Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday told Israeli reporters that he tried to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but did not get a response.
“There were contacts for a meeting with Netanyahu two months ago, but his people evaded preliminary meetings to agree on the meeting,” Abbas said.
Abbas summoned the Israeli reporters in order to address the Israeli public directly.
The Prime Minister’s Office quickly denied the claim.
“This is simply not right,” the PMO said in a statement. “This is simply Abu Mazen’s [Abbas’s] attempt to evade responsibility for the lack of negotiations.”
Netanyahu, the statement continued, called on Thursday from Davos, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, for Abbas to meet with him.
Abbas denied allegations that he and the PA have been inciting against Israel.
“I don’t incite, contrary to what Israeli cabinet ministers are saying,” he said. “I call on them to show me where exactly am I inciting.”
He defended the PA’s decision to pay salaries to families of Palestinians prisoners and “martyrs,” saying this was the “law and culture.” The PA president added: “It’s my duty to look after every prisoner.”
Abbas said he was opposed to all acts of terrorism and bloodshed. But, he added, “Let’s not forget that the wave of violence is the result of the absence of a political horizon and peace process.”
Abbas reiterated his support for a “nonviolent popular resistance.” He called upon Palestinians to refrain from violence during protests.
“I hear that you are saying that I incite against Israel,” Abbas continued. “You are saying that I’m a political terrorist. But I’m opposed to incitement and call for negotiations for peace.”
According to Abbas, all Palestinian factions want the current wave of unrest to be nonviolent. “Unfortunately, however, the violence is reaching Israel, and children are being shot,” he said.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.