Ramallah: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian Authority will not allow Israel to drag the side into a new vicious cycle of violence – which will give them an excuse to avoid tackling key final status issues that will eventually lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Abbas said frequent Israeli raids in West Bank cities and last week’s killing of three members of his Fatah group in the West Bank city of Nablus were an attempt by Israel to provoke violence and chaos in order to point finger at the Palestinians and justify Israel’s failure to adhere to Israeli commitments required by the US-led roadmap for peace.
“We will not be dragged by their provocations. I will not allow this,” Abbas told Gulf News in an interview.
“We have met and continue to meet our roadmap commitments. The United States and Israel have acknowledged our efforts in meeting our obligations, but Israel has not adhered to its commitments and is are under pressure to implement. That is why it is trying to provoke reactions to point finger at us,” he said.
Abbas said Israeli provocations include daily raids in Palestinian cities and most recently the killing of six Palestinians, three civilians in the Gaza Strip and three Fatah gunmen in Nablus.
Israel said the three Fatah gunmen were involved in shooting dead a Jewish colonist in the Nablus area. The Nablus killings came after a significant period of calm, attributed to the success of the Palestinian Authority in imposing law and order and ending years of chaos.
Human rights groups and witnesses said Israel “executed” the three Fatah men during the raid, and Palestinian officials said the incident, carried out without coordination with the Palestinians, strained an already controversial security relationship which includes some cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The Israeli operation raised questions on the merits of security coordination between the sides, even at the highest levels in the Palestinian leadership.
“Israel is acting as if there is no Palestinian Authority,” Abbas said.
“We are not guards for Israel’s security. We are carrying out our security obligations in line with the roadmap. Our security measures are aimed at protecting our people and safeguarding their interests,” he said.
The Palestinian president said according to the roadmap, Israel must refrain from raiding Palestinian cities and leave security in those areas to the Palestinian police which was has shown unprecedented success in maintaining law and order.
“We do not work for their interests, we carry out security responsibilities according to the interests of our people,” he said.
He said the international community needs to press Israel to implement the first phase of the roadmap which calls for a complete cessation of colony activity and withdrawal from re-occupied Palestinian Territories and pave way to meaningful talks that lead to Palestinian statehood.
Abbas said he was waiting for the United States to respond to his proposal to shuttle between the Palestinian Authority and Israel over an agreement on clear terms of reference of future peace talks that would determine the “end game”, an independent, viable Palestinian state.
He said U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell was expected back in the region later this month and hoped the Americans would succeed in reviving meaningful peace talks.
Do you think Israel's latest escalation of violence in the West Bank is meant to provoke Palestinians into a conflict? Is the aim to shift focus off of the stalemate in peace negotiations? Will this tactic work?