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ZOA & Former Knesset Defense Chairman Criticize Israeli Decision To Transfer Arms To PA Chief Abbas

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, the former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, have criticized the decision of the Israeli government of Ehud Olmert to transfer weaponry and ammunition to the presidential guard of Palestinian Authority (PA) chief, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). According to a report in Israel’s Hebrew daily, Haaretz, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz decided yesterday to approve the transfer to in order to bolster Abbas’ in his conflict with Hamas and other anti-Abbas factions. A similar proposal to transfer arms to Abbas was previously considered but not approved by Peretz’s predecessor, Shaul Mofaz (Haaretz, May 25).

Yuval Steinitz described the move as a “wretched” decision. “Whoever transfers weapons to the PA gives legitimacy to the world to transfer money to the PA … What Abu Mazen is missing is not weapons, but determination and will for a war against terrorism” (Haaretz, May 26).

Abbas is not a man who has shown any serious interest in peace with Israel thereby deserving any help. As former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Jewish leaders in a meeting at Blair House in Washington D. C., on April 13, 2005, Mahmoud Abbas is “not a friend of the Jewish presence in Israel; remember Abbas caused thousands of casualties of innocent Jews when he worked with Arafat; he hasn’t arrested terrorists, stopped the arms smuggling or bomb factories. I must tell you that even the PA itself smuggles weapons. No serious steps have been taken by Mazen and we can’t get to the Roadmap plan until the PA fully implements its obligations.”

The Israeli decision comes despite the fact that, during a television interview this week, Abbas twice referred to Palestinian terrorists serving “tens of life sentences” in Israeli jails as “our jailed heroes.” (PA TV, May 23, 2006, translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch, May 25). Abbas has often praised Palestinian terrorists. Other examples:

* After Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza: “No one can underestimate the role played by martyrs Yasser Arafat, Ahmad Yasin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi and [slain Islamic Jihad leader] Fathi Shikaki, as well as all the martyrs.” (Palestinian Media Center, September 9, 2005).
* Terrorists wanted by Israel are “heroes fighting for freedom” (The Age (Melbourne), January 3, 2005).

Abbas has also never condemned terrorism against Israelis as a moral obscenity and crime to be condemned, but as merely poorly timed or a public relations problem for Palestinians. Examples:

* After a suicide bombing in Hadera kills 5 Israelis: It “harms the Palestinian interests” ( New York Times, October 26, 2005)
* After Palestinian terrorist fire rockets into Israel from Gaza: “I say to them, this is not the time for this kind of attack” ( Washington Times, January 3, 2005)

The words and deeds of Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah (Conquest) party:

* Mahmoud Abbas co-founded the terrorist Fatah party with Yasser Arafat and was Arafat’s deputy for 40 years.
* Fatah’s existing Charter – which Abbas has never rescinded – calls for the ‘Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence’ (Article 12), and says that ‘Armed struggle [i.e., terrorism] is a strategy and not a tactic’ (Article 19).
* From September 2000, when the wave of Palestinian terrorism began, until December 2005, Fatah terrorists killed 405 Israelis, as against 442 killed by Hamas in the same period.
* Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades endorsed Iranian call for Israel to be “wiped off the map”: “We affirm our support and backing for the positions of the Iranian president toward the Zionist state which, by God’s will, will cease to exist” (Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2005).
* Mahmoud Abbas was a mastermind of the Munich and Maalot massacres, where three dozen Jews were murdered, including children.
* Mahmoud Abbas wrote a PhD thesis and then a book denying the Holocaust entitled, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement.
* Abbas has refused to fulfill PA obligations to combat and Palestinian terrorist groups, saying that this is a “red line” that must not be crossed (Washington Times, January 3, 2005).
* Abbas’ view of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups: “We have a common political agenda” ( The Daily Star (Beirut), December 9, 2004). In a joint statement, Abbas and other Palestinian terrorist leaders stated, “There are no differences over the objectives” (Jerusalem Post, December 10, 2004).
* Abbas supports the so-called ‘right of return’, whereby Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants would flood Israel: “We promise you (Arafat) that our heart will not rest until we achieve the right of return” (Israelinsider.com, November 23, 2004)
* Abbas’ view of Israel: The “Zionist enemy” (CNN.com, January 7, 2005)
* Abbas approved a new law under which the families of Palestinian terrorists are to receive $250 per month (Arutz 7, December 11, 2005)

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The question needs to be asked: why is Israel protecting and bolstering Mahmoud Abbas? This decision to hand over arms and ammunition to Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential guard is a mistake, for at least three reasons. First, Israel might say that it is giving these arms to bolster and protect Abbas, but what is to prevent these same Fatah gunmen from turning their guns on Israeli civilians as well, as they have done and continue to do?

“Second, Israel should be waging a strong and consistent campaign to prevent international funding of the Hamas/PA regime. Abbas is president of the PA, yet Israel is now actually going to give him arms and ammunition. How does Israel seriously expect others to withhold funds from the PA when Israel itself hands over weaponry and ammunition to Abbas? By doing this, Israel is simply cutting the ground from under its own feet.

“Third, since succeeding Yasser Arafat, Abbas has not only failed to fulfill Palestinian obligations under previous signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to fight terrorism and end the incitement to hatred and murder in Palestinian society that feeds it, but his Fatah movement have been as actively engaged as Hamas in the Palestinian terrorist campaign, killing nearly as many Israeli men, women and children as Hamas. We urge the Olmert government to urgently reconsider this profoundly mistaken decision.”

* * *

The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver

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