— President of the Palestinian Authority
— Leading politician of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction
The Weekly Standard reports that earlier this month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas approved a law authorizing lump-sum payments of $2,200 to the surviving family members of “shahids” (martyrs)–including suicide bombers. The law, which Abbas has not yet formally signed (and which the U.S. has tried to dissuade him from signing), would effectively pass to the Palestinian Authority the baton formerly carried by Saddam Hussein — that of providing financial support to the families of suicide bombers who Israel.
He has done much to incite Palestinian terrorism. No sooner had Israel withdrawn from the Gaza Strip in August of 2005, than Abbas arrived in the area to hail the withdrawal as a victory for Palestinian “martyrs,” the oft-used euphemism for anti-Israel terrorists and suicide bombers. “We must remember that our achievements are the result of the sacrifices of the martyrs,” Abbas was quoted telling thousands of his constituents, adding, “The martyrs have paved the road for us.” Abbas also seconded the position of various terrorist groups when he suggested that Palestinian claims to the West Bank and Jerusalem could only be fulfilled through anti-Israel violence. “The sacrifices of the martyrs, the wounded and the detainees, made the occupation leave Gaza and evacuate the settlements. This step will be followed by further withdrawals from the West Bank and Jerusalem,” Abbas said. In addition to capturing Israeli land, Abbas vowed that the Palestinians would free all terrorists imprisoned by Israel. “We will continue the quest until not a single prisoner is left in the Israeli jails,” Abbas declared August 30.
Several weeks later, on September 12, 2005, Abbas delivered his first official speech since the Israeli withdrawal, in the compass of which he claimed that Gaza Strip was still occupied because Israel, on the pretext of well-justified security concerns, had refused to surrender access over several access points into Gaza. Abbas also lavished praise on Palestinian terrorist groups, particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for what he claimed was their role in hastening Israel’s withdrawal.
From a political perspective, Abbas’ failure to confront terrorism has been relatively cost-free. The United States and much of the Western world continues to accept him as the democratic leader of the Palestinian Arabs, conveniently ignoring his failure to undertake democratic reforms and his troubling record of inciting anti-Israel violence, all the while plying the PA with millions of dollars in aid.