In Qatar, Abbas calls on Arab world to visit J’lem

"Visiting a prisoner does not mean normalization with the warden," PA president tells conference.

PA President Abbas at Doha conference on J'lem 390 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous)
PA President Abbas at Doha conference on J'lem 390 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called on Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem, saying this was not a form of “normalization” with Israel.
In a speech in Doha before the International Conference for Defending and Protecting Jerusalem, Abbas emphasized the need to bring the issue of Jerusalem before the UN Security Council.
“Visiting a prisoner is an act of support and does not mean normalization with the warden,” Abbas said, comparing Palestinians to prisoners and Israel to the warden.
“Jerusalem should be the central title in relations between Arab and Islamic countries and the world.”
Abbas accused Israel of working toward obliterating the Arab, Islamic and Christian character of east Jerusalem with the goal of “Judaizing” the city and consolidating it as its capital.
He also accused Israel of pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing and destroying Jerusalem’s infrastructure and economic resources.
Abbas urged Arab and Islamic countries to support the Palestinians in the city in various fields, including education, housing and health.
East Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine, the PA president told the conference, and Israel’s decision to annex east Jerusalem is null and void.
Abbas also complained that since the early 1990s, Israel has been preventing Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from visiting Jerusalem and the holy sites.
“Jerusalem is our identity; it is the beginning and the end for us,” Abbas added. “Jerusalem is the key to peace and the beating heart of our homeland.”
An Israeli government official slammed Abbas for his comments, saying, “Peace cannot be based on ignoring the truth.”
The source pointed out that in 2000 at the Camp David negotiations between then-prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Arafat denied there ever was a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, saying that this was the reason he was not willing to make any compromises on the holy city.
“I hope the current generation of Palestinian leadership will not make the same mistake Arafat made,” the official said.
“If the Palestinian side continues with a position that denies reality and totally negates Jewish rights, then there can be no basis for peace and coexistence.”
Later Sunday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a stern response, calling Abbas’s speech “harshly inflammatory” from someone who “claims that he is bent on peace.”
“Israel expects that one who supposedly champions peace would prepare his people for peace and coexistence, and not disseminate lies and incitement,” the statement said. “This is not how one makes peace.”
The statement added that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years, and that under Israeli sovereignty, it will “continue to be open to believers of all faiths.”
The statement said that Abbas “knows full well there is no foundation to his contemptible remarks.”
The conference in Doha was being attended by representatives of some 70 countries, as well as an Israeli Arab delegation headed by United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi. United Arab List-Ta’al MKs Taleb a-Sanaa and Ibrahim Sarsour were also in attendance.
“The Judaization of al-Quds is a clear violation of international law that requires the intervention of the UN and international community, as well as massive Arab aid to residents of east Jerusalem that are fighting under settlement rule,” Tibi said at the conference’s opening.
According to Tibi, Israel limits Palestinians’ freedom of worship and does not let them pray at the Aksa Mosque.
The United Arab List-Ta’al MK also met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to the Middle East, Robert Serry, and lamented “racist laws in the Knesset,” saying that the UN should demand that Israel recognize Arabs as a “national minority.”
Israel expressed strong disappointment at Serry’s participation in the conference.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) submitted a complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee, saying that the MKs attending the conference should be sanctioned for taking advantage of Israeli democracy to harm the country.
“Arab MKs have been testing the borders of their parliamentary immunity, and are breaking new records in their actions against Israel,” he said.
“These MKs, who aid terror, belong with the local Iranian representatives at Hamas headquarters.”