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By Micah Halpern

Wednesday September 3, 2008


There are countries that practice diplomacy as a form of fine art and there are countries that practice diplomacy as an "in your face" martial art. And there are countries that practice a mix of the two arts.

Western countries usually, successfully, practice the fine art form. The Palestinians usually end up in the "in your face" martial art category. The first phase of Palestinian diplomacy, the obligatory polite, fine art, phase, almost immediately gives way to the we-will-do-it-our-way-but-make-believe-we-are-still-being-polite phase which then turns into their we will do what we want, when we want, whichever way we want "in your face" final stage of diplomacy.

And when that happens, which is almost always, only another Arab country can get the Palestinians to change policy or principle. No Western power, not the United States, not Israel, not any other Western democracy has any power, or recourse, or redress when the Palestinians have made up their minds and decided diplomacy be damned.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinians Authority, leader of Fatah and successor to Arafat just demonstrated the type of diplomacy he practices. It was "in your face" of the highest rank. Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Lebanon for a special meeting with one of the most notorious, most vile, most celebrated, freed from prison in a prisoner exchange, terrorist alive today.

Abbas met with Samir Kuntar. Kuntar is the terrorist recently released by Israel along with four other terrorists held in Israeli prisons in exchange for the mutilated, desecrated and obviously tortured remains of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who had been kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken into Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Kuntar was captured by Israel only after he had brutally and publicly murdered a four year old girl, bashing her skull with the butt of his machine gun until blood oozed out of her ears and her head was so crushed it looked to those who found the dead body like a raw egg. And he killed her father. And he killed a policeman. And in the throes of the terrorist attack he perpetrated her younger sister died, too.

Why? Why would the leader of the Palestinian people, the man lobbying for his own country by promising peace with Israel, even go to a meeting with Samir Kuntar let alone ask for the meeting as Kuntar proudly boasted.

The King of Saudi Arabia did not call for a meeting, or even call, Samir Kuntar. Neither did the president of Egypt or the Emir of Dubai or the Emir of Qatar. Abbas paid double respect to the released murderer, he called him upon his release and has now met with him.

Why? Because politically Abbas gains much more from the meeting than he loses. The hits or losses that Abbas takes from this meeting are obvious - Israel is very, very upset, the United States is very upset, Germany is upset. But those countries will move on and as they say in diplomatic circles, they'll get over it. It will take Israel the longest to get over it and it may come back to haunt Abbas, but there will be no immediate reaction. The response at home is immediate.

Abbas calculates that the benefits from the meeting will win him points at home. He does not hope to convince fence sitters because there are no fence sitters in the Palestinian Authority. There are supporters of Hamas and there are supporters of Fatah. And they are killing one another.

The President of the Palestinian Authority met with Samir Kuntar to prove that he is not a Jew lover, that he is not an Israeli lover. Diplomacy be damned. He wants to prove that Mahmoud Abbas and notorious killer of Israelis Samir Kuntar are cut of the same cloth. Abbas went to Lebanon to put on a show for Palestinians and Arabs world over. He went to prove that Abbas embraces murderers of little Israeli Jewish children.

The actions of Mahmoud Abbas, the intentions of Mahmoud Abbas, should inspire fear in every person who fights terror and favors democracy. The heart of Mahmoud Abbas is stone cold. He places politics above humanity. He embraces terror. That has just been proven with one significant visit to Lebanon.

The reality of Palestinian politics is that, at this point, Fatah has a plurality over Hamas and that advantage will for the near future. Sometimes, some people get frustrated with the corruption of Fatah and the extremism of Hamas but few will ever bolt to the other party. In the Palestinian Authority most party lines divide by families and loyalties to family members in various positions of power.

Most recent polls show that Abbas beats Hanyiah of Hamas 53%-39% and Fatah beats Hamas 43%-29% in party polling. The numbers are virtually unchanged since the last serious poll.

You see, Abbas really did not have to prove anything. He's made it. Abbas met with Samir Kuntar because he wanted to meet with Samir Kuntar, because in his heart, he probably respects Samir Kuntar. The intense emotional pull Mahmoud Abbas felt for terrorist Samir Kuntar overrode diplomacy. And it overrode decency.

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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