east Jerusalem 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that there would be
no agreement with Israel as long as even one Palestinian remained in Israeli
Abbas was speaking during a reception at the Mukata presidential
compound in Ramallah for Palestinians released from Israeli prison.
hugging and kissing each one of the freed prisoners, Abbas vowed to pursue his
efforts to secure the release of all inmates.
Twenty-one prisoners were
released to the West Bank, while another five were returned to the Gaza Strip,
where Hamas did not hold a reception for them.
“We welcome and salute our
veteran heroes who were behind bars and have now entered the world of freedom,”
Abbas told the released prisoners and their families.
Abbas said that the
third batch of prisoners would be released after two months.
“Now we are
talking about 104 prisoners,” he added. “But our joy would not be complete
unless all the prisoners are released.”
Abbas strongly denied that he had
agreed to continued construction in the settlements in return for the release of
He said that “unpatriotic” people were behind the rumors about
a “prisoner-for-settlement” deal.
“Settlement is null and void,” Abbas
The PA condemned the Israeli government’s decision to build new
housing units in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA presidency, said
that the decision was “destructive to the peace process.” He said that the new
plans are a message to the international community that Israel does not abide by
international law and continues to place obstacles in front of the peace
Abu Rudaineh said that the plans prompt the Palestinians and
Arabs to lose confidence in the ability of the Israeli government to make
“All the settlements are illegal,” he said. “No settlement will
remain on Palestinian territories.”
Israel, meanwhile, was angered and
concerned by the celebrations that greeted the freed terrorists in
“Every time we see the celebrations in Ramallah for people who
are guilty of the most heinous crimes against innocent people – civilians, the
elderly and children – this is problematic and always raises questions about
whether the Palestinians have really turned the corner,” Mark Regev, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, said, pointing out that the
Palestinians had committed themselves under the Oslo accords to no more
“But instead of condemning terrorism, they are celebrating
terrorists,” Regev stated. “I would ask the Palestinians what message they are
sending to us when they celebrate their murderers, when they put them on a
pedestal. And what is the message they are sending to Palestinian youth if they
turn these people into heroes?” One government official said he did not know of
any request sent by Israel to the Palestinian Authority, either directly or
through the US, to tone down the celebrations. As was the case during the first
prisoner release in August under the current negotiation framework, the 26
convicted terrorists set free Tuesday were released late at night both to reduce
the size of the Palestinian celebrations and to limit the pictures of those
festivities streaming into Israeli homes.
In a related development,
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon Wednesday, condemning a letter of condolence written by Abbas to the
family of Mohamed Assi – a terrorist responsible for planning a Tel Aviv bus
bombing attack last November that injured 29 people – who was killed last week
during a firefight with IDF forces.
“With great pain we received the news
of the martyr’s death, of the dear son, the late fighter Mohamed Assi, who was
murdered by the killing gangs of the Occupation Army in cold blood,” Abbas
wrote. “We express to all of you and to his distinguished family our sincere
condolences on his passing and stress to you that the Occupation’s crimes will
not frighten our people, and that the blood of all the martyrs will not be
spilled in vain.”
“Terrorism does not begin with an attack on a bus or a
café,” Prosor asserted. “That is how terrorism ends. Terrorism begins when its
perpetrators are indoctrinated with words and thoughts of hate.”
letter was “just the most recent example of the incitement poisoning the next
generation,” Prosor added. “In classrooms, textbooks, and houses of worship,
Palestinian children are being taught hate instead of peace; violence instead of
tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding.
I urge you to
condemn the rise in incitement and to urge others in the international community
to do the same.”
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