Erekat: Israel is 'lighting a big fire'

Abbas Israel trying to

In light of clashes between Arab rioters and security forces in the capital in recent days, senior Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat on Tuesday claimed that Israel was responsible for escalating tensions in Jerusalem. "Israel is lighting matches in hopes of igniting a big fire," said Erekat during a press conference. He claimed Israel was attempting "to strengthen its hold on occupied Jerusalem" rather than keep the peace. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, called on the Arab world to increase efforts and raise funds to ensure continued Arab presence in Jerusalem, in light of Israeli efforts to "Judaize" the city. In an interview with a television network in Yemen, Abbas said that while Israel and the world Zionist movement were investing billions of dollars in purchasing land and constructing housing units in Jerusalem, hardly any Arab money was being invested in the city. During the interview, Abbas reiterated that the Palestinians were not responsible for deferring the UN discussion on the Goldstone Commission's findings and denied that US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton had pressured him into postponing a vote on the issue. Abbas comments came amid calls by the Egyptian opposition to withdraw the PA ambassador in Cairo from his post following the controversial deferral. Meanwhile, a government source in Jerusalem told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Palestinian extremists were attempting to conceal their Gaza failures by trying to implement a "new order" in Jerusalem. The unnamed source added that although it was common knowledge that no Israeli activity was underway on the Temple Mount, Abbas and others allowed themselves to be influenced by extremists who accused them of lenience. Elsewhere in the Arab world, Jordanian journalist Razi Sa'adi asserted that the clashes had originated with the Israeli minority bent on "replacing Al-Aksa [Mosque] with the Temple Mount and rebuilding Solomon's [Temple]." Sa'adi told Israel Radio on Tuesday that even Jordanian King Abdullah was angered by the Jerusalem incidents, heightening suspicion that Israel had violated its peace agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom. "Israeli policy has changed its shape," said Sa'adi, claiming that according to public opinion in Arab countries, the Jewish state was "no longer interested in peace." He stressed that the question of a "Third Intifada" would be decided "more by Israel than by the stone-throwers."