act which declares:
“The Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.”
- Legalizing the status of 9,500 Palestinians and foreigners living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza who are there without proper documentation.
Just three days later whilst speaking on the 57th anniversary of Fatah’s first-ever attack in Israel – the unsuccessful targeting of Israel’s National Water Carrier – Abbas did not even mention his meeting with Gantz – but delivered this blistering tirade against Israel:
“The anniversary of the launch of our revolution comes under extremely critical and difficult circumstances due to the continuation of the heinous Israeli occupation, the escalation of its repressive practices and persecution of our people, the theft of our land and natural resources, the stifling of our economy, the withholding of our tax funds, and racial discrimination,”
Abbas praised Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli jails for their “sacrifices and patience,” stressing that the Palestinian government would not abandon them or their families.
Biden and Bennett’s overtures had been rejected by Abbas - an unrepentant supporter of terrorism.
How much longer will Biden and Bennett let Abbas run rings around them before they pull the rug out from under his feet?
Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.
David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.