Even as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas assured Israeli students on Sunday that Palestinians have abandoned violence for good, a senior member of his Fatah movement praised the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as the only means for securing the release of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Jibril Rajoub, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and former commander of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, told Palestinian television last month that kidnappings are “the only language that Israel understands,” the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch reported on Wednesday.
“When they [Hamas] kidnapped [Israeli soldier Gilad] Shalit, we congratulated them. When they realized the Shalit deal — despite some reservations we had — we also congratulated them,” Rajoub said.
Israel released 1,027 prisoners in October 2011 in exchange for Shalit, who had been abducted by Hamas more than five years earlier inside Israeli territory, near the frontier with Gaza. Two IDF soldiers were killed in that attack in June 2006. A Hamas tunnel under the border, exposed by the IDF last October, is believed to have been dug for a similar abduction.
Abbas came under fire by rival movement Hamas last May when he told the audience at the World Economic Forum that kidnappings were alien to Palestinian culture.
”Do you want us to abduct other Shalits?” Abbas asked. “This is not part of our culture. We cannot do this.”
Instead, Abbas said Palestinians would refrain from applying for membership with international institutions in exchange for the release by Israel of 104 Palestinian prisoners jailed before the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993. The fourth and final stage of those releases is scheduled to take place in April. The vast majority of the prisoners in question have Israeli blood on their hands.
But Rajoub said that kidnappings are perfectly legitimate if the alternative is life in prison for the remaining Palestinian prisoners.
“If they [the Israelis] don’t want to release prisoners, but want them in prison for life so that they come out as ghosts or skeletons, clearly the kidnapping model is the language they understand,” he said.