Abbas meets Jewish leaders in NYC, condemns killing of Israeli soldiers

Palestinian media makes no mention of remarks against violence on both sides.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (photo credit: REUTERS/ISSAM RIMAWI/POOL)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Although Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday condemned the killing of two IDF soldiers in Kalkilya and Hebron, the Palestinian media chose to ignore his statement.
During a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York, Abbas said in response to a question that he condemns the killing of the soldiers, as well as of Palestinians shot by the IDF.
Abbas was quoted as saying that he condemns all acts of violence against civilians, and expects Israel to denounce the killing of four Palestinians by the IDF in recent weeks.
Abbas was also quoted as saying that the two soldiers had been killed in Area C, which is under exclusive Israeli control.
Peter Joseph, president of the Israel Policy Forum and an attendee at the meeting, said Abbas condemned the killings after a guest asked him about it early in a Q&A session.
“He condemned all terrorism in all cases, and had no problem answering that question forcefully,” Joseph said. “He said that in no uncertain terms.”
“The Palestinians are forgoing any further activity at moving their case forward at the UN, for now, with this prisoner release,” Joseph added. “He said virtually verbatim: Look, failure really isn’t an option for us.”
The meeting was held during the annual general assembly of the United Nations in New York.
Abbas attended the event before meeting with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday.
While Abbas’s statements were widely reported in some Israeli and US media outlets, the PA’s official news agency, WAFA, did not make any mention of the condemnation in its reporting about the New York meeting.
The agency, which reports directly to Abbas’s office, had dispatched a correspondent to accompany the PA president on his visit to New York.
WAFA’s report, titled, “President says Israel should bring peace, not settlements,” quoted Abbas as saying that he was 78 years old, has eight grandchildren and is seeking peace.
“We have a real chance to achieve a just, comprehensive and everlasting peace, and we could achieve this without mistakes,” WAFA quoted Abbas as saying. “If Israel withdraws from the territories it occupied in 1967, then 57 Arab and Islamic countries would establish ties with Israel.”
Abbas also suggested the revival of an Israeli-American-Palestinian committee to combat incitement, and that the State Department finance research to look into the content of Palestinian and Israeli schoolbooks.
The Ma’an News Agency carried a similar report by its editor, Nasser Lahham, who is also accompanying Abbas on his visit to New York.
Initially, the report completely ignored Abbas’s statement about the killing of the soldiers.
However, Lahham later filed another story, entitled “What did Abu Mazen [Abbas] literally say about the killing of the soldiers in the West Bank?” in which he pointed out that Abbas’s written speech did not include any reference to the killing of the soldiers.
The editor, who is closely affiliated with Abbas, wrote that after delivering his speech, Abbas was asked by one of the Jewish leaders about the the killing of the soldiers.
Lahham quoted Abbas as replying: “They were killed in Area C, which is under Israeli control and not under the control of the Palestinian security. Yet, we condemn killings and ask the Israelis to condemn killings, such as the killing of the four Palestinians. I condemn killings in any place and we must make peace, not killings.”
Lahham quoted a PA official as saying that Abbas had been misquoted by Israel Radio, which reported earlier that the PA president had specifically denounced the killing of the two soldiers.
Michael Wilner contributed to this report.