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Talking from Both Sides of the Mouth

May 8, 2019
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In 2014 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas of “talking from both sides of his mouth.” The verbal dressing down came on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. Netanyahu pointed out Abbas’s hypocrisy in decrying the Holocaust as a “most heinous” crime on the one hand, while cozying up to terror group Hamas on the other. Netanyahu’s point was simple: How could Abbas pay polite lip service to Israel in front of a world audience, while at the same time embracing those who proclaim their goal of the genocide of the Jewish people?

This wasn’t Abbas’s first—or last—foray into hypocrisy. In fact, talking from both sides of the mouth seems a rather common activity for the Palestinian leadership. The double speech is anything but coincidental. Rather, it is a calculated scheme aimed at garnering sympathy and support from two distinct audiences—and ultimately spurring both groups to action.

When the audience is the United Nations, international funding agencies, the world media or English-speaking college students, the message is one of harmony, painting the Palestinian people as a victimized, misunderstood group yearning for the opportunity to live in peaceful coexistence alongside their Jewish neighbors. When the audience is Arab, the message is often a malicious clarion call to shun compromise, normalization and coexistence for continued hatred, terror and bloodshed.

Let’s explore some examples of Palestinian leadership’s double talk.


“The…Palestinian people adhere to the renouncement of violence and rejection and condemning of terrorism in all its forms…”
—Abbas addressing the United Nations

“We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every shahid (martyr) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah…”
—Abbas inciting his people via the official Palestinian television channel

“We said to everyone that we want peaceful popular uprising, and that’s what this is. That’s what this is.” 
—Abbas approves of 65 stabbings, eight shootings, eight car ramming, 14 murdered and 167 wounded


“I simply want tomorrow to be better than today, I want Palestine to be independent and sovereign—do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
—Abbas’s pledge to the BBC

“In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli—civilian or soldier—on our lands.”
—Abbas during a briefing with mostly Egyptian journalists

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
—Palestinian rallying cry calling for a Palestinian state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, thus all of Israel.


“We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking. I say to them: Let us urgently build together a future for our children where they can enjoy freedom, security and prosperity.”
—Abbas addressing the United Nations

“There will be no peace, security and stability in the region and the world unless the… Arab Peace Initiatives are implemented, which call for Israel’s withdrawal from all of the occupied Arab territories in return for peace with the Arab states and the Islamic states.”
—Nabil Abu Rudeina, PA presidential spokesperson

“Those who normalize with the occupation shall be burned together with the apes and swine…Jews and Zionists are your enemy, and the enemy of the Arab and Islamic nation.”
Ismail Rajual, senior Hamas official 

“I do not like war, and I do not believe in war. I believe that if we receive our country, I would prefer to build a school than to purchase a tank, and I’d rather build a hospital than buy a fighter plane. I do not want weapons, I just want to build my country.”
—Abbas tells Harvard University students of his dreams of a peaceful, prosperous future

“There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop—the salaries of the martyrs and the martyrs’ families. Of course we categorically reject this. We will not under any circumstances allow anyone to harm the families of the prisoners, the wounded, and the martyrs…We will continue to pay them before the living.”
—Abbas puts his leadership’s minds at ease regarding the ongoing payment of salaries to terrorists who murdered, maimed and wounded Israelis

“Frankly, if we are left with only 20 or 30 million shekels, which is the sum paid to families of martyrs, then we will pay them to the families of martyrs.”
—Abbas makes the Palestinian leadership’s spending priorities clear


“Our efforts are not aimed at isolating Israel or de-legitimizing it; rather we want to gain legitimacy for the cause of the people of Palestine.”
—Abbas tells the United Nations General Assembly

“Colonialism created it [Israel] in order to fill a specific role; it is a colonialist project that is not connected to Judaism, but made use of the Jews so they would serve as pawns…” 

—Abbas addressing the PLO

“We in Fatah [Abbas’s political party] have not recognized Israel, never. This should be clear. We have never recognized [Israel].”
— Al-Haj Ismail Jaber, Fatah Central Committee member


“President Abbas, you should know better. You wrote a dissertation denying the Holocaust. Your Palestinian Authority imposes death sentences on Palestinians for selling land to Jews…You proudly pay Palestinian terrorists who murder Jews. And you condemn Israel’s morality? You call Israel racist? This is not the way to peace.”
—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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