Palestinian Officials Call on Israelis Not to Elect an Extremist Government

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Ran Cohen, Israeli former Knesset member, speaks with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as they attend the Palestinian Peace and Freedom Forum in Ramallah on February 6, 2019.
Former Knesset member Ran Cohen speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they attend the Palestinian Peace and Freedom Forum in Ramallah on February 6, 2019.Credit: AFP

Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority commented publicly on Wednesday about the upcoming election in Israel, calling on Israelis not to elect an extremist government and to pursue a leadership that would advance a two-state solution to the conflict. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman referred to an interview given by Benny Gantz, the leader of the new Hosen L'Yisrael party, to the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth in which Gantz said Israelis "don't seek control over anyone else" and that lessons of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza should be implemented elsewhere. Abbas' spokesman called the statements by Gantz "encouraging." 

"It's encouraging, if he succeeds and he sticks to this opinion," Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Reuters.

>> Read more: Palestinians will work to avoid escalation before Israeli elections, sources sayDespite campaign videos, 2014 Gaza war wasn't Gantz's finest hour | Analysis

Mohammed al-Madani, who chairs the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society and is considered a close associate of Abbas, said that Palestinians "definitely want to see the Israeli public choosing a leadership that advances toward a two-state solution to resolve the conflict." 

Al-Madani, who spoke at a conference held by the Palestinian Forum for Freedom and Peace in Ramallah, also said Palestinians "don't want to see an extremist goverment [in Israel] that will drag all of us, and the entire region, into wars."

Nevertheless, Al-Madani criticized the fact some Israeli candidates for the premiership have boasted in their election campaigns of attacking Palestinians. "What would you say of candidates who pride themselves over the fact that their military careers were founded on the number of Palestinians they have killed or injured, or how many houses they have wrecked? What would you say of candidates who promise to kill more Palestinians and cause further destruction if they rule Israel?" 

The Palestinian official was apparently referring to election campaign videos released by Gantz recently in which he reminded Israeli voters of his military career, highlighting the number of Hamas terrorists the Israeli army killed during the 2014 Gaza war, when he was the chief of staff of the Israeli army.

Images of destruction and of Israeli warplanes bombing the Strip 
were featured in the videos, which drew criticism from Gantz' political rivals and from the left wing in Israel. 

Gantz told Yedioth Ahronoth that the 2005 Israeli pullout from Gaza "was a legal process, a decision made by Israel's government and carried out by the army and the settlers in a painful way, but a good one. We need to take the lessons we learned there and apply them elsewhere." 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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