Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks with journalists at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday rejected criticism of President Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with families of Palestinians who attacked Israelis.
A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah said the meeting, which took place on Wednesday, came at the request of the families.
“The families asked for the meeting because they wanted President Abbas to help retrieve the bodies of their dead sons,” the official told The Jerusalem Post
The families from east Jerusalem had previously accused the PA leadership of failing to intervene with Israeli authorities to release the bodies of their sons.
At the meeting, which took place shortly after a terrorist attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in which a border policewoman was killed and another was wounded, the families appealed to Abbas to support their campaign to retrieve the bodies of their sons, the official noted.
He quoted Abbas as telling the families that the PA leadership was “making efforts to secure the release of the bodies of the martyrs.”
The official also quoted Abbas as voicing opposition to any conditions set by Israel in return.
“The families have the right to bury their martyred sons,” the PA president told the families.
According to the families, the Jerusalem police have conditioned handing over the bodies on holding the funerals late at night and with a limited number of participants.
The Palestinian official denied that Abbas had promised to help rebuild the homes of the east Jerusalem terrorists that were destroyed by the Israeli security forces.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called Abbas’s visit “unforgivable,” speaking during a meeting with 30 ambassadors from EU member states.
“It is intolerable and unforgivable that an hour after [Border Police officer] Hadar Cohen was murdered, Abbas welcomed families of terrorists who murdered innocent Israelis,” Lapid said. “We cannot forgive him for that and we cannot be silent about it, but the world is silent.”
Lapid told the ambassadors to imagine how the world would respond if the prime minister hosted the families of the Israelis suspected of firebombing and killing a Palestinian family.
“We will never be like them, because Israel’s power comes first of all from its morality. The difference between us and our enemies is our values. That is why we can ask the world: Why are you continuing to embrace those who support vile murderers?” he asked.
Also on Thursday, Norwegian MP Hans Fredrik Grovan of the Christian Democratic Party called for the government to condemn Abbas’s actions.
Norway has led the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee of major donor countries to the Palestinians since 1993 and was the eighth-largest donor to UN Relief and Works Agency in 2014.
“There should be a clear expectation of Abbas that he condemns terror attacks,” Grovan said, according to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s Norway office.
“Behavior or signals that can be interpreted as acceptance or encouragement of similar attacks... must be condemned.”
Grovan added that Abbas’s behavior is not in keeping with Norwegian authorities’ expectations of him.
The MP did not receive a response from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.