The Palestinian Authority is "on the brinks of collapse" if the current situation continues, PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned in an interview, broadcast Thursday night, with Channel 2 journalist Ilana Dayan.
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Abbas said he was insisting on continuing security cooperation with Israel, but demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu order the Israel Defense Forces to cease operations in West Bank Palestinian cities. “Try me for a week — if I don’t meet my responsibilities, then come back,” he said to Dayan in an interview on the current events show “Uvda.”
According to Abbas, during talks, revealed by Haaretz, between heads of the PA security forces and the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai and the head of the Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, the Palestinians proposed that Abbas and Netanyahu meet to discuss the cessation of IDF operations in Area A, the area under full Palestinian control. However, Netanyahu did not give the nod for such a meeting, Abbas said.
“I’m prepared to meet Netanyahu anywhere, any time,” Abbas told Dayan.
The Palestinian president said Israel was breaking the Oslo Accords because since the year 2000 the IDF has been operating in Area A, and entering Palestinian cities without restriction, despite security cooperation with the PA. He said an IDF force had recently come to his own house in Ramallah and demanded that his security detail get rid of their weapons. Violence was narrowly averted, he added.
Addressing Netanyahu in the interview, Abbas said: “Give me responsibility for the Palestinian territories, and test me... if Israel has specific intelligence information, give it to me and I’ll handle it. If I don’t handle it, he [Netanyahu] can come and do it, correct? But they don’t give me the intelligence informationSo what am I doing here? Where is the security cooperation? You want me to be your employee. Your agent. I don’t accept this. I want to do it myself.”
Abbas stressed that he retains security coordination with Israel to prevent escalation in violence as well as fears of a collapse of the PA. "If we give up security coordination there will be chaos here. There will be rifles, and explosions and armed militants popping up everywhere and rushing at Israel. Without the coordination, a bloody intifada would break out. I want to cooperate with the Israelis. There is an agreement between us and I am not ashamed by it. But [Netanyahu] must respect it."
During the interview, Abbas came out angrily against knife attacks by young Palestinians. “I would have to be crazy to tell my son that this is the right thing to do,” he said. He told Dayan that he sent the Palestinian security forces to schools throughout the PA to look for knives in schoolbags. “In one school we found 70 boys and girls carrying knives,” he said, adding: “We took the knives. We spoke to them and said this was a mistake. That we don’t want them to kill or die and that we want them to live and the other to live as well.”
Abbas said, regarding the knifings: “It is forbidden to spill blood for any reason. I am against this. I want peace. Give me peace in exchange. How will you give me peace? When a child does not see hope for peace, what will he do? Answer me, what will that child do?” Abbas asked Dayan.
Abbas also said Netanyahu should “give me responsibility and tell me that he believes in the two-state solution. This will give hope to my people and no one will dare commit a knifing, shooting or do anything else like that.”
The PA president said a Palestinian parent who found out his child was planning a knife attack “would take the knife away and lock him up in the house.”
Abbas said the condolence letters he has written to the families of those killed during while carrying out terror attacks do not demonstrate his support for their actions. “I don’t want him to be a martyr. I want him to live. But after he dies, it’s over. I don’t know where he goes. So don’t settle accounts with us over this.”
Abbas said: “Ask yourselves why a 15-year-old takes a knife and knows he’s going to die, and still goes. Ask yourselves why. It’s because he has no hope.”
Abbas told Dayan he rejected Netanyahu’s accusations that he was inciting to violence. “In the 10 years I have been in power my policy has been against violence, against terror, against killing. Why do they forget this now?”
When Dayan pressed him on the matter, he conceded that there is incitement against Israel in the PA, but said incitement also exists on the Israeli side. “I saw a rabbi who said, ‘they are bacteria. They should be sent to Saudi Arabia.” Incitement was wrong on both sides, Abbas added.
With regard to the soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian terrorist lying on the ground last week in Hebron, Abbas said he had seen the film clip and was saddened by it. “This is inhumane, to shoot a living man. I don’t want to blame the entire Israeli people. I know, the Israelis are human beings. They are humane. But unfortunately, we read the responses and the protests in Israel against putting the soldier on trial, against arresting him. Such statements are disturbing and frustrate us a great deal.”
The Prime Minister’s Office responded to Abbas, saying “Netanyahu has always said he is willing to meet Abbas without preconditions. Abbas is the one who is unwilling to do so.”