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by Arlene Kushner



The documented report following explores the question of whether Fatah, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, is moderate and a viable peace partner for Israel.

1) Are they able to do it?

The over-riding assessment of Israeli intelligence over the past four months is that from a security perspective Fatah is exceedingly weak within Judea and Samaria.

The consensus is that Fatah is a party of corruption.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has a reputation within his party and on the Palestinian street as a weak and ineffectual leader, unable to deliver.

2) Do they actually intend to do it?

Evidence indicates that strengthening Abbas will not bring him to a place of moderation. The intentions of Abbas and Fatah point toward intransigence, support of terrorism and hostility to Israel.

There is no evidence that Mahmoud Abbas sincerely wishes to clean up his security forces, rid them of terrorist influences, and instruct them to strictly enforce the law and act against all terrorist elements. Fatah engages in subterfuge.

The picture painted for foreign consumption is one of Abbas and the Fatah standing against a terrorist Hamas and providing the region with a distinct moderate alternative.

The reality is that there are connections between Fatah and Hamas now, which, by all indications, will only grow stronger.


A Note Upfront

As this report was about to go to print, a new piece of information regarding Fatah was acquired. It is so potent that the decision was made to share it here, first, rather than incorporating it into the body of the report.

Friday sermons delivered at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount are broadcast on PA radio. On Friday, December 28, 2007 (just one month after Annapolis), Sheikh Mohammed Hussein delivered the sermon. It included the following fabrications and incitement to violence:

"Al Aksa Mosque has become the target of Israeli settlers. They have become accustomed to entering Al Aksa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli security forces. This refutes Israeli claims to protecting our holy places.

"The Israeli authorities are not satisfied with the excavations already performed... [In addition] they have been digging tunnels under Al Aksa Mosque's foundations and walls, allowing the herds of settlers to enter its squares and gates in their plan to turn the holy city of Jerusalem into a Jewish one.

"I'd like to warn against the criminal Israeli plans for the holy city. We have confirmed that there is a real danger to Jerusalem. The Arab nation should not stand [with] hands folded when it comes to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem stands for the Islamic history and doctrine that establishes an inseparable relationship between Muslims and Jerusalem. Allah chose us, a nation religiously and historically connected with this land, to be faithful guards to the holy places in Palestine. This obligation drove Prophet Mohammed's followers to arrive here, in Palestine, and spread the Islamic religion. This is the holy land of Allah, and .Muslims are only the guardians of these holy places

The Israelis aren't interested only in Al Aksa Mosque but want the whole city of Jerusalem to become Jewish. They have confiscated the Jerusalemite's lands, built new settlements in and around the city to isolate it from its Arab surroundings, and .have expanded the existing settlements

The Palestinians are the defenders of this land. We should face up to our responsibilities and fulfill our duty. Our sacrifices are many; the number of martyrs and wounded is growing. [We see] the destruction of the Palestinian life and infrastructure, the arrests of Palestinians by the Israeli forces. All this will not deter us from fulfilling our duties. On the contrary, they serve as evidence to our [1] willingness to sacrifice for our goals



In January 2007, the Center for Near East Policy Research released a report on the nature of Fatah[2]; this was followed by a March 2007 Addendum[3]. Documented evidence in this material provided clear indication that Fatah was not a "moderate" organization and that notions to the contrary were no more than myth.

In any event it would be legitimate to ask, nine months later, if there has been a meaningful positive change in Fatah. But this question assumes far greater significance now because of two historical occurrences:

  1. In June 2007, Hamas –– driving out Fatah –– violently wrested control of Gaza. Fatah[4] was subsequently embraced by the international community as the "moderate" Palestinian party, a foil to Hamas –– a foil that required and merited major support and bolstering.[5]

    The central assumption implicit in this viewpoint requires critical analysis: Does Fatah now merit major international support as a moderate entity?

  2. On July 16, 2007, US President George Bush, playing off the increased support for Fatah generated by the Hamas coup, advanced an initiative towards a negotiated "two state solution" by announcing plans for an international conference. This international gathering was envisioned as providing an opportunity to support Palestinian state-building and re-start a negotiation process after a seven-year hiatus. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, declaring that a window of opportunity for peace existed, expended considerable energy in setting the stage for this event.

    By the time the conference was held in Annapolis MD on November 27, 2007 –– with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and a number of Arab states (some touted as "moderate") participating –– expectations had been considerably scaled back. What emerged was a commitment by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to begin negotiations towards a Palestinian state and to continue to pursue these negotiations until results were achieved –– with the end of 2008 set as a goal for doing so.

Thus it becomes critical to ask if Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority as now constituted in Judea and Samaria, is a viable partner for peace and whether it is capable of establishing a moderate Palestinian state at Israel's eastern border.[6]

Report Scope and Focus

This report will review relevant actions and statements by Fatah –– operating as a party and as the Palestinian Authority –– from the time that Hamas seized Gaza in June 2007 until the end of December 2007, roughly a month after the Annapolis conference.

Analysis and pertinent statements by persons in Israeli intelligence and military, in the Palestinian Authority security forces and government, and by knowledgeable journalists/commentators will be incorporated.

Factors to be examined:

  • CAN they do it?

    The strength of Fatah and of Mahmoud Abbas as its head: their capacity to pursue and actualize a policy of moderation. This will be examined both in light of the current political/security climate outside Fatah and political pressures within the party.

  • Do they ACTUALLY INTEND to do it?

    Fatah's sincerity of peaceful intentions, primarily as measured by actions and by words in Arabic meant for internal consumption. In this regard it is crucial to note the frequent disparity between words offered by the Palestinians for Western ears and the reality of their intentions as revealed by actions and by words meant for their own people.

    CAN they do it?

    PA Security Forces: Strength and Effectiveness

    The prevailing notion has been that Hamas controls Gaza, and Fatah controls Judea and Samaria. The reality, however, dispels this assumption:

    The over-riding assessment of Israeli intelligence over the past four months is that from a security perspective Fatah is exceedingly weak within Judea and Samaria.

    Following a September assessment, Israeli defense officials revealed that Hamas was as strong as Fatah in Judea and Samaria and could present a security threat to the forces of Mahmoud Abbas. The IDF estimates that 80,000 illegal arms are being hidden in the area by terrorists.[7] (emphasis added)

    According to Middle East affairs expert Ehud Ya'ari, in an article subsequent to this assessment, "The Palestinian security apparatuses are not in control of the whole area [the West Bank]. If it were not for Israel's regular preemptive counter-terror raids, Hamas could, if it so wished and even without the use of armed force, paralyze the functioning of the Palestinian Authority."[8]

    Military correspondent Amir Rappaport followed with a report that, "Israel's security services believe that if they were not making arrests in the West Bank every night, it is quite probable that Hamas would overcome Fatah there...In practical terms, this means that, to a great extent, Fatah control in the West Bank is an optical illusion. Israel's security services are concerned [about] clear signs of Hamas strengthening in the West Bank.... (emphasis added)

    "Hamas] forces are training and building bunkers in cities like Nablus and Kalkilya, while its activists plan attacks on Israeli civilian targets....Fatah is unable to control [the West Bank] without the continued presence of the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shabak). Of additional concern are the thousands of rifles and millions of bullets that were brought in from Jordan for the Palestinian police. In recent years, due to intensive IDF activity against weapons smuggling, the price of a bullet had risen to tens of shekels. It has now fallen drastically as ammunition from PA police warehouses finds its way into the hands of terrorists."[9] (emphasis added)

    With regard to the 19 UNRWA refugee camps in Judea and Samaria, which are hotbeds of terrorist activity, the PA security forces are impotent. The camps are controlled exclusively by armed militias and security forces are not permitted entry.[10] On November 6, PA police were driven back by gunmen at the Balata camp near Nablus.

    Plans to have PA security forces assert control in Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria were slated to begin with the deployment of 500 forces in Nablus several months ago. After considerable delay, ultimately only 300 were sent into the streets of Nablus however, because 500 properly prepared police could not be secured for deployment.

    In December, PA security officers provided testimony to an Israeli Arab journalist[11] regarding the capability of those security forces:

    "According to the officials, the PA's US-backed security plan, which was launched in the last few weeks in Nablus...had failed to achieve most of its goals, largely due to the incompetence of the PA security forces.

    "'The security operation has not been a big success,' one official said.

    "...the PA's efforts to reform the Fatah-controlled security forces in the West Bank continued to face major obstacles, the official said, citing a lack of discipline among the ranks of the Palestinian policemen. (emphasis added)

    " 'We still have many officers who are involved in various crimes and corruption,' he said. 'We are still far from talking about real reforms in the security establishment.'" (emphasis added)

    With regard to corruption in the PA security forces, Israeli intelligence totally concurs. A joint Shin Bet, Mossad and military intelligence report recently released declares: "...the PA has no security apparatus capable of implementing agreements. The existing [security] forces are totally corrupt."[12] (emphasis added)

    Corruption inside Fatah

    The consensus is fairly universal: Fatah is a party of corruption.

    This state of affairs reduces popular support for Fatah and diminishes its ability to manage affairs of government with effectiveness.

    As background, we see this in the period after Abbas assumed the presidency of the PA in 2005, following Arafat's death:

    Shortly before the PA legislative elections of January 2006, Marwan Barghouti, uneasy about popular attitudes towards Fatah, apologized to the Palestinian people from his prison cell in Israel.[13]

    Journalist Ian Fisher, in a report on the village of Deir Ghassana in Samaria, following the Hamas electoral victory, reflected a common theme when he wrote, "... the bottom line seemed to be this: Exhaustion with Fatah's perceived corruption and incompetence."[14] (emphasis added)

    Samir Mashharawi, a senior Fatah activist, echoed this: "Fatah paid the price because of its corrupt administration and a bunch of corrupt leaders."[15]

    In August of this year, Hamas began to reveal information regarding Fatah corruption it had secured in the course of its coup in Gaza (about which more below). Much of this concerned the time period of Arafat's presidency. However, one factor implicated the current Fatah administration:

    PA officials were allegedly involved in illegal tax collection scams during the period when Salaam Fayyad –– now PA prime minister and considered the cleanest of Fatah officials –– was serving as finance minister.[16]

    Mahmoud Abbas: The extent of his power and authority

    Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has a reputation within his party and on the Palestinian street as a weak and ineffectual leader; in addition he is commonly acknowledged as corrupt. He meets opposition within Fatah from the young guard who are anti-corruption, and powerful elements of the party who are opposed to conciliation with Israel.

    He is not in a position to lead his people to the place of moderation that is necessary for true peace negotiations.


    A Palestinian-American commentator provides perspective: "Abbas is widely perceived among Palestinians themselves as one of the most notoriously corrupt individuals in the Palestinian Authority. Soon after the Authority was established in Gaza, construction began on a lavish $1.5 million villa for Abbas, funded by unknown sources, and in the midst of some of the world's most wretched poverty."[17]


    Abbas actually lives in fear for his life, never leaving Ramallah unless he is going abroad. He hasn't been in Jenin or Nablus since he was campaigning for the presidential election of January 2005. "A visit to Nablus or a refugee camp in the West Bank remains out of the question, mainly for 'security reasons,'" an aide explained.[18]

    A high level Palestinian official observed: "A Palestinian leader who feels safer in Jerusalem, Paris and Washington than in Nablus and Jenin will never be able to deliver."[19] (emphasis added)

    The joint Israeli intelligence report cited above concluded, similarly, that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is "a powerless leader, who even has difficulty controlling car thieves and drug dealers in his own territory."[20] (emphasis added)

    Political analyst Ehud Ya'ari has echoed this assessment regarding Abbas and his situation: "The Fatah movement has in fact ceased to exist, although there are still tens of thousands of card-carrying members. There is no meaningful process of resuscitation or reform under way in either the PA, or its ruling party, Fatah. In private conversations, associates of the PA chairman, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), call him 'a pensioner still going to the office.'"[21] (emphasis added)

    Pressure from inside the party:

    Abbas is alienated from large segments of his party on both ends of the political spectrum:

    Husam Kadar is a Fatah-affiliated member of the PA legislature representing a Nablus area. As a member of the young guard he has a reputation as a particularly outspoken critic of corruption; his calls for Fatah transparency and accountability have gained him enormous grassroots support.

    In October, Kadar wrote a letter to Abbas from the Israeli prison where he is serving a sentence for terror-related activities. (These activities, directed towards an "enemy," are apparently considered acceptable while corruption within the party is not). Kadar's critique of Abbas, which gained the support of hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners in Israel, calls for Abbas to clean up Fatah and remove all symbols of corruption before moving into negotiations. Party members are increasingly upset because Abbas ignores calls for reform and continues to rely on the old guard.[22]

    Farouk Kaddoumi is very much a member of the old guard. But, as someone who is intransigent on matters of conciliation with Israel, he, too, has a following. While he never acknowledged Oslo, he serves as head of Fatah's Central Committee and works to block moderate moves that would bring legitimacy to Israel. A savvy politician, he is operating from within to undermine Abbas's authority to negotiate peace with Israel. (More on Kaddoumi follows.)

    Pressure from without: Hamas as a significant player:

    It is an error in thinking to assume that Fatah is a moderate foil to Hamas, for in fact the opposite is true:

    From the time that Hamas entered the political arena it has, in considerable measure, set the tone for Palestinian political discourse. Fatah is actually less able to moderate in the presence of Hamas.

    Hamas routinely represents moderation as "weakness" and is prone to saying that Fatah is "selling out the people" or "cooperating with the enemy." Abbas and his associates, loathe to be seen this way, are careful not to step too far. Thus, by way of example:

    In July, terrorist groups expressed anger at PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad for dropping the term "armed struggle" (mukawama) from his newly announced platform. "This is a government that works according to an American and Israeli agenda," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip.[23] Days later at a press conference, Fayyad elaborated: Palestinians have a right to resist the "occupation" even if the word mukawama didn't appear in his platform.[24]

    Recently, in response to reports of a possible Israeli invasion of Gaza, a top Fatah official said: "We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers."[25] (emphasis added) There has never been a word of criticism against Hamas by Fatah officials because of the launching of Kassams at Israeli civilians.

    There is some reason to believe, as well, that the intransigence in the PA negotiating position (discussed further below) may be in part a result of the political influence of Hamas. Just days ago a "senior Israeli diplomatic official" was quoted as saying that there would be no real diplomatic process with the Palestinians until Hamas was removed from Gaza.[26]

    Analyst Caroline Glick offers yet another perspective regarding Hamas control of Fatah: When Hamas took Gaza in June, its operatives seized a stunning quantity of Fatah intelligence information that has the potential to compromise Fatah. Following what Glick refers to as" the greatest intelligence victory ever accomplished by a jihadist organization,"[27] Hamas has achieved enhanced leverage.

    It should further be noted that there is not a clear ideological line between Hamas and all members of the Fatah party, for Fatah is divided ideologically. Thus it must be asked precisely whom Abbas represents.

    Last year PA officials charged that Farouk Kaddoumi had forged an alliance with Khaled Mashaal, political head of Hamas in Damascus, against Abbas and other Fatah leaders. He has met with Mashaal in Damascus several times.[28] As well as chairing its Central Committee, Farouk Kaddoumi is secretary-general of Fatah.

    The Palestinian Legislative Council recently passed a law (first reading) saying that any concession in negotiations on Jerusalem is illegal. It states that Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab and Islamic city and that it is totally forbidden to give up or conduct negotiations about any part of the city. The Council is still Hamas dominated, but it important to note that "many Fatah legislators have made it known that they too support the law."[29]

    Do they ACTUALLY INTEND to do it?

    The prevailing international attitude is that Abbas is weak now, but sincere in his intentions. Thus what he requires is strengthening so that he will be able to pursue the moderation that he truly desires.

    But what if he does not truly desire moderation? What if his own intentions lead him to intransigence, support of terrorism and hostility to Israel?

    The evidence that follows here makes clear the intentions of Abbas and his associates:

    Theirs is not the path of moderation.


    There is no clearer or more definitive evidence of the true intentions of Fatah, as run by Mahmoud Abbas, than the messages shared with the Palestinian people in Arabic.

    Poster Marking Fatah's 43rd Anniversary:

    That new poster is represented on the front page of this report and described within. It speaks for itself. No organization that is truly committed to peace with Israel and a two-state solution would put out such a poster: It delivers a message supporting elimination of Israel by violent means. In a sense, this poster, in and of itself, provides sufficient evidence of Fatah lack of moderate intentions.

    Palestinian (PA-controlled) TV:

    A mere day after the meeting at Annapolis, an information piece appeared on PA-TV that included a map painted in its entirety in the colors of the Palestinian flag. The message delivered to the people, in the wake of PA commitments to negotiate a two-state solution, is that the Palestinians will take over Israel.[30]


    Over the course of the last seven years, the Palestinian Authority has been replacing the Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks in its schools with ones it has published. The project was completed in 2006 with the production of texts for 11th and 12th grade. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education[31], an academic Israeli NGO, has over the years reviewed all of these texts, utilizing criteria established by UNESCO, with the addition of two criteria regarding how the other is represented and whether there is education for peace.

    On November 25, 2007, the Institute held a press conference in Jerusalem to review prior results and present its findings with regard to the last textbooks published.

    The major findings reported concerning PA textbooks:



    Intransigence –– stubborn inflexibility –– is a mark of immoderation. Yet this is precisely the tone that those negotiating on behalf of the PA have assumed.

    While it may be argued that to some degree this is a function of pressure from Hamas, the positions advanced by PA negotiators reflect internal Fatah policy as well.

    The intransigence is manifest in different ways:

    Failure to Educate for Peace:

    With the advent of new talks that are allegedly to lead to peace between Israel and the PA, Abbas has done nothing to prepare his people.

    At no time has he publicly indicated that they may have to compromise. Rather, he conveys the impression that they will get it all: East Jerusalem, Israel's full return to the pre-'67 lines, dismantling of settlements, return of refugees, etc.[32]

    In failing to teach his people to anticipate compromise, Abbas has backed himself into a corner: He cannot deliver a deal that requires Palestinian compromise, for his people will not accept it.

    Denial of Israel as a Jewish state:

    The refusal of PA negotiators to recognize Israel as a Jewish state merits particular attention, for this is something that Israel perceives as essential to true peace. Four days before Annapolis, a Friday sermon was delivered at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and broadcast by PA radio, which is Abbas-controlled. It set the tone for what was to follow. The translation from the Arabic includes:

    "Israel wants to be recognized as a Jewish state...If this request is granted... there will be no withdrawal to 1967 borders, no partition of Jerusalem and no deportation of the Israeli settlers. This is a serious danger to the Palestinian people...Israel's request...confirms that they are a racist regime...The effects on the Palestinians will be vast...The 1948 refugees will not be allowed to return to their homes...Jerusalem will become more Jewish...

    "The enemies of the Arab nation are mistaken. We [reject] the attempt to turn our holy city Jerusalem to Jewish. There must be an Islamic awakening...We call for a unified nation that follows one leadership and obeys the Koran. The conflict is a conflict between religions, but Allah has declared Palestine to be the land of Islam at the beginning of Al Israel' verse in the Koran. The same verse heralds victory to the Muslims."[33]

    Here we see a marked intransigence in a statement bearing the sanction of the PA a mere four days before a conference initiating peace negotiations.

    Implicit in the references to a "united nation...[that] obeys the Koran" and "Palestine [as] the land of Islam" with "victory to the Muslims" is that the Muslims will take all of "Palestine," with no room for a Jewish state.

    Statements on the issue have come from PA leaders since Annapolis, as well.

    Declared Abbas: "Historically, there are two states - Israel and Palestinian. Israel has Jews and other people,[34] and this we are ready to recognize, but nothing else."

    While PA negotiator Saeb Erekat explained that, "The Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity. ... There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined."

    Thus we see not only intransigence, but willful misrepresentation of facts.[35]

    As Abbas surely knows, historically there has never been a Palestinian (Arab) state. As to religious and national identities intertwined, Erekat is most certainly aware that the Arab League has many member nations, starting with Saudi Arabia, that are officially ruled by Islamic law (Shari'a).

    Developing Effective Security Forces: Subterfuge

    There is no evidence that Mahmoud Abbas sincerely wishes to clean up his security forces, rid them of terrorist influences, and instruct them to strictly enforce the law and act against all terrorist elements.

    Instead we see multiple, overlapping problems that include:

    Rout in Gaza:

    As one source described it: "Fatah had some 60,000 armed men in Gaza, a strip of land covering some 65 square miles. It also had heavy cannons and rocket-propelled grenades, which Hamas lacked. Yet even Fatah's four chief bases of al-Hawa, al-Muntadam, Sarayah and al-Safineh, claimed to be impregnable, fell in just a few hours, as their defenders fled."[36] They fled and left behind their equipment, for the most part unused.

    After the rout, The Observer interviewed Abu Obieda, head of Izzidine Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, who said: "I expected it to take one month. That is what we planned for and trained for. But then at the beginning, all the Fatah commanders escaped their compounds in ambulances and left for Egypt. They left their men to die. Who could do that?"[37]

    According to The Economist, "Mr. Abbas, sitting in the West Bank, did not declare a state of emergency until Hamas militants were ransacking his Gaza home. Mid-level Fatah officers complained bitterly about lack of leadership. 'We had orders not to fire except in self-defence.' "[38] (Emphasis added)

    The Hamas rout of Fatah in Gaza reflected upon the will and intent of Fatah political leaders and their military commanders in the field.

    Terrorists inside PA security forces:

    On November 19, 2007, a young Israeli husband and father, Ido Zoldan, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Samaria. Al Aksa Brigades, a terrorist branch of Fatah, quickly claimed responsibility.[39]

    Several days later it was revealed[40] that Zoldan's three murderers were members of PA Security forces, two of them brothers in National Security in Ramallah. They admitted that a fourth individual within National Security had provided them with their weapons for the attack.[41]

    Just a month earlier, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israeli Security), had informed the Israeli cabinet of a June plot by a cell of Palestinians to assassinate Prime Minister Olmert during the summer when he went to Jericho for a meeting with PA President Abbas.

    The gunmen planning Olmert's assassination were Fatah-affiliated members of the PA security forces.[42] Not only were they affiliated with security, they were to be assigned to help guard Olmert's auto convoy as it made its way into Jericho. The plot –– which involved shooting at Olmert's car –– was exposed by the Shin Bet, which informed PA security; the Israelis arrested two persons in the cell, and the PA three.

    Revolving door policy:

    Yuval Diskin, when announcing the plot to assassinate Olmert, also revealed that the three members of the cell arrested by the PA had been released from prison. There were conflicting stories as to how this had happened: that there wasn't enough evidence (even though they had confessed) or that it was done in error. Ultimately, they were re-arrested, although it is unclear as to what will happen to them.

    While their release was infuriating to Israeli officials, who at this point expected more of the PA, it should not have been surprising. For, in fact, this was typical of PA "law enforcement" actions over the past 13 years.

    According to analyst Barry Rubin, "The PA has never really punished anyone for murdering or trying to kill an Israeli or for attacking Israel."[43] (emphasis added)

    Others besides those who have murdered Israelis are handled in a similar manner. The PA did arrest some Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria in recent months, but none have been prosecuted and most have been let go.

    The revolving door policy provides a perfect example of an essential lack of integrity in PA practices.

    It's a show: The minimum is done to make it seem as if law enforcement agencies are acting appropriately, but there is no follow-through –– no sincerity of intent.

    Pretense regarding police effectiveness:

    When the 300 police were deployed in Nablus, "residents said that other than patrolling the streets and occupying rooftops, the policemen have taken no measures against dozens of gunmen who have long been imposing a reign of terror and intimidation in the largest West Bank city."

    One security officer explained "that he and his men had not received clear instructions to crack down on the gunmen."[44]

    Came the admission: "We arrested citizens who stole olive oil three years ago or fired into the air during weddings two years ago..."[45]

    Journalist Caroline Glick,[46] in October, provided two examples of misrepresentation by Fatah officials that are indicative of their style of operating:

    1) Jerusalem Post journalist Khaled Abu Toameh "was 'summoned' to Fatah's General Intelligence headquarters in Ramallah where he was given a 'scoop' –– a graphic videotape of the murder of a 16-year-old girl in July perpetrated as a so-called 'honor killing.' The Fatah officer in Ramallah supplied Abu Toameh with the phone numbers of two 'eye-witnesses' to the episode who would corroborate the story.

    "It [turned out] that the 'eye-witnesses' were Fatah militiamen in Gaza. The story was a fabrication. The video was taken in Iraq in April...Fatah wished to use the Post to project itself as a credible, moderate actor battling the forces of evil and darkness in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip." (Abu Toameh, with great integrity, later revealed the fact that he had been used.)

    2) "PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's...propaganda services announced that its forces in Bethlehem had intercepted two rockets 'ready for launch' against Israel in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala. They further announced that they had turned the rockets over to the IDF..

    "...Abbas used the story to explain why Israel should feel comfortable giving Fatah all of Judea and Samaria and half of Jerusalem. Responding to a question regarding... Israel's concern that areas transferred to Palestinian control will be used as operational bases for carrying out attacks...Abbas said, 'Last night, [our security forces] seized two rockets. We handed [them] over to the Israelis. We are very worried about these deeds and I think we can put an end to all this. Our security apparatus is ready to stop all kinds of violence.'

    "...the story was a total fabrication. The 'rockets' that Fatah transferred to the IDF were just a pile of metal pipes which had apparently been used as toys by local children. The IDF had already noted that the rockets weren't real..." (emphasis added)

    There are multiple similar instances of misrepresentation by PA officials designed to make them appear more effective than they are, and to demonstrate their intent to do the utmost, when in fact that intent is lacking. For example, there have been cases of the PA announcing a crackdown on Hamas when in fact the gunmen were left undisturbed and Hamas charities were closed.

    Here, as with the revolving door practices, we are witnessing a lack of PA integrity that seriously calls into question its officials' intent.

    The special case of Al Aksa:

    Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades is a militant branch of Fatah (whose connection to Fatah has been thoroughly documented). It is a terrorist organization that in fact receives special consideration –– and special cover –– from PA President Abbas and Fatah.

    In the instance cited above, in which a security officer stated that his men had not received clear instructions to target gunmen, to a large extent it was Al Aksa gunmen he was referring to. His elaboration makes this clear: "No one told us that our mission was to disarm or arrest members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades."

    In the refugee camps, the gunmen who bar entrance by PA security (see above) are frequently from Al Aksa. And so one officer confessed: "These gunmen are continuing to operate freely in the refugee camps near Nablus and Tulkarem." (emphasis added)

    Explains Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh: "Abbas can't afford a major confrontation with gunmen from his own faction, especially not when many of them are being pursued by Israel. A crackdown on the Aksa Martyrs Brigades...will only undermine Abbas's power and depict him as a pawn in the hands of Israel and the US."[47] (emphasis added)

    This past summer, arrangements were made for 178 Al Aksa gunmen in Judea and Samaria who were on Israel's wanted list to be given "amnesty." In exchange for Israel's agreement to no longer pursue them, the gunmen were to surrender their guns and sign a pledge that they would renounce terrorism.

    According to an AP report that found its way into several sources, "[a] senior Palestinian security official said all but three Al Aksa members have surrendered their weapons and sworn off violence, as part of the arrangement." [48]

    Investigative journalists, however, uncovered a very different story:

    "It's all a joke. It's just a joke. Abbas asked us to sign a declaration saying we won't attack Israel and so we are," declared one terror commander as he and his men handed in their guns to PA security, while journalists took their pictures. According to Caroline Glick, "[Abbas] agreed to pay them thousands of dollars in exchange for the photo opportunities."[49]

    Two days after the announcement (cited above) that all but three Al Aksa gunmen had handed in their weapons, Aaron Klein reported that, "Most members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorist group granted amnesty last month...have not turned in their weapons despite media reports to the contrary, while some haven't even signed their amnesty contracts."[50]

    "Abu Yousuf, a senior leader of the Brigades in Ramallah, told WND most Brigades members turned in one of several pieces of weaponry they possess. He said most Brigades members have two to three guns, including one to two personal weapons and one assault rifle issued by the PA, since the majority of Brigades members are also members of Fatah's security forces.[51]

    "It's true Brigades members turned in one of their weapons as a symbolic act, but they kept the others." (emphasis added)

    Within weeks the Brigades announced they would no longer honor the "truce' –– i.e., they would not disavow terrorism –– because two of their members who had been promised amnesty had been arrested by the IDF. Official sources were not talking (this was a sensitive political matter), but unofficially the information was that these men had been shooting at Israeli soldiers.

    Abbas's relationship with Al Aksa, and his propensity to protect it, casts the gravest of doubts on his intentions.

    What is more, this entire episode serves as yet one more illustration of Fatah duplicity: the surface pretense of fighting terrorism, with a hidden reality that is quite different.

    Relationship with Hamas

    Here we have the final indictment of Abbas with regard to his intention to pursue moderation.

    The picture painted for foreign consumption is one of Abbas and the Fatah standing against a terrorist Hamas and providing the region with a distinct moderate alternative.

    The reality is that there are connections between Fatah and Hamas now, which, by all indications, will only grow stronger.

    When considering Abbas's relationship with Hamas, the following should be kept in mind:

    Press reports regarding Fatah contacts with Hamas are ubiquitous and –– while particulars vary –– certainly give strong indication that a Fatah-Hamas relationship exists and is strengthening.

    In the beginning of August an Arab website reported that Fatah and Hamas had met secretly and forged agreements.

    This was followed a flurry of reports in the Arab press indicating much the same, and then reports in Israeli sources. A sampling of the reports:


    End Notes

    1 Translation by an Arabic-speaking Israeli journalist who covers security issues.

    2 See

    3 See

    4 From the time of the founding of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 under Oslo, until the parliamentary elections of January 2006, as a result of which Hamas became the majority party, the PA was unquestionably an organ of the Fatah party: the overwhelming majority of the members both of the parliament and the government were Fatah. With the political victory of Hamas, the parliament became Hamas-controlled. In February 2007, Hamas and Fatah, meeting in Mecca, forged a unity government. After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas withdrew to his Ramallah headquarters in Samaria, dismissed the unity government, and appointed a Fatah government (which Hamas declares to be illegal). Fatah focus in the interim has been on garnering strength in Judea and Samaria.

    5 Noura Erekat –– the niece of PA negotiator Saeb Erekat –– writing in al-Majdal, the quarterly magazine of Badil, a Palestinian rights organization, autumn 2007, made the following observation: "Although Abbas was elected President in 2005, Congress did not exalt him as a model Arab or Palestinian until the popular election of Hamas. Prior to Hamas's electoral victory, Abu Mazen's legacy on the Hill was as an ineffectual leader with a corrupt and unaccountable Cabinet. This theme of the 'good Palestinian' versus the 'bad Palestinian' became explicit only when it became clear that defeating Hamas would necessitate bolstering an alternative Palestinian leadership."

    6 The question of Fatah in Gaza is left not clearly defined: PA President Mahmoud Abbas declares that he represents the Palestinian people, both within Judea and Samaria, and Gaza, and claims that a state will incorporate Gaza, but in point of fact does not control Gaza.

    7 Yaakov Katz, "80,000 illegal arms hidden in W. Bank," The Jerusalem Post, September 4, 2007.

    8 Ehud Ya'ari, "Just the hard facts," The Jerusalem Post, November 11, 2007.

    9 Amir Rappaport, "Abbas's West Bank Rule an Optical Illusion," Ma'ariv, November 30, 2007, in Hebrew, translated by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Daily Alert, December 4, 2007.

    10 Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2007.

    11 Khaled Abu Toameh, "PA battles with reforming security," The Jerusalem Post, November 13, 2007.

    12 Staff, "Israeli Intelligence: Abbas is too weak," The Jerusalem Post, November 8, 2007

    13 Haaretz, December 30, 2005.

    14 Ian Fisher, "In One Village, Anger and a Hunger for Change," The New York Times, January 28, 2006.

    15 Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2006.

    16 Ezra Halevy, "Fatah Corruption Exposed by IPS and Hamas," Israel National News, August 1, 2007.

    17 Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, March 15, 2003.

    18 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinian Affairs: Summit Aside," The Jerusalem Post, August 30, 2007.

    19 Ibid.

    20 Staff, "Israeli Intelligence: Abbas is too weak," op. cit.

    21 Ehud Ya'ari, "Just the hard facts," op. cit.

    22 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinian Affairs: Between anvils and hammers," The Jerusalem Post, October 18, 2007.

    23 Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, July 27, 2007.

    24 YNet, July 30, 2007.

    25 Al-Masakin News Agency, November 30, 2007.

    26 Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2007.

    27 "Don't worry, be happy," posted on Glick's website,, on July 5, 2007.

    28 Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2007.

    29 Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, December 6, 2007.

    30 Palestinian Media Watch, November 28, 2007. The map may be seen at

    31 Its website:

    32 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinian Affairs: Between anvils and hammers, op. cit.

    33 Translation by an Arabic-speaking Israeli journalist who covers security issues.

    34 It is important to note the (intransigent) disparity of Abbas's expectations here: Israel has Jews and others (including Muslim Arabs), but Palestinian areas must be rendered Judenrein for the Palestinian state will include only Arabs.

    35 Such factual misrepresentation appears frequently as the PA leaders state their case: Abbas is on record as saying he's not sure there was ever a Jewish Temple on the Mount; more recently claims were made that the Kotel –– the Western Wall –– was purely Muslim.

    36 Amir Taheri, "Hopeless in Gaza, New York Post, June 16, 2007.

    37 Mitchell Prothero, "Hamas war chief reveals his plans for Gaza," The Observer (UK), June 24, 2007.

    38 The Economist (UK), June 21, 2007.

    39 YNet, November 20, 2007

    40 It was widely speculated that the identity of Zoldan's murderers was withheld until after Annapolis.

    41 Yaakov Katz, "PA police behind Ido Zoldan shooting," The Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2007.

    42 YNet, October 21, 2007.

    43 Barry Rubin, "The Ten Commandments of Palestinian Politics," Israelinsider, October 29, 2007.

    44 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Nablus clashes pose new threat to Abbas's authority," The Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2007.

    45 Palestinian Authority security official cited by Khaled Abu Toameh, "PA battles with reforming security," op. cit.

    46 Caroline Glick, "Peace loving murders," The Jerusalem Post, October 1, 2007.

    47 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Nablus clashes pose new threat to Abbas's authority," op. cit.

    48 (AP) Haaretz, August 5, 2007.

    49 Caroline Glick, "The joke's on us," The Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2007.

    50 Aaron Klein, "Terrorists dupe Israelis on weapons deal, WorldNetDaily, August 7, 2007.

    51 The plan to incorporate members of Al Aksa into the security forces was first introduced in 2005. Once the terrorists became policemen, it was said that law and order would be restored. This according to then PA Prime Minster Qurei, cited in The Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2005.

    This was published January 2008 by the Center for Near East Policy Research, Jerusalem. Contact them by email at


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