Ramallah: Photos of Palestinians commemorating a Jewish feast with Israeli colonists inside a West Bank colony posted on social media have gone viral, causing a raging controversy in Palestinian communities.
The Palestinian security apparatus has launched an investigation into the incident, vowing to punish those who attended the feast — a violation of Palestinian law.
The attendance of dozens of Palestinians at the commemoration of the Jewish feast Sukkot at the Israeli colony of Efrat, built on Palestinian-owned lands in Bethlehem, has been slammed by the Palestinian public as an act of betrayal that must be punished with severe punitive measures.
The Israeli media reported that Oded Revivi, Efrat’s mayor, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army reserve and a key leader of the Yesha Council — the administrative body that represents West Bank Jewish colonists who vehemently oppose the two-state solution — invited Palestinians from surrounding villages to his home to celebrate the Jewish feast.
Dozens of them accepted the invitation and showed up at the gathering, where key Israeli military figures who rule the entire West Bank were also gathered.
“Those who attended the gathering in Efrat will be prosecuted and punished according to Palestinian law,” Mohammad Taha, Bethlehem’s deputy governor, told Gulf News.
In 2010, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed off on a law which strictly prohibits and criminalises any trade of Israeli colonists’ goods and products, and prohibits Palestinians from working in the colonies.
Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law.
“Palestinians should not only boycott Israeli products but also colonists themselves, to prove to the world that their presence is illegal,” Taha said.
Khalid Tafesh, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), said that the normalisation of Palestinian meetings with Israeli colonists has recently risen in a dramatic and alarming way.
According to Tafesh, the Palestinians could be receiving some kind of protection from senior Palestinian leadership that spares them from any punishment.
Other political observers say Abbas’s recent attendance of the funeral of Israel’s former president Shimon Peres, has prompted many Palestinians to open channels of communication with Israeli colonists.