Trump envoy urged world to rethink PA aid if no condemnation

Abbas’s PA has not condemned bombing in which Israeli teen was killed

Ex-official says fact attack occurred in West Bank makes it harder for Ramallah to denounce it; security source says Abbas has given ‘clear orders’ to preserve stability

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the PA headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 20, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the PA headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 20, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

The Palestinian Authority has not publicly condemned a bombing in the West Bank last week in which an Israeli teenager was killed and her father and brother were injured.

Seventeen-year-old Rina Shnerb was killed last Friday when terrorists detonated a remote-controlled bomb at a natural spring near the Dolev settlement, according to the IDF.

In recent years, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other members of the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership have rarely condemned attacks against Israelis.

Two PA officials did not respond to requests for comment about the explosion.

Rina Shnerb, 17, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank on August 23, 2019 (courtesy)

A former PA official said that the fact the bombing occurred in the West Bank makes it particularly difficult for Ramallah to denounce it.

“This incident happened in an occupied area. So if the Palestinian Authority condemned it, most of the [Palestinian] people would not be understanding. Many would use the condemnation to accuse the PA of treason and betrayal,” the ex-official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel, adding that had it taken place in Israel, “the situation would be different.”

Rabbi Eitan Shnerb speaks to the media at the Hadassah Medical Center Ein Kerem, a day after being wounded in a terrorist bombing near Dolev that killed his daughter Rina and wounded his son Dvir, August 24, 2019. (Flash90)

He added that he believes the vast majority of PA officials do not support attacks against Israelis.

“I think most of the PA rejects these attacks,” the official stated. “I have never met an official who was happy about or celebrating one.”

Last Friday, Jason Greenblatt, one of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoys, suggested that if the PA did not express its disapproval of the bombing, its international backers should reconsider their support for it.

“The PA must unequivocally condemn this attack & the recent murder of 18yo Dvir Sorek,” Greenblatt tweeted, referring to an Israeli who was stabbed to death in the Gush Etzion area earlier in August. “If they don’t, donor countries should demand the PA answer for why their donor funds continue to be used to reward attacks.”

Abbas has long stated that he opposes violence and has expressed support for peaceful protest of Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians. But his PA maintains a policy of paying stipends to security prisoners and their families, as well as the families of dead terrorists, and Abbas in speeches has demonized Israel as an illegitimate colonial project unrelated to Judaism.

Palestinian Authority security forces inspect a roadside bomb found in the West Bank on Saturday, January 27, 2018. (Ma’an news agency)

Ramallah has contended that the policy seeks to provide social welfare to Palestinian families and make up for what it describes as an unfair military justice system.

In a speech at the PA presidential headquarters last December, the PA president said: “We don’t believe in war, weapons, missiles, planes or tanks.”

Palestinian officials have also said that Abbas has instructed the PA security forces to maintain cooperation with the IDF and their other security counterparts.

A PA security official said that Abbas has given “clear orders to preserve security and stability and prevent Hamas’s attempts to undermine it.”

“We have no interest in returning to a situation of chaos,” the security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added. “We have been told to continue our work with our [Israeli] counterparts.”

Last September, Abbas told Israeli peace activists at a meeting in Ramallah that Palestinian and Israeli security forces work together “on a daily basis” and that he and his people “do anything possible so that no Israeli gets hurt,” according to Peace Now, whose executive director attended the gathering with the PA president.

In August 2018, the PA security forces foiled a terrorist bombing plot by locating and defusing a bomb that was planted on the side of a road in the West Bank that IDF vehicles often use, the Ynet news site reported at the time, citing two unidentified sources.

In January 2018, the PA Police stumbled upon a number of bombs planted next to a road in the northern West Bank and later defused them, PA Police spokesman Louay Arzeikat said then.

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