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Is the PA considering violence in response to US recognition that Israeli settlements are "not inconsistent with international law"?

Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus  |
  • PA “demands” Palestinians “everywhere, act” to “thwart the [American-Israeli] plot to eliminate the Palestinian cause” 

  • At October conference, Fatah officials called for “resistance,” Palestinians must “benefit from experience” of past PA terror campaign 

Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has announced that it is considering “recommendations to strengthen… home front and the popular resistance.” The PA leadership issued this statement yesterday following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement of a change in US policy which no longer considers “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank… inconsistent with international law." [CNN, Nov. 18, 2019] The PA further “demanded” that “the masses of the Palestinian people in the homeland and everywhere act in order to thwart the plot to eliminate the Palestinian cause.” 

The terms "peaceful uprising/resistance,” and “popular uprising/resistance" as used by the PA leadership refer to everything from peaceful protest to violence and terror. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that these innocent sounding terms are also used by PA leaders to refer to deadly terror attacks and terror waves. For example, ‎Mahmoud Abbas defined as “peaceful popular” the murderous terror during the 2015-2016 ‎terror wave (“The Knife Intifada”), in which 40 people were killed (36 Israelis, 1 Palestinian, 2 Americans and 1 Eritrean) and hundreds wounded in stabbings, shootings, and car ramming attacks. After 14 Israelis had already been murdered Abbas went on TV and said: "We want peaceful popular uprising, and that’s what this is.” 

Palestinians who now hear the PA leadership’s call for “popular resistance” – “everywhere” - to counter the US decision, may understand it as the PA’s endorsement of attacks on Israelis and Americans abroad, as well as in Israel and the West Bank.

“With the attendance of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, the [PA] leadership has… begun a series of special meetings in order to take the necessary steps to deal with the dangerous American decisions against the Palestinian cause, the latest of which was the statement of [US] Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo regarding the settlements. The leadership emphasized that there will be activity…and that there will be meetings… in order to consider recommendations to strengthen the home front and the popular resistance in light of the American administration’s attempts to eliminate the Palestinian cause… During its special meeting, the leadership demanded that the masses of the Palestinian people in the homeland and everywhere act to thwart the plot to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”

[WAFA, official PA news agency, Nov. 19, 2019]

Support for violent “resistance” is not new and was recently expressed openly by a Fatah official. When the Gaza-based terror organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) last week responded to Israel's targeted killing of one of its senior commanders by launching over 450 rockets, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki justified PIJ terror against civilian targets in Israel, stating that “the resistance’s response… was appropriate.” [Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, Nov. 13, 2019]

Other Fatah officials also recently called for and emphasized the need for "resistance" and for “popular resistance.” Fatah recently held the first Fatah Conference for Popular Resistance, under the auspices of Abbas in Ramallah. At that event, Abbas’ deputy in Fatah, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, explained that “resistance” is “constant and ongoing” and that it ”shouldn’t be stopped or postponed” for the sake of “an agreement [or] negotiations.” Only combined with “resistance,” Al-Aloul said, will negotiations with Israel be successful:

Al-Aloul: “This resistance is a constant and ongoing action. It shouldn’t be stopped or postponed for some other alternative such as an agreement, negotiations, or similar because the guaranteed success of any alternative, any negotiations depends on the existence of the resistance, which will ensure that the occupier will be motivated to end the occupation.”

[Official PA TV News, Oct. 12, 2019]

At the same conference, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen indicated his agreement that violence and terror are effective Palestinian tools when he urged Palestinians to “benefit from their experience” from the previous waves of terror attacks against Israel – the intifadas – which Muhaisen referred to as “popular resistance” and “national resistance”: 

Muhaisen: “We must benefit from our Palestinian experience in what is connected to the first Intifada, and also benefit from the experience of the Tunnel Intifada and also from the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Every day [we face] the American Zionist attack against us. The cruel attack that harms the entire Palestinian national project demands of us- I am certainly talking about the popular resistance, national resistance.”

[Official PA TV News, Oct. 12, 2019]

The silhouette of someone throwing a rock with a slingshot, and a logo with a raised fist on the welcome to the participants in Fatah’s conference shows an example of what Fatah means by “popular resistance” – and that it includes violence:

Text on screen: "The first Fatah Conference for Popular Resistance
Ramallah, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019
The Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah
and the [PA] Committee to Resist Settlements and the Wall
welcome the dear attendees"

[Official Fatah Twitter account, Oct. 12, 2019]

At the conference, Al-Aloul also repeated the PA’s claim that “resistance in all its forms is a legal right of occupied peoples.” Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the terms “all forms” and “all means of resistance” are ‎used by PA leaders to also include using all types of violence, including deadly terror ‎against Israeli civilians such as stabbings and shootings, as well as throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails.

“Al-Aloul said… that "Resistance in all its forms is a legal right of occupied peoples, and popular resistance‎ at this time in particular has a role in the mobilization of the world to the side of the Palestinian right.' Al-Aloul added: 'The Fatah members are always at the head of the resistance, and it must be continued so that it will constitute a catalyst and pressure to end the occupation.' He explained that the Israeli occupation's actions make it necessary to resist it, and the decision has already been made at all levels to carry out popular resistance, whether by boycotting its merchandise or by popular resistance on the ground."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 13, 2019]

The following are longer excerpts of the reports cited above:

Headline: “With the attendance of the [PA] President: The [PA] leadership is holding special meetings to take steps to deal with the American decisions”
“With the attendance of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, the [PA] leadership has today (Tuesday) [Nov. 19, 2019] begun a series of special meetings in order to take the necessary steps to deal with the dangerous American decisions against the Palestinian cause, the latest of which was the statement of [US] Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo regarding the settlements (Pompeo stated on Nov. 18, 2019, that the US does not consider Israeli settlements to be illegal according to international law –Ed.).
The leadership emphasized that there will be activity on the internal level, and that there will be meetings of the PLO Executive Committee, the Fatah Central Committee, the factions of national activity, civil society organizations, and the [PA] government in order to consider recommendations to strengthen the home front and the popular resistance (i.e., used by Palestinians to also refer to violence and terror)‎ in light of the American administration’s attempts to eliminate the Palestinian cause.
It emphasized that there will be activity on the Arab and international levels and that a petition will be made to the [UN] Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to make crucial decisions whose goal is to defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people
During its special meeting, the leadership demanded that the masses of the Palestinian people in the homeland and everywhere act in order to thwart the plot to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”

[WAFA, official PA news agency, Nov. 19, 2019]

Text posted on the Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki

Posted text: “The main points that were noted by Fatah Central Committee member brother Abbas Zaki in his interview with [Lebanese] Al-Mayadeen TV regarding the Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian people:

There is great solidarity between the Palestinian factions following [Israel’s] crime of killing [Baha] Abu Al-Ata (i.e., terrorist, responsible for numerous attacks)
No one can stand idly by in light of the crime of Abu Al-Ata’s killing and the attack against Syria
The resistance’s response to the assassination crime was appropriate (refers to hundreds of rockets fired at Israeli civilian centers; see note below –Ed.)
Israel is attempting to export its crises in all directions…
I praise the current harmony between the resistance factions in the Gaza Strip
Israel has changed from a state into a gang, and it appears that it is preparing for something to happen
Israel is liable to do greater actions of stupidity and aggression if the Arab situation remains as it is.”

[Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, Nov. 13, 2019]

Baha Abu Al-Ata – senior commander of the Islamic Jihad terror organization in Gaza who was responsible for most of the organization’s terror activity and planned numerous rocket, sniper, drone, and other attacks against Israel.Abu Al-Ata was assassinated in an Israeli targeted rocket strike on Nov. 12, 2019. In response to Israel’s assassination Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired over 450 rockets at Israel over a period of 48 hours until a ceasefire was reached on Nov. 14, 2019, which Islamic Jihad promptly breached by firing 5 more rockets.

Abbas Zaki also serves as Fatah Commissioner for Arab and China Relations.

Fatah Deputy Chairman and Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul: “This resistance is a constant and ongoing action. It cannot be stopped or deferred in order to consider some other possibility such as an agreement, negotiations, or other things because [the resistance] is what guarantees victory. Any possibility, any negotiations that come together with the resistance guarantee that the occupier will be motivated to end the occupation.”

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen: “We must benefit from our Palestinian experience in what is connected to the first Intifada, and also benefit from the experience of the Tunnel Intifada and also the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Every day [we face] the American Zionist attack against us. The cruel attack that harms the entire Palestinian national project demands of us- I am certainly talking about the popular resistance, national resistance.”

[Official PA TV News, Oct. 12, 2019]

The first Intifada - Palestinian wave of violence and terror against Israel 1987-1993, approximately 200 Israelis murdered

The Western Wall Tunnel Intifada - Three days of PA terror attacks on Israeli civilians and military in September 1996, to protest Israel's opening an excavated tunnel adjacent to the base of the Temple Mount. The tunnel is an underground continuation of what is exposed today of the Western Wall. The terror was led by Arafat's security services.

The Al-Aqsa Intifada - PA terror campaign 2000-2005, more than 1,100 Israelis murdered.

Jamal Muhaisen also holds the positions as Fatah Commissioner of Mobilization and Organization in the West Bank, and PLO Central Council member.

Headline: "Ramallah: The beginning of the First Fatah Conference for Popular Resistance"
Yesterday [Oct. 12, 2019] the events of the First Fatah Conference for Popular Resistance‎ (the term “popular resistance” is used by Palestinians to also refer to the use of violence and terror –Ed.) ‎began with the participation of members of the [Fatah] Central Committee and the [Fatah] Revolutionary Council, representatives from the [Fatah] branches and the villages, activists, and the popular resistance committees in the different areas.
Fatah Deputy Chairman [and Fatah Central Committee member] Mahmoud Al-Aloul said in a speech that "Resistance in all its forms ‎(i.e., term used by Palestinians, which also refers to the use of violence and terror)‎ is a legal right of occupied peoples, and popular resistance‎ at this time in particular has a role in the mobilization of the world to the side of the Palestinian right.'
Al-Aloul added: 'The Fatah members are always at the head of the resistance, and it must be continued so that it will constitute a catalyst and pressure to end the occupation.' He explained that the Israeli occupation's actions make it necessary to resist it, and the decision has already been made at all levels to carry out popular resistance, whether by boycotting its merchandise or by popular resistance on the ground."

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 13, 2019]
 

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