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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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The Palestinian Authority’s ‘Israeli Affairs Committee’

How to win the support of the Israeli public for peace.
Why should any Israeli believe the Palestinian Authority when most Palestinians appear to be opposed to the resumption of the peace talks?

Why should any Israeli believe the Palestinian Authority when most Palestinians appear to be opposed to the resumption of the peace talks?
Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Instead of preparing Palestinians for peace with Israel, the Palestinian Authority leadership has decided to focus its efforts on winning the support of the Israeli public for a peaceful settlement based on the two-state solution.

In the context of its efforts to “convince” Israelis to accept the two-state solution, the Palestinian Authority recently established a special “Israeli Affairs Committee” with the goal of promoting the idea among the Israeli public.

The committee’s main task, in fact, is to scare Israelis that failure to accept all Palestinian demands would plunge the region into another cycle of violence and bloodshed. The Palestinian Authority is hoping that to avoid another intifada, intimidated Israelis would put pressure on their government to comply with Palestinian demands.

Over the past few weeks, in a bid to “influence” public opinion in Israel, this committee organized a series of meetings between Palestinians and Israelis, Palestinian sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

The Palestinian committee, formed by Mahmoud Abbas, includes top PLO and Fatah officials Yasser Abed Rabbo, Nabil Sha’ath, Jibril Rajoub, Hanan Ashrawi and Mohamed Madani.

Last week, the committee organized visits by Israeli parliamentarians to Ramallah, where they held talks with Abbas and other Palestinian officials to discuss prospects for peace in the Middle East.

One of the committee members explained, “Those we are meeting are the leaders of Israeli society and they will decide its fate. The Israeli public no longer knows what is happening here in the Palestinian territories.”

It is always nice, of course, to see Israelis and Palestinians meeting and talking to each other.

But instead of devoting its efforts and energies to trying to persuade the Israeli public to support peace, it would be more helpful if the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank also tried to win the backing of their own people for the peace process.

Why should any Israeli believe the Palestinian Authority when most Palestinians appear to be opposed to the resumption of the peace talks?

Abbas does not even have the backing of the PLO and Fatah leaderships for his recent decision to return to the negotiating table with Israel, and returned to the peace talks with Israel against the advice of the PLO leadership.

Instead of inviting Israeli parliamentarians to Ramallah, Abbas might have tried to persuade the PLO and Fatah to support his efforts to achieve peace with Israel.

The Israeli parliamentarians who met with Abbas in his office last week already support the two-state solution and the peace process.

But most PLO and Fatah leaders remain opposed to the resumption of the peace talks.

As Abbas was meeting with the Israeli parliamentarians, thousands of Palestinians in the streets of Gaza City were demonstrating against the peace talks and two-state solution.

These are the people with whom Abbas needs to work to change their hearts and minds. These are the people who need to be told that peace with Israel will only do good for the Palestinians.

Why should any Israeli believe Abbas when his own supporters continue to wage a campaign to combat “normalization” with Israel?

While Abbas feels free to receive Knesset members in his Ramallah office, other Palestinians continue to receive threats for talking to, or doing business with, Israelis.

What is needed is a special “Palestinian Affairs Committee” that would work toward preparing Palestinians for peace with Israel.

The committee members should be asked to go to every mosque, school and university in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to talk about peace and coexistence with Israel.

The members also need to visit every village and refugee camp to talk to as many people as possible about the importance of peace.

They should also meet with representatives of all Palestinian factions to try to win their support for the peace process.

It would also be a good idea if such a committee would ask the Palestinian Authority to “lower the tone” and stop rhetorical attacks against Israel that drive Palestinians towards more extremism.

Inciting Palestinians against Israel through the media and mosques only serves the interests of Hamas and other radical Palestinians. Moreover, the anti-Israel rhetoric eventually undermines Abbas and anyone who conducts peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority has chosen to “educate” Israelis about the significance of peace while it has done almost nothing to persuade its own people to move towards moderation and pragmatism.

If the Palestinian Authority really wants to win the support of the Israeli public for peace, it should start by showing that it is making every effort to convince Palestinians to support the peace process.

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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4 Responses to “The Palestinian Authority’s ‘Israeli Affairs Committee’”

  1. Yechiel Baum says:

    why not drop educational leaflets in Arab squatters camps to educate the small minds about the truth of their living like that and the lies their leaders tell them. No other Arab lives like that since Arab brothers take care of their own and they no the plasestinians are not who they pretend to be. As gangsters, palestinaians rob and cheat and are the Arab version of gangsters and Mafioso. You give money for their supposed poor people of which 35% goes to Christian Arafat's French wife, Abbas gets 30%, the rest of the leader divides up to 99%,
    To throw rocks, muscle strength is needed so if they can throw rocks, obviously they are being feed and are not starving to death and they lead the world to believe is their misrepresentation of truth.

  2. I have an alternative land for peace deal which I believe will produce peace. “Give me peace or I will take your land, piece by piece.”It is high time we stop talking about the west bank or Palestinian territories & refer to this land as disputed Israeli territory. We should support those who wish to develop settlements in the disputed territories. There should be no negotiations regarding a division of Jerusalem whatsoever.I might also point out that targeted assassinations of those who fire missiles at innocent civilians is hardly a proportional response. Considering the numbers of Israelis & the numbers of Israel’s enemy in the area, a proportional response to a few Israeli deaths would produce a staggering number of casualties. Israel should be applauded, not castigated, for its restraint.Until the world learns that Jewish lives are as sacred (no more, no less) than any other life in the universe, we ought to give great consideration, as nature intends for all species, to protecting ourselves. The world’s inattention to the horror that goes on in Sederot is indefensible. There is little point in appeasing those who would wipe us out in the name of justice.

  3. I have an alternative land for peace deal which I believe will produce peace. “Give me peace or I will take your land, piece by piece.”It is high time we stop talking about the west bank or Palestinian territories & refer to this land as disputed Israeli territory. We should support those who wish to develop settlements in the disputed territories. There should be no negotiations regarding a division of Jerusalem whatsoever.I might also point out that targeted assassinations of those who fire missiles at innocent civilians is hardly a proportional response. Considering the numbers of Israelis & the numbers of Israel’s enemy in the area, a proportional response to a few Israeli deaths would produce a staggering number of casualties. Israel should be applauded, not castigated, for its restraint.Until the world learns that Jewish lives are as sacred (no more, no less) than any other life in the universe, we ought to give great consideration, as nature intends for all species, to protecting ourselves. The world’s inattention to the horror that goes on in Sederot is indefensible. There is little point in appeasing those who would wipe us out in the name of justice.

  4. I am against "peace talks." Not because I don't want to see peace. But, because these negotiations will do nothing to achieve this objective. As we have already seen, the Palestinians demanded one hundred and four Palestinian terrorists to be released from prison. This costly concession is just to get the Palestinians to show up for negotiations. To make matters worse, we have the Obama administration who is clearly biased towards the Palestinians and Netanayhu who is willing to sell out his own country. The Palestinians could have had their own country long ago. But, instead of ceasing the opportunity Israel was giving them, they chose to increase violence against Israel. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian threats or Israeli weakness. The only way for there to be peace is for there to be a honest assessment of culpability. In the first phase of "peace talks," Kerry indicated that the obstacle to peace was the Israeli settlements. This is clearly not the reason for the lack of progress concerning peace. A more accurate assessment would be the fact that time and again the Palestinians have rebuffed offer after offer of concessions by Israel for the sake of peace. At the same time, I am glad that these offers were rejected. Israel needs to stop their long standing policy of making suicidal concessions. The Palestinians are not ready for peace. When they can respect Israel as an independent Jewish state and except Israel's full rights is when there will be peace, until then, Israel should continue to defend itself against Palestinian aggression, bigotry, and slander.

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