Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he has no interest in an “escalation” and is ready to talk with Israel.
The remarks came at a meeting of top Palestinian officials on Tuesday over the latest surge in violence.
“We’re committed to the agreements,” he said. Abbas added that he has told the Israelis that the Palestinians don’t want “military and security escalations.” He said the message has been delivered to Palestinian security forces and activists.
“We want to reach a diplomatic solution through peaceful means and not another solution,” he said. “We want to mitigate the chances of destruction and loss which will afflict both sides from this situation.”
But Abbas also added that “at the same time, we will protect ourselves.”
He urged Israel to stop building settlements, carry out a previously pledged prisoner release and return to peace talks.
At the same time, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Tuesday that the Israeli military’s operations against Palestinian terrorists have been hindered by “a handful of Jews.” He said that the IDF has been working to quell unrest by West Bank settlers, who in recent days have reportedly hurled boulders and flaming tires at Palestinians and thrown rocks at Palestinian cars.
IDF officers and Palestinian security officials were set to meet Tuesday evening to discuss cooperation, the first meeting of its kind since a deadly Hamas shooting attack Thursday night near the West Bank settlement of Itamar.
“I would be happy if they trusted in the IDF to provide security and a feeling of security to all residents,” he said in a statement while visiting the site of the shooting, in which Naama and Eitam Henkin were killed in front of their children. Right-wing demonstrators have protested outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem in recent days against perceived ineffectual responses to the spike in terrorism.
“It’s impossible to guarantee 100 percent success in the complex reality in which we’re operating,” Eisenkot said.