Palestinians have no intention of using violence to protest the failure of peace talks, a senior official in Ramallah said Friday, seeking to dispel fears of a Third Intifada in the wake of negotiations breaking down this week.
Fatah Central Committee Deputy Secretary Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian Authority official, told The Times of Israel that the PA has no intention of allowing violence and bloodshed to ramp up in the West Bank.
However, Rajoub said Ramallah was committed to going forward with its push for UN recognition as a state.
Israeli officials have expressed fears in the past that the breakdown of peace talks could be accompanied by increased violence by Palestinians.
On Thursday, a commander of the elite Duvdevan unit of the Israel Defense Forces told Channel 2 news that his unit, which operates in the West Bank, was preparing for a possible uptick in violence.
The Second Intifada, which saw near-daily fatal attacks in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel for several years, was touched off by the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000, according to many Israeli officials.
Palestinians, however, blame a visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount for setting off the violence, which left thousands dead over a five-year period.
On Thursday night, Gazan terrorists fired four rockets at Israel, seemingly tied to the breakdown of peace talks. All four rockets landed in open areas with no injuries or damage. Israel responded with air strikes on Gaza early Friday.
Rajoub blamed Israel for the breakdown of talks, saying Ramallah could not agree to extending talks in exchange for 400 Palestinian prisoners chosen by Israel.
In Rajoub’s words, past experience showed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would choose only low-level inmates convicted of light crimes, and not the more-important security detainees.
On Thursday, Israeli officials asserted that Jerusalem had been ready to approve a complex, three-way deal under which Israel would have freed the final batch of 26-30 long-term Palestinian terror convicts and also released 400 more Palestinian security prisoners not guilty of violent crimes. Peace talks would have extended beyond the current April 29 deadline, and the US would have released Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
The PA’s resort to unilaterally applying to join 15 international groups, many of which are UN related, was a breach of the understandings underpinning the peace talks, the officials said.
Rajoub charged that Israel had agreed to freeze only a negligible amount of settlement construction, refusing to extend the moratorium to projects already underway in East Jerusalem.
“We couldn’t agree to that,” he said.