'Israel initiated tension to distract from protests'

By
August 24, 2011 03:46

Abbas quoted as saying that current social justice protests could have grown had it not been for escalation in Gaza.

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PA President Abbas at PLO Executive meeting

PA President Abbas at PLO Executive meeting 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Israel initiated the recent tensions in the Gaza Strip to distract attention from the current wave of socio-economic protests in the country, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted on Tuesday as saying.

Abbas, who is visiting Qatar, told the Doha-based Al Jazeera TV network that the protests have stopped because of the Israeli “escalation” succeeded in diverting attention from the weekly demonstrations.

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“Israel has been witnessing real unrest and weekly demonstrations calling for social justice,” he was quoted as saying. “These protests could have grown had it not been for the escalation, which diverted attention from the events. Since then, the demonstrations have stopped.”

The PA leadership has stopped short of condemning last week’s terror attacks in the South and the subsequent barrage of rocket and missile offensive from the Gaza Strip.

However, the PA has strongly condemned Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the terror attacks that killed eight Israelis.

Abbas, meanwhile, held talks in Doha with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and discussed with him the latest developments in the region, especially the PA’s plan to ask the UN next month to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

Abbas was later scheduled to attend a meeting of Arab League representatives to lay the final touches on the PA’s statehood bid.

The Arab League is expected to dispatch a delegation of ministers to hold talks with members of the UN Security Council ahead of the UN vote, which is expected to take place next month.

Abbas also held talks in Doha on Tuesday with US Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, on the PA’s statehood bid and the situation in the Middle East.

A PA official in Ramallah said that Abbas once again complained about Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as the recent IDF “assaults” on Palestinians.

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