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“Coronavirus Aid: A bridge to peace” by Richard D. Heideman

Op-Ed by AZM President Richard D. Heideman published May 27, 2020 in JNS

The Arab Palestinians deserve the right to good health, good education, good living and a good government. The P.A. stands in the way of these.

In this age of coronavirus, one would think that the world’s governments would come together to truly put people, and not power, first.

Last Tuesday, in a tremendous display of countries putting humanitarian concerns ahead of all differences, the United Arab Emirates sent aid to the Palestinians by way of an Etihad Airways flight which landed at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, the region’s closest airport to Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority.

This was historic, not only as the first public flight between the UAE and Israel, which do not currently have official relations, but also because it disregarded all previous biases and diplomatic pronouncements between the UAE, as a leading Arab nation, with regard to having public relations with Israel.

The purpose was pure: providing much needed personal protective and medical equipment to the Arab Palestinians living in those areas of the West Bank over which the P.A. has quasi-governmental responsibility.

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Unfortunately, the Palestinian people were unable to benefit from this aid.

The P.A. rejected the shipment, because the UAE chose to coordinate logistics with Israel and not the P.A.

The P.A. leadership’s refusal denies the primary responsibility of a government leader: to protect their people. To do so for political gain, or even on manufactured grounds of “principle,” is as unconscionable as would be a leader rejecting offered aid for victims of an earthquake, fire, a heinous act of terror or other tragedy.

For the P.A. to reject UAE aid because the airplane landed in Tel Aviv without Palestinian approval is another example of the P.A.’s rank rejectionism of peace and the very existence of Israel, and yet another abuse of its responsibilities to the Arab Palestinians under the failed leadership of Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas always paints Israel as the perpetrator, no matter how much good it does.

The entire civilized world must stop countenancing the inappropriate and counterproductive conduct of the P.A. and PLO.

Every time something happens which the Palestinian leaders do not like, they threaten terror and retaliation. In this case, the rejection of aid is purely due to the notion that Israel and the neighboring Arab countries are working together for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs. It is inane and unacceptable.

This refusal of cooperation on aid is further evidenced not only by the P.A.’s threatened cancellation of security relations with Israel, but its ongoing threat to cancel all agreements with Israel.

One of the agreements they are reportedly trying to cancel are the Oslo Accords themselves. Ironically, it is the Oslo Accords that created the P.A., so abrogating Oslo essentially invalidates the quasi-government existence of the P.A. and arguably returns all authority and responsibility to the PLO, which we must remember consists of numerous designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).

Both the P.A. and the PLO have fully rejected all aspects of the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” proposal. The plan, which was rapidly accepted by Israel and initially supported by multiple neighboring Arab states, aims to help forge a peace by investing resources in infrastructure projects that would create jobs for the Palestinian Arabs and improve their quality of life across the board.

Perhaps that plan should better be called a thoroughly prepared “Plan for Prosperity Leading to Peace.” Warming relations with Israel, one of the leading innovation, sustainability and intelligence centers in the world, would have immense benefits for the governments of the Middle East and perhaps most of all for the Arab Palestinians.

Peace means jobs; peace means economic development; peace means wholesome lives; peace means well-clothed, well-fed, well-educated and healthy children. Peace means resources get redirected from defense towards improving lives.

The Arab Palestinians deserve the right to good health, good education, good living and a good government. Israel is not the obstacle to any of these things and certainly not to peace.

The obstacles are squarely placed by Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, who have worked to keep themselves in office without elections and have reportedly enriched themselves from monies donated by the United States, the European Union, the Arab governments and others, with little accountability.

Meanwhile, as the international community gives the P.A. reasons to believe that eliminating Israel—the stated objective of the numerous FTOs running rampant in the region—remains a possibility, Palestinian leadership will continue to cut off its people from the bright future which they deserve; and which it is time that they demand.

The UAE’s bold step in flying into Ben Gurion Airport is arguably the best symbol of peace from the Arab world since at least the treaties Israel signed with Egypt and Jordan decades ago and perhaps since the establishment of the State of Israel and its recognition by the United Nations on May 14, 1948. This bold leadership should be applauded, recognized and supported, and at the same time the rejectionism of Abbas and the Palestinian leadership should be castigated and derogated as the primary obstacle to peace and prosperity for the Palestinian Arabs, and for peace throughout the region.

The governments of Israel and certain Arab states are clearly ready and willing to work together for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs. It is time to help the Palestinian people break free of their oppressive and failed leadership, and to encourage them to rise up, not against Israel but against those who are the true oppressors of their rights and freedom: Abbas and his henchmen.

Richard D. Heideman, who is senior counsel of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC, the Washington, D.C., law firm which represents American victims of terror, also serves as president of The American Zionist Movement. The opinions expressed are his own and not attributable to any organization.