Abbas cancels goodwill meeting with leftist MKs

PA president comes under pressure from anti-normalization movement in Ramallah.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN,
September 1, 2013 23:04
1 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas with a visiting group of Meretz MKs in Ramallah, August 22, 2013.

Abbas with Meretzs MKs . (photo credit: Courtesy Palestinian Authority)

 
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas canceled a pre-Rosh Hashana toast with more than 30 ministers and Knesset members that was set for Tuesday because he came under pressure from the anti-normalization movement in Ramallah.

Abbas invited the Knesset’s Caucus on Ending the Israeli- Arab Conflict to his headquarters in Ramallah after a Palestinian delegation was greeted by 30 MKs and ministers and a Palestinian flag at the Knesset on July 31. That meeting emphasized the need to have a show of force in Ramallah to boost the nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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But the anti-normalization movement, which is strong inside Abbas’s Fatah party, criticized him for meeting such a high-profile Israeli delegation so soon after the IDF killed Palestinians in recent incidents in Jenin and Kalandiya. They also did not like it that he was hosting a toast in honor of the Jewish New Year.

Statements released by the PA and caucus head Hilik Bar (Labor) blaming the cancellation on Fatah party meetings and the American strike on Syria that has been delayed to next week at the earliest, were greeted with derision by both Palestinian officials and MKs.

But Bar said those were the reasons the Palestinians gave him and that they promised the meeting would be held soon.

“I told the Palestinians that if this is not the ideal time, we can do it after the holidays,” Bar said. “I want the president [Abbas] to feel comfortable and hold the meeting in the best environment possible.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid decided last week to bar the 19 Knesset members in his faction from attending the meeting because it would weaken Israel’s side in ongoing negotiations with the Palestinians. He said attending the event would be counterproductive and could undercut Israel’s position.

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