Why Bibi Should Listen To His Late Father’s Address
Disconnect Saudi peace from the Palestinian Authority
The eager anticipation of peace with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been deflated by demands that Israel also support the Palestinian Authority. After decades of Palestinian intransigence, the sudden fixation on the PA as the lynchpin of peace makes no sense and contradicts the very spirit and success of the Abraham Accords.
There are three parties to the potential peace: Israel, KSA, and the US. Nevertheless, the Biden Administration, in its attempt to placate the significant parts of the Democratic Party who sympathize with the Palestinian cause and in exchange for ignoring the Khashoggi murder, made strengthening the PA a national imperative. It was joined by senior members of the Israeli defense establishment and security cabinet – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself – who have made the continued existence of the PA an integral part of the Israeli national defense doctrine.
With the US and Israel seeking to build the PA, what choice does KSA have? As leaders of the Muslim world and guardians of the holy mosques, they must support the oppressed Muslim community of Palestinians. In my trips throughout the region, I have shown many of the most senior Gulf leaders, especially in KSA, the ghoulish PA’s pay-for-slay legal and budgetary infrastructure – under which they pay salaries to terrorists who murder Israelis – and they were appalled. One senior Saudi official shed bona fide tears: they abhor Muslim gratuitous violence.
Even on the “Palestinian street,” polls show that Palestinians prefer Hamas over the PA. When the UAE sent COVID-19 PPE (personal protective equipment) to help, the PA rejected the planeload because it landed first at Ben-Gurion. When the Trump administration promised $50 billion for the Palestinian people at the Bahrain conference, the PA actively sought to prevent attendance.
The Palestinian Authority’s deliberate acts against their own
Despite being the largest per capita aid recipients in the world, the PA has not just failed its people, but has purposely kept them in refugee camps, dependent upon government jobs and handouts, while enriching PA officials. Not to mention seeking to further Palestinian terror through pay-for-slay and jobs for terrorists.
The man who needs to stand strong here against this drive to promote a corrupt regime is Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. He would do well to remember his late father Benzion Netanyahu’s speech at the 1984 Jonathan Institute organized by Bibi himself, in memory of his heroic brother, “Yoni,” the Israeli commando who fell rescuing hostages in the courageous operation in Entebbe: “…. we see leaders in the West, and many in the press and others bend toward the terrorists, [this] stem[s] in part from [a] lack of conviction concerning the true nature of terrorism and in part from a belief that the terrorists have a case, perhaps a just case, that they can be reasoned with, and finally won over by a number of adequate concessions.”
What was true then, is still true now. The difference is that some in Israel don’t want to just acquiesce to the PA attacking its citizens, but also to its promoting of the narrative that Israel is a racist apartheid state, which has successfully led to the moral delegitimization of the Jewish state.
Israel doesn’t just have regular meetings to collaborate with Palestinian officials, it has actively requested foreign assistance to ensure that the PA doesn’t collapse. During his visit to New York, Netanyahu revealed that he passed a decision in the security cabinet to not take any steps that undermine the PA. Keeping it stable, he said, is in Israel’s interest.
Even the Taylor Force Act, which I fought hard to help pass, needed a carve-out for security cooperation. The dramatic irony is that the Israeli security establishment is wedded to cooperation with the same entity that pays for killing its citizens, and then guarantees high-paying jobs upon release from prison. The IDF subcontracts the security of the Israeli citizenry to the PA, lending it money to bypass a Knesset law which passed with an overwhelming majority to hold back the money equivalent to what the PA pays to terrorists. I’M QUITE certain that Benzion Netanyahu would not agree with his son’s current policies which bolster the argument that the PA is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs. As a member of the AIPAC National Board of Directors for 12 years – a position I held until I pushed for the Taylor Force Act – I too believed the Western misguided narrative that Netanyahu’s late father highlighted almost 30 years ago: that the PA has a case, and if strengthened they will eventually crack down on radical elements to forge peace.
I was far from alone – not a single member of the 40-person board knew that the PA has a mandatory policy to reward and incentivize all terror against Israel, compensating each and every attack, without regard to the political or religious affiliation of the attacker. In fact, in 2015, only a single member of the Senate knew the PA pays terrorists; Senator Lindsey Graham thought it was just $5M per year, a far cry from the $350M.
We cannot ignore that the PA is supported by repressive regimes and pays for indiscriminate violence with a pay-for-slay program that dwarfs its separate social security system. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that so-called martyrs are paid more and before the living. We cannot be silent when we see PA corruption steal the future from young Palestinian women and men, or simply look away from the PA glorification of terrorists and an education system that teaches them to hate Israel.
Peace with KSA is possible, but not by strengthening the PA. Israel can make peace, but not by enabling its own destruction. The moral legitimacy of Israel must be restored, starting at home.
As Benzion concluded in his 1984 address: “…..civilizations may be subject to moral diseases which may kill them as surely as any bomb can. Our attitude toward terrorism and the way we treat it, the way we are getting conditioned to its horrors, and above all our reactions to the dangers of enslavement represented by the terrorists and their masters, indicate that we are struck with a serious moral sickness that debilitates our capacities to act as free men.”
The calculation of supporting the PA and hiding their sponsorship of terror has consequences beyond lives changed and lost. It degrades the moral legitimacy of the “Light unto the Nations.”
Benjamin Netanyahu – now is a perfect time to reread the words of your late father. A new year is an opportunity for new strength and resolve.
The writer is the chief executive of Hudson Bay Capital Management, a distinguished fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), and a member of the State Department’s Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) advisory board.
Originally Published in The Jerusalem Post