Is the Palestinian Authority a true peace partner? Here in Israel there’s high anxiety that the PA is still obstinately opposed to ultimate reconciliation with Israel — that it speaks one way to a Western audience and an entirely different way to its own people.
For example, lost in the drama over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit and address to Congress was this news item from the Jerusalem Post:
A new Palestinian Authority law grants a monthly salary to all Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terrorism, a media watchdog says in a report being released on Friday.
While Palestinian car thieves in Israeli prisons will not receive a salary, Hamas and Fatah terrorist killers will, the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) report says.
Those serving sentences of more than 20 years will receive higher salaries, according to the new PA law. Salaries are to be paid from the day of arrest until release.
The PMW report points out that more than 6,000 Palestinians are currently serving time in Israeli prisons for terror- related offenses.
Among those now eligible for salaries are Abdullah Barghouti, serving 67 life sentences for acts that include planning the Sbarro restaurant (2001) and Moment cafe (2002) suicide bombings in Jerusalem; Hassan Salameh, serving 38 life sentences for offenses that include planning a series of 1996 bus bombings; and Jamal Abu al-Hijja, serving nine life sentences for planning 2005 bombings in Hadera and Netanya.
Moreover, the PA routinely rejects Israel’s right to exist in its state-run media and state-approved textbooks. In other words, even as it tells the world that it wants a peace process, it teaches its people that there is no Israel, only Palestine. Is this how a “peace partner” acts?
For true peace to exist, the Arab and Muslim culture, not merely its governments, must accept Israel’s right to exist. Otherwise, peace agreements are more rightfully characterized as “truces,” and peace agreements endure only so long as the regimes that sign them.
With Arab society overrun with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, the Arab Spring can look more dangerous than promising. Egypt will be an interesting test case. Will the new, permanent government that finally emerges honor the Camp David Accords? Already the signs are ominous.