Israelis, Palestinians trade barbs but peace talks are not derailed

Israel protests to US over "Palestinian Authority incitement," after 2 IDF soldiers murdered in separate terror attacks.

September 23, 2013 23:12
4 minute read.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni at a press conference, July 30

Livni and Erekat 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Israel complained to the US on Monday in the wake of Palestinians killing two soldiers in two separate incidents this weekend, saying that the Palestinian Authority had failed to stop violence and incitement against it and its citizens.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in turn, is expected to brief US President Barack Obama on “several Israeli violations and trespasses,” according to his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh.

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Israelis and Palestinians have ratcheted up the rhetoric against each other in the past few days, but have not broken off the process of direct negotiations, which began in July.

The increased verbal hostility comes in advance of Obama’s meeting with Abbas in New York on Tuesday and with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington on September 30. Obama is also expected to mention the renewed talks in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki ruled out the possibility of a summit between Abbas and Netanyahu.

“Such a matter requires prolonged preparations, coordination and removing obstacles on the ground,” he said.

But CNN’s Christiane Amanpour tweeted on Monday that she spotted Justice Minister Tzipi Livni meeting with PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo in New York.

On Sunday, a Palestinian sniper killed a soldier in Hebron and on Friday a Palestinian lured an Israeli soldier into the West Bank and killed him, in hopes of ransoming the soldier’s body for the release of his brother from an Israeli jail. The US and EU issued statements condemning the deaths but the PA has not done so.

A senior Israeli official said the PA had not done enough to prevent the sniper fire. It added that the renewed peace process has not stopped PA incitement against Israel in its media.

A senior Israeli security official spoke even more harshly against the PA. All recent actions to prevent terror attacks and to maintain peace and security have been at the hands of the IDF, the official said.

The PA is not effectively dealing with terror, the security official said.

Its arrests are cosmetic in nature and those arrested do not stand trial, the official said.

Netanyahu reacted strongly to the killing of the Hebron soldier. Late Sunday night, he said that actions should be taken to immediately allow Jews to move into a new building they had purchased in Hebron, an action that expands the Jewish holding in that West Bank city.

“Those who attempt to uproot us from the city of our forefathers will achieve the opposite effect. We will continue on one hand to fight terror and to harm terrorists and on the other hand to strengthen settlements,” he said.

Right wing Israeli politicians have since called on Israel to pull out of the peace process.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) said, “we have to freeze the negotiations until [Abbas] Abu Mazen and the Palestinian leadership condemn the terrorist incidents of the last few days. I told the prime minister that he can’t negotiate with those who support terror.”

The Palestinian Authority said that the killing of the soldier should not be used by Israel to avoid fulfilling its obligations toward the peace process.

Malki told the Ma’an news agency that the PA remained committed to the peace talks with Israel. He said that the PA was keen on the success of the US effort “to end occupation.”

Malki added that despite the Palestinian commitment, “Israel’s actions on the ground are obstructing peace.”

Abu Rudaineh said that Israel was continuing to build in settlements and “kill Palestinians in Kalandiya, Jenin and Gaza.” He said that the “fate of the whole region depends on solving the Palestinian cause.”

The US administration, Abu Rudaineh added, is aware of this.

“However, the Israeli government is unfortunately unaware of the seriousness of the situation it is creating on the ground.

“We need a positive atmosphere to move forward with the peace process.”

Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said Monday that Netanyahu was responsible for the killing of the IDF soldier in Hebron.

“The soldier was not on a picnic in Hebron,” Zaki was quoted as saying by the Palestinian daily Al-Quds.

Zaki condemned the Israeli government’s decision to allow Jews to retake a house in the Old City of Hebron in response to the killing of the soldier.

Zaki said that the decision would “legitimize settlements and aggression.”

He also warned Israel against escalating its “aggression” against Palestinians and their properties in Hebron.

“The Netanyahu government is an idiotic government,” Zaki said. “It is adding fuel to the fire and continuing to provoke our people by storming the Aksa Mosque, closing the Ibrahimi Mosque [Tomb of the Patriarchs], demolishing houses, displacing our people in the Jordan Valley, killings and settlement construction.”

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