President Abbas, You Should Meet Kerry in the Subuh Family’s Living Room

From that vantage point in the West Bank, talk about Israel’s security may take on a totally different dimension.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

President Mahmoud Abbas, please stop demeaning yourself. Don’t meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in your office in Ramallah. As a first step, allow me to suggest that you insist on meeting with him in the living room of the Subuh family in the “agricultural neighborhood” facing the Jelazoun refugee camp, only a six-minute drive from your office. The two of you could talk about the security arrangements needed to protect the State of Israel.

Before the two of you enter the Subuhs’ home, I suggest you pause in front of their low stone fence. Maybe someone in the secretary of state’s entourage remembers his bar mitzvah lessons and could read aloud and translate into English the graffiti spray-painted on that fence early Tuesday: “A war will be fought over Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]; blood will be spilled over Judea and Samaria. Regards to John Kerry. To be continued.”

If Kerry doesn’t have an adviser proficient enough in the language of the Hebrew prophets for this task, no problem. One of his bodyguards only has to walk about 30 to 50 meters, enter the West Bank settlement of Beit El and ask a settler to come over and translate the spray-painted message. Whoever sent their regards to Kerry in Hebrew early Tuesday morning has also declared that the arson attack on three vehicles in this neighborhood was the work of Jews. May we assume that they fled the crime scene to the nearest Israeli territory – to Beit El?

Not only does this persecuted neighborhood live under the constant eye of security cameras and the projector lights installed by the Israel Defense Forces, for the protection of the Jewish inhabitants of the illegal settlement of Beit El. It’s located on land belonging to the Palestinian village of Dura al-Kara, entirely in Area C as designated under the Oslo Accords. That is, it’s under full and more than full Israeli security control and responsibility. This is the fourth time in two years that “unknown persons” have set fire to vehicles in this neighborhood and have accompanied it with threats written in Hebrew.

One has lost count of the stones thrown at the solar panels on the roofs of the Palestinian homes and the Molotov cocktails that have been hurled without exploding. President Abbas, in the Subuh family’s home, whose windows are protected by iron mesh, you can ask Kerry: “If Hamas is responsible for every Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, and if I’m responsible for every Palestinian who throws a stone at an Israeli target in the West Bank, why do Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu alliance not bear direct responsibility for these attacks and other attackers who come from territory under total IDF control?”

Mr. President, you should know that if someone from this “agricultural neighborhood” sues the State of Israel for the emotional and financial damage incurred by such attacks, the State of Israel will tell the Palestinians the truth: “It’s your fault.” This is precisely how a lawyer from the Israeli state prosecution responded to the damages suit launched by the Palestinian owners of an olive grove near the illegal outpost of Havat Maon. The owners’ trees have been vandalized and cut down three separate times. (To avoid misunderstanding, it should be stressed that this grove is in Area C and in a region prone to similar Israeli attacks against people and property.)

“It’s your fault,” wrote the lawyer from the Israeli state prosecution, Moshe Willinger, addressing the Palestinian farmers, because they relied on Israeli law enforcement agencies and the Israeli security authorities instead of personally taking the necessary measures to protect their olive grove.

President Abbas, I advise you to study closely what Willinger wrote. I think you should take up the gauntlet and instruct the tens of thousands of commanders and police officers in the Palestinian security agencies, including your Presidential Guard, to deploy in the dozens of Palestinian villages and communities that the settlers attack regularly. I suggest that you station them there, among their people, in several shifts around the clock.

Granted, they will be without firearms and without uniforms because we’re talking about areas B and C, which are, after all, under the sole responsibility of the irresponsible Israeli army. Arm your commanders and policemen with flashlights and sticks only – the Oslo Accords don’t let them walk armed in these vast parts of the West Bank.

Let them learn karate and wear helmets and bulletproof vests. There, among those communities and villages, they should serve as your representatives and eyewitnesses while the pogromists of Judea and Samaria come down from their settlements to give the world yet another lesson in Israeli hypocrisy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on September 24, 2013 in New York.Credit: AFP

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