Mahmoud Abbas. 'Once the dust of the kidnapping settles, Israel must bolster him'
Reports from the "Palestinian street" paint a grim picture: Small children and beautiful young women have turned the three-finger salute into the new flag. Occasionally there are also voices against the kidnapping, but they get swallowed by the voices of support.
The Palestinian street, sadly, looked for pride, and Hamas delivered the goods. On the day Hamas gains control, some of those holding up the three fingers will become the victims of the horror regime. But what does it matter, as long as one can flaunt.
The Palestinian leadership is usually dragged into the most radical street atmosphere. It's not that there aren't other voices. But the street, as a street, produces strident voices.
Israelis vs. Palestinians
Op-ed: Other states would have turned Abbas' wife into bargaining chip until kidnapped citizens' return.
It happens on the Israeli side too. There are dangerous states of mind. But on the Israeli side at the crucial hour we had leaders like David Ben-Gurion, who knew how to say that "it's not important what the nation wants, but what the nation needs."
It is precisely against this backdrop that every decent person should take his hat off to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He stood before one of the most hostile forums to Israel – the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – and spoke against terror and against the kidnapping in a way no Palestinian leader had ever spoken before.
On the one side stood Hanin Zoabi, who cordially welcomes terror. On the other hand stood the most senior Palestinian leader, who defined terror as every person – both Muslim and non-Muslim – should have defined it. With no understanding. With no justification. With no forgiveness.
Everything the IDF does against terror is more than justified. Whoever fails to destroy the Hamas infrastructure now, will get the Jihad with compound interest later on. The Iraqi army with its hundreds of thousands of soldiers failed to defeat a fanatic group of several thousand which received the support of the Sunni population.
A smaller-scale incident took place in 2007 in the Gaza Strip. An extension of the Jihad, Hamas, managed to defeat an organized and much more equipped group of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. It could happen again.
Abbas understands that. He is not our collaborator. He is not Israel's PR messenger. On the contrary. But in one speech he turned himself into a leader. He did not give in to the street, did not turn in the direction which would have granted him loud applause. He did not even take the direction apparent among some of Israel's journalists: He did not see it fit to explain and justify and tell the world about the kidnappers' misery.
He took the tough and bold direction and made it clear that the kidnappers are the Palestinian people's disaster.
One can shower the Palestinian Authority and its chairman with 1,001 complaints, which are usually justified. Abbas continues to fund the prisoners in jail, thereby encouraging terror. The incitement in the Palestinian media continues under his rule. He did not show any flexibility in the negotiations and turned down US Secretary of State John Kerry's proposals, just like he rejected former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposals in the past.
And despite all that, in the past few years he has proved that he is not a puppet. He hasn’t only spoken out against violence, but has also acted against it.
So while the battle against Hamas is completely justified, we must reach out to Abbas. He passed a test which not many leaders pass: He did not use flattery in English and incite in Arabic. He said clear and courageous things in Arabic.
The Palestinians have a leader. Israel has a partner. Once the dust of the kidnapping settles, we must bolster him.