The Palestinian Leadership Is Encouraging Violence

This article first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations site.

There were widespread "predictions" that President Trump's decision on Jerusalem would "lead to violence."

I use the quotation marks because many of those "predictions" were actually threats.

When someone in a position to stop violence "predicts" violence, he is threatening or promising that violence will occur.

Today there has been violence in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. Is it a spontaneous protest by Palestinians, or has it been fomented by the Palestinian Authority?

After all, once a leader has "predicted" violence, he has a good reason to ensure that it occurs. He wants to seem prescient, not out of touch.

A Palestinian protester burns tires during clashes with Israeli troops after a protest against Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 7, 2017. ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty

Here is what Avi Issacharoff, a journalist in The Times of Israel, wrote about what happened today in an article entitled "Abbas must decide how far to let the demonstrations go:"

The Palestinian Authority and Fatah are organizing the rallies in the city centers, but a key question is whether the Palestinian security services will stop demonstrators from reaching the potential flashpoints.

In light of the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim consensus against US President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem, PA security may receive orders not to step in to block protesters on their way to the checkpoints, except, perhaps, to prevent the use of firearms....

A very large number of people are expected to participate in protests Friday , with calls in the mosques to protect Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (or, as Trump called it, Haram al-Sharif) and nonstop broadcasting on Palestinian TV of clips showing past violence around Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas closed the schools Thursday, and called for a general strike in businesses. These move obviously flooded the streets with people, especially with young people.

Does that sound like an effort to stop violence, or ensure it?

President Trump rightly faced down the threats of violence, but many news media are delighted to feature the violence as the predictable, natural, unavoidable result of Trump's decision.

It doesn't look that way to me. It looks like a manufactured outcome, and President Abbas is the manufacturer. Protests were coming, for sure—but for how long, how large, and how violent?

The Palestinian Authority appears to want big and violent demonstrations and riots. It will call them off at some point, to be sure, but let's not be fooled. The PA is fueling the violence. When schools are closed and when official media show films of past violence, the message from the PA to Palestinians is clear.

So the violence we see is not the inevitable and natural result of Trump's decision. It is the inevitable and natural result of a Palestinian leadership that has decided that some violence will look good on TV and will help their own political position.

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

The Palestinian Leadership Is Encouraging Violence | Opinion