20 June 2014

Mahmoud Abbas has made a pact with devil: kidnaps are but one outcome

From The Australian, 20/6/14, by Shmuel Ben-Shmuel*:


    Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, centre, with members of the new Palestinian unity gov
    Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, centre, with members of the new Palestinian unity government in Ramallah early this month.
    AS a parent, I’m terrified by the too-true revelations that a school- aged boy called the police in a panic to say he and his friends had been kidnapped.
    As an Israeli, I’m resigned to the reality that the abduction of 16-year-olds Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrah is just the latest evil chapter from the Hamas terror playbook.
    Just 10 days after Hamas and Fatah signed a so-called unity deal, the fairytale is over. No longer can we continue to delude ourselves that there will be lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas aligns himself with such a murderous organisation.
    The nightmare these teens find themselves in now follows more than a dozen thwarted kidnapping attempts this year. It proves that a Palestinian government with Hamas as a ruling constituent is the key impediment to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
    In addition to having a charter that directly calls for the violent destruction of Israel, Hamas has launched more than 10,000 rockets and mortars at, and infiltrated dozens of suicide bombers into, my homeland. Hamas is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians, and their actions mere days after signing a peace agreement make it clear they haven’t changed a bit.
    We are witnessing the acts of an evil enterprise that sees nothing wrong in the new low of kidnapping teenagers who would be too young to vote in Australia, and would most likely just be worrying about the sorts of things normal Year 10 students fret about.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is entirely correct in his characterisation of a Hamas-Fatah partnership as “bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians and bad for the region”. But make no mistake; the burden faced by Palestinians is as great, if not greater, than that faced by everyone else. Since taking power in Gaza, thousands have perished as the result of Hamas’s murderous commitment to frontier justice, cronyism and administrative indifference.
    In the ensuing civil war, Hamas militants threw their opponents gleefully off roofs and out of hospitals. Their children’s television shows glorify martyrdom, jihad and ridding the earth of Jews; thereby instilling in an entire generation hate, fear and mistrust. I fear the unity deal will only unnecessarily subject the Palestinians of the West Bank to further Hamas brutality.
    Without a shadow of doubt, a unity government with Hamas as a member is the single largest obstacle to a peace agreement. Even after signing the unity pact, Hamas still categorically rejects the Quartet conditions to stop terrorism, recognise Israel and accept previous agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
    It has long been defined as a terrorist organisation by Australia and practically every other Western nation, and Australian government representatives abroad are explicitly instructed to avoid contact with Hamas officials.
    It seems that where Australia and the rest of the civilised world see a threat, Abbas sees an ally. In witnessing every parent’s worst nightmare — the abduction of these innocent boys — we are observing the entirely predictable ramifications of teaming up with a terrorist organisation whose raison d’etre is the annihilation of Israel.
    Peace is not merely the absence of conflict, but also requires the presence of goodwill. By siding with Hamas, Abbas has made a pact with the devil, and must now face the consequences. While Israel regrets the President’s decision to choose an alliance with terror over negotiation, the world community must hold the Palestinian Authority and Abbas responsible for any attacks that emanate from Palestinian-controlled territory.
    I applaud the efforts of so many to bring our boys back, and hope and pray that they will be found quickly and safely. But our hopes must not stop there. We must instead strive to vigorously pursue the promise of peace that is possible only if we reject Hamas. The Palestinians deserve a government that will represent their needs and aspirations, and this is not a one with Hamas as a core element.
    As an Israeli, parent and diplomat my personal aspirations and professional goals are identical: lasting peace. If Abbas can rejoin the international community consensus on the dangers of Hamas, he will find a willing partner for peace in Israel. I hope and pray that this will happen before another tragedy.
    *Shmuel Ben-Shmuel is Israel’s ambassador to Australia.