‘Show me where I am inciting’
PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas has claimed that he opposes all forms of terrorism, is seeking a peace deal and was snubbed when he tried to arrange a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a special press conference for Israeli journalists last Thursday, Mr Abbas said that, in the past two months, there had been unofficial talks between the two leaders’ offices on a possible meeting but, after the Palestinians had signalled their agreement, the Israelis backed out.
Mr Netanyahu’s office denied this, saying: “Abu Mazen is trying to avoid his responsibility for the absence of negotiations.” The official Israeli policy remains that there should be no preconditions for talks with the Palestinians.
Mr Abbas explained at the press conference that his demands for a freeze in settlement building for the duration of talks and the release of Palestinian prisoners was not a pre-condition but a fulfilment of previous Israeli commitments.
He repeated his assurances that the Palestinian Authority would continue to co-ordinate security operations with Israel, despite the deadlock in negotiations.
Mr Abbas denied allegations that he and the PA have been inciting against Israel.
“I don’t incite, contrary to what Israeli cabinet ministers are saying,” he said. “I call on them to show me where exactly I am inciting.”
He defended the PA’ s decision to pay salaries to families of Palestinians prisoners and “martyrs”, saying this was the “law and culture”. He added: “It’s my duty to look after every prisoner.”
Mr Abbas said he was opposed to all acts of terrorism. But, he added, “Let’s not forget that the wave of violence is the result of the absence of a political horizon and peace process.”
Meanwhile, the PA is continuing to confront Israel on the diplomatic front. It is trying to gain support among UN Security Council members including France, Spain and Egypt for a resolution that will define Israel’s settlement activities as illegal under international law and expose Israel to sanctions. It is still unclear whether the Palestinians will have sufficient support for such a resolution.