The way has been cleared for a Jan. 3 meeting in Jordan between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. It’s billed as the first such direct contact between the two sides after more than a year of a deep freeze in the so-called peace process. The United States, along with Russia, the European Union, the United Nations and Jordan, labored mightily for months to reach this milestone and, it is hoped, finally get the two sides back to the negotiating table.
So what does Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, do on the eve of the Jordan talks? He announces the appointment of Gen. Mahmoud Damara as his personal adviser. Damara happens to be an arch-terrorist with a trail of bloody attacks on Israelis. He was arrested and convicted by the Israelis for initiating shootings and bombings during the second intifada as a leader of Force 17, a special operations terror unit of Fatah, Abbas’s political party. While orchestrating attacks against Israelis, Damara personally fired RPG missiles at IDF units. Some of his terror attacks cost the lives of several Americans – something for the White House and the State Department to keep in mind next time they again embrace Abbas as a peace-maker.
Damara was released by Israel as part of the deal to free Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped and held as a hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
If Damara’s appointment isn’t a conspicuously provocative anti-peace move by Abbas, coming as it does on the eve of fragile peace feelers in Jordan, I’m ready to trade in my old press pass.
However, given this outrageous Abbas move, it’ll be interesting to see if mainstream media will even report it and also whether they will persist in continuing to call Abbas a “moderate” supposedly committed to a two-state solution? One would think that it’s past time for the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others, to depict the real Mahmoud Abbas, who is not willing to conduct serious peace negotiations with Israel – whether because Hamas is breathing down his neck not to engage in peace talks or whether he all along has aimed at the same objective as Hamas – the elimination of Israel?
In view of Damara’s appointment to Abbas’s inner circle, will the Times and the Post finally, at long last, get real about the head of the Palestinian Authority?
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers
Jeff Treesh adds:
Mahmoud Damara, arrested in 2006 for involvement in the shooting and bombing to death Israelis, was part of Yasser Arafat’s feared Force 17 terrorist group and was one of Israel’s most wanted terrorists until he was arrested in an IDF raid in 2001. Israel freed him last October, along with more than 1,000 other terrorists and security prisoners to gain the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
He served only one-third of his 15-year sentence, including four years he was in jail before his conviction less than two years ago. Damra was found guilty of planning and logistic coordination of numerous terror attacks in which many people were killed. Among those killed in the terror attacks were US citizens Esh-Kodesh Gilmore and the couple Binyamin and Talia Kahane in 2000.
Force 17, besides protecting Arafat, was involved in the murder of at least eight Israelis, including soldiers and a woman civilian. Damarasupplied the members of the organization with armaments and defined the policies for terrorist attacks,” the IDF said after a raid on the terrorist squad in 2001.
Two years ago, while he Damra was still in prison, Abbas decided to promote him to the rank of major-general. The appointment of the former Force 17 terrorist came a day after Abbas said “all options are on the table” if Israel does not concede to his demands for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority as a new Arab country within Israel’s borders.
The appointment of Damara is the latest in a number of steps that indicate Abbas is paving the way for a renewed Intifada, despite his public statements to the contrary. A week ago, he suddenly fired his senior security officer without informing the Obama administration’s military coordinator. In his stead, he appointed an officer who is suspected of ties with the underworld.
Why Israel is even bothering to go to Jordan on Tuesday to talk to these people is beyond comprehension. Fatah and Hamas claim to be working on a unity government for the free worlds news consumption, and as usual tell their masses the exact opposite. When Fatah pulls stunts like this, they can only be rivaled by Hamas and his Arab tour to form a ‘Jerusalem Army”, with the goal of destroying Israel. They think they can revoke recognition of Israel when ever they want, which proves they have no intentions of a desire for peace or a 2 state solution, they want it all.
After decades wasted on the Palestinian cause, at a cost of billions upon billions in aid and assistance, do we have peace? We received airline hijackings, the Munich massacre, two intifadas, suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings, kidnappings, stoning, lynchings, vandalism and environmental damage, rocket attacks, arson, extortion, libel and slander, blackmail, weapons smuggling, indoctrination of several generations of Arab youth (in and out of the disputed territories.), incitement, riots, the list goes on with these genocidal transients.
Didn’t Obama and Congress just authorize 40 million last week to these people for humanitarian and economic purposes? At least we know Abbas will make sure those convicted Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails will still get their unemployment checks on time, and an all expenses paid vacation upon being freed. The next time they manage to snatch a Jew that is.
If only Israel will just stop building those pesky apartments. Right, Hillary?