Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in a Wednesday speech marking Land Day, praised “nonviolent popular resistance” against Israel’s security barrier and settlements, saying it has brought Palestinians closer to “ridding themselves of occupation.”

He said that the peaceful resistance also helped the Palestinians restore their credibility in the international arena.

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Fayyad said that land was and remains the core of the Palestinians’ national cause and the essence and future of their existence.

He emphasized the Palestinians’ right to defend their lands as a “sacred right,” saying that this was every Palestinian’s “national duty” – to defend his or her lands.

An Israeli government source said he wished it were true that the Palestinians had adopted a path of nonviolence.

“Israel would welcome this ‘path of nonviolence’ if it were true,” the official said. “It would signify a fundamental change in the way the Palestinians conduct their affairs.”

The official said that what Fayyad termed nonviolent resistance against the security barrier has been anything but that, and that each week there are violent demonstrations against the barrier, including the throwing of rocks and attempts to tear the barrier down.

Furthermore, the official asked, if the Palestinians have indeed adopted a nonviolent path, why do they “place terrorists on a pedestal” and name city squares after suicide bombers? “If they think what they are doing now is nonviolent, then I think we have a disagreement over what nonviolence means,” the official said.

“Israel has no trouble whatsoever and would embrace [it] if the Palestinians did indeed adopt a strategy of nonviolence. That would signify an important change,” he said. “But we haven’t seen that up until now.”