A Palestinian demonstrator holds a sign that reads "division is the reason for adversities" during a protest demanding President Mahmoud Abbas to lift the sanctions on Gaza Strip, in Bethlehem, June 20, 2018.
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority launched a scathing attack on Israel Sunday over a bill that makes it easier for Jews to purchase land in Area C of the West Bank, and continued visits by Jewish groups to the Temple Mount.
The PA used the two issues to accuse Israel, specifically the Knesset, of “ethnic cleansing,” “racial discrimination” and “assaulting Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
It urged world parliaments to “reassess” their ties with the Knesset in response to recent controversial legislation.
In response to a bill put forward by MK Bezalel Smotrich
(Bayit Yehudi) that would make it easier for Jews to purchase land in Area C of the West Bank, the PA sent a letter to parliamentary speakers around the world in which it claimed the Knesset has become a “platform for legitimizing ethnic cleansing, terrorism and killings against the Palestinian people.”
The PA also accused the Knesset of serving as an “official sponsor of racist laws.”
Smotrich’s proposed legislation aims to change a 1953 Jordanian law that prevents foreigners and non-Arabs from directly purchasing land.
The letter, which was sent by the PA Ministry of Information on Sunday, claimed that the Knesset had passed laws “banning freedom of worship and calls for prayers from mosques.” It also accused the Knesset of passing a law that allows Israel to expropriate private Palestinian land in the West Bank where settlements or outposts have been built.
In addition, the PA letter to the parliamentary speakers noted that the Knesset had approved a bill that applies Israeli law to Israeli educational institutions in the West Bank. The Knesset, it said, was “continuing to challenge the world by rejecting resolutions of the United Nations and its General Assembly, stealing Palestinian tax revenues, and approving the Nationality Bill” to enshrine Israel’s Jewish character.
According to the PA, the Knesset’s actions “legitimize racism and other unjust laws that harm non-Jews.”
The letter took issue with the Knesset’s use of the term Judea and Samaria when referring to the West Bank, saying this illustrates its disregard for international law and mocks UN resolutions.
“The Knesset has become a podium calling for terrorism, killings and ethnic cleansing,” the PA ministry said in its letter to the world parliaments. “We appeal to you to reassess your relations with a parliament [the Knesset] that does not recognize freedom, pursues racial discrimination, sponsors terrorism, promotes ethnic cleansing and genocide, and breaches international conventions.”
The PA letter said that the Knesset included members “who publicly call for killing Palestinians, incite against them, call for seizing their land, celebrate when Palestinians are killed or burned alive, call for demolishing the al-Aqsa Mosque and imposing heavy taxes on churches, and vote against international law.”
The PA ministry also condemned a visit Sunday to the Temple Mount by Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) and MK Sharren Haskel (Likud). It said that the two “extremist” officials had “stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque, together with dozens of settlers, under high security from the police.”
Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) visits Temple Mount, April 8, 2018 (Avraham Bloch/Temple Organization Headquarters)
Mahmoud Habbash, religious affairs adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, also condemned the visit to the Temple Mount and accused the Israeli politicians of “desecrating the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount].” Habbash called on the international community to “intervene to put an end to these trespasses.”
He said that Israel’s actions were aimed at “putting a final end to the peace process,” and prove that “it does not want peace, and that peace is originally not on its agenda.” He also warned that Israel was “banging the drums of war by stirring up the religious feelings of one and a half billion Muslims.”
The senior PA official denounced the Israeli government as a “murderous government that practices systematic terrorism against the Palestinian people and their Islamic and Christian holy sites alike.”
The Ramallah-based PA government, for its part, held Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US administration responsible for the “dangerous escalation” following the visit of Ariel and Haskel to the Temple Mount.
Yusef al-Mahmoud, spokesperson for the PA government, called on Arab and Islamic countries to “move immediately, on all levels, to halt the Israeli aggression against Islamic and Christian holy sites.”