US State Department accuses Abbas of inconsistency on non-violence pledges

Annual report singles out PA president for changeable statements ‘that appear to contradict and undermine his prior commitments’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 22, 2020. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 22, 2020. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

An annual US State Department report on counter-terrorism, published Wednesday, singled out Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as failing to consistently maintain a stance of non-violence.

“President Mahmoud Abbas has stated in the past a commitment to non-violence, a two-state solution and previous PLO commitments, but he has also made inconsistent statements that appear to contradict and undermine his prior commitments,” the report stated.

It quoted one instance in August of last year, in which Abbas said, “So we say to [Israel], ‘Every stone you [used] to build on our land and every house you have built on our land is bound to be destroyed, Allah willing…Jerusalem is ours whether they like it or not… We shall enter Jerusalem — millions of fighters! We shall enter it! All of us, the entire Palestinian people, the entire Arab nation, the Islamic nation, and the Christian nation… They shall all enter Jerusalem…'”

The quote is based on a translation from the Middle East Media Research Institute, a US-based watchdog with strong links to Israel.

Last year, the same State Department report noted only that “PA President Mahmoud Abbas maintained a public commitment to non-violence.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, February 11, 2020. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Israel has long argued that the Palestinian Authority, and particularity its financial support for families of terrorists, glorifies and incites violence against Israelis.

According to PA law, Palestinian security prisoners serving time in Israeli jails and families of assailants killed while carrying attacks against Israelis are eligible to receive stipends and other benefits.

The State Department report also said that the PA’s security forces, which recently cut ties with the US and Israel over Jerusalem’s plans to annex West Bank land, cannot manage counter-terror operations on theirs own.

The coordination has been seen as critical in preventing numerous attacks against Israeli targets.

The PA has boycotted the US administration since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy there in late 2017. Washington has retaliated by halting virtually all aid to the Palestinians.

The US, however, claims it is continuing to make efforts to bring Palestinians to the negotiating table on the Trump administration’s peace plan, even as Israel seeks to unilaterally carry out a single aspect of the proposal — the annexation of some 30 percent of West Bank land — as early as next week.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meets US President Donald Trump In the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Fadi Arouri, Xinhua Pool via AP)

The plan would see all Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley area allocated to Israel while providing an eventual Palestinian state in some 70% of the West Bank.

It offers the Palestinians a capital in Arab neighborhoods and partial neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jerusalem that lie on the far side of Israel’s West Bank security barrier.

US officials have said previously that the plan is a blueprint rather than a final document, but Palestinians have rejected the proposal outright, seeing it as heavily biased toward Israel, and have refused to discuss it. It imposes a four-year settlement freeze in areas allocated for that future Palestinian state to allow the PA time to consider coming to the table. That state would be conditioned on various requirements, including demilitarization, the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and ongoing Israeli overall security control in the West Bank.

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