For decades, I advocated for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state, believing that it could bring about a lasting peace in the region. I was convinced that Israel had a genuine partner in the peace process, one that could help resolve the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs and address the millions living in UNRWA refugee camps. However, a fateful week in December 1987 changed my perspective forever.
On December 8, 1987, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) took control of the Palestinian Arab leadership, marking the beginning of a violent “intifada.” This shift extinguished my optimism for a peaceful resolution. From that moment on, I embarked on a 36-year journey of examining the PLO and UNRWA with the help of dedicated journalists, both Jewish and Arab, who spoke Arabic fluently.
Our collective research yielded a conclusion that was often met with skepticism: the PLO’s aim was not merely to foster hatred of Jews but to indoctrinate a systematic ideology of murder against them. For years, our perspective remained in the minority, but the horrific events of October 7th this year served as a chilling confirmation of our long-standing concerns.
The October 7th massacre, where Jewish men, women, and even infants were brutally murdered, represented the culmination of 24 years of continuous incitement of Palestinian Arabs to cross the border, abduct or murder any Jew who stood in their way, all in the pursuit of their so-called “right of return” by force.
Fast forward to October 18th, when US President Joe Biden visited Jerusalem. The State Department assured me that President Biden was convinced the Palestinian Authority (PA) had condemned the ongoing Arab murder campaign. Based on this report, President Biden endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state with Mahmoud Abbas at the helm.
To closely monitor Abbas’s statements, our news agency engaged Dr. Pinhas Inbari, a senior journalist fluent in Arabic and now a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He kept a close eye on the tightly controlled Palestinian Authority media, especially after the horrifying discovery of murdered babies at the hands of Palestinian Arabs.
Inbari’s findings were disheartening. President Abbas did not express a shred of remorse, offer an apology, or demonstrate any second thoughts about the actions of the Arab murder campaign since October 7. Instead, he repeatedly promised grants to the families of those Arabs who died as “Shahids,” or holy martyrs, since that tragic day.
While the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency initially published comments by Abbas that criticized Hamas over its actions, they later removed references to the terrorist group without an explanation. What Abbas has consistently reiterated on PA media channels is his intent to support the families of those who died in this abhorrent campaign.
This is the legacy that President Joe Biden left in Jerusalem: allowing Mahmoud Abbas to evade responsibility for these murders, leaving the troubling policies of the PLO and UNRWA unaddressed and unchecked. We must not turn a blind eye to this dark reality, and it’s high time for a reevaluation of our approach to peace in the region.