Abbas says he won’t join more international groups for now

Speaking to The Times of Israel, PA president condemns Nakba Day killings of two Palestinian teenagers by IDF, and following day’s attack on Israeli journalists

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian leadership does not intend to seek membership in or help from additional UN and other international organizations in the near future, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

Abbas said the Palestinians are instead currently waiting to see what diplomatic developments will ensue in the aftermath of last month’s collapse of peace negotiations.

The Times of Israel has established that Israel is aware of Abbas’s decision not to turn to international organizations as part of the Palestinian push to statehood in the near future.

Abbas’s comments to this effect stand in contrast to the Palestinian leadership’s statements over the last few weeks that it does intend to turn to the UN and other international organizations in the wake of the peace talks’ failure.

Abbas also said that his meeting in London last week with Israel’s chief negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni had been positive. He said it was inconceivable that the meeting could have taken place without the agreement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas said he stressed to Livni that the new Palestinian government, set to take shape in the coming days, would act according to the principles he abides by. He said it was not yet clear whether he would head the new government or whether it would be led by somebody else, such as Rami Hamdallah, the PA’s prime minister.

He said he told Livni that all ministers in the new government would be independents, without party affiliation, and that the government would accept all of the Middle East Quartet’s principles: recognition of Israel, recognition of previous agreements, and the explicit rejection of violence and terrorism.

Abbas told The Times of Israel that two days before he applied for membership in 15 international organizations at the start of April — one of the steps that led to the collapse of the talks — he sent a formal letter to Netanyahu’s peace emissary, Yitzhak Molcho, and to the American special envoy, Martin Indyk, in which he warned that if Israel did not free a fourth and final batch of long-term prisoners as promised, he would apply to join the 15 groups.

He said he delayed the implementation of what had been a decision by the Palestinian leadership to join the organizations for two days to see if the Israeli government would change its position, but this did not happen.

Israel had balked at releasing the fourth group of prisoners because Abbas sought the freeing of Israeli Arabs as part of the group and because he had not committed to extending the peace talks beyond the end of April deadline.

On the subject of last month’s Fatah-Hamas unity pact — following which Israel formally suspended peace negotiations — Abbas said that he had made plain for years that if Hamas was interested in reconciliation it would have to accept his policies. He said Hamas had changed its stance because it was in difficulties. He said the idea of the reconciliation process was to go toward Palestinian elections, “but if something goes wrong along the way, we’ll re-examine matters.”

Abbas strongly condemned the killing of two Palestinian teenagers by the IDF last Thursday during Nakba Day protests at Beitunia.

As for the incident the following day in which this correspondent and a cameraman colleague were attacked by a group of Palestinians, Abbas said he condemned the incident and stressed the imperative to ensure journalistic freedom and the safety of Israeli and other journalists. He said any action that makes the work of journalists more difficult, or harms them, only causes damage to the Palestinians.

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