PMW JPost Op-ed: Hamas – the new uncontested representative of the Palestinian people

Itamar Marcus | Nov 12, 2023

There are terrorists and there are terror multipliers. Hamas committed the terror atrocity when it sent more than 2,000 terrorists into Israel torturing, murdering, decapitating, raping, burning people alive, and kidnapping 240 hostages. But it is the PA and Fatah by giving unrestrained support to Hamas’ massacre who have helped galvanize the entire Palestinian population behind the ISIS-like atrocities and behind Hamas.  

A Fatah leader on official PA TV celebrated the massacre of women and babies as “a morning of victory, and morning of joy, a morning of pride,” and called in the name of Fatah “to all our Palestinian people to take action and participate in this story of heroism.” [Official PA TV, Oct. 8, 2023] PA and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas justified the massacres as the Palestinian “right to self-defense” and called Israel’s counterattack “Israeli escalation against our people.” [WAFA, Oct. 7, 2023] PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh’s response to Hamas’ atrocities was calling it: “a natural result” of Israel’s “crimes.” [WAFA, Oct. 7, 2023] And the PA’s official news agency WAFA publicized Fatah’s call to Palestinians to join the terror, “… to escalate the confrontation in all arenas.” [WAFA, Oct. 7, 2023] Even deep into the fighting when the extent of the atrocities was known, Fatah officials continued to refer to the slaughter as “the heroic operation.” [Al-Mashhad TV (Dubai), Oct. 17, 2023]

The PA/Fatah missed a unique opportunity to change course, renounce terror, and finally offer the Palestinians an alternative. After many years of promoting, supporting, and rewarding terror, and educating children to see themselves as future terrorists, the unspeakable barbarism of their political rivals Hamas, created for PA/Fatah a unique opening to send a message to the Palestinian people about the evil of terror. Abbas’ PA and Fatah could have condemned Hamas, condemned the indescribable horrors, and told their people to make a choice: continue the old way of atrocity and terror represented henceforth by Hamas alone, or choose a new path of peace – represented henceforth by Fatah alone.  

Tragically, Abbas and the Fatah party put themselves firmly behind Hamas and its atrocities, celebrating the massacres, and even laughing at the victims. One video posted by Fatah on Telegram mocked the Israeli victims by portraying them in an illustration as a dead rat, lying on its back on an Israeli flag with its feet in the air, about to be trampled by a boot the colors of the Palestinian flag. [Fatah’s Bethlehem Telegram, Oct. 8, 2023]

Even when pressed by the international community and in particular by the United States to condemn the atrocities, Abbas refused. He finally issued a mild statement, not condemning Hamas, but merely saying that “Hamas’ policy and actions do not represent the Palestinian people.” But after giving it a second thought, even that mild statement was too much for Abbas. A few hours later his statement was removed and replaced by a general statement that The PLO is… the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

Abbas had to decide whether to be true to the PA ideology of supporting and rewarding the murder of Israelis or to give in to international pressure and condemn the worst atrocities against the Jews since the Holocaust. In situations like this in the past, Abbas at times has given in to international pressure to ensure that international funding will continue. This time Abbas wavered but, in the end, remained true to PA principles: a Palestinian can never be defined as a terrorist and can never condemned when killing an Israeli. 

With the support for Hamas crossing the political divisions, it is no wonder that one week into the fighting Palestinians marched through the streets of Hebron, Nablus, and even in the PA capital, Ramallah, chanting: “The people want the [Hamas’] Al-Qassam Brigades!” As the fighting increases public support for Hamas’ increases. This week, videos of large marches all across the West Bank supporting Hamas are being posted on social media. In one, hundreds of young schoolgirls marched and chanted: “We are the daughters of [Hamas leader] Muhammad Deif… Allahu Akbar, blow up the Zionist’s head… strike Tel Aviv… strike Ashkelon… Jihad is our path… the Quran is our savior… Death for Allah is our sublime wish…” [Quds New Network (Hamas), Twitter, Oct. 29, 2023]

By refusing to offer Palestinians an alternative to even unspeakable atrocities and by supporting the “heroic” slaughter, Fatah and Abbas have sent a clear message to Palestinians: Hamas is doing the right job and clearly doing it better than PA/Fatah.

Ironically, Abbas’ public response to the atrocities and by repeating the slogan that “the PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”, has turned that slogan into an irrelevant anachronism. The PA and Fatah with their own actions have handed the loyalty of the West Bank on a silver platter to Hamas, which must now be recognized as the uncontested representative, not only of the Palestinian people, but also of Fatah and Abbas himself.

[The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 2023]