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NY Daily News op-ed cites PMW material to highlight obstacles to peace
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Kerry's challenge: Empower the right Palestinians

The U.S. walks a very fine line in its latest push for peace talks

by Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman

One has to admire the tenacity of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in pursuit of the noble but elusive goal of peace in the Holy Land. Peace is “possible but difficult,” Kerry said in Amman, the first stop on his fifth trip to the region since he became secretary of state.

Kerry pursues this mission even as the surrounding neighborhood implodes before our eyes: The vicious Syrian civil war spawning ominous spillover in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan; the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt careening towards economic meltdown and the Iranian Mullahtocracy, with its finger in every poisonous pie, approaching the nuclear zero hour.

Despite it all, Kerry is pressing Jerusalem and Ramallah to get serious about peace and has announced a $4 billion incentive package to help the Palestinian economic sector.

What are the odds that the secretary’s initiative will yield more than serious jet lag? Slim to none.

Even as seasoned Palestinian interlocutors discuss where US largess should be deposited, the respected Palestinian Media Watch quotes senior Palestinian Authority official Jibril Rajoub’s interview on Qatar’s Al-Kass Sports Channel (later posted on his Facebook page) in which he declares there is not an iota of difference between the PA and arch-rival Hamas when it comes to the ultimate fate of Israel.

A member of the Fatah Central Committee and head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Rajoub denounces a Spanish soccer team’s playing in Israel:

Interviewer: “Mr. Jibril, does the visit of Barcelona's team include a visit to the occupied lands?”

Rajoub: “They are coming to the occupied lands. All of Palestine — from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea (i.e., all of Israel) — it’s all occupied.”

Interviewer: “I mean the Israeli occupied lands.”

Rajoub: “You mean [occupied in] 1948 (i.e., Israel's establishment)?”

Interviewer: “Yes.”

Should the United States invest its political capital and treasure in this message?

It gets worse.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas recently fired Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a respected economist who spoke seriously about peace with Israel. His handpicked replacement, Professor Rami Hamdallah, a virtually unknown Fatah loyalist, quickly resigned himself when it became clear his job was to merely rubberstamp Abbas’ decisions.

There is growing frustration on the Palestinian street about the PA’s failure to deliver basic services to the people. One of the most articulate critics is Sheikh Fard al-Jabari, who met with Simon Wiesenthal Center officials recently in his tent in the South Hebron Hills.

Responsible for 3,500 members of his clan, the sheikh has consistently and courageously denounced PA corruption, charging it represents no more than 5% of the West Bank population. Ever the pragmatist, he stated he wants to live in peace with his Jewish neighbors, yet if elections were held tomorrow, he would vote for Hamas.

“At least they would take care of the basic social services that the PA has failed to deliver,” Jabari lamented.

Then there is the Palestinian mother of two martyred sons who recently said on Palestinian Authority TV that she grieves for that loss, but even more for her two daughters with university degrees whose aspirations for careers are being crushed by the PA’s reign of economic incompetence and “crony capitalism.” The PA’s reaction? The broadcast went mute.

Meanwhile, Palestinian homemakers defy PA edicts by shopping at the Rami Levy supermarket in the West Bank, staffed by both Jews and Arabs. Why no boycott? For struggling families, cheaper and higher quality food trump empty slogans.

Want peace? Then we should empower those who want to live in peace, not cynical operators who treat the U.S. and the European Union as little more than gullible ATM machines.


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