Monday, December 7, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Lieberman, Berman Fail To Press Fayyad

Lieberman, Berman Fail To Press Fayyad

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jerusalem - At a recent press conference in Ramallah, Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz described how “two staunch Jewish supporters of Israel,” Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., former Democratic vice presidential candidate, and current Representative Howard Berman, D-Ca., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “nodded their encouragement” when Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad explained how he was preparing Palestinians for statehood. Mr. Fayyad outlined a Palestinian state in formation regarding security forces, the economy, and civic institutions, with an optimistic sense of what the PA is achieving.

Regrettably, Senator Lieberman and Representative Berman did not use the press conference to raise some troublesome questions, conveying the notion that all is well with Palestinian statehood plans.

Questions that Senator Lieberman, Rep. Berman or Mr. Horovitz could have asked might have centered around these issues:

Renunciation Of PLO State Of War With Israel

The charter of Fatah, the predominant element in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, to this day, continues to call for the destruction of Israel. Written in 1964, before Israel controlled the West Bank and Gaza, it uses the term “Palestine” to refer exclusively to Israel within the Green Line. The charter declares that “Liberating Palestine is a national obligation,” and that “Armed public revolution is the inevitable method” for doing so. This cannot be dismissed as an irrelevant anachronism. Last August, Fatah held its first General Congress in 20 years. Hope was held out for a charter revision, with violence officially renounced, but it never happened. Instead, Fatah continued to unambiguously embrace “armed resistance” to liberate Palestine.

Cessation Of Incitement From PA Textbooks

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education has issued six reports on new PA textbooks issued over the last eight years. Journalist and scholar Dr. Arnon Groiss, who translated these PA textbooks, has just completed an update. He writes that the new PA texts:

• Deny the historical and religious presence of Jews in Palestine.

• Fail to recognize the State of Israel.

• Demonize Jews and Israel.

• Assign blame for the conflict exclusively on Israel, totally absolving Palestinians.

• Stress the idea of a violent struggle of liberation rather than a peaceful settlement.

It is disingenuous for Mr. Fayyad to profess dedication to peace, while the PA curriculum infuses these ideas within its youngsters. Peace is impossible until the message changes. Why do visiting elected officials and journalists not hold Mr. Fayyad and the PA accountable for the new PA textbooks?

Cessation Of PA Pursuit Of Hamas As A Partner

The PA inclination to participate in a government that includes Hamas remains an “elephant in the room” that the international community, somewhat inexplicably, has chosen to ignore: Hamas is recognized by the U.S. and the European Union as a terrorist entity. Yet, in March 2007, Fatah and Hamas briefly formed a “unity government,” negotiated by Saudi Arabia via the Mecca Accord, which saw Fatah acceding to Hamas demands. It fell apart with the Hamas coup in Gaza, but, in recent months the news is awash with reports of negotiations via Egypt for a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Pursuing negotiations with Israel and Hamas at one and the same time is not acceptable. Why not ask the PA to make a choice?

Renunciation Of The “Right Of Return”

The “right of return,” promoted for 60 years by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and embraced by the PA as a non-negotiable right, remains a recipe for the destruction of Israel from within. If Mr. Fayyad and the PA are serious about peace, why not ask them to accept the principle of permanent resettlement of the refugees? The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which oversees all refugees except Palestinians, operates according to this principle. Only Palestinian refugees are not resettled, but, instead, for purely political reasons, are forced to linger in a rage-inducing state of limbo. Mr. Fayyad, in his master plan for a Palestinian state, openly states that he supports the “right of return.” Isn’t it time to ask for Senator Lieberman and Representative Berman to ask Mr. Fayyad and the PA to openly embrace the UNHCR policy and pave the way for UNRWA to adjust its mandate?

David Bedein can be reached at

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