The Palestinian Authority rejected Sunday criticism by Israel which claimed it had condemned last week’s spate of terror attacks, saying Israel was too busy worrying about whether the PA is making declarations instead of instituting policies that could prevent terror attacks and violence.
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According to senior PA officials close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel is making an effort to portray him as a supporter of terror and is making inflammatory comments for political and diplomatic purposes.
A senior official on the PLO Executive Committee told Haaretz that it’s not the job of the PA or the person who heads it to get up every morning and condemn actions by individuals.
“Israel knows very well that behind all these incidents were young people who made their own decisions, and not any kind of organizational hierarchy. Abu Mazen [Abbas] has made his position on violence clear on many occasions,” he said.
In contrast to the what happened after these individual incidents, he added, the Israel Defense Forces has killed several citizens including young people who were not involved in anything, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never come out to condemn this – even though the actions were taken by an army and not a private person.
In this context the official mentioned the incident near Route 443 two weeks when the army opened fire on a vehicle whose passengers were suspected of throwing rocks, and killed 15-year-old Mahmoud Badran of Beit Ur al-Tahta. “We haven’t heard any condemnation from Netanyahu or his government ministers although the shooters were soldiers,” he said.
His words were echoed by a member of Fatah’s central committee, Mohammad Shtayyeh, who told Haaretz that, rather than occupying itself with whether the PA condemns terror, Israel must remove the causes and motivation for violence – namely, the occupation and all its ramifications vis-a-vis the Palestinian people.
“They ask why we don’t condemn, and I ask, has anyone come out in support for these events?” Shtayyeh said. “The Palestinian leadership headed by Abu Mazen has already made its position on violence clear. I am asking if Netanyahu comes out and condemns the killing of every Palestinian who was not guilty or suspected of anything.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership has been very busy on the diplomatic front, particularly with regard to the report of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations) that was issued Friday, which said that Israel's settlement policy in the occupied territories was eroding the viability of the two-state solution. The PA seems to be convinced that the Quartet report was meant to scuttle the French peace initiative.
“This is a report that can’t be a basis for anything – a report that compares the occupier to the occupied, doesn’t speak of borders, and still speaks of the need for direct negotiations even though all the obstacles Israel is presenting renders that option not serious,” Shtayyeh said, adding that the Quartet is basically a dead and irrelevant entity.
PLO Executive Committee chairman Dr. Saeb Erekat was due Monday to address the Quartet report today at a press conference in Ramallah. Palestinian leaders believe he will announce that the Palestinians are severing ties with the Quartet, which after 15 years has, in their view, outlived its usefulness after failing to contribute anything toward ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state.