10 Years Later: Does the Palestinian Authority Recognize Israel?

by David Bedein

December 21, 2003

Christian Friends of Israeli Communities

At a staff meeting on December 10th, 1993, our news agency made a
policy decision: to find out firsthand how the new Palestinian Arab
entity would view Israel, and to determine if their recognition of
Israel would indeed be real. We raised funds to hire Palestinian
journalists and Arabic-speaking Israeli reporters.

Over the past ten years:

* We covered PLO leader Yasser Arafat's speeches, some of which we
filmed, some of which we downloaded from Palestinian Authority TV;

* We monitored public statements of the PA;

* We watched their new TV station and listened to their new radio

* We bought their new (revised) maps and their new school textbooks;

* We attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo;

* We made it our business to make timely visits to the UNRWA refugee

* We followed the PA's new religious leaders and participated in
Islamic-Jewish dialogue;

* We visited PA military bases and interviewed PA security
officials; and

* We covered the Palestinian National Council meeting in, which met
in special session to cancel the PLO Covenant.

A decade later, we can now answer the question of whether or not the
new PLO entity recognizes Israel, based on our hands-on coverage in
each of the foregoing areas.


The theme that Yasser Arafat has consistently preached throughout
the past seven years revolves around the liberation of "all of
Palestine". When Arafat mentions his commitment to "the peace of the
brave", it is in terms of "the right of return" for five million
Palestinian Arab refugees to flood Israel and to take over all of
Jerusalem. He never mentions "East Jerusalem". Arafat has never made
a statement to his people in the Arabic language that even hints at
recognition of the State of Israel, nor has he ever asked for a
cessation of terror. In November 1996, I asked Arafat when he would
ever speak in Arabic about recognizing Israel or denouncing terror.
He replied that he does so all the time, to which I responded that
we have no record of such. I asked Arafat the same question in
November 1998 at a U.S. State Department briefing as I held a thick
booklet of his words in praise of terror, following the Wye
Conference in 1998. His unfazed (unblinking, immediate) reply was
that he "loved the Jews".


We have received the position papers of the Palestinian Authority
since its inception in 1993, and followed the Fatah website
(www.fatehorg.org) since it was inaugurated in 1998. Seeing these
reports, one prominent Israeli peace leader observed that what
bothered him was not the themes of war that one might expect in the
intermediate stages of a rocky peace process, but rather that they
were entirely devoid of peaceful sentiments.

One of the "interactive" projects of the Fateh website in February
and March of 2003 was a questionnaire circulated by the Fateh
website as to where the respondent would prefer to murder Jews - in
the areas conquered by Israel in 1967, in the areas conquered by
Israel in 1948, in both areas, or not in any area at all. 67% of the
respondents said that they would like to murder Jews in both areas,
while only 19% rejected the idea of murdering Jews altogether.


Since its inception in the Fall of 1995, we have followed PA radio
and PA TV. Indeed, a laboratory that monitors the PA radio and TV -
not connected with our office - now operates full time. Although the
air waves for both PA radio and TV were provided by the IDF and the
initial funds for the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC)
came through the U.S. government and visiting UJA groups, the
official Palestinian Authority electronic media regularly calls for
Israel's destruction, the liberation of Palestine and praises
terror. In 1997, I arranged for a colleague in the peace movement to
meet with Radwan Abu Ayash, the head of the PBC, to ask him why the
official media of the PA was devoid of any program for peace. Ayash
responded that the Palestinian people were "not ready" for any such


On the maps of the new Palestinian state sold at the PLO
headquarters at Orient House in Jerusalem, the name "Israel" does
not appear. The new Palestine replaces the State of Israel. All 531
Arab villages that were abandoned in 1948 are returned to their
locations within Israel proper, while hundreds of Jewish communities
have been obliterated. The current tourism map of the PA Ministry of
Tourism, financed by the United Nations Development Program for
Palestine, simply wipes Israel off the map and shows all of the Old
City of Jerusalem under PLO control, with no mention of Israel

On May 15, 2000, our agency brought Arafat spokesman Dr. Walid Ayad
to speak. Ayad said in his defense, "Well, your Israeli maps make no
mention of Palestine," at which another speaker whipped out the new
Israel Ministry of Tourism map, which clearly delineates the areas
under the control of the Palestinian Authority.


In September 2000, our agency bought copies of the new schoolbooks
of the Palestinian Authority, and submitted them for translation and
evaluation by professional agencies in Jerusalem. These new
schoolbooks were supposed to recognize Israel. No such luck. The
maps and the curriculum portray all of Palestine as one great
Islamic state, while the old schoolbooks that specifically instruct
school children in the art of jihad and holy war remain in the
school curriculum.


At the much-celebrated Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in
December 1994, I asked Yasser Arafat if this prize meant that he
would indeed crush the Hamas and cancel the PLO Covenant. He
responded very matter-of-factly that he made no such commitment.


One of the great hopes of the peace process was that the new
Palestinian entity would absorb the Arab refugees who have been held
in the UNRWA camps for more than 50 years, under the premise and
promise of the right of return to the l948 homes that no longer
exist. Our hands-on reporting for the past seven years has conveyed
the opposite reality: The PA has disenfranchised the UNRWA camps,
depriving the Arab refugees of millions of dollars of health,
education, welfare and construction assistance, since the PA, with
its ideology of the "right of return", does not subscribe to the
notion that Palestinian Arab refugees should be repatriated to the
West Bank or to Gaza.

Imagine the shock that one of my staffers experienced when she
witnessed a Palestinian doctor in an UNRWA clinic refusing medical
service to Arab refugee patients on the grounds that they can go
back to where they came from - which is now the Israeli city of


When Arafat appointed new clerics to man the mosques under his
control, the initial press reaction was hopeful - perhaps this would
provide a balance to the preaching of terror by Hamas clerics.
Little did we know that the Arafat-appointed clerics would launch
calls to jihad against the Jews with greater ferocity. As a
participant in Islamic-Jewish dialogue, I was struck by the
dissonance between the genuine grass-roots Palestinian Moslem
interest in reconciliation and the incendiary messages they were
receiving from the Palestinian Authority.


The reasoning behind Israel, the U.S., Canada and the E.U. providing
weapons and weapons training to Arafat's security services was based
on the assumption that Arafat would use his forces against the
Hamas. It was therefore surprising for us to report the PBC news
item in May, 1995, that the PA was going to supply Hamas with
weapons; and the Al-Ahram December, 1995, news item that reported a
PA-Hamas military and tactical agreement. Any visit or interview
with Palestinian Authority security officials reveals that their
goal is to liberate all of Palestine, despite any interim security
co-operation with Israel.


We dispatched a TV crew to cover the historic meeting of the
Palestinian National Council in April, 1996; a meeting reported to
have cancelled the PLO Covenant calling for Israel's destruction.
The United States Congress had mandated that Arafat would not be
allowed into the U.S. unless that Covenant was cancelled. U.S.
Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk misinformed President Clinton when
he reported that Arafat had cancelled the Covenant. Our video, which
we sent to Indyk, and later screened in the Knesset and the U.S.
Congress, told quite another story. It revealed that the PNC had, in
fact, merely voted to establish a committee to consider amendments
to the PLO Covenant.

In short, although the Israeli government has used the past seven
years of a peace process to prepare the Israeli people for peace,
the PLO and its nascent Palestinian Authority have oriented the
Palestinian Arab people to the continued non-recognition of Israel,
while preparing their people for war.

The logical question would be whether Israel has made any
significant changes in its academic curriculum during this
negotiation process. Senior Hebrew University Education Professor
Amos Yovel, a founder of Peace Now, was commissioned by the Center
for Monitoring the Impact of Peace to conduct an exhaustive survey
of Israeli school books, to see if peace is being taught, and to
determine if Arabs are being demonized in the Israeli school

On January 8, 2001, Professor Amos Yovel presented a study of 200
Israeli schoolbooks, which he had culled from both religious and
secular Israeli schools, at the Truman Center for the Advancement of
Peace at the Hebrew University. He declared that he had found no
evidence of racism or demonization of Arabs in the curriculum that
is being taught in the Israeli school system, and expressed
satisfaction that the Israel educational system was preparing a new
generation of Israeli Jewish students for peace and reconciliation.

Yovel was challenged by the spokesman for Peace Now, Dr. Dan Bittan,
as to why he did not report about the Israeli schoolbooks that
demonize Arabs. His answer: "Should I publish a book like that to
make you happy?" (Studies of the portrayal of Israelis in PA school
books, and of Arabs in Israeli school books both appear on the same
website: http://www.edume.org.)

It takes two to dance the tango of mutual recognition and
reconciliation. Only one of the parties is dancing... And yet it is
Israel that is being asked by the US and all of the nations of the
world to dance with the PLO entity, as the common assumption of the
Oslo Process and the Geneva Initiative is that the PLO entity
recognizes Israel.
We trust that you are now better informed and are able to pray God's
Word concerning this situation.

Love from Jerusalem,
Helmut & Erika Loeffler
Mount Zion Center



Christian Friends of Israeli Communities
PO Box 50833,
Colorado Springs, CO 80949
email: cfoic@cfoic.com voice: 800-551-3207 web: http://www.cfoic.com