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Photo by: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters
Abbas: Israel is murdering our children
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON
02/25/2013
PA President's speech emphasizes Israel responsibile for actions in protests; Palestinians will not be dragged into confrontation.
 
In what Jerusalem interpreted as a sign that the Palestinian Authority wants to tamp down the violence, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that Israel wants to create anarchy and drag the Palestinians into a confrontation, but that the Palestinians will not play along.

Israel “wants anarchy by killing children,” Abbas said in Ramallah on the day in which Arafat Jaradet, who died on Saturday in an Israeli jail, was buried in his village of Sa’ir near Hebron.

“We know how to act and we won’t allow them [Israel] to drag us to their square,” he said. “They will have to bear responsibility.”

Abbas spoke as thousands took part in the funeral which, considering the concerns voiced beforehand, passed relatively quietly.

He warned, however, that the death of Jaradat “would not pass by easily.”

Abbas said the Palestinians were determined to know how Jaradat died “and who did it.”

The UN’s envoy Robert Serry, meanwhile, said the UN expected Jaradat’s autopsy, now under way, to be followed by “an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances” of his death.

Referring to the current violence in the West Bank, Abbas accused the IDF of using live ammunition to kill Palestinian children.

He also said that he would not allow Palestinians to remain in Israeli prisons for the rest of their lives “for no crimes they had committed.”

The PA president reiterated his call for a “just and comprehensive peace” that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre- 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital. “Without Jerusalem, there will be no peace or state,” he stressed.

Israeli officials said they hoped that Abbas’s words about not wanting to be drawn into anarchy was a sign that he was looking for a graceful way to keep a lid on the violence without being accused of doing Israel’s bidding.

Over the past two days, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has sent messages to the PA leadership, both directly and through third channels, that Israel expected the PA not to allow the violence to spiral out of control.

The prime minister received updates throughout the day on the situation in Judea and Samaria, and met in the afternoon with Quartet envoy Tony Blair for a pre-arranged meeting during which the current crisis was discussed.

Netanyahu meets routinely with Blair.

Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said Israel expected the PA to “act responsibly” to “prevent incitement and violence that will only exacerbate the situation.” Ultimately, he said, “not violence but peace talks are what is needed and it is high time for the Palestinian leadership to end its boycott of the peace talks and return to the negotiating table.”

PA leaders, meanwhile, stepped up their rhetorical broadsides against Israel in the aftermath of Jaradat’s death.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accused Israel of seeking to disrupt US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the region next month. By contrast, Israeli officials have said the violence was timed by the Palestinians ahead of Obama’s visit to ensure that the Palestinian issue was at the top of the agenda, rather than the Iranian nuclear march or Syria.

Accusing Israel of jeopardizing the lives of Palestinian prisoners, Abu Rudaineh said that Israeli measures, including construction in the settlements, would aggravate tensions in the region and hinder the success of any peace process.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the PLO, said the PA leadership was unaware of any Israeli request to calm the situation. He was commenting on a statement the Prime Minister’s Office issued on Sunday saying that Netanyahu’s special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, had asked the PA leadership to work toward preventing violence.

“We don’t know of any such request,” Abed Rabbo said. “No one can tell a popular movement to stop.”

Abed Rabbo claimed that Israel was trying to undermine the PA and distort its image in the eyes of its people by talking about a request to calm the situation.

Israel, he said, did not want a strong PA that could manage the affairs of its people.

The PLO leader held Israel fully responsible for the current wave of violence. “This is all because of its settlement policy and holding prisoners of freedom in its prisons and even killing them,” he said.

Senior PA representatives attended Jaradat’s funeral, including Issa Qaraqi, the minister for prisoners, and heads of Fatah and commanders of the PA security forces.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy issued a “security message for US citizens” saying that due to “demonstrations occurring at locations across the West Bank,” the US consulate-general in Jerusalem had “temporarily limited official travel to the West Bank by US government personnel.”

American citizens, according to the message, “are advised to defer nonessential travel to and within the West Bank and to exercise an extra measure of caution during this period.”

According to the statement, “demonstrations, even peaceful ones, can turn violent with little or no warning.” •
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