Arab MK ‘ashamed’ over Abbas saying PA would stop attacks

Basel Ghattas accuses the Palestinian Authority president of trying to suck up to Israelis by taking a conciliatory tone against knifings

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Arab-Israeli Knesset Member Basel Ghattas of the Joint (Arab) List in the Knesset, February 12, 2015 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Arab-Israeli Knesset Member Basel Ghattas of the Joint (Arab) List in the Knesset, February 12, 2015 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Joint (Arab) List MK Basel Ghattas said that he felt ashamed after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview on Israeli television that he opposed knife attacks against Israelis.

In a candid interview with Israeli Channel 2’s “Uvda” program last Thursday, Abbas said he is still willing to make peace with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposes the current attacks against Israelis that began around six months ago.

“I felt very ashamed,” said Ghattas, “while listening to Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, PLO chairman and successor to Yasser Arafat, speaking with [Israeli journalist] Ilana Dayan and begging Benjamin Netanyahu for one week of security control in Area A, in order to prove that he can be the guard.”

During the interview, Abbas asked Netanyahu to give him full security control over the West Bank’s Area A territories, “even for a week,” to test whether Palestinians could effectively secure their own and Israel’s civilians from terrorism.

The majority of Palestinians live in Area A of the West Bank, which is supposed to be under full PA control according to previous agreements with Israel.

Ghattas, who faces a three-month suspension from the Knesset for observing a moment of silence while meeting the families of slain Palestinian attackers in February, made the comments to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi news site.

The lawmaker suggested that the Palestinian leader had been advised, unwisely, to improve his image in front of Israelis, in exchange for the approval of some journalists.

Ghattas is not against directly appealing to Israelis, he said, but he opposed Abbas’s apparent admission that Palestinian attacks were unjustified terrorism, to the point of saying Israel should let the PA arrest wanted men.

“He pretended to be clever and sympathize, but he is completely denying the facts to the point that he protests the entrance of the Israeli occupation forces to Ramallah because his forces are capable of arresting wanted men themselves,” Ghattas said. “It is as if he is offering his services.”

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