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Since 1993 when Yasser Arafat committed to the PLO “to a peaceful resolution of the conflict” with Israel —announcing that he renounced “the use of terrorism and other acts of violence” at the beginning of the Oslo peace process— the Palestinian Authority established in the Oslo Agreement is described by many Israeli and American journalists and politicians as Israel’s Palestinian peace partner.
Since its establishment, the Palestinian Authority has been controlled by Fatah, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement founded in 1959 and responsible for the largest list of terrorist attacks against Israel. And while Oslo did open an opportunity for peace, that opportunity disappeared between 2000, when Fatah’s terrorism peaked in the Second Intifada with a wave of suicide bombings and drive-by shootings amid widespread violent protests, and 2006 when Hamas seized power in Gaza and started a Palestinian civil war. That was when the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades grew in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an unofficial terrorist militia under cover of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority.
Since the beginning of this year, we see a new increase in terrorist attacks against Israelis perpetrated by Palestinian Authority-related groups. Abbas’ PA protects and sustains terrorist groups led by Fatah members with resources donated by Europe and the US for other purposes. Despite relying on Israeli intelligence to avoid being wiped out by Hamas, Fatah advances actions and rhetoric that are not much different from those of Hamas and other terrorist groups that call for Israel’s extermination.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other armed groups close to Fatah claim responsibility for their attacks while Abbas and his senior officials incite Palestinians against Israel and glorify fallen terrorists. In March, Dia Hamarsheh, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, murdered five Israeli civilians in Bnei Brak and Ra’ad Hazem, a member of a Fatah-affiliated group, murdered three Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other Fatah-affiliated groups continue to launch terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers in the West Bank. On September 23, the Brigades issued a poster mourning the “martyrdom” of “hero” Muhammad Abu Juma’a, an ordinary Palestinian who attempted to stab two Israelis to death, seriously wounding them before coming under fire from an on-duty policeman.
On Twitter, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades this month extolled “martyrs” Ahmed Ayman Abed and Abd al-Rahman Abed, who shot and killed an Israeli Army officer in the West Bank. Abed served as an officer in the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Military Intelligence Force.
Between Abbas’ two-faced talk and Hamas’ zealotry, what the Palestinians have are two lousy governments, the worst being Hamas’ in Gaza, but Fatah’s in the West Bank is only slightly less bad. Both Palestinian governments are corrupt, violent, and authoritarian, and are engaged in a war with each other as they compete to encourage terrorism against Israel and glorify fallen terrorists.
In fact, the increasing involvement of Fatah members in terrorism is the natural result of the rhetoric of Abbas, whose “peace” speech to the international community justifies terrorism by distorting Israeli military actions that combat it, while at home he competes in inflammatory rhetoric with Hamas and refuses to curb or even denounce terrorism.
Both Fatah and Hamas are authoritarian and corrupt rulers who impoverish and sacrifice the Palestinian population while maintaining power through persecuting, torturing, and crushing the opposition under the cloak of fighting Israel. So what the Biden administration’s efforts to create a Fatah-ruled Palestinian state might achieve is another failed, corrupt and terrorist-compromised state that Hamas will have a good chance of eventually taking over, one way or another.
Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros