Speaking to Israeli reporters, the Palestinian president claimed that his office in Ramallah communicated with the PM’s office several times, sans American mediation, even trying to arrange a meeting between the two leaders.

Speaking to Israeli reporters on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that for the past two months his office and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office have been communicating in an attempt to arrange a meeting, but that Netanyahu did not respond to the latest message.

“There have been talks between my office and Netanyahu’s office and the US was not in the picture at all,” Abbas said Thursday. “Among other things, there were talks about a meeting between us.” The Prime Minister’s Office rejected the claims, saying: “This is not true. This is an attempt by Abbas to avoid his responsibility for the lack of negotiations. Today as well, in Davos, Netanyahu called for Abbas to come and negotiate without preconditions.”

According to the Palestinian president, it was agreed that the sides will appoint two representatives each, who will coordinate the meeting. “I agreed, and haven’t heard any response from Netanyahu ever since,” Abbas claimed.

Abbas. "I agreed, and haven't heard any response." (Photo: Ofer Meir)
Abbas. “I agreed, and haven’t heard any response.” (Photo: Ofer Meir)


Abbas also commented on the current terrorism wave, saying: “We oppose the diplomatic conflict between us and Israel turning into a religious conflict, since Judaism is a religion we respect. We need to not go on the path to a religious conflict.”

Abbas rejected Israel’s accusations that he contributes to the incitement of Palestinian youth. “These accusations are spread by different sources in Israel including ministers. If I’m inciting, please show me where I’m inciting. I want this explosion to be non-violent, but we see that when a child throws a stone they shoot him,” he said.

“The incitement issue in the Palestinian Authority came up during the Wye talks and we decided to establish a joint committee with the Americans that would follow the incitement,” Abbas continued.

“Every time that topic came up, we called – and are calling now – to put that committee into use, which can also check the Palestinian Authority’s school textbooks. Even if we have incitement let’s sit and discuss it with the committee. When Prime Minister Netanyahu accuses me of incitement I ask that he mention when and where I incited as well.”

Regarding the status quo on the Temple Mount, Abbas said: “The Palestinian Authority emphasizes the importance of this status quo, which has existed for many years. Only Netanyahu has changed the conditions of the status quo and he says it’s the existing status quo. But I don’t accept that statement.”

Abbas also spoke of the day that will come when he leaves office. When asked who will replace him, he answered: “We have institutions like those that existed in Arafat’s days. When he died, Fatah convened and signaled that I was the heir to come after him, and the central committee of the PLO approved that. The PA president needs to be chosen later by the people as I was. If I quit or die these committees will convene and choose the proper candidate.”

President Abbas with the reporters, Thursday. (Photo: Ofer Meir)
President Abbas with the reporters, Thursday. (Photo: Ofer Meir)


Regarding security cooperation with Israel, Abbas said: “Both sides need to respect the agreements. At the moment my position on this is that the sacred security coordination has not been changed. But I don’t know what my position will be in the future. The Palestinian organizations are responsible for enforcing security here (in the PA-controlled territories. -EL) and for preventing terrorism from flooding into Israel, since we want to protect ourselves and our neighbors, even if we absorb public criticism regarding that (regarding security coordination. -EL).”

“Bloodshed is forbidden in Islam”

Abbas responded to the critics in Israel who say he has avoided condemning the recent terror attacks against Israelis.  “I’m not happy when anyone spills a single drop of blood. Every person is created in the image of God and we need to respect their right to live. Those who murder a soul without cause and without justification are akin to one who murders the whole of humanity. Unjust bloodshed is forbidden in Islam.”

Abbas was also asked about payments the PA gives terrorists’ families. “Our values say that even if we catch an Israeli spy in the Palestinian Authority, and he’s tried and executed, we will keep paying a salary to his family because they’re not to blame for what he did. The same goes for Palestinians who have perpetrated terror attacks against Israel.”

Finally, the Palestinian president spoke of the possibility that the PA would collapse. “We are interested in the Palestinian Authority remaining, but if Israel persists in its policy, it will appear that it is interested in the dismantling of the PA. The PA will continue to exist alongside Israel in peace and security, but I’m not sure that in Israel they want it to carry on.”

Netanyahu and Abbas at the Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 2015. (Photo: AFP)
Netanyahu and Abbas at the Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 2015. (Photo: AFP)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, spoke earlier of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu stated that each time he appears in such a forum, he publically invites Abbas to come, and Abbas always refuses. According to Netanyahu, Abbas wants to go about things in a roundabout way, which is not the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu said that the two sides need to sit down and negotiate, and that establishing relations with the wider Arab world will solve the problem with the Palestinians, and not the other way around.

Netanyahu and Abbas last met at the UN climate change conference in Paris, in November 2015. The two shook hands, but did not appear to speak very substantially. It was their first meeting since September 2010. In July 2015, the two spoke on the phone after a year’s disconnect, and Netanyahu wished Abbas a happy Eid al-Fitr.

As reported by Ynetnews