Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas returned to Ramallah over the weekend and declared that the policies he laid out in his UN General Assembly speech last Wednesday would be put into practice shortly. He was received in Ramallah by a crowd of hundreds.
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Abbas commented at length about the raising of the Palestinian flag in front of the UN headquarters in New York, saying it was not a symbolic act but rather another step in support of Palestinian self-determination.
The PA didn’t publish a condemnation of Saturday’s terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City that killed two men.
Mohammed al-Madani — the member of the Fatah central committee responsible for contacts with the Israeli public — told Haaretz that Abbas has always condemned violence and bloodshed on either side. However, Madani added that it didn’t appear this would lead to any change in policy on Israel’s part, which he said doesn’t serve the interests of peace. The issue of a condemnation of violence is no longer relevant when the Israeli government is continuing to escalate the situation, Madani added.
Speaking over the weekend to Palestinian media, Palestine Liberation Organization secretary general Saeb Erekat made reference to Abbas’ UN declaration that the PLO’s executive committee would serve as the Palestinian government, and that the Palestinian National Council would serve as the Palestinian parliament. The council, Erekat said, would convene by the end of the year.
With regard to the Temple Mount, Erekat claimed that hundreds of extremist Israelis attack the Al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis, protected by Israeli security forces. Israel says it is trying to maintain order and is committed to freedom of worship in Jerusalem.
Officials in the Palestinian Authority made efforts over the weekend to convey messages to the Americans and Europeans to highlight what they claimed were Israeli violations of agreements signed with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. The effort was an attempt at rebutting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims regarding his own willingness to negotiate and his commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.
Erekat claimed that Netanyahu’s UN speech last Thursday was full of inaccuracies, adding that the prime minister had forgotten that Israel is an occupying power. Netanyahu attacked the same United Nations and international community that made the establishment of Israel possible, Erekat said, adding that Israel was imposing an apartheid regime on the West Bank.
Contrary to Netanyahu’s claim that the Palestinians were refusing to negotiate without preconditions, Erekat said the Palestinians were simply demanding that Israel fulfill the obligations it had already committed to.