Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss “halting Israeli aggression” on the Gaza Strip.

The appeal came as PA officials claimed that Israel was stepping up its attacks on the Gaza Strip in a bid to thwart the September statehood bid and avoid the internal economic and social crisis.

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Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that Abbas has asked the PA envoy to the UN, Riad Mansour, to move quickly to seek an emergency meeting of the Security Council.

Erekat said that the PA wants the Security Council to “halt Israeli aggression and grave escalation which claimed the lives of scores of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Abbas met in his office in Ramallah with the Egyptian envoy to Ramallah, Yasser Othman, and discussed with him the latest developments in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas expressed concern that the latest escalation would undermine the prospects of peace in the region, a PA official in Ramallah said.

The Egyptian envoy said that his country was making “big efforts” to restore calm out of concern for stability in the region, the official said.

The envoy also urged Israel to stop its attacks on the Gaza Strip so as to enable the Palestinian factions to reciprocate by halting their attacks, the official added.

Senior PA officials accused Israel over the weekend of escalating tensions in the region to thwart the PA leadership’s plan to ask the UN next month to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

“Israel is preparing for war to distract attention from the Palestinian Authority’s plan for September,” said Mohammed Subh, the PA envoy to the Arab League.

He said that Arab League representatives would hold a meeting on Sunday to discuss the repercussions of Israel’s “assault” on Palestinian and Egyptian territories.

“We have been expecting such an aggression,” Subh said. “We were expecting Israel to intensify tensions in the region as we approached the September deadline. Israel is seeking to create mayhem in the region.”

Subh claimed that in the past Israel resorted to creating tensions or initiating wars each time it faced a political crisis to distract attention from other issues.

Nimer Hammad, a senior adviser to Abbas, accused Israel of perpetrating “crimes” against the Palestinians “because of its internal problems.”

Referring to recent protests in Israel over high costs of living, Hammad said: “The Israeli government is trying, through this new aggression, to avoid internal pressure because of the demonstrations.”

Abbas’s Fatah faction, meanwhile, said that its men would participate in defending the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip against Israeli “aggression.”

“This is a premeditated and programmed aggression aimed at avoiding the internal crisis in Israel,” Fatah’s spokesman Fayez Abu Aitah charged. He also claimed that the Israeli attacks were designed to foil unity between Hamas and Fatah.

“Fatah will be at the forefront of the forces defending the Palestinians with all available means,” he added. “We will fully support the people in their resistance against this aggression.”


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