Sometimes terror doesn't have to pay. Reports last week that Fatah Prime
Minister Salam Fayad had paid the annual salaries of members of Hamas's army
in Gaza caused US Congressman Eric Cantor to shoot off a livid letter to
Cantor, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, had
just returned from leading a Republican Congressional delegation to
Israeland the Palestinian Authority where he met with Fayad in
Ramallah. He wrote,
"Without further explanation from you, I will feel compelled… to forewarn my
colleagues in the Congress that any visits with your government offer little
value toward bringing peace and security to Palestinians and Israelis.
Furthermore, I will help lead opposition in Congress to any proposed call
for additional US taxpayer dollars being sent to the Palestinian Authority."
Cantor has good reason as an American to be angry at Fayad. Hamas forces in
Gaza, which are trained and commanded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,
constitute a key member of the axis of global jihad against which the US is
fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and indeed, throughout the world. By
strengthening Hamas, Fayad is not simply harming Israel. He is acting in a
manner that strengthens the axis as a whole. And so he is harming US
national security interests.
In defending his move, Fayad initially claimed that the payment was a
regrettable error caused by a computer glitch. In his updated story, Fayad
claimed that a Hamas agent in his Ministry of Finance was responsible for
Fayad's excuses naturally raise the question: If Fatah opposes Hamas, why
are all the names and bank account numbers of Hamas's soldiers conveniently
located in Fatah's Ministry of Finance's computer files?
Aside from that, it is hard to believe that Fayad objected to paying the
jihad forces. Since Hamas took over Gaza in June Fayad has regularly paid
the salaries of Hamas legislators, civil servants in Hamas's government, and
Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Moreover, Fayad's assertions that Fatah opposes Hamas are hardly believable
given that Fatah is engaged in intense negotiations with Hamas towards a
reunification of their forces. Wednesday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated
openly that he seeks to reconcile with Hamas. In his joint press briefing
with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso Abbas called for a "return to
national unity." He said, "The split [between Judea and Samaria and
Gazawhich happened] as a result of Hamas's coup is temporary and will
The fact that Fatah is itself a jihadist terror group also works to explain
why it has no problem paying the salaries of Hamas's terror army. The
inconvenient truth of Fatah's commitment to terror was brought home this
week with the indictment of Fatah legislator and deputy commander of its
General Intelligence militia Jamal Tirawi. Tirawi is accused of dispatching
the suicide bomber that blew up at Coffee Shop cafe in Tel Aviv in March
2002. He is also accused of training and commanding other terrorists who
carried out suicide and shooting attacks against Israelis.
Tirawi's indictment was further evidence that Fatah undermines US interests.
As Aaron Klein reported Wednesday in *World News Daily*, as deputy commander
of Fatah's General Intelligence militia, Tirawi held extensive contacts with
US Security Coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton and received US weapons.
But of course America is not Fatah's primary victim.
IDF forces which engaged Hamas' army in southern Gaza this week reported
that Hamas today is a much more formidable foe than it ever was before. It
fights much like Hizbullah. It has advanced arms and equipment and is
organized in disciplined units.
Since Fayad paid these forces with funds that Israel transferred to him, it
could have been expected that the Olmert government would be joining Cantor
in condemning him. But, in yet another sign of the government's strategic
dementia, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rushed
to Fayad's defense.
Speaking to a visiting delegation of Democratic Congressmen, Olmert and
Livni insisted that Fayad was telling the truth when he said that his
payments to Hamas's army were the result of a computer glitch. As
Representative Steny Hoyer told *The Jerusalem Post,* Olmert, Livni and the
US consul general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles all "said they believed that
this was a clerical, bureaucratic mistake, not a conscious effort to help
"In light of the fact that Israel's foreign minister, Israel's prime
minister and our consul general all agreed on that fact, Mr. Fayad's
representations had more credibility with us when we brought it up with
him," Hoyer concluded.
On the most basic level, it is deeply disturbing that Olmert and Livni are
acting as Fatah's public relations team. But beyond that, their insistent
support for Fatah demonstrates that they fail to understand or reconcile
themselves to three basic facts.
First, Livni and Olmert show that they are incapable of accepting the basic
fact that Fatah is Israel's enemy. Their commitment to appeasing Fatah and
establishing a Palestinian state is so strong, that they cling to it even
when Fatah's inherent hostility is staring them in the face.
Second, they fail to understand the potential impact of Cantor's letter on
US policy towards the Palestinians. In defending Fayad against Cantor's
rebuke, Livni and Olmert made clear that for them, there ought not, and
indeed, cannot be a US policy towards the Palestinians other than Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice's policy of pressuring Israel to give land, money,
statehood and guns to the Fatah terror organization.
Finally, by supporting Rice's policy of appeasing Palestinian terrorists,
Olmert and Livni ignore the fact that both Israel and the US are treating
the Palestinian jihad in a manner that completely contradicts the US's
strategy for contending with the forces of jihad everywhere else in the
world. In stark contrast to the administration's embrace of Fatah and
Palestinian statehood, everywhere else in the world, the US works to defeat
terrorists and deny them control of territory. The fact that the current
US-Israeli policy towards Palestinian terrorists is antithetical to the Bush
administration's overall strategy for fighting terror is reason enough to
expect that many Americans might not believe that Rice's support for Fatah
and Palestinian statehood advances US interests.
Although Olmert and Livni refuse to see any of this, Rice herself openly
acknowledges that that hers is not the only possible view of the Palestinian
jihad against Israel. Last month, in a conversation with members of
Congress, Rice explained that she feels compelled to devote her energies to
creating a Palestinian state quickly because she cannot trust that the next
administration will see the situation as she does.
The strongest voices calling for the US to apply the same policies towards
the Palestinians that it applies to terror forces throughout the world are
heard President George W. Bush's own Republican Party. Former New York mayor
and Republican presidential frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani has been the
strongest Republican voice calling for change to date.
In an article published this week in Foreign Affairs, Giuliani supported
Bush's view that the aim of the US war is to destroy both the global
terrorist movement and its radical Islamic-fascist ideology. Giuliani
expressed deep misgivings, however regarding Bush's actual policies which he
believes have been inconsistent and insufficiently strong.
Giuliani makes his call for consistency most clearly in his discussion of
the Palestinians and Israel. In his words, "Too much emphasis has been
placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians -
negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the
interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by
Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will
Giuliani added, "America's commitment to Israel's security is a permanent
feature of our foreign policy."
By so couching his argument, Giuliani made clear that from his perspective,
there is no difference between the jihad against Israel and the jihad
throughout the world. As a result, in his view the US should align its
policy towards the Palestinians with its policy against jihad everywhere in
While Giuliani has been the most candid in his critique of Bush's policy
towards the Palestinians, his views are not out of sync with the general
tenor of the Republican presidential debate. Former Massachusetts governor
Mitt Romney and former Senator Fred Thompson have similarly made clear that
they believe the US must be more forthright and consistent in fighting the
The Republican debate should be signaling two things to Israel. First, it
shows that there is a reasonable chance that in January 2009 Israel will be
greeted by a US administration that does not share the Olmert government's
enthusiasm for appeasing Palestinian terrorists.
Second it indicates that as the 2008 elections draw nearer, the Republican
candidates may force Bush to dampen his support for Fatah. Rice may not be
able to force her way to the finish line.
Here in Israel, after Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu's stunning victory in
the Likud leadership primaries Tuesday, we are also moving into pre-election
mode. Israeli voters will expect Labor leader and Minister of Defense Ehud
Barak and Netanyahu to present their visions of where Israel should be
Since Barak owes his primary victory to Labor's Arab voters, no one expects
for him to give up on his commitment to Palestinian statehood. But Netanyahu
is a different story. It would make perfect sense for Likud to base its
electoral platform on recognizing that Fatah is Israel's enemy, and by
rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state. And Netanyahu is better
qualified than any politician to convince Israeli voters to support such a
In addressing Iran's nuclear weapons program, Netanyahu recognized that
there is a strong coalition in the US that is eager to act more forcefully
to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons than either the Olmert
government or the Bush administration. Netanyahu wisely supported these
forces and helped them to pressure the administration to intensify its
efforts to stop the Iranians. One consequence of that pressure was the
administration's decision this week to label the Iranian Revolutionary
Guards as a terrorist organization.
As Cantor's letter and Giuliani's article make clear, there also is a strong
coalition in the US that is willing to recognize that Fatah is a member of
the enemy camp and to accept that a terror-supporting Palestinian state
would harm US national security interests. Yet, as Steny Hoyer made clear,
only Israelis can stand at the helm of such a coalition. Israelis and
Americans alike must hope that Netanyahu will embrace his duty to lead that