Senior PA official Dr. Mahmoud al-Habbash was supposed to hold a public discussion with Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, but Palestinian security forces refused to let him attend after threats were made to his life.

A public discussion scheduled between a senior advisor to the Palestinian Authority and MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) at the Hebrew University was cancelled at the last minute on Tuesday afternoon amid reports that threats were made to the PA advisor’s life.

Dr. Mahmoud al-Habbash, a senior aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas who also serves as the Supreme Judge in the PA sharia courts, and MK Selah were to discuss a variety of political issues including the stalled peace process, the current security situation, and present barriers to peace at the event held at the Truman Institute for Peace.

An hour before the event, however, a press release from the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace announced the decision to cancel it after receiving “notification from Palestinian Authority officials that their highest security echelons had received information about threats to Dr. al-Habbash’s life,” resulting in their prohibiting him from attending the meeting.

Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah (Photo: Ofer Meir)
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah (Photo: Ofer Meir)


Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the Hebrew University would specify who had issued the threats, but the official Palestinian news agency WAFA issued a statement in Arabic asserting that “in light of extreme right wing incitement both within and without the university campus, al-Habbash decided to call off his participation.”

Truman Institute Director Prof. Menachem Blondheim claimed that the university had also received various threats and that members of the Jewish right-wing Im Tirzu organization had previously demonstrated against the event, they were not deemed severe enough to cancel the event.

“I am not surprised because we also received threats and they seemed to be from the Israeli side. But we live in a peaceful state and we believe that security forces can control an event when they say they can. They assured us that it would be ok,” he said.

Blondheim expressed disappointment in the cancellation of the event, particularly given the investment and effort involved. evertheless, he emphasized that peace remained the ultimate goal and that the university would continue to pursue efforts to create a climate of mutual understanding.

“In principle, nothing will change and our efforts to maintain a deeper understanding between the sides will continue. We are not going to stop and we are not scared. Peace is absolutely necessary. We were only worried for the safety of our guests, the speaker, and the audience,” Blondheim told TPS.