Abbas: PA not on verge of collapse, can only be succeeded by statehood

Palestinian Authority president claims West Bank protests are primarily non-violent, urges Iran nuclear deal-style treaty with Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday dismissed talk of the imminent collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the ruling body he heads that was set up by predecessor Yasser Arafat in the 1990s. “No one should dream” of such a scenario, he said, amid reports in Israel that the government has been discussing such a possibility. He stressed that only a Palestinian state would replace the PA.

In a speech from the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Abbas called for an international peace summit. He also said that he opposed violence, while maintaining that Palestinian protests were primarily non-violent and slamming Israel for shooting rock-throwers.

More than 20 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian acts of terrorism and violence in the past three months. Over 130 Palestinians have been killed, most of them in the act of trying to kill Israelis. Israel has accused the PA of playing a central role in inciting the terror attacks, many of them carried out by young Palestinians, by falsely asserting that Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount is in danger.

“There is no scenario of what will happen after the PA… because the PA will stay and any replacement must be a state,” Abbas said, according to a translation by Haaretz. The Palestinian Authority is “one of the Palestinians’ achievements. They won’t give up on it, and no one should dream of its collapse.”

The PA president’s comments came a day after Haaretz reported that Israel’s security cabinet has held two meetings in the past 11 days to discuss the possibility of a collapse of the PA. The discussions come as a wave of terror continues across the country and amid rumors of a political crisis within the Palestinian government.

The meetings dealt with defense establishment assessments that the Palestinian Authority was “liable” to collapse or disintegrate and that such a scenario would create strenuous demands on Israel, forcing it to take charge of both security and civilian affairs in areas currently controlled by the PA.

In his remarks, Abbas said Wednesday that the world must push a Iran nuclear deal-style diplomatic agreement for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Just as the world saw to a solution for the Iranian issue and are working toward [a solution] in Syria and Libya — we are the oldest conflict,” Abbas said. “The Quartet failed, and therefore the world must — if it wants to end the conflict — lead an effort by world powers” and organize a diplomatic summit, he said.

Abbas also addressed the three-month wave of violence that has targeted Israeli security forces and civilians, reiterating his commitment to non-violence while blasting the IDF.

“These are mostly non-violent protests,” Abbas said of the frequent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. “Even when they throw stones [at a distance of] 10-20 meters, Israel responds with gunfire from 100 meters away.”

“We don’t want our children to be killed, we want them alive,” Abbas said. “We will always support non-violent struggle.”

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