Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s condemnation last week of the kidnappings of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah continued to stir waves both inside the Palestinian Authority and in Israel over the weekend.
Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Saturday stepped up their attacks on Israel in the wake of the ongoing manhunt for the three kidnapped teenagers, amid growing criticism of Abbas over his denunciation of the kidnappings.
Amin Maqboul, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the abductions, if the goal is to exchange them for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Defending Abbas’s stance regarding the kidnapping, however, Maqboul said that the PA president’s recent remarks were intended to “spare Palestinians the dangers of Israeli aggression and avoid international pressure.”
Maqboul explained that this was the policy of Abbas, “who sometimes makes statements that are unacceptable to our people. But the purpose [of these statements] is to spare the Palestinian people the dangers of Israeli aggression and reactions of the international community.”
In response to widespread Palestinian criticism of security coordination between Israel and the PA security forces in the West Bank, the Fatah official said: “The Palestinian security forces are not responsible for the safety of settlers. Israeli talk about security coordination is aimed at destabilizing the Palestinian street.”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who headed Israeli negotiating team in talks with the Palestinians that ended in failure in April, said on Channel 2’s Meet the Press on Saturday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s harsh words toward Abbas following the kidnappings was an error.
Livni recommended continuing negotiations with Abbas as the head of the PLO, and not as a representative of the unity government with Hamas.
“We need different strategies toward Hamas and Abu Mazen [Abbas],” she said. “We need to act against Hamas, and see if it is possible to cooperate with Abu Mazen.”
The Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement in response, saying that Abbas’s statements will have “true significance when he dissolves the pact with the Hamas terrorist organization that is responsible for the kidnapping of the three teenagers; and calls for the destruction of Israel.”
Meanwhile, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, strongly condemned Israeli security measures in the West Bank as “terrorism and collective punishment.”
Abedl Rahim told a gathering of Arab journalists in Ramallah that the Israelis were mistaken to think that the crackdown would “break the will of the Palestinians and stop them from achieving their national goals.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged the international community to put pressure on Israel to force it to halt its “military operation against our people.”
Hamdallah said that the PA leadership would pursue its efforts to seek the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it was “astonished” by the silence of the international community toward Israeli “crimes” against Palestinians.