For Palestinian Authority (PA)
leaders, the desire to punish Israel is stronger than the will to save
the lives of thousands of Palestinians being killed in Syria by the
Islamic State and starved by the Syrian army, which has been besieging
Yarmouk for 700 days.
Instead of devoting their energies and efforts to stop the massacres
in Yarmouk, PA officials were busy preparing a new draft resolution to
be submitted to the UN Security Council, establishing a timeline for
ending Israeli "occupation."
The Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo earlier this week to
discuss ways of backing the new Palestinian bid, deliberately ignored
that, as they were chatting and sipping coffee, Palestinians were being
slaughtered and forced to flee their homes in Yarmouk.
For the PA, Jews participating in a marathon seems to be more serious
and life-threatening than Islamic State terrorists beheading
Palestinians and destroying Palestinian homes in Yarmouk.
"All that is left for us to do is howl, slap and cry." — Ashraf al-Ajrami, former Palestinian Authority minister.
As Palestinians were being killed and beheaded by Islamic State
terrorists in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus over the past week,
Palestinian leaders once again proved that delegitimizing and isolating
Israel is more important than caring about their people.
After seven days of fighting, Islamic State is now in control
of nearly 90% of the camp, which once used to be home to more than
150,000 Palestinians. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) estimates that since the beginning of the
civil war in Syria four years ago, the population of Yarmouk has dropped
Part of Yarmouk, near Damascus, after being damaged by fighting. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas leaders have expressed deep
concern over the Islamic State takeover of Yarmouk. Over the past week,
these leaders issued daily statements strongly condemning the
"massacres" in Yarmouk and calling for an end to the fighting. But they
have stopped short of calling for an emergency meeting of Arab leaders
to stop the attack on the camp.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas decided earlier this week to dispatch
senior PLO representative Ahmed Majdalani to Syria for talks aimed at
ending the crisis and saving the lives of the camp residents.
In some parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian activists
held sit-in strikes and small rallies in protest against the "heinous
crimes" perpetrated by Islamic State against Palestinians in Yarmouk.
But the decision to dispatch the PLO official to Syria and the
limited protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are unlikely to help
the Palestinians in Yarmouk. Nor will they deter Islamic State
terrorists from proceeding with their crimes.
The Palestinians in Yarmouk are unlucky, mainly because they are
being attacked and killed by Muslims, and not by Israel. An Israeli
attack on the camp would have drawn worldwide condemnation and protests,
with Palestinian and Arab leaders rushing to seek the intervention of
the UN Security Council and the international community.
The Palestinians in Yarmouk are unlucky because their leaders in the
Palestinian Authority and Hamas are still busy fighting each other over
power and money. This is a power struggle that has been going on since
Hamas drove the PA out of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.
They are also unfortunate because Palestinian leaders seem to have
other things on their minds, such as proceeding with the campaign to
isolate and delegitimize Israel in every possible international forum.
For PA leaders, the desire to punish Israel is stronger than the will to
save the lives of thousands of Palestinians being killed by the Islamic
State and starved by the Syrian army, which has been besieging Yarmouk
for more than 700 days.
Instead of devoting their energies and efforts to stop the massacres
in Yarmouk, Palestinian Authority officials were busy during the past
week preparing a new draft resolution
to be submitted to the UN Security Council, establishing a timeline for ending Israeli "occupation."
The proposed resolution, of course, does not make any reference to
the Yarmouk tragedy. The Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo earlier
this week to discuss ways of backing the new Palestinian bid
deliberately ignored that, as they were chatting and sipping coffee,
Palestinians were being slaughtered and forced to flee their homes in
Instead, PA officials were traveling from one country to the other to advance their campaign to punish and isolate Israel.
Jibril Rajoub, Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, was
in Cairo to demand that the International Federation of Association
Football (FIFA) suspend Israel's membership. Rajoub did not see any need
to travel to Syria to try to help his people in Yarmouk.
It is worth noting that FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he was opposed
to the Palestinian bid. "[S]uspension of a federation for any reason is
always something which harms the whole organization," he said. It is
hard to see how suspending Israel's membership in FIFA would help any
Palestinian, especially those who are being starved to death and
slaughtered by the Syrian army and the Islamic State.
While the fighting in Yarmouk continued, PA President Mahmoud Abbas
flew to Doha for talks with the emir of Qatar. The PLO's official news
that Abbas and the emir discussed "bilateral relations and the latest
developments concerning the Palestinian cause." Again, there was no
reference to the plight of the Yarmouk residents. It later transpired
that Abbas went to Qatar to ask for a $100 million loan.
Although Abbas's ruling Fatah faction did express concern over the
Yarmouk tragedy in a series of laconic statements published in the past
few days in Ramallah, Fatah proved once again that Palestinians being
butchered, starved to death and forced out of their homes is not more
important than the campaign to punish and isolate Israel.
Instead of talking about that the Islamic State's and Syria's war
crimes against Palestinians, Fatah continues to boast that it is
spearheading the campaign against Israel at the International Criminal
Here is what Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh had to say
while the fighting in Yarmouk was underway: "The Palestinian leadership
is determined to pursue its efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes.
We will present to the International Criminal Court all the necessary
documents that implicate Israeli war criminals."
The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Information also seemed to be
more concerned with a "settler marathon" than with the lives of
Palestinians in Yarmouk.
In a statement issued in Ramallah, the ministry condemned
a planned marathon by settlers as an "aggression against Palestinian
territories and continuation of Israeli arrogance." The ministry called
on all international institutions and human rights groups to "focus on
the terror of settlers, which is this time disguised in sports
For the Palestinian Authority, Jews participating in a marathon seems
to be more serious and life-threatening than Islamic State terrorists
beheading Palestinians and destroying Palestinian homes in Yarmouk.
Were the Palestinian leaders to invest 10% of their anti-Israel
efforts to help their people in Yarmouk and the Gaza Strip, the
Palestinians would be in a much better situation today. However, these
leaders are obviously determined to remain obsessed with Israel at the
same time as they continue to bury their heads in the sand about ISIS's
slaughter of their people.
Summing up the state on apathy toward the suffering of the Palestinians in Syria, Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former PA minister, remarked
"The Palestinian situation is at its worst phase. The PLO has lost the
ability to move and defend the Palestinians in all places. The various
Palestinian factions are incapable of forming a Palestinian force to
protect the refugees. The Palestinian leadership is also incapable of
ending the division between Fatah and Hamas. All that is left for us to
do is to howl, slap and cry."
- Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter