(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “is a more serious enemy” than his predecessor Yasser Arafat because he rejects the existence of a Jewish state, charged Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.
“Abu Mazen’s ideology is stronger and [he] negates the existence of a Jewish state and the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own. For Abu Mazen there is no Jewish people. He is only willing to recognize the Jewish religion,” said Steinitz, using Abbas’s non de guerre.
Arafat did speak a few times of the Jewish people or the Jewish state, Steinitz said.
The Likud minister spoke on Monday evening at a conference on Operation Protective Edge held by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Just a few days earlier Abbas had charged that Israel had committed genocide in Gaza over the summer during its military operation, which was conducted to halt Hamas rocket attacks against Israel.
Steinitz said that Abbas had launched such bitter accusations against Israel at the UN in New York to deflect attention from his own shortcomings and that of the Palestinian Authority, which he heads.
“It’s as if, he as president, is absolved of any responsibility,” Steinitz said of Abbas.
“You cannot blame all the failures of the PA on Israel and the West or the US,” said Steinitz.
Israel justly accused Arafat of terrorist activity and of supporting terrorism against Israel until his death in 2004, said Steinitz.
Abbas, who took control of the PA after him, rejected terror, he said.
But his inability to disband terrorist organizations in the West Bank and to demilitarize Gaza, means that when judged by the results, Abbas’s leadership was worse than Arafat’s, and has led to even more violence against Israel, Steinitz said.
In the last nine years, while Abbas was president, Palestinians in Gaza launched 16,000 rockets against Israel. Terror attacks have been executed against Israelis, including the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank in June, he added.
The drop in terror attacks by suicide bombers in the last decade, he said, is the result of the persistent daily efforts of the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
“In Gaza and the West bank, there is no democracy, there is no economy,” said Steinitz.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and handed it to Abbas, who then lost control of the area and failed to ensure that it would not be used as a launching pad for attacks against Israel.
Steinitz said he was among those who over the summer, believed Israel should resume military control of the Gaza Strip. But his opinion was in the minority, he added.
The Palestinian Authority was created by the 1993 Oslo Accords and more than twenty years later, its time to admit that it is a “colossal failure,” Steinitz said.
He and others had understood this point even before Operation Protective Edge, he said. But the military operation revealed “how deep and serious the failure” was.