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Photo by: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokma
J'lem sees PA words as signal to control violence
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON
02/25/2013
PA President says Palestinians will not be dragged into confrontation; Palestinian prisoner Jaradat's funeral near Hebron passes without mass violence; US temporarily limits official travel to West bank.
 
In what Jerusalem interpreted as a sign that the Palestinian Authority wants to tamp down the violence, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday Israel wants to create anarchy and drag the Palestinians into a confrontation, but that the Palestinians will not play along.

Israeli officials said they hoped that Abbas's words about not wanting to 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 last 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 recent 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."

Israel "wants anarchy by killing children," Abbas said in Ramallah on the day in which Arafat Jaradet, who died Saturday in an Israeli jail, was buried in his village of Sair 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 too part in the funeral which, considering the concerns voiced before the funeral, passed relatively quietly.

Abbas warned, however, that the death of Jaradat "would not pass by easily."  He said the Palestinians were determined to know how Jaradat died "and who did it."

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.

Palestinian Authority 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 prior to Obama's visit to ensure that the Palestinian issue is 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 issued Sunday by the Prime Minister's Office 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 clam the situation.

Israel, he said, does not want a strong authority 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. 

Jaradat's funeral was attended by senior PA representatives, 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 has "temporarily limited official travel to the West Bank by US government personnel."

US citizens, according to the message, "are advised to defer non-essential 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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