By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute—
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are angry again — this time, they claim, because they have been offered billions of dollars to improve their living conditions and build a new and strong economy.
Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian Hamas terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, hinted that the offer was made by the United States. He did not, however, provide further details about the rumored offer and said that Hamas turned it down because it was conditioned on disarming terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
By refusing the ostensible offer, Hamas and its Palestinian allies are announcing — not for the first time — that thinking a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be achieved through huge investments in economic projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is misleading and false.
That wish is indeed baseless, as proven by historical fact.
After signing the Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993, the Palestinians received tens of billions of dollars from the international community, especially from the US. The money was apparently designed not only to help the Palestinians build a strong economy, but to encourage moderation and pragmatism among Palestinians, in particular toward Israel. The funds, in other words, were aimed at ensuring that the Palestinians would not join Hamas and other terrorist groups seeking Israel’s destruction.
More than 26 years after “Oslo,” Hamas, backed by Iran, and their allies, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), are far stronger, politically and militarily, than they were when the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process began. They are stronger because of the billions of dollars that the international community has lavished on the Palestinians for nearly 30 years.
Thanks to the international funding for the Palestinians, Hamas, whose charter explicitly calls for the elimination of Israel, became so powerful and influential that it even won a free and fair election in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election.
A year later, Hamas also won a military victory when its members staged a coup d’état against the Palestinian Authority which had been controlling the Gaza Strip, and violently seized control of the area.
The Palestinians were extremely happy to accept the billions of dollars from Western donors. Yet when the Palestinians headed to the ballot boxes to cast their votes in the 2006 election, they did not choose Palestinian candidates who talked about peace with Israel. Instead, the majority of the Palestinians knowingly and proudly voted for the Hamas candidates who promised them that they would never recognize Israel’s right to exist and would continue to engage in jihad (holy war) until the “liberation of all Palestine, from the river to the sea.”
Hamas’s 2006 election victory should have served as an alarm bell to Western donors that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about money or jobs or economic projects.
The donors should have understood in 2006 that their dollars and euros do nothing to shape hearts and minds, and that the only way to create a change is through education — education for peace and tolerance and not education for jihad, terrorism and anti-Israel brainwashing.
It seems impossible for Western donors to grasp that a few words from a masked terrorist or a hateful preacher in a mosque carry more weight than all their dollars and euros. At the end of the day, Palestinians will heed what the terrorist or the preacher tells (or orders) them to do, and not what Washington or Paris or Brussels or London says. Continue Reading….