Illustration by David Smith
Mahmoud Abbas is the man who Britain, America and Europe think deserves to be the president of an independent state of Palestine — the establishment of which, they tell themselves, would end the Middle East impasse.
To Western eyes Abbas, the Fatah-backed President of the Palestinian Authority, is a moderate. It is, however, simply astounding that he should be viewed in this way. It is even more astounding that Western liberals should endorse him and give him a free pass for his behaviour.
Both he and the Palestinian establishment he controls repeatedly say they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. So his aim remains the destruction of Israel. He and his people repeatedly say that not one Jew would be allowed to live in Palestine. Such a state would therefore be a racist entity ethnically cleansed of Jews.
Abbas has gone even further in making plain that his bigotry is directed not just at Israel. Considering the possibility that Nato forces might be brought in to police a settlement, Abbas declared: "I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces."
Such bigotry is hardly surprising given that he earned the Soviet equivalent of a PhD in Moscow for a dissertation published in Arabic entitled "The Other Side: the Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement" in which he claimed that the Holocaust didn't happen.
He declared that the gas chambers were never used to murder Jews, and that at most 890,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis. This happened, he claimed, in part because the Zionists led a campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule in order to fuel their exterminationand so bring about the victory of Zionism.
Not only does Abbas thus odiously deny the Holocaust, but he and his cronies also repeatedly deny the history of the Jewish people in their false claim that the Palestinians, rather than the Jews, were the authentic inhabitants of the land.
Despite mouthing platitudes in English about the aim of two states living side by side, when speaking in Arabic Abbas and Co deny Israel's right to exist at all.
Although the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their nation-state, the PA-controlled paper Al-Hayat al-Jadida stated earlier this year: "The Zionists must acknowledge publicly, in front of the world, that the Jews have no connection to the Palestinian Arab land." And last May (in a speech read by an adviser), Abbas scorned as a mere Israeli claim the 3,000-year old historical presence of the Jews in the Land of Israel-and asserted an entirely fictitious 9,000-year-old Palestinian presence dating back to 7000 BCE. Despite the fact that no such people as the Palestinians then existed, Abbas declared that this made them "the owners of history".
Abbas may look like a mild-mannered businessman but in fact he is steeped in terrorism. He has boasted of dispatching "fighters" to murder Israeli civilians during the terrorist intifada of 2000-05. And today he persists in glorifying the murder of Israeli innocents and showering honours upon their killers.
Once again, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth in English and Arabic. In a recent interview with Israeli TV, he condemned the Palestinians' naming of a square after Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist who perpetrated an atrocity in 1978 when nearly 40 Israeli civilians were burned alive in a hijacked bus.
However, when speaking to Palestinians in 2010, Abbas said: "Of course we want to name a square after her...We carried out a military action. Can I then later renounce all that we have done?"
Under Abbas, the PA regularly glorifies terrorists and turns them into role models. After the death of Amin al Hindi, a senior planner of the massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics, Abbas personally attended the official red-carpet military funeral provided for him by the PA.
He described another of the Munich terrorists, Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, as "a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter". And he does nothing to end the incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis promulgated in the educational materials, sermons and media under his control.
This is not the behaviour of a moderate. This is a man who should be in a courtroom being prosecuted for mass murder. Yet this is the man to whom the West declares that Israel must make concessions so that he can plant a state of his own on its border, which the people around him make clear will be used as a springboard from which to destroy Israel.
The fact that Abbas has made no concessions is ignored. The fact that he demands an end to settlement building but nevertheless refused to negotiate while such building was frozen is ignored. The fact that he is a Jew-hater committed to ethnic cleansing and the destruction of a country is ignored.
The West gives Abbas a free pass because they think there is no alternative solution to the one he proposes. But, appallingly, the solution that he represents risks being a final one.