PA President Mahmoud Abbas (C) at a meeting for the Central Council of the PLO, in Ramallah, March 4, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said that he does "not want to run again" for president if new elections were held while claiming he has "made no mistakes" since taking over negotiating responsibilities on behalf of the Palestinian people over 10 years ago.
In an interview with German Internet publication Speiegel Online International, Abbas spoke on a wide range of topics including the current political crisis facing the "two-state solution," the months-long rash of violent terror attacks by Palestinians against Israelis and his declining support among his own people.
The interview began with a few preliminary questions concerning Germany's role in peace negotiations and then moved quickly ahead to what Speigel Online calls the "knife intifada."
"This is not an intifada," Abbas responded. "We have to understand why these young people are committing such attacks. This generation experiences the violence and humiliation of the occupation on a daily basis."
Abbas continued by stating: "They experience how more and more settlers are coming to occupy their land. If Israel stops this, no child will take a knife to attack Israelis."
The interviewer, however, pressed Abbas further and asked how he responds to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's accusation that the PA is fueling "incitement?"
"I am against these attacks and I have said this over and over again," Abbas responded, denying the charge.
Speigel Online then retorted, "But you meet with relatives of attackers and send condolence letters. Are you not sending the wrong signal by doing this?"
The interviewer then added, "You call attackers who have been killed 'martyrs.' Doesn't that imply some sort of heroism?"
"We are not encouraging our youth to commit violence. But if someone dies at the hands of Israeli security forces, we call that person a martyr. This is our tradition," the PA president replied.
Speaking on the state of negotiations between the PA and the Israeli government, the German outlet asked if Abbas has made any "mistakes" or if the "failures [were] on the side of the Israelis?"
"I am constantly asking the Americans and Europeans: What are my mistakes? They confirm that I made no mistakes. It is the Israeli side which misses all the chances for peace," Abbas said.
The conversation wound down to its conclusion with the Palestinian leader being asked about his declining popularity
and whether he fears Hamas will rise past the Palestinian Authority to take power.
"I am willing to have elections at any time, but Hamas refuses it. Currently, we are negotiating the creation of a unity government with Hamas in Qatar. We can conduct elections as soon as we have a unity government," Abbas said in response.
Asked if he would seek another term as president, Abbas responded: "I do not want to run again."