Mahmoud Abbas at the UN 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz )
The Palestinian Authority on Monday strongly condemned Israeli “incitement” against PA President Mahmoud Abbas and warned against its negative impact on the peace talks.
The PA’s attack came in response to statements made by Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who was quoted as saying that Abbas is not a peace partner.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat described Liberman’s statements as “dangerous incitement” which in his view “reflected an Israeli desire to get rid of President Abbas.”
Erekat also condemned Israel’s “destructive policies, including continued settlement construction and creating facts on the ground.”
He said that Israel’s actions would lead to halting the peace talks.
Erekat said that reports published in Israeli media outlets – saying that the peace talks had reached a dead end – were “baseless.”
The PA Foreign Ministry also accused Israel of incitement against the Palestinians and condemned Liberman as a “gangster” and “fascist.” The ministry claimed that Israeli incitement against Abbas and the Palestinians increased after the resumption of the peace talks.
The ministry called on the Israeli government to condemn Liberman’s statements, which it said constitute “state terror.”
Also on Monday, the PA’s official news agency Wafa published a report detailing Israeli “incitement” against Abbas and Palestinians.
The report referred to op-eds criticizing Abbas, written by various writers and published in a number of Israeli media outlets. One article, published in the daily Israel Hayom, said that the return of Palestinian refugees would lead to the destruction of Israel.
In response to these various cries of “incitement,” an Israeli official said that the Palestinians had confused legitimate political criticism with incitement.
“It is clear that the Palestinians fail to understand what incitement is,” he said.
“Incitement is demonizing the other side. It is denying the legitimacy of the other side. Incitement is putting terrorists up on pedestals and calling them heroes.
It is dehumanizing the other side. Incitement is calling to violence. Incitement is encouraging to hate. The PA does all these things. Criticizing this or that aspect of President Abbas’s politics is legitimate political criticism and is not incitement,” the official said.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.