PA official Erekat raises Israeli ire with terrorist condolence visit

Chief peace negotiator accused of showing support for terror by visiting family of PA security officer killed while carrying out shooting attack

Lee Gancman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (YouTube screen capture)
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (YouTube screen capture)

The top Palestinian official in charge of peace negotiations has drawn Israeli condemnation for paying a condolence visit to the family of a Palestinian man killed last Thursday while carrying out a shooting attack near Jerusalem.

In images posted by the Palestinian Alawael News Agency, Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was pictured alongside the governor of Jericho and other local Fatah officials sitting with the family of Mazen Aribe and offering their condolences on Saturday.

According to Alawael, during the visit Erekat stressed Palestinians’ right to resist Israel until they achieve their own state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Aribe, an officer in the PA’s security services, shot an Israeli soldier and bystander in an attack near the Hizme checkpoint Thursday. He was killed by forces at the scene. His two victims suffered light to moderate injuries.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting that Erekat, instead of condemning such attacks, praises the perpetrators which “gives backing and encouragement to acts of terror.”

Israel sees PA silence on the wave of terror and violence over the last several months as a sign of tacit support for the attacks. Officials, including Netanyahu, have accused Ramallah of inciting violence.

Israeli PM spokesman Ofir Gendelman tweeted on Saturday that the Erekat condolence visit shows the “PA’s clear support for attacks on Israelis.”

A later tweet shows pictures depicting Aribe’s body carried by PA security forces in what he described as a “military funeral” procession.

Erekat said in response he would continue to back Aribe.

“I am honored to offer my condolences… on the martyrdom of our son Mazen.”

Aribe is not the first in his family to carry out terror attacks against Israel.

His father served jail time for a knife attack against Israelis in 1992. And last Wednesday was the anniversary of the death of his nephew, who was killed while carrying out a stabbing attack in 2002.

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