Mahmoud Abbas UN 370.
(photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday accused Israel of blackmailing the PA
leadership on the issue of Palestinian prisoners.
He also called for an
emergency meeting of Islamic countries to discuss Israeli “aggression” against
the Aksa Mosque.
The Palestinian Authority president said Israel has
agreed to the gradual release of only a limited number of prisoners who were
jailed before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
came during a meeting in his Ramallah office with families of dozens of veteran
prisoners who were jailed before the Accords.
Abbas told the families
that Israel was exploiting the suffering of their sons to “blackmail” the PA
leadership, but did not elaborate.
He said that the PA’s priority was to
secure the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, especially those
incarcerated before 1993, and those who were ill.
The meeting came after
families of the prisoners accused the PA leadership of not doing enough to
secure the release of their sons.
Also Saturday, Abbas accused Israel of
launching a “fierce assault” on the mosque in Jerusalem.
He was referring
to riots that erupted on the Temple Mount
following Friday prayers, during which
Muslim worshipers hurled stones at policemen and the Western Wall
Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the
Abbas appealed to the Islamic Cooperation Organization, which
represents 57 countries, to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the incident,
according to a statement issued by the PA president’s office.
the Arab League announced its support for Abbas’s appeal, Palestinian envoy to
the league, Muhammad Sbeih, said.
Sbeih said that the Arab League was
following the “unfortunate actions carried out by Jewish extremists under the
protection of the occupation police and the aggression on worshipers and
Abbas’ charge that Israel launched a “fierce assault” on the
Temple Mount was refuted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman. Mark
Regev said Israel acts in a “restrained and measured manner” when it comes to
violence on the Temple Mount.
Unfortunately, he said, Palestinian leaders
don’t help matters when they make “ridiculous comments” about alleged Israeli
designs or actions on the Temple Mount.
This is “playing with fire,”
Regev said. “We urge them to stop in, and urge friends of the Palestinians in
the West who know their claims are rubbish, to call them out on this and also
call on them to stop it.”
One government official, referring to Abbas’
accusation that Israel was using the Palestinian prisoner issue to blackmail the
PA leadership, denied the charge, and said that within the framework of a peace
process moving forward, Israel was ready for “mutual, parallel, confidence