A senior Palestinian Authority official on Saturday said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ public condemnation of the abduction of three Israeli teens notwithstanding, a majority of Palestinians support the terrorist action.
Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of the important Revolutionary Council of Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction, told The Jerusalem Post that most on the Palestinian street are happy about the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel if it means they can be traded for thousands of jailed Palestinian terrorists.
Indeed, Palestinians young and old have been taking their joy to the Internet, where flourishing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter celebrate the abduction with a three-finger salute (one for each of the captive youths).
This grotesque commemoration escalated this week when Palestinians uploaded to YouTube a parody video suggesting that the abduction was a conspiracy hatched between Israel and Hamas.
“The purpose of these videos is to mock Israelis, to make us look stupid,” Dr. Ido Zelkovitz, a professor of Middle East History at Haifa University, told the Walla news portal. “The video is also full of religious motifs and smacks of anti-Semitism.”
So, where does this leave Abbas?
Certainly, he has taken a great risk by breaking with Palestinian societal norms and not only condemning this terrorist act, but committing himself and his regime to helping Israel find and rescue the captive youths.
That’s certainly what outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres thinks.
“Abbas is the best partner Israel has ever had, and has now,” Peres told the Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem this week, adding that what the Palestinian leader “did right now before a totally Arab audience in Saudi Arabia — being clear on peace, being clear on terror, risking his life [was] not a simple position.”
But Maqboul said that Peres, and anyone who thinks like him, has been skillfully duped by Abbas.
Abbas condemned the abduction in order to “spare Palestinians the dangers of Israeli aggression and avoid international pressure,” insisted the Fatah official.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli expert on Islam and the Middle East, agreed with Maqboul.
“[Abbas] says what is expected of him to say,” Kedar told Artuz Sheva, noting that Abbas’ mentor and predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was also skilled at speaking the right words at the right time to the right audience.
Be that as it may, Abbas had certainly managed to anger a large number of Palestinians and Arabs in neighboring countries with his perceived cooperation with Israel. In the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah, mobs of stone-throwers attacked Palestinian Authority police stations, and in the neighboring Hashemite Kingdom activists called to revoke Abbas’ Jordanian citizenship.