Israeli MK Meets Palestinian Lawmaker, Calls Netanyahu an 'Irresponsible Pyromaniac'

Candidate for leadership of Labor, Erel Margalit, meets with Jibril Rajoub, warns of impending intifada because of government's refusal to give prisoners access to a phone

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Israeli lawmaker Erel Margalit (R) with senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Israeli lawmaker Erel Margalit (R) with senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah on Thursday, April 20, 2017.Credit: Office of MK Erel Margalit
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Lawmaker Erel Margalit (Zionist Union), a candidate for the leadership of the Labor party, met on Thursday with senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah. Rajoub told Margalit that the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons could lead to an escalation in the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Rajoub said he hoped Margalit would help the Palestinians calm things down "before it is too late," according to a statement released by Margalit after the meeting.

"The right-wing government is cooking up an intifada for us because of a public payphone," said Margalit, referring to the prisoners' demands to allow them access to a telephone in prison. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan "are ignoring the recommendations of the Israel Prisons Service and are setting the street on fire over something stupid like installing a public phone for prisoners. They are not leaders, but irresponsible pyromaniacs," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his advisors promised the Palestinians the "ultimate deal" and said they see the Palestinians as a strategic partner in making progress toward an agreement with Israel, Rajoub told Margalit in the meeting. Most of the Palestinians believe that the two-state solution is the only solution, he added. "We believe that President Trump can and wants to solve the conflict."

Margalit presented an economic initiative to establish three joint industrial zones between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to Rajoub and his staff. It is important to rebuild the trust between the two sides, he said.

"The Israeli public must understand that there is no political and diplomatic regional agreement without Israel and the Palestinians. This is the core, and it is impossible to ignore it," said Margalit. "An agreement with the Palestinians is a strategic interest for Israel. The time has come to stop the fear and talk about peace."

Erdan, the public security minister, addressed the meeting in Ramallah on Twitter, writing, "Erel Margalit met with a man working for the boycott of us (Rajoub) and together they are attacking the prime minister and myself and supporting terrorists who murdered hundreds of Israelis. Proud to be a leftist? I'm familiar with a sane Israeli left. Erel Margalit must not be one of them."

Margalit responded to Erdan's tweet saying, "I suggest that the minister of incitement and fictitious arson Gilad Erdan not bother those trying to find a solution to problems that he creates and not to try accusing me of being a leftist. I'm aware of this and proud of it."

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