by Joseph Klein
Pope Francis provided a nice backdrop for a so-called “prayer summit” in the Vatican gardens on June 8th, attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres. “It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,” Pope Francis said at the prayer ceremony. Prayers and readings were provided by Jews, Christians and Muslims, followed by remarks from the pope and the two presidents. Each set of prayers praised God for creation, begged forgiveness of sins and asked for peace in the Holy Land.
In an obviously orchestrated photo op, Presidents Abbas and Peres embraced in the presence of the pope. “Nice to see you,” Peres and Abbas said to each other in English. At the end of the ceremony, they took up shovels to add dirt to the base of a newly planted olive tree.
Politics were not intended to be on the agenda. This was a prayer summit, after all. Abbas even managed to avoid using the word “occupation,” at least according to the English translation of his prepared remarks. He offered a prayer for peace: “O Lord, bring comprehensive and just peace to our country and region so that our people and the peoples of the Middle East and the whole world would enjoy the fruit of peace, stability and coexistence.” He presented the Palestinians as a people “craving for a just peace, dignified living and liberty.” He also was quoted as saying: “We want peace for us and for our neighbors. We seek prosperity and peace of mind for ourselves and for others alike.”
In other words, Abbas laid it on very thick with nice words that sound like themes on which the Israelis and Palestinians could unite. But they are just hollow words. Interspersed was his divisive reference to Jerusalem as “our Holy City.” And the elephant in the room was his pact with Hamas.
The “things that unite,” which Pope Francis was hoping could become the key to achieving peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, are in reality found only in the unity agreement between Abbas and the jihadist organization that wants to destroy the Jewish state completely, Hamas. Despite Abbas’s assurances that the unity government will adhere to the principles of recognition of the state of Israel and renouncing of violence, Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh is having nothing to do with that program. “Hamas’s strategy has not changed and will not change,” he declared on June 8th at the opening session of the jihadist training “summer camps” in Gaza that indoctrinate children to hate Jews. “We emphasize now that we will not retreat from out plan to liberate our lands and ensure the right of return…”
As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who did not attend the Vatican ceremony, said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday in Jerusalem, “Whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken.” The Obama administration, as well as much of the international community that does not live daily under the shadow of Hamas, have decided to recognize the new interim Palestinian government resulting from Abbas’s pact with Hamas. They are doing so on the basis of the mistaken belief that Hamas or any jihadists can be “moderated.”
Indeed, it was reported in Buzzfeed that the U.S. has been secretly holding talks with Hamas for months through back channels. The Obama administration has denied the report. However, after the release of the five dangerous, high-level terrorists from Guantanamo, worked out secretly by the Obama administration with the Taliban in exchange for securing the release of Bowe Bergdahl, it is more likely than not that the report is true.
Abbas’s visit to the Vatican is all in keeping with his propaganda campaign to convince the West that he is sincere about seeking real peace with Israel, which he is not. On the very day that Abbas was making nice at the Vatican, a former Hamas government spokesman, Ihab al-Ghussein, revealed that Abbas has said in private meetings he is lying in public statements to “trick the Americans.”
As reported in Arutz Sheva, Ihab al-Ghussein wrote on Facebook that “behind closed doors,” Abbas had said: “Guys, let me (continue) saying what I say to the media. Those words are meant for the Americans and the occupation (i.e., Israel), not for you. What’s important is what we agree on among ourselves. …Don’t harp on everything I tell the media, forget about the statements in the media.”
Abbas was following his own self-declared script of deceit at the Vatican. His words were nothing more than a blatant display of taqiyya (lying to unbelievers). We should take the advice that he gave to Hamas – forget about his public words of seeking genuine peace with Israel as they mean absolutely nothing.