A day after ignoring a call from US Vice President Joe Biden to explicitly condemn the ongoing spate of attacks on Israelis, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday announced he opposed all forms of violence.
“Our hand is outstretched in peace founded on justice and respect for the rights of everyone,” Abbas said at joint press conference in Ramallah with visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
“We are against violence, extremism and terrorism, wherever it comes from,” he said.
Twenty nine Israelis and four foreign nationals have been killed in an ongoing wave of Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks since October. The latest victim was American student Taylor Force, stabbed to death on Tuesday as Biden met nearby with former president Shimon Peres. An estimated 180 Palestinians have died in the same period, more than two thirds of them in the course of attacking Israelis, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops, according to the Israeli army.
Abbas’s Fatah party not only failed to condemn Tuesday’s attack, but praised the terrorist who killed Force as a “hero” and “martyr” on its official TV station and its social media
On Wednesday, Biden leveled harsh criticism against the Palestinian leadership for not condemning the spate of terror attacks.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms: The United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi,” Biden said during a press conference alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
“This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave,” he continued. “It is just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens.”
Later on Wednesday, Biden met Abbas in Ramallah for about two hours, but neither made any comments to reporters before or after the meeting.
Abbas’s office later published a statement blaming Israel’s settlement building for the violence.
Abbas expressed his condolences over the killing of the American tourist in Tel Aviv, but failed to condemn the attack itself and even added that “the occupation forces [of Israel] killed 200 Palestinians in the past five months.”
“The current situation is intolerable,” Abbas said Thursday, adding that peace “requires crucial decisions by the Israeli government, through an immediate settlement freeze, stopping settler attacks and respecting Palestinian sovereignty on Palestinian lands according to agreements.”
AFP and Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.