Steinitz: Abbas incitement proves he isn’t partner for peace

Palestinian Authority president ‘cannot be absolved of his responsibility for this terrorism,’ energy minister says

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaks during a Knesset plenum session on September 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaks during a Knesset plenum session on September 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Saturday claimed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was directly responsible for incitement behind the recent upsurge in Palestinian terrorism, and that this proved he was an unsuitable partner in pursuing a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“The wave of terrorism took off in large part due to Abu Mazen’s incitement,” Steinitz said, using the Palestinian leader’s nom de guerre, “and he cannot be absolved of his responsibility for this terrorism.”

At a cultural event in Ness Ziona, Steinitz said Abbas “has still not proven to be a partner for peace, and the critical thing to do now is to stop incitement.”

“There hasn’t been a government that has been able to end the conflict, this is the reality in the Middle East. No one has a magic solution, not a right-wing government and not a left-wing government,” he added.

US officials said Thursday that President Barack Obama has made a “realistic assessment” that a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians is not possible during his final months in office. The stark assessment came ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House on Monday — the first meeting between the two leaders in more than a year.

Last month, on the sidelines of Israeli-American Council in Washington DC, Steinitz leveled similar criticisms against Abbas, describing him as “the number one instigator in the world against the Jewish people and the state of Israel.”

“There is a great similarity between the incitement of the Palestinian Authority under Abu Mazen and the incitement of the Nazis against the Jewish people before the Second World War,” he charged.

“To speak of Abbas’s part [in the violence] is the understatement of the century,” Steinitz said, hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced he would meet with Abbas.

Israel’s energy minister insisted that while Abbas condemned Palestinian terrorism to world leaders, the subtext of Palestinian Authority-sponsored media proved the insincerity of his condemnation.

Steinitz at the time said that 18 months earlier he had presented members of the US Congress with evidence of incitement, including PA-sponsored children’s magazines that he said featured positive images of Hitler.

Like Steinitz, Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have repeatedly accused Abbas and his government of fueling the surge in terrorism, in part by peddling “lies” about purported Israeli plans to change the status quo at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount holy site.

Incitement to violence by Abbas and others, they charge, is a major catalyst for the recent wave of Palestinian terrorism in which 11 Israelis have been killed in the spate of near-daily attacks since October 1 and dozens have been wounded.

Over 60 Palestinians have been killed in the latest round of violence, the majority of them while carrying out stabbing attacks against Israelis. The rest died in clashes with Israeli military forces.

On Friday, 369 members of the US House of Representatives urged Abbas to cease inciting violence, to continue security cooperation with Israel and to agree to renew peace talks without conditions.

The bipartisan letter made clear that US lawmakers saw Abbas and other PA officials responsible for inciting violence against Israelis, and unless calm was restored there’ll be little chance for a two-state solution.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report.

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