Abbas: ‘Europe invented Zionism and Israel… let’s not fool ourselves’
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Abbas: ‘Europe invented Zionism and Israel… let’s not fool ourselves’

Addressing government ministers, PA president also says he doubts Arab world will help Palestinians in overcoming major financial crisis

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas speaks during the weekly PA cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 29, 2019. (Majdi Mohammed/Pool/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas speaks during the weekly PA cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 29, 2019. (Majdi Mohammed/Pool/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed on Monday that Europe created Zionism and Israel.

Abbas made the comments at a meeting of the PA cabinet in Ramallah, where he delivered a short speech, much of which focused on the Palestinians’ finances.

“The European position — I don’t want to say it is 100 percent just — but it is has started to [show] understanding. Therefore, Ms. Mogherini [Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief] told the Arab League summit in Tunisia that ‘we support the two-state solution and we are against moving [embassies to] Jerusalem’ and other matters,” he said.

“Of course, everything is not in our favor, but such a position coming from Europe is a good thing. This is what we have historically become used to, because you all know Europe is the one that invented — this slightly annoys our neighbors — Zionism and Israel. It is the one that invented it. Let’s not fool ourselves. This is what history says. Whoever has something that refutes this history, go ahead.”

At the Arab League summit in Tunisia in late March, Mogherini had said: “We need… to get back to meaningful negotiations toward the two-state solution, which is the only viable, realistic solution.”

Abbas did not explain how he believes Europe created Zionism and Israel. However, he has previously made similar comments.

This picture taken on September 11, 2018, shows a general view of a meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers at the organization’s headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

In a speech in January 2018, the PA president said, “Israel is a colonial project with no relationship to Judaism,” quoting Abdul Wahab al-Messiri, an Egyptian writer who authored the “Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism.”

At the time, Israeli politicians and Jewish groups widely panned Abbas for the remark, which overshadowed other comments he made in the same speech about Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.

In his remarks on Monday, Abbas also said the Palestinians were not optimistic that Arab states would provide them a financial safety net to overcome a steep financial crisis.

“Of course, we have asked the [Arab] brothers for a safety net,” he said. “If God wills. I mean we do not have high hopes, but if God wills, something will happen. We asked for $100 million per month. We told them we will take it as debt…I mean you give us and then we will return the money to you…Even on the debt offer, we have not received a response. But we have to bear responsibility and be patient.”

The PA president told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers and officials at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo last week that “a [financial] safety net must be provided.”

In February, Israel started to implement a new law that allows it to withhold taxes from the PA every month equivalent to the amount that it determines the Palestinians pay to security prisoners held in Israeli jails, including terrorists, and the families of dead terrorists.

The Palestinians have protested the law, refusing to receive any of the taxes Israel gathers for them on a monthly basis as long as the Jewish state does not transfer the full amount.

The taxes Israel collects and transfers to the PA make up hundreds of millions of shekels a month — more than half its budget.

PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara has announced that Ramallah has undertaken a series of austerity measures to mitigate the impact of the lack of funds on government operations, including the slashing of public employee salaries.

In March, many PA employees received only half of their salaries.

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