(AP/Majdi Mohammed, File)
Mahmoud Abbas

Fact check, Associated Press: PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas isn’t “opposed to armed struggle.”

By Akiva Van Koningsveld, HonestReporting

Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its ruling Fatah Party, has frequently been described as “two-faced”.

In 2014, amid a terror wave that had already claimed the lives of many Israelis, then-strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz referred to the Western-backed Palestinian leader as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” likening him to Yasser Arafat.

Indeed, while Abbas has condemned terrorism in English, he constantly encourages “martyrdom” in his messaging to the Palestinian public.

Yet most in the media are all too keen to give the octogenarian autocrat a free pass.

Case in point: when Abbas issued a half-hearted statement denouncing “the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians” following this spring’s terror surge in Israel, news outlets uniformly reported that Ramallah had condemned the violence.

However, they failed to note that Abbas actively incites the murder of Jews and that several terrorists even had links to his Fatah and the PA.

The Security Fence Success

This week, the Associated Press (AP) took this false depiction of the Palestinian Authority chief to a whole new level.

In the accompanying text under a photo slideshow titled, “Israel’s separation barrier, 20 years on,” compiled by Israeli photojournalist Oded Balilty, the wire service made the bizarre claim that Abbas is “opposed to armed struggle.”

The June 27 AP picture gallery, which ABC News and other news organizations subsequently reprinted, depicts the Israeli “separation barrier” 20 years after construction.

For the record: Jerusalem decided to build the security barrier in June 2002 to stem Palestinian terror attacks emanating from Judea and Samaria.

In March of that year alone, over 130 Israelis were killed by suicide bombers, while another 680 sustained wounds. The security fence, which in some sections takes the form of a wall, has reduced the number of suicide attacks originating from Judea and Samaria by more than 90 percent.

Meanwhile, Abbas used his office to incessantly inflame tensions, with the Palestinian leader calling convicted terrorists “symbols of steadfastness, symbols of our homeland” and “our nation’s heroes” in the first years of his rule.

The AP nevertheless maintained that “while the number of attacks has fallen sharply, other factors may be at play.” It then went on to cite Abbas’ ostensible commitment to nonviolence, writing: “The [Second] [I]ntifada began winding down in 2005, after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died and was replaced by President Mahmoud Abbas, who is opposed to armed struggle.”

Stories AP Won’t Report

Here are some facts the AP would seemingly prefer to ignore:

1) Just weeks ago, Abbas vowed to maintain the so-called “Pay-for-Slay” policy that doles out “salaries” to Palestinian terrorists and their families. Speaking on the eve of Nakba Day, the Arab term for “catastrophe” that they characterize as the birth of the Jewish state, Abbas reportedly told the families of “martyrs” that he would continue the fund.

He furthermore reaffirmed his commitment to the “right of return,” which would see millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants settle in Israel, ending its existence as a Jewish, democratic state.

2) On March 29, 2022, five people were killed as a Palestinian terrorist from Judea and Samaria opened fire on the streets of Bnei Brak, a city near Tel Aviv. Attacker Diya Hamarsheh was believed to be affiliated with the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the “military wing” of Abbas’ Fatah faction. Footage from May 18, discovered by Palestinian Media Watch, includes a clip of the Fatah Jenin Branch Secretary hailing Hamarsheh as a “pure and heroic martyr.”

3) Barely 72 hours before last year’s widely-reported “peace meeting” between Abbas and two Israeli ministers, his second in command, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, hinted at destroying Israel. An Arabic-language outlet reported that Shtayyeh said that “there is no solution to the Palestinian issue on the horizon” and that this would entail the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state extending “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea.”

4) Abbas’ incitement over “filthy” Jewish feet that were allegedly “desecrating” the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem sparked, at least partially, the 2015 “Stabbing Intifada.”

And the list goes on.

The difference between Abbas’ views and the views of Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization dedicated to the Jewish state’s destruction, is rather more style than substance. Indeed, Abbas has repeatedly attempted to reconcile with Gaza’s iron-fisted rulers and often makes common cause with them.

But this is a story that the AP won’t report.