PA: Netanyahu has buried peace process

Palestinian officials outraged and shocked over call for demilitarized state, say new intifada might erupt.

Abbas 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah expressed outrage and shock on Sunday over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's call for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state and his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The officials said that the speech that Netanyahu delivered at Bar-Ilan University was much worse than they had expected. They also warned that Netanyahu's policies would trigger a new intifada. Some of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's top advisers accused Netanyahu of "burying the peace process" and said the ball was now in the court of US President Barack Obama. "Netanyahu's speech is a blow to Obama before it's a blow to the Palestinians and Arabs," an Abbas aide said. "It's obvious, in the aftermath of this speech, that we are headed toward another round of violence and bloodshed." Abbas's office issued a terse statement in which it accused Netanyahu of destroying efforts to achieve peace in the region. "The speech has destroyed all initiatives and expectations," the statement said. "It has also placed restrictions on all efforts to achieve peace and constitutes a clear challenge to the Palestinian, Arab and American positions." Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas, also lambasted Netanyahu for refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and his call for solving the issue of Palestinian refugees outside Israel. "Netanyahu's remarks won't lead to a just and comprehensive peace based on United Nations resolutions," Abu Rudaineh added. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official closely associated with Abbas, launched a scathing attack on Netanyahu, calling him a "swindler and liar." Netanyahu wanted the Palestinians to join the Zionist movement by offering them a state under the protectorate of Israel, Abed Rabbo said. He also rejected Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The speech, Abed Rabbo said, was worthless and meaningless and hampered efforts to move forward toward a fair solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. "Netanyahu is creating tricks to sabotage the peace process," he said. "The response to Netanyahu must be firm." Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat called on the Arab countries to suspend the Arab peace initiative in protest against Netanyahu's statements. "We were not surprised by this speech," he said. "It didn't come as a surprise to all those who are familiar with the Israeli mentality. It's time for the Arab world to announce a clear position toward Netanyahu's speech."