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Elham AbolFateh

Middle East

Israel’s leaders atypically quiet after Abbas asserts their state is invalid

Saturday 16/December/2017 - 10:07 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by Ahmed Moamar
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this week threatened to cancel his agreements with Israel، appeared to accuse Israel andor Jews of falsifying history and religion، and asserted that Israel does not meet the criteria for statehood and thus that the international community should reconsider its recognition of Israel، the Times of Israel said.
But while American Jewish groups — including، most unusually، J Street — issued highly critical responses to the PA chief’s address in Istanbul، Israel’s leaders and officials were markedly subdued in their response، apparently preferring not to kick a man when he’s down. Having pocketed the long-coveted American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital، the Jewish state’s leaders may have decided، for a few days at least، not to pour additional salt on Abbas’s wounds.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a relatively mild response to Abbas’s ferocious speech Wednesday at the Organization for Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s “Extraordinary Islamic Summit،” but his office chose not to directly address some of Abbas’s most incendiary rhetoric، and numerous other Israeli leaders، contacted by The Times of Israel، also chose not to comment. A rare exception was Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely، who in a written response، castigated Abbas for what she called his “path of lies” and for denying “the Jewish people’s connection to its land.”
The relative quiet in Jerusalem may also reflect the Trump administration’s repeatedly declared insistence — since the US president recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6 — that it remains committed to brokering a landmark Israeli-Palestinian agreement، with Jerusalem careful not to make statements that might be regarded in Washington as further complicating that ambition. Sensitivities are particularly acute، furthermore، ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel next week، during which he is not now expected to visit the Palestinian territories، having been rebuffed by Abbas.
In the past، by contrast، Netanyahu has frequently issued damning criticism of Abbas’s speeches، including accusing the PA president of refusing to accept Israel in any borders، peddling lies and libels، and proving that he is no partner for peace.
In his hour-long address in Istanbul، at an emergency summit of Islamic and Arab nations convened in the wake of Trump’s Jerusalem declaration، Abbas denounced the US administration، threatened to abrogate all peace agreements since Oslo، and vowed to seek full membership for the “State of Palestine” at the United Nations. While he has issued similar threats in the past، however، he also made fresh inflammatory accusations.
Notably، for instance، he declared that “there is no one better at falsifying history or religion than them،” in a comment that appeared to refer to Israel andor Jews.

That section of his speech، translated by The Times of Israel، went as follows: “At this occasion، I don’t want to discuss history or religion، because there is no one better at falsifying history or religion than them. But if we read the Torah، it says that the Canaanites lived here before Abraham and haven’t left since that time. It hasn’t been interrupted. That’s in the Torah. If they want to fabricate، ‘to distort the words from their [proper] usages،’ as God said. I don’t want to get into religion.”
The phrase “to distort the words from their [proper] usages” is an expression directly quoted from the Quran، widely interpreted to refer to the Jews.
In another passage of his address، as translated by the Washington Free Beacon، Abbas argued that Israel does not fulfill the criteria of statehood، and urged the nations of the world to rethink their recognition of the State of Israel.
“International law says that the state must meet three conditions: authority [i.e.، government]، population and borders. But the third condition is not available in Israel، and I challenge it to say where its borders are. This leads us to [the conclusion] that recognizing it is invalid،” he said.

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