THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (PA)

 

ESTABLISHMENT

The PA is an administrative entity established by the Oslo Accords.  An off-shoot of the PLO, it came into being when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, and Peres's deputy, Yossi Beilin, concluded that a negotiating process with the Palestinians would be successful only if it involved Arafat and his cohorts, who were in Tunis. 

The Palestinian Authority itself was first established with the Gaza-Jericho First agreement in 1994; the size of the area over which it had jurisdiction was expanded with the 1995 Interim Agreement, which divided Gaza and Judea-Samaria into regions A (where the PA had total control), B (where the PA had only civil control, and C (where Israel had full control).

ELECTIONS

Elections were first held in 1996, at which time Yasser Arafat officially became the president of the PA, and a Legislative Council was elected.  Elections were supposed to be held again in 1999, but were not.  The election of Mahmoud Abbas as president, in January 2005, following Arafat's death, and the January 25, 2006 Legislative Council elections were the first held since the original elections.

Until the Hamas victory in the 2006 Council elections, the PA was dominated by PLO persons who were also members of Fatah.

SUBSEQUENT AGREEMENTS AND TERRORISM

The links between Hamas and the PA existed from the beginning. 

Arafat kissing Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin

 

Less than a year after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Jibril Rajoub, then head of PA Preventive Security in the West Bank, said, "We sanctify the weapons found in the possession of the national factions...If there are those who oppose the agreement with Israel, the gates are open to them to intensify the armed struggle."

And not long after, PA spokesman  Nabil Sh'ath said, "For us we have a political relationship with Hamas, a brotherly relationship."

In January 1997, agreements were reached between the PA and Israel regarding redeployment in Hebron; this was followed by further agreements at the Wye Conference in Maryland in October 1998, and then the September 1999 Sharm El-Sheikh Memorandum -- all intended to facilitate and spell out details of the earlier Interim Agreement.

While these agreements were being signed, however, terrorism never abated. 

In Septemeber 1995, a formal pact was established between the PA and Hamas that asserted the unity of the Palestinian people, sanctioned continuing Hamas terrorist attacks (executed outside of areas  under direct PA control), committed the PA to halting security measures against Hamas.

In March 1997, Arafat and a few aides met secretly with the heads of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to discuss promoting increased terrorism.  PA VIPs with Israeli passes carried forbidden weapons in their cars from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.

The practice of Arafat was to play a "good cop-bad cop" routine: He claimed to be seeking peace, to have no knowledge of what the terrorists were doing and no ability to control them.  In reality he sanctioned what they did, and used the "terror option" as a weapon to be called up whenever negotiations with Israel were not to his liking. 

CAMP DAVID FAILURE

In July 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met with Arafat at Camp David, Maryland.  Barak made an offer to Arafat that was reported to include Israeli withdrawal from 95% of Judea-Samaria and 100% of Gaza, and the creation of a Palestinian State in the areas of Israeli withdrawal; Palestinian control of east Jerusalem including much of the Old City and sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat had to agree to "cessation of hostilities." He professed himself unhappy with the offer, which didn't include "right of return," and he simply walked out without making a counter-offer. Clinton later attributed failure of the "peace process" to Arafat's intransigence.

TERROR WAR

By September 2000, over 85% of Gaza and 39.7% of Judea-Samaria were under the control of the Palestinian Authority.  Approximately 99% of the Palestinian population resided under the PA's jurisdiction.

It was at this point that what is know as the Second or Al Aksa Intifada  had begun.

The pretext was a visit that Member of Knesset Ariel Sharon paid to the Temple Mount. Carefully coordinated, in large part by Marwan Barghouti, it was, more accurately, a terrorist war of considerable proportions that ended at least 1,000 innocent Israeli lives and maimed many more. In 2002, in the face of horrendous attacks, Israel moved back into Palestinian population centers to combat terrorism -- this was called Operation Defensive Shield.

In the course of Operation Defensive Shield, documentation was secured that makes clear the degree to which the PA was directly involved in terrorism, including in its funding.  Additionally, in 2002 and 2003 the Israeli navy intercepted two arms ships, attempting to smuggle illegal arms to Palestinian Authority areas and directly linked to the PA. 

Some of the weapons found on the Karine A ship that were to be smuggled to the PA

 

MAJOR SHIFTS

As the Quartet -- the US, the UN, the EU and Russia -- began to structure the "Roadmap for Peace" as a means of promoting peace in the Middle East, the PA was called upon to take some specific actions.  One was the final drafting of a proposed constitution for a Palestinian state.  The other was the institution of the office of Prime Minister. This post was held briefly by Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), who resigned in anger after a brief stint because Arafat was attempting to control him; he was succeeded by Ahmed Qurei (aka Abu Ala) who held the position until the Hamas victory, at which time he resigned.  

Following the death of Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas was elected President of the PA, in January 2005.  Abbas was hailed widely as being a moderate, which was never the fact.  Not only was he a crony of Afafat from the begining -- and co-founder of Fatah, he had promoted terrorism over the years.  Once in office, he avoided reigning in terrorist groups, preferring instead to call for unity and asking them to join with the PA.   

Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen)

 

By the last months of 2005, and particularly after the Israeli pullout from Gaza, it became clear that the Palestinian Authority was not in control.  Law and order, such as it had been in the PA, began to crumble and gunmen took to the streets with an increasing degree of intra-Palestinian violence.  Especially was this the case in Gaza, where extended families and clans often controlled matters. Fatah members were often involved, and in some instances members of the PA security forces.   

From November 2005, when -- under pressure from the US -- Israel consented to PA control of the crossing from Egypt to Gaza at Rafah, the PA has done nothing to stop terrorists, some wanted by Israel for years, from entering Gaza.  

In January 2006, there came a cataclysmic change, as Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Ismail Haniyeh became the new prime minister; from Damascus, Hamas strongman Khalid Ma'ashal continued to control matters. The international community, in an attempt to weaken Hamas, imposed international sanctions. 

Tension arose between Fatah, which had always been in control prior to this, and Hamas.  President Abbas fluctuated for a year between threats of new, early elections and promises of a unity government. Intra-Palestinian violence grew, with gunmen from the two factions roaming the street and multiple incidents of murders, woundings, kidnappings and destruction of public property; Hamas formed its own militia.  Repeatedly, attempts at forming a unity government fell apart because of mistrust and the determination of each party to retain control.

In June 2006, Hamas and Fatah signed the "Prisoners' Document."  In Israeli prisons, a coalition of Palestinian prisoners, led by Marwan Barghouti, had drafted the document in an attempt to promote unity.  In order to secure Hamas cooperation in its signing, Abbas conceded further points. It called for refugee return, a Palestinian state on all lands taken by Israel in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.  It sanction terrorism (called "resistance by any means") even within Green Line Israel.  This document was intended to serve as a basis for negotiating a unity government.

In February 2007, in Mecca under the sponsorship of the Saudis, Fatah and Hamas agreed to establish a unity government, with Fatah making almost all of the concessions.  Hamas agreed to none of the benchmarks established by the international community: recognition of Israel's right to exist, abiding by past agreements, renunciation of terrorism.

The spirit of the unity government broke down quickly following the agreement and major violence between Fatah and Hamas ensued.  In June 2007, Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza in a military coup, and Fatah withdrew to Judea and Samaria. 

President Abbas declared the PA government at an end and appointed a new emergency/tempoary Fatah-based government with Salam Fayyad -- formerly PA finance minister -- as Prime Minister, a move that Hamas declared illegal. 

A shaky Abbas is being bolstered by the international community.

 

Salam Fayyad, PA prime minister in temporary government

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INCITEMENT

From the time that the Palestinian Authority began to have administrative jurisdiction over the Palestinian population in 1994, there was never an attempt to do peace education or to prepare the Palestinians to live side by side with Israel. Quite the contrary has been true, as the PA has consistently promoted hatred, the illegitimacy of Israel and the need for "Jihad."  This is in defiance of what was called for both in the Oslo Accords and the "Roadmap."  The hate propaganda has been unremittingly present in the media, in school textbooks, and in sermons from PA-paid Muslim clergy. 

Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, who, in the pay of the PA, has given fiery sermons of hate from the pulpit

 

CORRUPTION 

The corruption found earlier in the PLO was sustained in the PA by the Fatah majority that was in control until 2006.  The Palestinian Development and Investment Company, registered in Liberia and operating out of Nablus, has fostered monopolies that gave control of major industries to a group of Arafat cronies.  The PA has been known for a variety of irregularities, such as keeping two sets of books.  While the PA has been the recipient of enormous sums of money from international sources, the Palestinian people have had minimum benefit from this, as large percentages have ended up in private pockets or have been diverted for terror.

This corruption was a campaign issue for the PA in 2006.