EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: At one and the same time, the PA indirectly encourages terrorism while pursuing extensive security cooperation with Israel to quell it. Israel accepts this contradictory framework and will probably continue to do so, even during the succession crisis that is likely to follow Abbas’s demise.
Ostensibly, the message praising Majd Jammal Matir’s “martyrdom” in a knifing attack that wounded two Israeli border policemen in Jerusalem’s Old City on December 13 was little different from many Palestinian messages of condolence and praise for perpetrators of terrorism in the area.
But it contained two crucial details that highlight the tortuous relationship between Mahmoud Abbas, who rules over the Palestinian Authority with the help of over 170,000 employees and a budget of $4.9 billion, and Israel.
The first is that it was the Fatah Movement, over which Abbas presides, that conveyed the message mourning Matir’s “martyrdom.” The second is that in the expression of condolence, Matir is linked to another “martyr” from the Qalandia refugee camp: General Bashir Nafi. Nafi was a former senior officer in Military Intelligence, one of the many security services that existed under Arafat at the time of his death.