Israeli officials expressed doubt over the sincerity of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks Wednesday evening at a press conference with US President Donald Trump, during which he said he welcomed making peace with Israel.
“Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) talks about ‘peace’ but continues to finance murderers and terrorists,” said Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi).
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Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also criticized the PA chairman saying: “Abu Mazen goes to Washington while he continues to transfer money to the families of the terrorists. It is clear to anyone with intelligence that Abu Mazen is not interested in peace.”
Minister Ariel, whose party advocates unrestricted Israeli construction in the West Bank and promotes a more religious platform, pointed out that Abbas is still unwilling to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“While Abu Mazen says that he recognizes the State of Israel and seeks to renew negotiations, the Palestinians Authority is funding murderers and terrorists and refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” he said. “This needs to stop immediately and at the same time, we need to increase building of communities in Judea and Samaria.”
Hotoveli added that Palestinian textbooks and payments to terrorists point to the unwillingness of Abbas to achieve peace.
Referring to the remarks made by Abbas in which he described to Isreal’s “occupation” Hotoveli said that she categorically rejected the charge, deriding it as “nonsense.”
“I reject outright Abbas’s nonsense on ending the occupation, because Israel is not occupying its own country,” she insisted. “We have a deep connection with the land that is 3,000 years old and we will continue to live in it and to settle in it.”
Other Israeli lawmakers were more emphatic in their calls on the Netanyahu government to show flexibility and work with Abbas to forge a lasting peace.
MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) urged Netanyahu to cooperate in any peace talks “and not to wait for his joint statement with US President Trump, but to precede it with a declaration stating that Israel is officially ready to meet with Abbas without delay in the presence of President Trump.”
Bar-Lev assured that “the opposition headed by the Zionist Union will allow Netanyahu a safety net in any political move that seeks to end the conflict.”
During the joint press conference between Abbas and Trump at the White House, Trump repeated that he remains determined to bring about peace, or in his words, to “get it done,” while Abbas expressed his desire to see the creation of a two-state solution.
According to Abbas, who spoke after the closed-door meeting with the press, the talks went smoothly, but no mechanisms were discussed to boost negotiations.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said during a press briefing at the White House that Trump had conveyed his deepest concern that the PA was paying money to families of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism, adding that this problem had to be solved.
By Orly Azoulay and Itamar Eichner, Ynet News