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Abbas: Yes, Palestinians incite, but so does Israel

In speech to Arab League ahead of Paris summit, Abbas calls for a time limit on any new negotiations, demands release of all prisoners

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss a French peace initiative in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on May 28, 2016. (AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss a French peace initiative in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on May 28, 2016. (AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday addressed the Arab League in Cairo, telling Arab leaders that PA-controlled media outlets and school programs indeed incite against Israel but that Israel does the same against Palestinians.

“Yes, we incite [against Israel] in the media and in educational institutions, but so does Israel,” he told the 22-member Arab body, according to Channel 2.

Abbas further called on the US to intervene in the issue, as he did last month when urged to renew the Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee, which monitors cases where incitement to violence and terror is suspected.

The committee — whose members include Israeli, Palestinian and American officials — was formed as part of the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, and met every two months until the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000.

Israel has repeatedly accused Abbas of failing to condemn the wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted in mid-September, and says his PA hierarchy presides over incitement to violence against Israel.

“The United States must examine and judge cases on incitement on both sides — Israeli and Palestinian — and stop them,” Abbas told the Arab League on Saturday, where he presented the Palestinian position ahead of a planned peace summit initiated by France, set for June 3.

Abbas reiterated Palestinian demands that a future Palestinian state have east Jerusalem as its capital and that it be established within the lines that had existed before 1967 when Israel captured the then Jordanian-administered West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“When we need to demarcate these borders, we will be prepared to accept a slight exchange of territory,” he told the Arab ministers.

He also demanded that all Palestinians jailed by Israel be released and said the Palestinians would never recognize a “Jewish” state as Netanyahu has long demanded. The Palestinians recognized Israel in 1993 in the Oslo Accords, he recounted, and that is sufficient.

Abbas also told the League that if any Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are relaunched by the conference due in Paris next month, they should have a time cap and a mechanism to implement their resolutions.

The Arab ministers were expected to adopt a resolution on the plan to revive negotiations between Israel and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Earlier Saturday, the PA president met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who, earlier this month, called for a renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The two reportedly discussed the stalled process and the French peace initiative.

Sissi told Abbas that “the Palestinian issue would continue to be a priority for Egypt,” and that Egypt welcomed international efforts to solve the conflict.”

“A solution to the conflict would contribute to a better reality and to a better, more secure future for all regional nations and peoples,” Sissi said, according to Channel 2.

The Egyptian president, together with John Kerry and former Quartet envoy Tony Blair, was reportedly among foreign leaders who pushed for Zionist Union chair Isaac Herzog to join Netanyahu’s government earlier this month. Negotiations collapsed, however, when Netanyahu turned to Avigdor Liberman to expand his coalition.

A report in the Palestinian news agency Ma’an on Tuesday claimed that an Israeli delegation flew to Cairo to meet with senior officials in the Egyptian ministries of foreign affairs and defense. The delegation reportedly arrived in Cairo to prepare the ground for a meeting between Netanyahu and Sissi.

Representatives of some 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will attend the French-backed peace summit next month, as well as US Secretary of State John Kerry. Israel and the PA will not take part in the conference.

Israel has rejected the French initiative, saying direct negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

AP contributed to this report.

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