It’s outrageous that a terrorist leader who murdered an Israeli cabinet minister will be competing in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections. But this disturbing development is just the latest in a longstanding pattern of the Palestinian Authority treating terrorist groups as its partners and brothers-in-arms.
The candidate is Ahmad Sa’adat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). He is presently serving a life sentence for murdering Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.
The PFLP is the second largest faction in the Palestinian Authority and its parent body, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It has been part of the PLO since the PLO’s founding, in 1964. Over the years, the PFLP has perpetrated countless heinous terrorist attacks, including hijackings of airplanes.
One of the most notorious took place on August 11, 1976, when two PFLP terrorists threw hand grenades and sprayed machine-gun fire at passengers in the El Al terminal at the Istanbul airport. One of the four people they murdered was 29-year-old Harold Rosenthal of Philadelphia, a member of the staff of U.S. Senator Jacob Javits. Previously, Rosenthal had served on the staff of Sen. Walter Mondale.
Rosenthal was one of the nearly 150 Americans who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the 1960s, some of them by the PFLP. To this day, the PFLP is on the official U.S. list of terrorist groups. But for some reason, that hasn’t stopped the Biden administration from planning to resume U.S. financial assistance to the PA – even though the PFLP remains the PA’s second largest faction.
The PLO was required by the 1993 Oslo accords to act against terror groups, But PLO-PA chairman Yasir Arafat never took action against the PFLP, and neither has his successor, Mahmoud Abbas. He hasn’t expelled the PFLP from the PLO-PA. He hasn’t outlawed the PFLP. He never sent the PA security forces to confiscate their weapons or shut down their safe houses.
If Abbas and the PA were serious about opposing terrorism, they would have acted against the PFLP. Instead, they have treated the PFLP terrorists as members in good standing of the PA and the PLO, and even permitted them to compete in the few elections that have been held under the PA.
The last time elections were held for the PA’s legislative body – the Palestinian Legislative Council – was in 2005. The PFLP announced that it would run as the “Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa List.” Mustafa was Ahmad Sa’adat’s predecessor as general-secretary of the PFLP and was responsible for numerous murders.
The Palestinian Central Elections Commission approved the participation of the Mustafa List in that year’s race despite the fact that the PFLP is an unabashed terrorist organization. The Mustafa-PFLP group won three seats in that 2005 election. They took their seats in Mahmoud Abbas’s putative parliament alongside all the other terrorists and terrorist-supporters who make up that body, and for which Sa’adat is now running.
One of the three elected PFLP legislators, Khalida Jarrar, was simultaneously involved in terrorist activities, it turned out. Big surprise.
When local elections were held in the PA-occupied parts of Judea-Samaria in 2012 and 2017, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission again had no problem approving the PFLP’s involvement.
In 2012, it ran in some areas as the PFLP and in others as part of various local alliances, and won seats in various town councils. In 2017, it ended up suspending its campaign as a result of intra-Palestinian disputes – not because the authorities had any problem with having terrorists in their elections.
The PA’s coddling, aiding, and abetting of the PFLP is significant on many levels. It violates the Oslo accords. It should disqualify the PA from U.S. aid. And it represents a direct danger to Israel. But most of all, the PA’s relationship with the PFLP – symbolized by the grotesque example of a murderer of an Israeli cabinet minister competing in the PA elections – is important because it reveals the PA’s true colors. The PA is a terrorist regime, and it should be treated as such.