Abbas accuses Netanyahu of using 'racist rhetoric'

The Palestinian Authority president bashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for calling jailed Palestinians "terrorists" and defended the PA's continued payment to families of convicted terrorists.

Netanyahu and Abbas (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Abbas
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of using “racist rhetoric” by calling Palestinian security prisoners “terrorists.”
“Eight hundred thousand Palestinians have been detained in Israeli prisons since the occupation of 1967 and close to one million since 1948,” Abbas told the IDC Herzliya Conference in a prepared speech delivered by his foreign-policy adviser, Nabil Sha’ath. “Is any rational human being going to claim that these one million people are terrorists? That one-third of Palestinians are terrorists because they have been through Israeli jails. It’s really quite frankly racist rhetoric to call all our political prisoners terrorists.”
In recent weeks, Netanyahu has referred to jailed Palestinians, many of whom have carried out attacks against Israelis, as terrorists.
Abbas also defended payments to Palestinian prisoners and their families, which Netanyahu has demanded he stop.
“Payments to support families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones,” Abbas remarked.
While the PLO argues that the payments are a social safety net, Israel contends that they incentivize violence.
Netanyahu accuses Abbas on incitement
The London-based Al-Hayat reported on Thursday that the payments were discussed in a meeting between Abbas and US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner. According to the report, Palestinian officials are concerned that the Trump administration is beginning to side with Israel on the topic.
In his remarks, Abbas also said he is ready to revive the tripartite Israeli-Palestinian- American anti-incitement committee.
“We would all be able to bring our complaints about incitement to be verified and dealt with,” Abbas said.
The PA president has called for the renewal of the committee multiple times over the past several years, including in a number of meetings with Israeli civil society groups.
The committee, which was created following the signing of the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, has not met since the outbreak of the second intifada.
In addition to Sha’ath, Elias Zananiri and Muhammad Oudeh, members of the PLO Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, attended the Herzliya Conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.