After fatal firebombing, Abbas threatens to change PA policy
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After fatal firebombing, Abbas threatens to change PA policy

Palestinian leader says condemnations are insufficient, Israel must choose between Islamic State-like Jewish terrorism and peace

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.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference, June 10, 2015 (AP/Darko Vojinovic)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference, June 10, 2015 (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened Sunday to make unspecified changes to Palestinian policy next month if the Israeli government doesn’t change its stance vis-a-vis the Palestinians and Jewish extremism.

Speaking to supporters of the Israeli left-wing party Meretz in Ramallah, Abbas rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for settlement construction and said that Israel must choose between the Islamic State and peace. He also took the US administration to task.

“We won’t be able to survive, but we also won’t support terror violence,” Abbas said, alluding to the increasing internal pressure on the PA to radicalize its approach as the situation escalates.

“Our hands are still extended in peace. If the situation continues this month, we will change our stance. How can I keep looking in the eyes of the families of martyrs killed by Jewish terrorists?” he added, in a reference to the killing on Friday of a Palestinian baby in an arson attack that according to suspicions was carried out by Jewish extremists.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, front, prays over the body of one-and-a-half year old boy, Ali Dawabsheh, during his funeral in Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus, Friday, July 31, 2015. The toddler was burned to death when suspected Jewish assailants set fire to two Palestinian homes in the West Bank village early Friday. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, front, prays over the body of one-and-a-half year old boy, Ali Dawabsheh, during his funeral in Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus, Friday, July 31, 2015. The toddler was burned to death when suspected Jewish assailants set fire to two Palestinian homes in the West Bank village early Friday. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Abbas did not elaborate regarding the steps that the PA would take, but according to reports by Channel 1, he is considering resigning.

Abbas said he “blamed the US administration for the situation.”

“All the condemnations and condolences are insufficient,” he said. “Steps must be taken against the radicals. An entire family was attacked in their home and someone burned them to death.”

The PA president said he received condolence phone calls from both Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, “But we ask what will happen now?

“I say this honestly — we will not be patient. Israel must choose between the Islamic State and peace, between Jewish terrorist organizations and peace,” he said.

“What peace is Netanyahu talking about when attacks by settlers on Palestinians are a daily threat? Does he think that the settlements, rather than negotiations, will bring peace?”

Still, Abbas was evasive about ending security cooperation with Israel. When asked about the possible termination of security ties, he replied, “Will Israel work to stop attacks like those in the village of Duma?

Abbas further stated that the Palestinian Authority was prepared to relaunch peace negotiations with Israel without any preconditions. However, the Palestinian leader did add that he expected Israel to fulfill a number of commitments given to the Authority in the past, apparently a reference to prior Palestinian demands which include a halt on settlement construction in the West Bank and the release of 30 security prisoners.

Abbas said the Authority was awaiting Israel’s response on the matter.

Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-on offered condolences to Abbas for the attack.

Abbas instructed security forces on Friday to prevent revenge attacks in response to the arson of two homes in Duma, which killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and critically injured three of his family members.

Abbas added during a PA leadership meeting in Ramallah that he was not interested in retaliatory attacks, and instructed the security forces to prevent armed activity by youths who seek revenge for the killing, a senior participant in the meeting told the Arab-language newspaper Rai Al-Youm.

On Saturday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad blamed Abbas’s cooperation with Israel for the death of the baby.

“The ones who burned the Dawabsha infant and his family are those who made an agreement with Israel and prevented the opposition from acting,” said Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zohari.

The PA blamed Israel’s government for the attack, which Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, called a “war crime” on Friday.

“This is a heinous crime that wouldn’t have happened if the government didn’t defend the settlers and insist on building in the settlements,” Rudeineh said, according to Israel Radio.

Israeli Army radio reported that Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malaki went to Hague to meet with senior officials of the International Criminal Court in order to demand the opening of an investigation of the attack.

Marissa Newman and AFP contributed to this report.

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