By Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute—
The Palestinians are doing their absolute utmost to ensure that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party do not win in Israel’s general election on Monday, March 2.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, seem to have endorsed the banner of Netanyahu’s political rivals in Israel: “Anyone but Bibi (Netanyahu’s nickname).” The two Palestinian groups perceive Netanyahu as a major threat to their dream of destroying Israel and as someone who has further strengthened Israel’s standing in the international arena.
In a last-minute, apparently desperate attempt to undermine the current Israeli prime minister’s chances of winning another election, the PA has launched a public relations campaign to explain to the Israeli public why they should not vote for Netanyahu.
The campaign, orchestrated personally by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, aims to scare Israeli voters by warning them that casting their ballots for Netanyahu would mean the end of the Middle East “peace process” — a euphemism for Palestinians retaking territory “from the River to the Sea ” — or, in other words, all of Israel, as set forth in the 1974 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Phased Plan, which advocates accepting any land one can and then using that as a base from which to acquire the rest.
Abbas’s latest attempt to scare the Israeli public began earlier this month, when he dispatched 20 Palestinian officials to a meeting with Israeli “peace activists” in Tel Aviv. Organized by a left-wing anti-Netanyahu group called the Israeli Peace Parliament, the meeting was held under the banner: “Two States for Two People” and “No to Annexation.” (The “annexation” refers to Netanyahu’s plan to apply Israeli law to some parts of the West Bank, particularly the Jordan Valley and several Jewish communities).
Abbas sent his officials to Tel Aviv for the meeting not to promote peace with Israel, but evidently to convince Israelis not to vote for Netanyahu. That is what one concludes by listening to the statements of the Palestinians who attended the “peace” gathering. These officials included former Palestinian cabinet ministers and parliament members, as well as senior officials of Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.
Although the meeting in Tel Aviv was also held under the banner, “Yes to Peace,” the Palestinian (and Israeli) speakers devoted most of their speeches to condemning US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for Middle East peace.
The speakers also spent much of their time bad-mouthing Netanyahu and depicting him as a “threat” to peace and stability in the region. The Palestinians who attended the meeting did not offer an alternative to the peace plan. The only “plan” they came with to Tel Aviv is one that sees Israel submit unconditionally to all of Abbas’s demands: for the present, a full Israeli withdrawal to the armistice lines of 1949, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The message the Palestinians were hoping to send to Israeli voters through the meeting seemed to be: “Vote for a candidate who will accept all of our demands and dictates, or else we, the Palestinians, will make you sorry that you didn’t.”
In yet another attempt to influence the upcoming Israeli election, Abbas ordered his so-called Palestinian Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, a group consisting of several PLO and Fatah officials and pundits, to invite prominent Israeli (Jewish) journalists to Ramallah, the present de facto Palestinian capital in the West Bank, for a tour of the city and meetings with senior Palestinian officials.
Abbas and his associates went out of their way to pamper the journalists and make sure they felt happy and comfortable in Ramallah, to a point where religiously observant journalists were even offered kosher food ordered from a nearby Jewish village.
Why did Abbas invite the journalists to Ramallah? To inform them that Palestinians want peace — and are even ready to sign a peace agreement with Israel within the next two weeks! Ready, that is, if — and only if — the Israeli government agrees to Abbas’s demands and retreats to the pre-1967 lines, where in 1949, fighting had stopped. Abbas and his officials, in short, are telling the Israelis: “Look, we have a problem here. This man, Netanyahu, will not surrender to us — and that is why you need to elect a new leader.” Continue Reading….