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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Radical Palestinians Vastly Outnumber Moderates

When Abbas says that a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines would lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he is ignoring the fact that a large number of Palestinians think otherwise.
Hamas supporters burn a mock coffin with pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a protest organized by Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas supporters burn a mock coffin with pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a protest organized by Hamas in Gaza.
Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/FLASH90

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When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to Ramallah and told the Palestinians that he obtained UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines — namely, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — fewer than 5,000 Palestinians, many of them civil servants who receive their salaries from the Palestinian Authority government, turned out to greet him in Ramallah.

When Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal came last week to the Gaza Strip and told Palestinians that armed struggle and jihad were the only way to liberate all Palestine, “from the river to the sea,” and that there was no room for the Zionists in Palestine because the country belonged only to Muslim and Arabs, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians showed up to welcome Mashaal and voice support for his plan to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.

Even many Palestinians in the West Bank expressed support for Mashaal, especially when he said that the Palestinians would never “give up one inch of Palestine.”

The Palestinian Authority’s official TV station in the West Bank broadcast Mashaal’s speech live, as well as Hamas celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist movement.

If anything, the widespread support for Hamas’s position is a sign of how much the Palestinians have been radicalized over the past few decades.

A Palestinian leader who talks about a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem is less popular than one who talks about “liberating Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Safed.”

When Abbas says that a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines would lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, he is ignoring the fact that a large number of Palestinians think otherwise.

The pro-Hamas rallies in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians chanted slogans in favor of liberating Palestine “from the river to the sea” and called for more rocket attacks against Israel reflect the authentic voice of the Palestinian “street.”

This is not a voice that supports Hamas so much as one that denies Israel a right to exist. The rallies were not about backing Hamas so much as they were intended to express the true and sincere feelings of many Arabs and Muslims who believe that Israel is an alien body that needs to be uprooted or exterminated.

Were Mashaal given the chance to deliver a speech in the West Bank advocating jihad and armed struggle against Israel he would have attracted tens of thousands of people.

The Palestinian Authority is well aware of the growing anti-Israel sentiments among its constituents; that is why its leaders and spokesmen did not dare utter a word against the Hamas leader when he talked about eliminating Israel.

On the contrary, instead of voicing reservations about Mashaal’s messages of hate and violence, Palestinian officials in the West Bank hailed his speech as “positive.”

Why did they find the speech positive? Simply because Mashaal talked about the need for unity between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction.

How can the Palestinian Authority, which claims it remains committed to the two-state solution, join forces with another group that is openly calling on Muslims and Arabs to wage jihad in order to destroy Israel?

As the case has always been with the Palestinian Authority, it is easier to blame Israel and the US for destroying the two-state solution rather than Hamas and other terror organizations.

This view was expressed this week by Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator, who once again held Israel and the US solely responsible for the current stalemate in the Middle East peace process.

“As regional and global shifts take place, the window of opportunity is not only closing on the two-state solution, but on the U.S.’s central involvement in the peace process,” Erekat wrote. “Punishing the Palestinians or anyone expressing support for the Palestinians, for taking peaceful diplomatic steps, is counterproductive and dangerous. The two-state solution is the best result for all concerned. The current Israeli government does not see that. It is hoped that their long-term ally, the U.S., will.”

Erekat and the rest of the Palestinian Authority leadership do not see Hamas’s ambition of destroying Israel is an obstacle to peace — nor do they see that the real threat to the two-state solution is Hamas and the unwillingness of many Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist.

Abbas, Erekat and other relatively moderate Palestinian leaders represent a dwindling minority of Palestinians that still believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel. As demonstrated by last week’s Hamas celebrations, an increased number of Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

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About the Author: Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.


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11 Responses to “Radical Palestinians Vastly Outnumber Moderates”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    This is not news. Just look at the last free election in the PA: The two (small "d") democratic lists with no connection to terrorist organizations finished fifth and sixth out of six lists, with a total of 5.1% of the vote.

  2. Eli Neuberger says:

    CH, Fayad is the Pali Adlai E Stevenson no?

  3. Rc Fowler says:

    There are no genuine Muslims who are moderate–if they are serious about their Godless religion–then they are radical as Islam is radical.

  4. Gil Gilman says:

    The man on the street already had that figured out.

  5. The true problem to peace, HAMAS!

  6. Reveals truth ,Hamas blocking any Peace!

  7. Charlie Hall says:

    There are plenty of moderate Muslims, including the author of this essay! (Why do you insult him like this?) But they are more likely to live in places like Indonesia and the United States than in the Palestinian Authority territory.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nasrallah of Hezbollah is the most popular person in the Arab world.

  9. I hope there won't need to be a 'Final Solution' to the 'Palestinians' but reading this, I really wonder if anything less will secure peace.

  10. Leslie-Ann Stoffel says:

    Brian, I'm so pleased that someone with your political leanings are willing to stand up and speak out about the truths in the Middle East.

  11. Dear Leslie, all I do is look for the truth and call things as I see 'em. Hope you're sharing my stuff around and staying 'gezint', dollink.

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