September 20, 2018

Abbas’ Fatah Posts Cartoon Mocking 9/11

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Fatah, the Palestinian political party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, posted a cartoon on their Facebook page mocking the 9/11 terror attacks on its  17th anniversary.

The cartoon depicts President Trump flying an airplane into a building shaped like Israel, which is emblazoned with Palestinian flag colors:

According to Palestinian Media Watch, the building has “The Palestinian cause” written on it and the cartoon’s caption states, “Trump’s decision to eliminate the Palestinian cause,” a clear reference to the Trump administration’s recent decisions to zero out funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and cut more than $200 million to the Palestinians.

This is not the first time the Palestinians have issued cartoons mocking 9/11, as Palestinian Media Watch has compiled a series of prior cartoons doing so, including one from 2007 showing Osama bin Laden grinning and holding a peace sign after dodging a series of United States missiles.

Palestinian Media Watch has also documented anti-Semitic statements from various Fatah officials, including Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi saying on Palestinian TV, “[Adolf] Hitler was not morally corrupt. He was daring.” Abbas Zaki, a senior Fatah official, said in 2014, “There are no innocent Israelis” and has stated Fatah’s desire to “administer poison to them [Israel] drop by drop.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Fatah was founded by Yasser Arafat in the 1960s and took control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); Fatah was the organization behind the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes.

John Kerry Admits to Meeting Iran Leaders During Trump Presidency

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is promoting his new memoir, admitted on Wednesday that he has met with the Iranians multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, although he denied that he was doing so to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, prior to Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal, the Journal reported that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other foreign leaders to salvage the deal. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he met with Zarif a few times.

“I met with him [Zarif] at a conference in Norway,” Kerry said. “I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Hewitt followed up by asking Kerry if he was coaching Zarif on preserving the Iran deal, which Kerry denied.

“You know, that’s not how it works,” Kerry said. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

Kerry added, “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there. They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack.”

Kerry also said that he thought Trump should have stayed in the Iran deal, arguing that under the deal “you have China, Russia, these other countries with you in the effort to leverage this different behavior from Iran rather than unilaterally pulling out and isolating yourself and making it much more difficult to sit down with any Iranian.”

Later in the day, Kerry was asked by Fox News’ Dana Perino if he told the Iranians to simply hold out until 2020, when Trump could be voted out of office. Kerry replied with a chuckle, “I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” but he said that was in regard to other matters, not the Iran deal.

“When I met with the Iranians, the policies of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal because the president had not decided and not pulled out,” Kerry said. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that, and we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don’t negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Kerry allegedly told Hussein Agha, who is described as a “close associate” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Abbas should not make any concessions to Trump in a peace agreement until 2020, as Kerry argued that Trump would be out of office by then. Kerry also said he was “seriously considering running for president in 2020,” per the Jerusalem Post report. When CBS News asked Kerry if he was going to run for president in 2020, he didn’t rule it out.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Abbas Calls for Demilitarized Palestinian State

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Tuesday his desire for a demilitarized Palestinian state as the Trump administration forges a peace plan to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

According to the Times of Israel (TOI), Abbas told Israeli academics in Ramallah, “I support a state along the 1967 borders without an army. I want unarmed police forces with batons, not guns. Instead of warplanes and tanks, I prefer to build schools and hospitals and allocate funds and resources to social institutions.”

The TOI report goes onto note that Abbas has previously called a demilitarized Palestinian state in 2013 and 2014, which the report calls “a key Israeli demand in any peace deal.” Arutz Sheva cited an unconfirmed report from an Arabic newspaper stating that a demilitarized Palestinian state would be part of the Trump administration’s peace proposal.

However, Purdue University Professor Louis René Beres argued in 2016 that promises of a demilitarized would be nothing more than an “illusion.”

“Even now, the Palestinians remain as divided as ever; it remains unclear, therefore, who can speak with real authority for any still-plausible Palestinian state,” Beres wrote. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in the eleventh year of his four-year term; should he agree to anything substantive, others could later legitimately claim, long after land may have been irreversibly ‘exchanged,’ that he had no legal authority to make a decision, and they would be right.”

Beres also pointed out that Palestinian factions consider the entirety of Israel to be “occupied” rather than simply the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Poll Shows Palestinians Want Convicted Terrorist to Succeed Abbas

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Those hoping that the Palestinians’ eroding support for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas could be a stepping stone will be disappointed in a new poll showing that Palestinians support a convicted terrorist to succeed Abbas.

A July 4 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research Center (PCPSR) found that a plurality of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison over terrorism charges, at 30 percent. The runner-up is Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at 23 percent.

Sixty-one percent of respondents also believed that Abbas needs to step down from his position as PA president, while 33 percent don’t.

Barghouti has become a bit of cause celebre among pro-Palestinian activists, as they have called for him to be freed from prison based on “the constant violations of international agreements and of Palestinians’ human rights perpetrated by the Israeli state.”

Barghouti’s record consists of him leading the terror groups Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, both of which are the military arm of Fatah. Under Barghouti’s reign, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades launched several terror attacks against Israel, including multiple suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people combined.

In 2004, an Israeli court convicted Barghouti for three terror attacks that killed five people combined. Barghouti declared that peace could only be achieved when the Palestinians have their own state.

“The five people who were killed in these attacks that he ordered will not return to life,” then-Foreign Ministry spokesperson Silvan Shalom said at the time. “The widows and orphans will not get their loved ones back. But at least justice was done.”

As to why a plurality of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza would support a convicted terrorist to replace Abbas, consider the fact that a 2015 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) poll found that 93 percent of Palestinians tend to be anti-Semitic and 82 percent engage in Holocaust denialism.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Calls On European Countries to Denounce Abbas for Anti-Semitic Cartoon

(PPO)/Handout via REUTERS

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling on the European Union – specifically France and Germany – to condemn Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for displaying an anti-Semitic cartoon on social media.

Abbas, who is currently hospitalized in Ramallah for pneumonia, can be seen in a picture posted to social media on May 21 reading a newspaper that featured a cartoon of an Israeli soldier taking away a baby’s milk bottle and forcing it to drink poison.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper said in a statement that the photo “shows how deep the cancer of hatred the Palestinian Authority President harbors for the Jewish State, her people and values.”

“The validation of that cartoon by him exposes how little difference there is between the PA and Hamas,” Hier and Cooper said. “Both continue to brainwash a new generation of children that Israelis are interlopers and latter-day Nazis.”

They added, “The big lie tactics employed in the so-called marches of return, gained the Palestinians nothing of practical value, with the exception that the man in street in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East is convinced that Jews are baby killers, cold blooded murderers who deserve whatever terrorist or other bombing attacks on inflicted on Jews, inside in Israel and/or around the world.”

It’s not known if Abbas had intentionally posed for the photo with the cartoon showing, but it would be in line with some of his most recent rhetoric.

The cartoon is based on the reports of an 8-month-old baby dying at the recent Gaza riots, however there is reason to believe that the baby died from a pre-existing medical condition and not from the tear gas deployed by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

Abbas is could be discharged from the hospital as soon as May 23.

Pity Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during his meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Only a confirmed hater of Palestinians — and a confirmed anti-Semite — could believe that they have the leadership they deserve.

Permit me to explain.

Last week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Jewish behavior of usury and money lending for causing the Holocaust. This isn’t the first time that Abbas has engaged in bizarre theories of history. Year ago, his doctoral dissertation, written while he was a student at Patrice Lumumba University in Russia, was on the “secret” relationship between Nazism and Zionism. Six million was exaggerated. He was a soft-core Holocaust denier.

Only this year, he reiterated that often repeated myth that the Jews have no attachment to the Temple Mount, none to Jerusalem or to the land of Israel, the Bible — archaeological evidence and religious practice of 2,500 years notwithstanding.

Now an elderly, sick man of 82, Abbas has been president of the Palestinian National Authority — to some, the State of Palestine — for 13 years and will go to his grave with no accomplishments to his name as the leader of his people. Divided between Gaza and the West Bank, they are ever more distant from statehood.

His achievements: He has become the No. 1 ally of Israel’s right-wing intent on having a one state solution, a Jewish state.

And he has become the No. 1 enemy of those of us who support a two-state solution because he has little credibility and alienated all but the most extreme for support for Palestinian statehood. Any possibility of a two-state solution will have to await not only a change in Israel’s current attitude but, more significantly, a change in Palestinian leadership.
He twice has rejected reasonable offers from former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, walking away, as did the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat before him, without even countering an offer of his own, afraid that he might be assassinated or go down in history as having betrayed his people’s most maximalist goals.

One must view Mahmoud Abbas as a pathetic figure and pity his people who hold onto him because they can’t imagine another way.

He even has alienated support within the Arab world, which no longer sees the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the central issue of the Middle East. Many Arab leaders view the Sunni-Shite conflict as more fundamental, and Israel as an indispensable force against Iran dominance.

I am beyond anger. Anger is based on expectations and disappointment when those expectation are not met, but I have no expectations from Abbas. Time has passed him by, his place in history is now secure. He has achieved nothing. Challenge yourself to name one positive accomplishment by him.

So one must view Abbas as a pathetic figure and pity his people who hold onto him because they can’t imagine another way.

Still, I cannot rejoice in the magnitude of his defeat because unlike the Israeli right and their American-Jewish supporters, I think that Israel desperately needs a two-state solution because it cannot sustain a Jewish state and a democratic state while still retaining control over so sizable a population that has no desire to be ruled by Israel. Day in and day out, we witness the cost of occupation not only to the Palestinian people but to Israeli democracy.
Nothing can happen until Abbas is no longer in power; the only way for something to happen is for the Palestinians to reverse the pressure on Israel by presenting a credible possibility of co-existence.

And again, the hypocrisy of some global institutions is glaring. When Abbas touched the sacred cow of the Holocaust, he was forced to retreat. He offered an apology: “Sorry to offend,” “didn’t mean to attack Judaism as a religion.” Yet when he denies Jewish ties to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem, its capital under David and Solomon and the locus of Jewish prayers since 70 C.E., many are silent and UNESCO and others endorse his fantasies. And then they wonder why Israel turns rightward and inward, scorning those institutions that should be pressing Palestinian leadership not to follow the path to perdition.

Michael Berenbaum is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute and a professor of Jewish Studies at American Jewish University.

5 Most Anti-Semitic Abbas Quotes

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a Palestinian cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Issam Rimawi/Pool/File Photo

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is currently under fire for blaming the Jews for the Holocaust. Abbas issued a milquetoast apology, but it’s worth noting that his recent Holocaust comments are the latest in a long line of anti-Semitic statements by the PA president.

Here are Abbas’ five most anti-Semitic quotes outside of his recent Holocaust remark.

1. “Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.” Abbas stated this anti-Semitic blood libel at a June 2016 speech to the European Union (EU). After facing criticism for this statement, Abbas walked it back, saying that such blood libels were “baseless” and that “he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism.”

2. “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.” This quote is part of a speech Abbas made on Palestinian TV in September 2015 during a wave of violence at Temple Mount. His speech only further incited the matter, as he’s essentially stating that Jews and Israelis can’t defile the mosque “with their filthy feet.”

3. “Call yourselves what you want but I will not accept it…the ‘Jewish State’…I will not accept it.” Abbas said this in 2009 and stated it again in 2010, making it clear that no matter how much he claims to prefer a two-state solution, he does not believe the Jews have the right to determine their own homeland.

4. “If they [Jews] say that they made sacrifices in World War II, and we respect what they say, they should not treat us the way they were treated. We must not be a victim of the victim.” According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW)’s Itamar Marcus, Abbas told Polish journalists this in August 2015.

“It is striking that in his statement Abbas presents the Holocaust not as historical fact to be acknowledged but as something ‘Jews say’ which he is willing to ‘respect,’” Marcus wrote.

5. “We find that Zionists believe in the purity of the Jewish race, as Hitler believed in the purity of the Aryan race. Zionism calls to find a fundamental final solution to the Jewish question in Europe by immigration to Palestine. Hitler also called for this and implemented it… Anti-Semitism is persecution and oppression, and this is definitely something desirable to the Zionist movement.” This comes from Abbas’ 1984 book, which pushes the Holocaust-denial conspiracy theory that the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust is a fabricated figure.

Abbas Apologizes for Holocaust Remarks

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses during a news conference with Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (not pictured) at the Lester B. Pearson building in Ottawa May 25, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

After facing widespread condemnation for his recent comments, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology for blaming the Holocaust on the Jews.

Abbas said in a May 4 statement, “If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC [Palestinian National Council], especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them.”

“I would like to assure to everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic claims.”

Abbas added that the PA has a “long held condemnation of the Holocaust as the most heinous crime in history” as well as “anti-Semitism in all its forms.” He concluded his statement with a call for a two-state solution.

However, Abbas’ apology has not been warmly received.

“Abbas is a wretched Holocaust denier, who wrote a doctorate of Holocaust denial and later also published a book on Holocaust denial,” Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted. “That is how he should be treated. His apologies are not accepted.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) also excoriated Abbas in a tweet.

“‘If people were offended is not an apology,” the AJC tweeted. “A real apology can include ending Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists who murder Jews.”

On May 2, Abbas said, “The Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion, but against their social function, which relates to usury (unscrupulous money lending) and banking and such.” The blowback against Abbas has been severe to the point where even The New York Times called on him to step down after he made his anti-Semitic remarks.

NYT Calls On Abbas to Resign

FILE PHOTO - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 1, 2018. Picture taken May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo

The New York Times called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to step down from his position in a May 2 editorial in light of his recent Holocaust comments.

The remarks in question came on Monday, when Abbas blamed the Jews for the Holocaust.

“The Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion, but against their social function, which relates to usury (unscrupulous money lending) and banking and such,” Abbas blustered.

The Times editorial board excoriated Abbas for “feeding reprehensible anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories” and losing “all credibility as a trustworthy partner.” They also criticized Abbas record, from his Holocaust denial dissertation and his failure at governance.

“Mr. Abbas, who oversees a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction, has lost support among the Palestinian people,” the Times editors wrote. “He has weakened government institutions that are essential for a future state and refused to call new elections, thus overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging. He has also failed to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank, where his Fatah faction dominates, with those in the even more desperate circumstances of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway.”

Even with this abysmal record, the Times called Abbas’ Holocaust remarks “a new low.”

“By succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office,” the Times editors stated.

The editorial concluded, “Palestinians need a leader with energy, integrity and vision, one who might have a better chance of achieving Palestinian independence and enabling both peoples to live in peace.”

Interestingly, the Times published an op-ed by Abbas in 2011 titled “The Long Overdue Palestinian State,” suggesting that these recent remarks could be a turning point against Abbas in the international court of opinion if even The New York Times is souring on Abbas. The Palestinians have certainly lost confidence in Abbas as well, as a December poll found that 70% of Palestinians think that Abbas should step down.

And yet, Abbas is reportedly going to double on “even harsher” and “more extreme” rhetoric.

Holocaust Museum Denounces Abbas’ Holocaust Remarks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent comments that blamed Jews for the Holocaust resulted in a sharp rebuke from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

Sara J. Bloomfield, the director of the museum, said in a press release, “Nazi Germany and its collaborators were solely responsible for the Holocaust.”

“Abbas’s self-titled ‘history lesson’ was anything but,” Bloomfield said. “Rather than expose Palestinians to accurate information about the Holocaust and the anti-Semitic persecution Jews faced for centuries in Europe, Abbas distorts the history to advance an agenda that lies about the Holocaust and Jews’ connection to Israel.”

The museum also pointed out in the press release that the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was particularly sordid because they viewed Jews as “inferior” and a “threat” to Germany.

The museum called “on all leaders and citizens” to condemn Abbas’ comments.

In an April 30 speech in Ramallah, Abbas claimed that the Jews’ “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters” was responsible for the Holocaust. His speech was laced with other anti-Semitic statements, including that Israel’s founding had nothing to do with Judaism and that Ashkenazi Jews have no historical lineage to Israel.

Abbas Blames the Jews for the Holocaust

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during the Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to become unhinged as evident by the fact that he blamed the Jews for the Holocaust in an April 30 speech.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas’ incoherently long-winded speech blamed the Jews’ “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters” for triggering the Holocaust. He also claimed that Adolf Hitler was responsible for sending Jews to Israel by allowing Jews who immigrated there to bring their assets into the area.

In other words, Abbas used a longtime anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews to blame them for the slaughter of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

When he wasn’t engaging in his Holocaust revisionism, Abbas rambled about other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including the claim that Ashkenazi Jews have no historical lineage to the original habitants of Israel and that Israel was “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.”

Abbas also reiterated his refusal to accept any deals from the United States after President Trump’s Jerusalem move and suggested that the PA could take “take tough steps in the near future in our relationship with our neighbors (Israel) and the Americans.”

Naturally, Abbas praised the Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border.

“Thank God, they (Hamas) finally agreed and this is effective,” Abbas said, implying that the riots have been peaceful although they have been anything but.

The anti-Semitic rhetoric in Abbas’ speech certainly fits his background, which includes him writing a book that engages in Holocaust denialism.

U.S. Media Largely Ignored Abbas’ ‘Son of a Dog’ Slur Toward U.S. Ambassador

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in hot water for calling United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog” over the weekend, yet it didn’t really receive much coverage from U.S. media outlets.

In their weekly talking points brief, The Focus Project – an organization that features the consensus view of various Jewish organizations on matter the of Israel and anti-Semitism – noted the lack of attention on Abbas’ comments in U.S. media.

“Major news outlets in the U.S., such as the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN ignored this story entirely or buried it by carrying syndicated wire reports instead of doing original reporting,” The Focus Project wrote. “Statistics show they are obsessed with a narrative where Israel is the oppressor and Palestinians are passive victims.”

The links provided in the aforementioned statement show nothing from CNN about Abbas’ comments; the New York Times and Washington Post covered Abbas’ by running a report from Reuters and the Associated Press (AP), respectively. ABC News also relied on the AP’s wire service to report on the matter and Yahoo News used a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Journal searched the sites of NBC News, CBS News and Fox News and found nothing on Abbas’ comments.

This would certainly not be the first time that the U.S. media has been accused of having an anti-Israel bias, as Newsbusters has documented how the media once falsely reported that Pope Francis called Abbas “the angel of peace” and didn’t give much coverage on Abbas declaring in 2011 that he would never recognize a Jewish state and that Israel was committing “ethnic cleansing.”

Abbas’ latest comments stemmed from him being angry that Friedman claimed they were building settlements on land that belonged to Israel, prompting the PA president to exclaim, “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!” Abbas is now attempting to walk back that comment, as one of his advisors is now saying that “dogs are pets in the Arab world, and they are generally viewed positively.”

Abbas Calls U.S. Ambassador to Israel a ‘Son of a Dog’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas railed against United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as a “son of a dog” in a Mar. 19 speech to PA leadership.

Abbas was irked that Friedman is a staunch supporter of the Israelis building settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“The ambassador, David Friedman, said they’re building on their own land,” Abbas said. “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!”

Friedman pushed back against Abbas and denounced the PA president’s remarks as anti-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism or political discourse?” Friedman said in a speech at Jerusalem. “Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert also slammed Abbas’ comments as “outrageous and unhelpful.”

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace,” Nauert said. “The administration remains fully committed to those goals.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Abbas’ “son of a dog” remark showed that he was becoming unhinged:

This is the latest example of Abbas bitterly lashing out with various snipes toward the Trump administration for their recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Back in December, Abbas refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence on his Middle East trip and has repeatedly said that the PA will no longer accept a peace deal brokered by the U.S.

Before Abbas made his “son of a dog” comments, Friedman ripped into Abbas for failing to condemn the murders of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Palestinian terrorists:

Abbas Criticizes US and Israel in UN speech; Haley Fires Back

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations on Feb. 20 criticizing the United States and Israel on hampering peace negotiations.

Abbas railed against the Trump administration’s actions on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“In a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision which was rejected by the international community to remove the issue of Jerusalem off the table without any reason,” Abbas said.

The PA president added, “This administration has not clarified its position. Is it a two-state solution, or the one-state solution?”

Abbas then claimed that the Palestinians have a historical connection to Israeli land.

“We are descendants of the Canaanites that lived in Palestine 5,000 years ago, and have continuously remained there to this day,” Abbas said.

Abbas also went after Israel for being a “permanent settlement colonization.”

“We are working for the occupation, we are employees for the occupation, and we say that Israel must be held to its obligations as an occupying power,” Abbas said.

Abbas advocated for Palestine to have full member status at the U.N. and for a two-state solution mediated by a “multilateral international mechanism.”

Abbas walked out of the room when he was finished speaking, prompting Haley to remark to the PA president, “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”

“The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “You don’t have to like that decision. You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: that decision will not change.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon criticized Abbas for inspiring “a culture of hate in Palestinian society.”

“When we extend a hand, Abbas extends a fist,” Danon said.

Report: Conditions in Syrian Palestinian Refugee Camp Are ‘Horrific’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Atef Safadi/Pool

A new report describes the Yarmoulk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria as “horrific,” yet it is never talked about because it can’t be used as a bludgeon against Israel.

According to the Gatestone Institute, the Syrian Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) has been blocking food and medicine from entering the country since 2013, while ISIS has been terrorizing refugees in the camp since 2015. The Sunni terror group frequently conducts public executions over fabricated crimes, pillages homes in the camp and keeps the refugees trapped in the camp.

Additionally, it has been over 1,237 days since the camp last had running water.

There has been a total of 204 Palestinians who have died in the camp as a result of the lack of food and water since the Syrian Army imposed their siege on the camp. Even more telling is the fact that the number of refugees in the Yarmouk camp has dramatically declined from over 100,000 in 2011 to 13,000 in 2014.

Overall, 3,645 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011 and tens of thousands have fled the country as well.

Palestinian refugee camps in various countries are generally in putrid condition; according to a 2012 Washington Post report the camps in Lebanon feature “unspeakable” living conditions and the Lebanese government deprives the Palestinian refugees in the country of rights. Palestinian refugees in Iraq have been slaughtered by Shiite militias since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

As the Gatestone Institute report points out, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is nowhere to be found when it comes to the Palestinian refugees suffering in these Arab countries. The report criticizes Abbas for being more interested in going after President Trump’s Jerusalem move and splurging $50 million on a presidential plane instead of helping the Palestinian refugees.

“In his view, the needs of his people are the responsibility of the world,” journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote. “He wants everyone but himself to continue funneling financial aid to the Palestinians. For him, delivering a speech before the EU Parliament or the UN General Assembly easily takes precedence over the Palestinians who are dying due to lack of medicine and food. With such leaders, the Palestinians do not need enemies.”

The Palestinian refugee issue stems from 1947, when Arabs leaders spurned a United Nations resolution that would have created a neighboring Arab state beside Israel. At the behest of Arab leaders, thousands of Palestinians left their homes; in 1948 Israel encouraged the Palestinians to stay in the country and those that did enjoy freedoms that they wouldn’t get anywhere else in the Middle East.

The Palestinians that fled have been mired in refugee camps as Arab countries have shown little interest in welcoming them into their population, as instead they rail against Israel and call for the Palestinian “right to return” into Israel. Times of Israel blogger John C. Landa argued that the camps radicalize Palestinian inhabitants and teach them “that the Jews are to blame for their plight.”

The refugees are pawns in a campaign to demonize Israel,” Landa wrote. “Like Palestinians who are set up as ‘human shields’ when Hamas jihadists launch rockets from Gaza into Israel, they are exploited and victimized to promote a simple but distorted narrative:  there is misery here, and the Jews must be blamed.”

Report: Trump Admin, PA Haven’t Talked In Over a Month

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Relations between the Trump administration and Palestinian Authority (PA) have chilled to the point where they haven’t spoken to each other in over a month.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the chief negotiators in the Israel-Palestine conflict – Jared Kushner and Jonathan Greenblatt – haven’t had any sort of dialogue with the PA since Dec. 6, when President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although there have been some meetings with Palestinians that have been kept under wraps.

“They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk,” a top White House official told the Jerusalem Post. “It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians. So that troubles me greatly, and we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

Since Trump’s Jerusalem move, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has become increasingly unhinged and hostile toward the United States. He recently gave a speech in which he “he deployed anti-Semitic tropes, undercut the Jewish connection to Israel, and blamed everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Napoleon to Winston Churchill for Israel’s creation” and “repeatedly cursed President Donald Trump (“may your house fall into ruin”),” according to The Atlantic.

Abbas has also stated that the PA won’t accept any peace agreement mediated by United States and wants Europe to have greater involvement in such talks. On Tuesday, Abbas gave a speech at the European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels and called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and the EU gave him his support.

Despite all this, the Trump administration remains undeterred in their attempts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as the White House official told the Post they will eventually put forward a “plan that we think is appropriate, reasonable, fair for both sides, in particular for the Palestinians to have a brighter future.”

“It’s going to be up to the parties to make their decisions if they can come to terms on a deal,” the official said.

Abbas Fails His People — Again

When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas described Israel as a “colonialist project that is not connected to Judaism” — as he did in a speech last week that was littered with anti-Semitic overtones — the natural reaction from the pro-Israel community was to condemn the lies and defend the truth.

Abbas’ libelous speech, in fact, was condemned across the political spectrum. Even J Street released a statement saying there was “no excuse for calling into question either the Jewish connection to, or Palestinian recognition of, the state of Israel — or for language and proposals that are justifiably earning widespread condemnation.”

Moderate commentator Ben-Dror Yemini on Ynetnews characterized the speech as “More hallucinations. More illusions. More rejectionism” — adding that Abbas’ real problem is not with the creation of Israel in 1948 or the expansion of the state after 1967 but the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that first supported the Jews’ right to a national home.

The reason Abbas is obsessed with the 1917 recognition of Jewish sovereign rights is that it undermines his faux narrative that Israel is a colonialist state rooted in European guilt after the Holocaust. As long as he can position the Jewish state as an artificial project that punished Palestinian Arabs, he can claim the mantle of victimhood and continue his diplomatic war against the legitimacy of Israel.

This addiction to victimhood is also crucial to his retention of power. Put yourself in Abbas’ shoes. His people live in misery while, next door, the hated Jewish state thrives. Doubling down on victimhood means he can blame every Palestinian hardship on Israel.

It also justifies saying no to every peace proposal, as Palestinian leaders have done for decades. After all, if Israel is the result of Jews stealing Arab land, what is there to negotiate? There is only one thing a thief must do, and that is return the stolen goods in full — and maybe even throw in a penalty for emotional damages.

If Palestinian leaders ever conceded the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the Holy Land, it would explode the edifice of lies they have told their people. It would force them to acknowledge that Jews also have sovereign rights, which would force them to accept compromises. It would mean they’d have to admit that their problem with Israel is not with the settlements that came after 1967 but the settlements that came after 1917. It would mean they’d have to accept at least some responsibility for the miserable state of their failed society.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other.

The minute Abbas himself concedes the legitimacy of the Jewish state, an avalanche of pressure would descend upon him. All of a sudden, he would have to look at the hated Zionist state as a partner rather than a thief and start caring for the welfare of his people. All of a sudden, he’d have to actually produce results.

Compare that to the status quo. By sticking to his narrative of exclusive victimhood at the expense of Jewish oppression, Abbas is celebrated around the world. He continues to cash in on “humanitarian” aid that fills his coffers and that of his cronies; he continues his diplomatic and legal war against Israel at the United Nations and international criminal courts; and, above all, he’s off the hook to make any compromises for peace.

For a corrupt liar who has contempt for Zionism, this status quo is, well, heaven on earth.

There is, of course, one complication in this whole picture — the Palestinian people. The day they realize they have been lied to for so long by their own leaders is the day those leaders will abandon their villas in Ramallah and hop on their private jets to any country that will take them.

That day may come sooner than they think.

According to a poll conducted in the summer of 2016 by the reputable Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published in Al Monitor, 65 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want Abbas to resign.

Among the reasons cited, journalist Ahmed Labed from Gaza City told Al Monitor: “President Abbas, who has been in power for 11 years, has been illegitimately occupying the presidential office. His mandate expired in January 2009. Moreover, throughout the period of his presidency, Abbas hasn’t accomplished any noteworthy achievement for the Palestinians.”

His major “accomplishment” has been to malign and undermine the Jewish state and instill hatred in his people for their Jewish neighbors, all while pretending to be a “moderate” to the world.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other, especially when that party has an interest in maintaining that lie.

Israel has made its share of mistakes. Its biggest, perhaps, is that it never had a long-term strategy for handling the territories captured in 1967, especially in Judea and Samaria. This has allowed Palestinian leaders to place all the blame for the absence of peace on the growth of Jewish communities in these territories.

Never mind that Palestinian leaders have rejected every peace offer made by Israel without ever making a counteroffer. As bad as those rejections have been for Israel, they’ve been even worse for the Palestinians.

Trump Admin Cuts Funding to UNRWA

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the "Conversation with Women of America" meeting event at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they’re going to cut $65 million from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

In a letter to the agency, the administration told the UNRWA they would continue to provide $60 million to the UNRWA, but they would be withholding the remaining $65 million until further notice. The administration also called for the agency to undergo a series of changes. The $60 million to the agency is a drastic reduction from the $355 million that the U.S. provided the UNRWA in 2017.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl denounced the move in a statement, claiming that it put the lives of Palestinians at risk.

“At stake is the access of 525,000 boys and girls in 700 UNRWA schools, and their future,” said Krähenbühl. “At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At stake is the access of refugees to primary health care, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services. At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon praised the move in a statement.

“Just over the last year alone, UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities,” said Danon. “It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose — the welfare of refugees.”

The move comes after President Trump threatened to withhold money from the Palestinians if they refused to engage in peace talks. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared in a weekend speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that they would not consider any deal forged by the United States and even. Abbas also cursed at Trump, exclaiming, “May your house be demolished!”

According to the Jerusalem Post, there was some debate within the Trump administration how the president should follow through on his threat. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley advocated for Trump to zero out funding to the UNRWA altogether, but ultimately the president sided with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to partially fund the agency. The Israeli government also wanted Trump to partially fund the agency.

Richard Goldberg, senior adviser to the Foundation of Defense Democracies, argued in a New York Post op-ed that the UNRWA only serves “to keep Palestinians as perpetual refugees.”

“In truth, it’s not a refugee agency but a welfare agency, which keeps millions of people in a permanent state of dependency and poverty — all while feeding Palestinians an empty promise that one day they’ll settle in Israel,” wrote Goldberg.

Additionally, U.N. Watch has reported on how UNRWA teachers have a penchant for making anti-Semitic Facebook posts, including “Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”

Abbas: Jews ‘Are Really Excellent In Faking and Counterfeiting History and Religion’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Jews are spreading lies about “history and religion” in a speech to the Organization for of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday.

Abbas railed against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, stating that Jerusalem deserves to be the capital of Palestine. During the speech, Abbas said that Jews “are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion.”

“If we read the Torah it says that the Canaanites were there before the time of our prophet Abraham and their existence continued since that time—this is in the Torah itself,” said Abbas. “But if they would like to fake this history, they are really masters in this and it is mentioned in the holy Qur’an they fabricate truth and they try to do that and they believe in that but we have been there in this location for thousands of years.”

Abbas also claimed in his speech that Jerusalem “is a Palestinian Arab Muslim Christian city” and attempted to rebut the notion that the Palestinian Authority is a terrorist entity.

“The U.S. Congress issued 27 resolutions saying we are terrorists, even when we have signed an agreement with the U.S. and 83 other states on fighting terrorism,” said Abbas. “Despite that, Congress insists we are terrorists, and we are not; it is they who invented terrorism. We have complied with all understandings between us and successive U.S. administrations, including this administration, but these illegal resolutions on Jerusalem have crossed all red lines, which will not make it possible for us to keep our commitments unilaterally.”

Additionally, Abbas declared that the Palestinians were no longer interested in having the United States as a peace broker.

Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg pointed out that Abbas’ reference to Qu’ran specifically “mentions Jews,” therefore meaning that Abbas was using a longtime anti-Semitic trope of Jews fabricating history. Rosenberg also notes that this would be in line with other anti-Semitic comments from Abbas, including him stating a blood libel in 2016 that “Israeli rabbis had called to poison Palestinian water.”

The Trump administration fired back at Abbas over his speech, claiming that his type of rhetoric “has prevented peace for years.”

“We will remain hard at work, putting together our plan, which will benefit both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples,” a White House official told the Jerusalem Post.

Poll: 70% of Palestinians Think Abbas Should Step Down

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new poll has found that the vast majority of Palestinians think that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should resign from his position.

According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, 70% of Palestinians want Abbas to step down while only 26% want him to stay on. Of the two Palestinian regions, 64% of Palestinians in the West Bank want Abbas to resign as do 80% in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas.

Abbas’ overall approval rating is at 31% positive and 66% negative. His policies are not viewed in a positive light by the Palestinians, as 61% don’t think they can criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) “without fear” and 77% view the PA as corrupt. Only 12% view the conditions of the West Bank as “positive.”

The 70% number is an increase from 67% three months, suggesting that Abbas’ electoral prospects in an election following a reconciliation government are dwindling. The poll found that in a three-way race between Abbas, terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas would get trounced, as 41% would support Barghouti and 36% would support Haniyeh while Abbas would only receive 18% support.

The full poll results can be read here.

The poll numbers have come amidst Abbas facing pressure from Jordan and Egypt to turn down his rhetoric against the United States following President Trump’s Jerusalem move:

Abbas is refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in light of Trump’s move.

Abbas has ruled the West Bank with an iron fist. He was elected as the PA president in January 2005, he has prevented elections from being held since then in order to hold onto power. Abbas’ record includes jailing journalists and political opponents, even going as far as torturing them.

Abbas Won’t Meet with Pence After Trump’s Jerusalem Move

Photo from Flickr/Olivier Pacteau.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has declined to meet with Vice President Mike Pence as a result of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pence was hoping to meet with Abbas on December 19 during his trip to the Middle East, but Trump’s Jerusalem move “crossed red lines,” according to Majdi Khaldi, the diplomatic adviser to Abbas.

“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, told Fox News.

Pence plans on meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to Farah.

Shortly after Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, a high-ranking member of Fatah declared that Pence would not be allowed in their territory.

“In the name of Fatah, I say that we will not welcome Trump’s deputy in the Palestinian territories,” said Jibril Rajoub.

In 2008, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas most of the West Bank, a bridge to the Gaza Strip and to put Jerusalem under international control. Abbas declined the offer and has since doubled down on the notion that he will never recognize Israel’s right to exist. Under Abbas, the PA provides financial incentives for Palestinians to commit acts of terror against Jews.

Abbas’ background also consists of him writing a book that denies the Holocaust and funding the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes.

Jerusalem has long been viewed as the eternal capital of Jewish people.

Saudi Arabia to Abbas: Take Trump’s Peace Plan or Resign

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 7, 2017. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia has issued an ultimatum to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas: take up the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan or step down from your position.

The Times of Israel reports that Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman brought Abbas in for a meeting and told him to “accept Trump’s peace plan or quit” as well as to rebuff any Iranian efforts to influence the PA.

The Saudi monarchy also reportedly demanded any cooperation between members of Fatah and Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy terror group, cease immediately.

However, a Palestinian Authority official pushed back on the notion that Saudi Arabia issued any sort of threat toward Abbas.

“The talk was about coordination, and it focused on three points,” the official told Haaretz. “One, supporting reconciliation and the president’s position on the arms issue; two, economic assistance; and three, that any diplomatic and regional settlement will be based on the Arab peace initiative, without any change.”

Political analyst Mazen Safi told the Jerusalem Post that the Saudis’ meeting with Abbas was meant to establish himself as “a power broker” in light of the Gulf Kingdom’s escalating tensions with Iran.

“Support from Arab countries is crucial and Abbas’ trip reinforces the need to assist the Palestinians against all obstacles,” said Safi. “Palestinian reconciliation requires the efforts of all Arab countries—and not just the Palestinians—since it will positively affect the region.”

The Trump peace plan that Salman referred to reportedly features some type of two-state solution that attempts to make all parties happy.

“For Israel, those could include limiting settlement construction to current blocs without taking new land, recommitting to a two-state solution and redesignating a small part of the West Bank to give Palestinians more control,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports. “The Palestinians could be asked to resume full security cooperation with Israel, hold off seeking further international recognition and end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist attacks.”

Saudi Arabia has long provided aid to the PA under the pretext that the PA provides political support to the Gulf Kingdom.

With America’s blessing, Abbas signals a reconciliation with Hamas

US president Donald Trump with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a welcoming ceremony in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23. Photo by Flash90

The Trump administration is encouraging the Palestinian Authority to assume control of the Gaza Strip and leaving the door open for a role by Hamas in the subsequent Palestinian government.

But if such a move was once seen as a traditional predicate to a two-state solution, top Palestinian leaders are hedging their bets, saying they would not rule out a “one-state” solution in which Palestinians have the same one-person, one-vote rights as Israelis. Israeli leaders have long said that would mean the end of the Jewish state.

Palestinian Authority government officials returned this week to the Gaza Strip, the first en masse visit — by Cabinet and security officials along with top bureaucrats — since Hamas’ bloody ouster of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement a decade ago.

It was a visit twice blessed by the Trump administration, first through a statement last week by the Quartet, the grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and Russia that guides the peace process, and again Monday with a statement from Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s top international negotiator.

“The United States welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza, as noted in the September 28 Quartet statement,” Greenblatt said in a statement he posted on Twitter.

The Quartet statement, while itself also abjuring mention of “two states,” made it clear that it foresaw a single Palestinian entity under P.A. rule. It urged “the parties” — the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — “to take concrete steps to reunite Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.”

This week’s P.A. visit to Gaza, brokered by Egypt, a key ally to the United States and Israel, is only for several days, but Husam Zomlot, the PLO envoy to Washington and a top Abbas adviser, anticipated a consolidation of the Palestinian Authority presence there.

Zomlot, speaking Monday to reporters here, noted that Hamas dissolved its governing body last week and said the Palestinian Authority expected this week that Hamas would formally hand over governance of the strip. The final stage, he said, would be elections.

“The return of the Palestinian Authority” to Gaza “is a milestone for the Palestinian Authority and of President Trump’s deal of the century,” Zomlot said, using a phrase Abbas used in a meeting with Trump on Sept. 20.

A signal of the White House’s seriousness is the likelihood that Hamas will continue to play a role in governing the strip. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, heeding Israeli concerns, rejected any role for Hamas in Palestinian governance, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly it would be a deal breaker.

Now, however, careful phrasing by U.S. and Palestinian officials strongly suggests that Hamas will not fade into the night. Zomlot called the changes in Gaza “the return of the consensus government,” the joint Hamas-P.A. venture that existed uneasily in 2006-07 and infuriated the administration of George W. Bush.

Greenblatt in his statement nodded to concerns about Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist group, but in language vague enough to accommodate a Hamas role.

“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said.

That elides over earlier Israeli demands that not just a Palestinian government, but all of its components, must renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking Wednesday to a Likud party meeting in the West Bank, maintained — at least in part — a tough line on the terms of a reconciliation acceptable to Israel. He said Hamas must be disarmed, but did not count out explicitly keeping Hamas figures within the Palestinian Authority bureaucracy.

“We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state, and we are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said in Maale Adumim, a settlement of 40,000 located just east of Jerusalem.

“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated,” he said.

Without mentioning the two-state goal, Greenblatt’s statement nevertheless called on the Palestinian government to abide by “previous agreements.” These would presumably include the 2003 “road map” that was to have culminated in Palestinian statehood.

Still, Zomlot said the Palestinians wanted more clarity from the Trump administration.

“We cannot travel a journey without knowing a final destination,” he said. Zomlot referred to Trump’s news conference with Netanyahu in February, when the president said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

From the launch of the Oslo process in 1993 until now, Palestinian Authority officials have spoken of a one-state outcome only in pessimistic terms, casting it as a dystopia engendered by a failed process. Last month, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas in a first for a Palestinian leader said that if the two-state option collapses, Palestinians could embrace one state. It would not be a predominantly Jewish state covering Israel and most of the West Bank, an outcome popular among the Israeli right, but a binational state in which West Bank and Gaza Palestinians have full rights as citizens.

Abbas warned in his U.N. address that in the failure of a two-state solution, “neither you nor we will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution.”

Zomlot expanded on that possibility at his news briefing Monday.

“As long as we mean one man and one woman, one vote, we are fine with this,” he said, adding however that the two-state solution “remains absolutely the best option.”

Zomlot also addressed the Taylor Force Act, legislation named for an American stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian terrorist that would slash funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to subsidize the families of Palestinians jailed for or killed attacking Israelis.

Palestinians say the payments mostly go to the families of the wrongfully imprisoned. Zomlot said the Palestinians proposed a tripartite commission, to include the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that would consider whether to remove some families from the payrolls.

“We have engaged with the administration, we have a trilateral commission,” he said. “We would offer to the United States to be the sole arbitrator and we will accept [the decision]. Guess who rejected it? Israel.”

A senior Trump administration official suggested that Zomlot was overstating the offer.

“We only received a brief general outline about this proposal which did not answer key questions or present a viable solution to the real problem, which is the official policy of paying terrorists and their families,” the official told JTA.

A senior Israeli official told JTA that the offer missed the point — the Palestinians can stop the payments on their own.

“The Palestinians don’t need Israel, the U.S. or anyone else, they just need to do it,” the official said. “Unfortunately they won’t.”

Palestinian Authority seeks membership in UN tourism body

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 27. Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

A request filed by the Palestinian Authority last year to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is slated to come to a vote this week at the body’s summit in Chengdu, China.

In order for the Palestinians to gain acceptance, two-thirds of the UNWTO’s member states need to approve.

[This article originally appeared on themedialine.org]

Speaking to The Media Line, Vice President of the PA Mahmoud Al-Aloul (“Abu Jihad”) confirmed that the Palestinian leadership is being heavily pressured to not proceed with its bid.

“All I can tell you in this regard is that President Mahmoud Abbas will give a speech in China.”

He further revealed that PA is in the process of filing a request to the International Criminal Court to oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements,” among other issues.

In response, Israel has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to block the PA’s request to join the UNWTO. “Palestine is not a state and cannot be accepted as such in the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations,” according to a statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

For his part, Hassan Ka’bia, a Deputy Spokesman at the Ministry told The Media Line “that all attempts by the PA to gain memberships at the UN will ruin the serious Israeli efforts to renew peace talks and will have no effect on the ground.

“At the end of the day,” he concluded, “our allies at the UN, including the U.S., are very strong and supportive of Israel so the Palestinians will not get anything there.”

In this respect, the latest move by the Palestinians to “internationalize” the conflict comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is engaged in a push to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, having sent his top envoys to the region on multiple occasions since his inauguration. Accordingly, the proposed moves by the PA risk derailing the effort.

“We will go to the United Nations anyways as well as the International Criminal Court,” Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Palestinian official, retorted to The Media Line. He said that this was necessary because while the Palestinians had already accepted the principles of the Oslo Accords they are looking for “peace on the ground and not just on paper.”

Sha’ath stated that under ideal circumstances there would be no need for the Palestinians to look to the UN, but that Israel had not held up its end of the bargain.

Ironically, the latest row over the UN comes against the backdrop of the Arab League’s decision to green light a proposal by the PA to form a high-level committee whose purpose is to block Israel’s attempts to be elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

According to the Ma’an news agency, the case against allowing Israel a turn on the Security Council roster will include the familiar charge regarding Israeli building on lands it conquered in the 1967 war that are claimed by the Palestinians for a future state; as well as accusations directed against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of having “introduced more than 20 racist legislations reflecting a systematic policy seeking to deface the historic rights of the Palestinian people.”

There formerly existed a longstanding convention that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could only come about through direct negotiations; however, this changed on September 23, 2011, when Abbas submitted a formal application to join the UN, which was overwhelmingly accepted one month later in a General Assembly vote.

Soon after gaining overall non-member observer state status in the institution, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) became the first affiliated agency to grant full membership to the Palestinians.

But the Palestinians’ momentum was soon stunted, as U.S. President Barack Obama decided to cut off funding to UNESCO, in line with Washington’s belief that the conflict with Israel can only be solved through the direct diplomacy of the peace process. As the Americans provide a huge portion of the UN’s overall budget, other bodies got the message and the Palestinians, despite repeated warnings to further pursue the UN route, have since not been accepted into any other related associations.

That is, until the anticipated UNWTO vote this week.

Perhaps the Palestinian leadership is being driven by an absence in faith in Trump, or maybe the bid to join the UNWTO is simply a method of applying pressure on his administration, which is reportedly in the process of formulating a formal policy on the conflict.

Some analysts believe it could also be meant to send Israel a message; namely, that the status quo will simply no longer suffice.

The Mahmoud Abbas exchange, Part 3: On Israel and the Palestinian leadership struggle

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stands during a reception ceremony for Jordan's King Abdullah II in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 7, 2017. Picture taken August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Amir Tibon is an Israeli journalist who covers Washington, D.C. for Haaretz newspaper. Prior to Haaretz, Tibon was the diplomatic correspondent for Walla News, a leading Israeli news website. His writing on Israel, the peace process and the Middle East has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Politico Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tablet Magazine, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, The American Interest, and The Jerusalem Report.

Grant Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he focuses on Palestinian politics. Rumley has published in leading media outlets, including Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, and contributed commentary to The New York Times, Reuters, and Newsweek. Prior to joining FDD, Rumley was a visiting fellow at Mitvim, The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. While in Jerusalem, Grant also founded and edited The Jerusalem Review of Near East Affairs. Previously, Grant served as a consultant in Washington on issues related to counter-terrorism, the Middle East, and war-gaming strategies.

The following exchange will focus on Tibon and Rumley’s new book The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas (Prometheus Books, 2017). You can find parts one and two here and here.

***

Dear Grant and Amir,

I’d like to dedicate our third round to the complicated hate triangle between Abbas, Hamas and Netanyahu. In your book, there is a description of Abbas’ reaction to the Shalit deal, which the previous Netanyahu-led government made with Hamas:

In one conversation with a senior American official, Abbas complained that “Hamas kidnapped one Israeli soldier and Netanyahu gave them a thousand prisoners for his release. My security forces have returned to Israel more than a hundred Israelis who wandered into our territories, and we got zero appreciation for it.” Indeed, Abbas’s security forces had a policy of escorting Israelis who entered Palestinian cities and towns by mistake into the safe arms of the Israeli military. “If I behaved like Hamas, I could have a hundred Shalit deals by now—there would be no more Palestinians in Israeli prisons. But I choose to do the humane thing and get nothing in return,” Abbas lamented.

My third-round question: looking ahead to the day after Abbas, what would you like, say, an Israeli decision maker reading your book to learn about Israel’s role in the fragile Hamas-Fatah relationship? What mistakes has Israel made, does Israel have a say on the matter and should Israel pursue any specific strategy when it comes to the inevitable succession struggle? 

Thank you once again for participating in this exchange.

Shmuel   

***

Dear Shmuel,

This anecdote represents a recurring frustration that Abbas has expressed over the years in the ears of Israeli and American officials who have worked with him – that Israel, in his eyes, responds “better” (from a Palestinian point of view) to violence than to negotiations. The Shalit affair is one example he has repeatedly used in this context. The 2005 Gaza disengagement is another, and we discuss it at length in the book. Abbas and people close to him felt that instead of giving the PA a larger role in the withdrawal from Gaza, and thus empowering Abbas in the eye of the Palestinian street, Ariel Sharon insisted to go at it alone and by doing that strengthened Hamas, which told the Palestinian public that Israel withdrew under fire, and that guns and suicide bombers were more efficient in extracting concessions from Israel than negotiations.

Abbas, of course, is also painfully aware of the price the Palestinians have paid for turning to violence. That’s why despite his talk about Israel’s “encouragement” of violence, he has never actually adopted Hamas’ strategy – only lamented about it. But one important conclusion that we hope policy-makers will take from our book, is the importance of creating incentives and benefits for a leader who opposes violence and is committed to negotiations. Abbas deserves a lot of criticism – which can easily be found in our book – but even his harshest critics should give him credit when it is due for opposing violence and supporting negotiations over the years. Unfortunately, that has not happened often enough during his long career as a diplomat and a political leader.

The succession struggle that will come after Abbas is an internal Palestinian affair, in our view. Israel could perhaps affect it by, as we have suggested above, empowering moderate leaders and showing more flexibility towards those who support negotiations and compromise than towards those who support violence and strive for conflict. But they should also beware not to look too eager to support any specific candidate or faction, since that could ultimately empower the ‘other side.’ Can the damages of the past be repaired, in a way that would convince a majority of Palestinians that Abbas’ approach is more beneficial than Hamas’? We hope so, but cannot say for sure.

 

Palestinian power struggle over future of Gaza

Supporters of ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan stage a protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outside the Palestinian Legislative Council building, in Gaza City, Gaza, on Dec. 18, 2014. Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ousted Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan has a plan to work with the Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip and with Egypt to take over the failing Gaza Strip and the almost two million Palestinians who live there. At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is a bitter rival of Dahlan’s, is launching his own reconciliation effort with Hamas, after weeks of squeezing the Islamist movement in Gaza.

Dahlan, a wealthy Palestinian businessman who lives in Abu Dhabi, is a former head of the Palestinian Security Services in Gaza and had a force of 20,000 men at his disposal. Dahlan had close ties with US intelligence services and the CIA. Some Palestinians have accused him of being an Israeli agent.

[This story originally appeared on themedialine.org]

Now Dahlan is coordinating with Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, and to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. As a first step, Egypt has begun providing Gaza with fuel for some electricity, after Israel, at Abbas’ request, cut the amount of fuel it supplies to Gaza. Gazans now have four hours per day of electricity followed by 12 hours of blackout.

“This Egyptian gesture is positive and some say it’s because of Dahlan,” Mkheimer Abusada, a political science professor at Al Azhar University in Gaza told The Media Line. “They say he convinced the Egyptians to supply fuel to substitute for the Israeli cutback. There are also hopes that in a month Rafah will reopen.”

Dahlan used to be a fierce critic of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), charging the PA with widespread corruption. Abbas, the head of the Fatah party, and Dahlan are bitter rivals, and Abbas has repeatedly accused Dahlan of murdering Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a charge Dahlan vehemently denies. In 2014 Dahlan was sentenced to 15 years in jail in a Ramallah court, meaning he could be jailed if he returns to the West Bank.

In the past few weeks, Dahlan has outlined how a power-sharing deal with Hamas might work. Hamas has a new leader, Yihye Sinwar, who is known as a hard-liner. Sinwar and Dahlan also grew up together in the Khan Yunis refugee camp.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dahlan said that the UAE has agreed to spend $100 million to build a power plant for Gaza on the Egyptian side of the border.

Most Palestinian analysts say that the people of Gaza are willing to support anyone who can relieve their suffering.

“The people of Gaza support any honest national movement that serves their interest,” Islam Atallah, a Palestinian political analyst in Gaza told The Media Line. “The real catastrophe is the Palestinian division and corruption. There is a struggle between Fatah and Hamas for power, and they are putting narrow interests above the people.”

Polls show that Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza want “national reconciliation” or an end to the divisions between the two areas. Although not territorially contiguous, Palestinians say that both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, along with east Jerusalem, must be part of a future Palestinian state. There is some fear that if the Dahlan plan goes through, Gaza would in effect be a separate Palestinian mini-state.

Abbas this week held a rare meeting with Hamas politicians in his Ramallah office.

“There are concrete reconciliation plans, which include the dissolving of Hamas’ “administrative committee” controlling Gaza, implementing a national government with full sovereignty over the Strip and a plan for general elections across Palestine, Abbas told the Anadolu Agency last month.

But most analysts say they do not believe that Abbas’ overtures to Hamas will bear fruit.

“Several Hamas spokesmen said they are ready to dissolve their government in Gaza if the PA will take full responsibility including paying 43,000 Hamas employees in Gaza,” Palestinian professor Abusada said. “That is impossible and President Abbas won’t do it.”

Abbas says that he should take over Gaza leading eventually to new elections, and is demanding that Hamas scrap any deal with Dahlan. Fatah and Hamas have been bitter rivals since Hamas took over Gaza in a 2007 coup that included incidents of Hamas gunmen throwing Fatah fighters off rooftops in Gaza.

Abbas has squeezed Hamas hard in the past few months. He has forced thousands of civil servants in Gaza into early retirement, cut PA funding for electricity in Gaza, and even made it harder for Palestinians in Gaza to enter the West Bank for medical treatment.

Israel so far has not commented on any of the new plans for the future of Gaza. Israel, like the US, says Hamas is a terrorist organization, and refuses to have any direct contact with it. Ties with Abbas are also strained over last month’s crisis surrounding metal detectors at a Jerusalem holy site. Israel says Abbas was not a constructive force in solving that issue and encouraged violent protests. Israel’s position on Dahlan being in charge in Gaza is unclear.

The Mahmoud Abbas exchange, part 2: On peace agreements with Arab autocrats

Amir Tibon

Amir Tibon is an Israeli journalist who covers Washington, D.C. for Haaretz newspaper. Prior to Haaretz, Tibon was the diplomatic correspondent for Walla News, a leading Israeli news website. His writing on Israel, the peace process and the Middle East has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Politico Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tablet Magazine, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, The American Interest, and The Jerusalem Report.

Grant Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he focuses on Palestinian politics. Rumley has published in leading media outlets, including Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, and contributed commentary to The New York Times, Reuters, and Newsweek. Prior to joining FDD, Rumley was a visiting fellow at Mitvim, The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. While in Jerusalem, Grant also founded and edited The Jerusalem Review of Near East Affairs. Previously, Grant served as a consultant in Washington on issues related to counter-terrorism, the Middle East, and war-gaming strategies.

The following exchange will focus on Tibon and Rumley’s new book The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas (Prometheus Books, 2017). You can find part one here.

***

Dear Amir and Grant,

I’d like to start this round from the last paragraph of your first answer:

The two Arab leaders who have actually signed peace agreements with Israel – King Hussein of Jordan and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt – weren’t great believers in democratic institutions, to say the least. But fairly or not, history will most likely remember them by their diplomatic achievements rather than their heavy-handed governing styles at home. Sadly, as of today, the same cannot be said about Mahmoud Abbas.

The fact that Israel’s two long-lasting peace agreements were signed with non-democratic autocrats is a curious point. Considering that the opposition Abbas has faced in Palestine has never consisted of peace-loving democrats, but of Islamic extremists, and that regional autocrats seem to be the lesser of two evils in today’s Middle East – has Abbas’ autocratic consolidation of power necessarily been a negative development from Israel’s perspective? Moreover, had Abbas been a powerful autocrat before 2007, would he not have been more capable of implementing the vision he started out advocating?

Can Israel ever hope for something better than a regional autocrat with a genuine interest in peace?

Yours,

Shmuel

***

Dear Shmuel,

The question of democratic versus autocratic legitimacy when it comes to the peace process doesn’t have a clear-cut answer, in our opinion. On the one hand, peace agreements between democratic societies are likelier to withstand the test of time. On the other hand, autocrats with strong grips on their respective societies have historically been the only ones able to sign a treaty with Israel.

It’s important to note that the question of how democratic, or undemocratic, Palestinian politics are, isn’t a question for Israel to answer, but for the Palestinians themselves. Israel didn’t comment on the state of democracy in Egypt and Jordan when it signed peace agreements with these countries, and it would be delighted to sign a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia tomorrow morning – assuming the Saudis gave up some of their demands – despite that country’s awful civil rights record. What Israel, or at least the Israelis who want an agreement, seeks in a Palestinian partner is someone who can be trusted and has the ability to deliver.

Our reading of the last two decades of peace talks is that a Palestinian leader needs both the willingness to sign an agreement and the ability to implement it in order to reach a deal. Arafat had the latter, but couldn’t bring himself to accept the former. Abbas may have been the opposite: willing to sign in a vacuum, but unable to implement an agreement once he comes to power and loses Gaza. Arafat’s legitimacy derived not merely from being the father of the modern Palestinian national movement but also from his control over nearly every major decision. Abbas’ legitimacy came from his democratic mandate in winning the 2005 presidential election, yet those same voters dealt his legitimacy a fatal blow in 2006 when they chose Hamas over Abbas’ Fatah party. The setback reverberated in Washington, where both the Bush and Obama administrations largely abandoned any push for future Palestinian elections.

Yet Palestinians have a rich societal history of placing a premium on democratic institutions. Trade unions, labor groups, civil society, political parties – all have a long track record of valuing democratic elections. When Abbas told Palestinians at his first inaugural address in 2005 that this would be a year of Palestinian elections, he had a receptive audience. And it’s this same audience that’s seen him rule by executive decree since 2009, when his four-year presidential term expired. It’s this lack of democracy, when even local city council elections are delayed repeatedly, which plays a role in widening the gap between Abbas and his people.

This is not an argument for holding elections right now – Fatah is in disarray and could well lose again to Hamas – but it is an argument to not fear elections. Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza have lived the past decade with autocratic leaders without a meaningful say in who their representatives are. Polls indicate a majority in each area are tired of their current leaders. A new Palestinian leadership, with a democratic majority and a mandate to negotiate peace with Israel, would arguably have more legitimacy than the current autocratic rulers in the West Bank and Gaza.

However unlikely such a scenario is right now, it’s not an impossibility. Palestinian Basic Law calls for presidential elections sixty days after the president vacates the seat. When Abbas does vacate the presidency, there will be voices calling for national elections in both the West Bank and Gaza for a new president. Whether these calls are answered will be the truest test of Palestinian commitment to democracy, and whether or not a leader can campaign on making peace with Israel, and win.

 

Abbas says security coordination with Israel remains frozen despite removal of metal detectors

Israeli security forces remove metal detectors which were recently installed at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City July 25, 2017. Photo by Ammar Awad/REUTERS.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said security coordination with Israel will remain frozen despite Israel removing the metal detectors it placed at the entrances for Muslim worshippers to the Temple Mount.

Abbas made the announcement on Tuesday hours after the metal detectors and security cameras placed at the holy site less than two weeks ago were dismantled.

“All new Israeli measures put in place since July 14 must be removed so things can go back to normal in Jerusalem and we can resume our work regarding bilateral relations,” Abbas said at the beginning of a meeting with the Palestinian leadership.

The metal detectors were installed at the entrance to the Temple Mount after three Arab-Israelis shot and killed two Israeli police officers there on July 14.

Abbas canceled scheduled security coordination meetings between Israeli and Palestinian officials on Sunday, two days after he announced that Palestinian leaders had frozen all contact with Israel over the newly installed security measures at the Temple Mount. It reportedly was the first time that security cooperation has been halted since Abbas was elected nearly a decade ago.

Late Monday night, the Israeli Security Cabinet said it would remove the metal detectors and security cameras and instead incorporate security measures based on advanced technologies, called “smart checks,” and other measures instead of metal detectors. Israel will pay up to 100 million shekels, about $30 million, over the next six months to install the new devices, which include sensitive security cameras.

Despite the removal by Tuesday morning of the metal detectors, Muslim worshippers have continued to stay away and pray at the gates leading to the holy site, as they have since the metal detectors were installed. At least five Palestinians have died in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police over the security measures.

Abbas’ Fatah party calls for ‘day of rage’ following Temple Mount clashes

Israeli Police try to clear Muslim worshippers from the area of the Lion's Gate, after they performed their noon prayers, outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City. Metal detectors were placed at gates to the Temple Mount, and the Muslim worshippers refused to pass through them. The Temple Mount was reopened following last weeks terror attack when two Israeli Arabs opened fire and killed two Israeli police men. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

The party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for a “day of rage” in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank to protest new security measures at the Temple Mount.

The call on Tuesday by Fatah for a day of rage on Wednesday followed a night in which Muslims protesting the installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount clashed with Israeli security forces. About 50 Muslim protesters and one Israeli officer were hurt in the violent protests in eastern Jerusalem.

Tanzim, the armed faction of Fatah, also announced that Friday prayers will be held in the centers of Palestinian cities and that the sermons be dedicated to the Al-Aqsa mosque and against the new security measures, Ynet reported.

Muslim worshippers and the Muslim Waqf, which administers the site, have boycotted the Temple Mount over the new security measures.

Two of the nine entrances to the site holy to both Muslims and Jews were reopened at about noon Sunday, two days after three Arab-Israeli visitors there opened fire on Israel Police guarding the area, killing two Druze-Arab Israel Police officers.

On Monday, the Temple Mount was opened to Jewish visitors without the scrutiny of the Waqf guards, who usually watch to make sure Jewish visitors do not pray or perform any religious rituals at the site. Reports on social media said that some of the visitors prayed and one group recited the mourner’s prayer at the site where the officers were killed.

A report Tuesday on the London-based Arabic news site Elaph said King Salman of Saudi Arabia passed a message to Israel through Washington calling for the opening of the Temple Mount to worshippers. The story cited an unnamed senior source but did not say from where.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying that Israel had no intention of changing the status quo at the site, which prevents Jews from praying there and which the Waqf says has been altered by the presence of metal detectors. The report also said Netanyahu invited Saudi officials to come visit the site themselves but has received no response.