A parody is an imitation of something – a speech, song, etc. – done for comic effect in order to ridicule.
And so, what I’m going to present here is not a parody in the strict sense of the term. It is a self-parody. No need to imitate words spoken yesterday in the course of Mahmoud Abbas’s visit with President Trump. All I have to do is repeat some of the words actually spoken, which are ridiculous enough in their own right.
Two examples will suffice.
During his statement (in Arabic with translation) before his private meeting with the president, Abbas said:
“Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.” (Emphasis added)
Is there anyone who even casually follows events in this part of the world who doesn’t know that the PA culture is rife with incitement, violence, praise of terrorists, and more?
That Abbas is not embarrassed to offer this humungous distortion of truth to the president is a very stunning example of how he lies according to his perception of what fits the occasion. In other words, he misrepresents so often that he probably wouldn’t recognize the truth if it smacked him in the face.
His behavior should be noted well, for it tells us we cannot believe anything he says.
We might wonder what Trump was thinking when Abbas said this:
What in heaven’s name is he talking about?
How am I going to deal with a guy who lies this way?
We know that he didn’t buy it, because he said (emphasis added):
“…there’s such hatred, but hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long.”
The problem with this statement is that he called for
“the Palestinian leaders [to] speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate.”
What he did not say is that the Palestinian leaders themselves – who are the most culpable – have to stop inciting to violence and hate, so that he was skirting the core reality, either inadvertently or deliberately. Maybe this was a veiled warning.
What Trump was thinking is actually a matter of some importance, for it helps us assess these (self-parodying) words of his:
“It’s something [a peace agreement] that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years. We need two willing parties. We believe Israel is willing. We believe you’re willing. And if you are willing, we are going to make a deal.”
OK, then, this is what we have as a result of yesterday’s meeting:
President Trump has declared his intention to move forward to forge peace between Israel and the PLO:
“…We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It’s been a long time, but we will be working diligently – and I think there’s a very, very good chance.”
What he talked about is encouraging the parties to move ahead while he serves as “a mediator or an arbitrator or a facilitator.” He will do “whatever is necessary.”
Exactly what this vague statement means in real terms is not clear – he may not be clear in his own mind on this yet. How much will he apply pressure? What gestures will he seek? What incentives does he hope to provide? (See following for first indications.)
To Abbas he said,
“I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, security, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region.”
I pause here to note that Abbas will never, ever sign his name on a final, end of conflict deal. His people would not allow it. For it is their intention to continue to weaken Israel over time, no matter what interim deals they make towards that end.
As to incentives, already Trump is talking about financial assistance to the PA. This is unsettling. Let them merit it first.
But it is of considerable significance that Trump did NOT refer to a “two state solution.”
Abbas, of course, did speak about “two states.” And he made the usual totally unacceptable demands: a Palestinian state to the 1967 line (i.e., the 1949 armistice line) and eastern Jerusalem as the state’s capital.
“It’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land after 50 years,”
To this I reply that Israel, with legal rights in Judaea and Samaria, is not an occupier. What is more, the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs in Judaea and Samaria are under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, per Oslo.
His subsequent statement, that, “We are the only remaining people in the world that still live under occupation,” is one more enormous lie. The tactic is always to represent the poor Palestinians as suffering more than anyone else (a tactic that it is more difficult to sustain with what’s going in in Syria).
Abbas also spoke about the need to “resolve the issue of the refugees and the issue of the prisoners. According to the international law, according to the terms of international law…”
Reference here to ‘international law” is as vague as it often is – simply alluding to this is intended to confer legitimacy.
Whatever the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters (most significantly UNRWA) claim with regard to refugees, there is no “right of return,” and nothing in international law that requires Israel to accept the children and grandchildren of Arabs who fled 70 years ago.
The issue of the prisoners is a very sticky one that I will undoubtedly return to. But let it be said here that those in Israeli prisons, who have been properly tried and convicted of their crimes, are for us despised and cowardly terrorists, murderers of our innocents.
But these same people, for the Palestinian Arab population, are “heroes of the resistance against the occupation” – their boys, of whom they are proud. Every hamula – clan – has some in prison.
Abbas is in a sensitive position now because there is a prisoner hunger strike on-going, though some hundreds have called a halt (about 850 are still striking). This gambit, initiated by Marwan Barghouti, has made the prisoners even more popular in the Arab street.
Thus is this an issue on which Abbas cannot back off.
However, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the president did speak privately to Abbas about funding by the PA of terrorists in prison and their families.
If the prisoner hunger strike is a hot issue in the Palestinian street, the funding of those prisoners has become more of an issue in the US and elsewhere, with donor states decreasing the money they are willing to provide the PA.
Please see this from Palestinian Media Watch:
“If we do not do this [pay salaries to prisoners], what will be their fate? They are liable to turn to ISIS…[We] say to the donor states [whose money goes to terrorists] that your donations help the PA bring peace to the Middle East.”
PMW also cites Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein:
“Who else has elevated the cause of the Palestinian prisoners other than President Mahmoud Abbas? All the laws, the tenfold increase of the budget of the Ministry of Prisoners’ [Affairs] – [all this] was done during the tenure of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and according to the wishes of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas…”
Trump also spoke to Abbas about incitement. All of this is positive.
One final observation about Abbas here: there was a period of time during which he was attempting to promote unilateral action by securing recognition of a Palestinian state via international agencies. This has not been successful for him, which is why he again speaks about “two states.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu did respond to what happened yesterday. First, he pointed out that Abbas lied when saying their children are raised in an atmosphere of peace.
Then he said that Israel is always for genuine peace, and that looked forward to discussing with President Trump the best ways to advance peace.
Not a word about meeting with Abbas.
This then, is a situation to be watched and tracked. Much depends on what happens when the president comes here.
When next I write, I would like to look in some detail as what’s going on between the PA and Hamas right now. It has relevance for how Abbas conducts himself.