Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, responded on Thursday evening to harsh and false attacks voiced earlier against Israel by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas during his speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels.
Abbas urged the world to take action against “Israeli atrocities” and repeating debunked rumors that Israeli rabbis had “called to poison Palestinian water supplies.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the speech, saying that Abbas had “showed his true face” in Brussels. “Someone who refuses to meet the president and myself for direct negotiations and who spreads blood libels before the European Parliament, is lying when he claims that his hand is extended in peace,” said Netanyahu.
The prime minister was referring to the potential meeting between Abbas and his Israeli counterpart Rivlin proposed by EU Council President Donald Tusk that Abbas bluntly refused to attend.
“Israel is waiting for the day when Abu Mazen stops spreading lies and engaging in incitement,” Netanyahu added, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “Until then Israel will continue to defend itself against Palestinian incitement that motivates acts of terrorism.”
Abbas harshly attacked Israel during his speech, calling its policies towards Arabs from the Palestinian Authority “racist” and “fascist.” He also said the PA is prepared to make peace with Israel — even as he rejected a single meeting with Rivlin while the two were in the same building at the same time, for the very same purpose.
“Our hands are extended with a desire to peace,” he claimed, directing his remarks to Israel. “We have the political will to achieve peace and we ask, do you have the same will to achieve peace and to acknowledge the historic injustice that your state has exacted on our country?”
President Rivlin also responded to Abbas’ speech on Thursday, expressing disappointment that Abbas has refused to meet with him.
“It is strange that Abbas repeatedly refuses to meet with Israeli leaders and then repeatedly turns to the international community for support,” said Rivlin in a statement. “We cannot build on the trust we have built if we do not start talking directly without intermediaries. Direct talks are the only way to build confidence and restore the conditions for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Israeli lawmaker and former Shin Bet domestic intelligence chief Avi Dichter, who chairs the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also responded to what he called the “falsehoods” propounded by Abbas during his Brussels speech.
“With a series of historical distortions and crocodile tears, Abu Mazen today described the 1948 Palestinian ‘Nakba‘ [Arabic for ‘disaster’], without mentioning the fact that the Arab leaders in 1947 were the ones who determined their fate,” said Dichter.
“The Jewish leaders accepted the partition plan, while the ‘Abu Mazens’ of that time rejected the United Nations proposal and the Arab armies invaded Israel in order to wipe out the Jews and take 100 percent of Israel.”
Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responded to the speech as well, referring to Abbas’ claim that Ya’alon and Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, recently called Israel was a “fascist” state. While Barak did make a similar accusation, Ya’alon did not.
“Abu Mazen is not only lying as usual, continuing his malicious blood libels against the State of Israel,” wrote Ya’alon on his Facebook page, “he is also exploiting the healthy democratic discourse in Israeli society, which does not exist in his society and is putting words in my mouth I did not say.
“Abu Mazen’s conduct, speeches and evasions of direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions are further proof that he never intended to go for an agreement, including recognition of our right to exist as the only nation state of the Jewish people,” Ya’alon added.TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – President Reuven Rivlin said that current European Union (EU) efforts to bring about a final arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should not overshadow the importance of bilateral ties between Israel and the EU, following a meeting in Brussels with President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
“The advancement of peace in the Middle East is a vital interest for Israel,” emphasized Rivlin. “At the same time, I believe that the bilateral relations between us can grow and develop independently.”
The Israeli president, who met with Tusk as part of a several day tour throughout Europe in which he is scheduled to meet with dignitaries of Belgium, the EU and NATO, viewed the Israeli-EU relationship as having great prospects of success.
“This is my first visit to the institutions of the EU as president of the State of Israel, and I see it as a sign of the great importance of relations between Israel and the European Union,” said Rivlin.
“The EU is an integral partner with Israel in the fields of trade, science, environment and culture,” he continued.
Rivlin also claimed that Israel’s ties with Europe were founded on common values.
‘We share the fundamental values of democracy, freedom of expression, liberalism and human dignity,” Rivlin added. “These values are a solid basis on which to expand cooperation in other areas.”
President Tusk concurred with Rivlin. “We share many values and join forces together on a variety of issues,” Tusk said. “There is a deep partnership between the EU and Israel.”
Tusk touched on the need for the continued partnership between Israel and the EU in the battle against terrorism.
“I expressed to the president my condolences on the recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, and we discussed ways to deepen our cooperation against terrorism,” Tusk said. “There is no better place than Brussels to discuss this issue today.”
The European Council president added that a peaceful resolution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is of vital importance to the European Union.
“A sustainable peace is a very high priority for the European Community,” Tusk stressed. “The EU is ready to support peace with unprecedented assistance and cooperation with both sides.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Joshua B. Dermer/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – On the eve of the French peace conference to help foster peace between Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Dore Gold is less than optimistic.
“You don’t need to go to Paris in order to solve a conflict between neighbours,” Gold told journalists in a statement Thursday night. “The only way to get a stable regional arrangement that will allow use to create real peace in the Middle East is if the parties of the region come to understandings between them.”
Friday’s gathering in Paris will include foreign ministers and officials from 29 countries around the world, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The goal of the initiative is to lay the groundwork for a more thorough peace conference set to take place at the end of the year. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian Authority representation will be present at Friday’s meeting.
“We believe the Arab states would give backing to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” Gold said. “Therefore we prefer a Middle Eastern process and not a process that somebody is trying to create in Paris.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement on Wednesday stressing the importance of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, taking up communication efforts directly with Israel instead of using mediated discourse.
“If the nations meeting in Paris this week really want to advance peace they should join me in calling on Abu Mazen to come to direct negotiations of this kind. This is the way to peace – there is no other,” Netanyahu said. “We have not stopped looking for paths to peace – including with the assistance of important developments in the region. The way to peace does not go through international conferences that seek to impose agreements, make the Palestinians’ demands more extreme and thereby make peace more remote.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Jesse Lempel/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday night that the Arab nations in the region can help facilitate a “real deal with the Palestinians,” adding that he has been discussing the issue with regional leaders “over the last few hours.”
“The initiatives I’m referring to are regional initiatives – meaning, aided by the Arab countries in the region to reach a real deal with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said in a press conference following a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. “We always thought it would be the opposite,” Netanyahu acknowledged, “but that is the direction today. I am constantly trying, including over the last few hours, to further contacts with various leaders in the region to help in this direction.”
Netanyahu’s comments come on the eve of his meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls ahead of an international peace conference planned to take place in Paris at the beginning of June. Netanyahu has so far forcefully rejected the French conference, arguing that only direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians could advance peace and suggesting that the forum was biased against Israel.
The latest remarks, however, suggest that Netanyahu places more confidence in the efforts of regional Arab governments than in European peacemaking conferences.
“We have many common interests with leading Arab countries in the region, and I think that one of those interests is to advance a process for real peace between us and the Palestinians, and perhaps with their help we can overcome those a few obstacles,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s comments seemed to allude to a striking speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last week in which he offered to act as a moderator between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu immediately welcomed al-Sisi’s remarks, issuing a statement that “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President al-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”
Israel and Czechia signed a series of bilateral agreements relating to science, technology, tourism, and cybersecurity – the Czech embassy even has a special “cyber attaché.” But Netanyahu also thanked Prime Minister Sobotka for “the fairness of the Czech position in international forums.”
“Israel is often portrayed as not wanting peace. Nothing could be further from the truth. We pursue peace; we’re going to continue to pursuing peace with an expanded government, including various initiatives and possibilities within our region,” Netanyahu said. “I want to assure you that we’ll be happy to take up any suggestions and any help that you can give us in this common pursuit for peace.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Michael Zeff/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered to act as a mediator in the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict on Tuesday, an overture that immediately drew favorable responses from both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog.
“If we can all join forces in order to solve the Palestinian issue by creating hope for Palestinians and assuring security for Israelis, we will be able to write a new chapter that may prove to be more important than the peace accords between Israel and Egypt,” al-Sisi said on Tuesday during an inauguration ceremony for a new power plant in the Egyptian city of Asyut.
“I welcome Egyptian President El-Sisi’s remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians,” responded Netanyahu in an official statement.
“Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President El-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue,” Netanyahu added.
In his spontaneous remarks, President al-Sisi proposed to act both as a mediator between rival factions within “Palestinian” society and as mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the road to possible future peace talks.
Furthermore, the Egyptian president implied that resolving the conflict with the “Palestinians” will also incur a warmer relationship between his own country and Israel.
“If we are able to solve the issue of our Palestinian brothers it will achieve warmer peace [with Israel]. This is a genuine opportunity,” al-Sisi said.
Netanyahu wasn’t alone in expressing support of al-Sisi’s speech, leader of the Opposition and Zionist Union party Chairman Isaac Herzog posted his own response shortly after al-Sisi’s speech was made public in Israel.
“I congratulate the Egyptian President’s announcement. It’s a dramatic message, reflecting the historical process wherein the moderate Arab world expects a brave, strong, and sober hand extended from Israel,” Herzog posted on his Facebook page.
“It is our duty to seriously consider this, or else we’ll find ourselves doing so after the next parade of funerals,” Herzog warned.
The Egyptian offer comes on the same day as a postponement was announced for a planned French international peace conference later this month due to a scheduling conflict for US Secretary of State John Kerry. Israel had forcefully rejected the French conference, arguing that only direct talks between Israel and the Arabs could advance peace and suggesting that the forum was biased against Israel.TPS / Tazpit News Agency
By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Tel Aviv (TPS) – French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault vowed not to give up on the upcoming international peace conference in Paris, speaking in a press conference at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday.
“We are not giving up, nor are our international partners,” Ayrault said. “Netanyahu says he wants only direct negotiations, but this option is stuck.”
“The status quo is a temptation but a dangerous temptation. There is a need to act before it is too late to restore hope,” Ayrault added.
Earlier in the day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Ayrault and repeated his objections to the French international peace initiative, which will take place without Israeli or Palestinian Authority participation.
“I told (Ayrault) that the only way to advance true peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between us and them without preconditions,” Netanyahu said.
“Our historical experience has shown that only in this way did we achieve peace with Egypt and Jordan,” continued Netanyahu. “Any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict, which is the non-recognition of the State of Israel.”
Ayrault took the opportunity before departing Israel to rebut Netanyahu’s remarks.
“There is a threat that stems from the lack of dialogue, the continued construction of settlements and violence against the populations of both sides,” argued Ayrault. “So there is a need for the international community to encourage a return to talks.”
Yet the French foreign minister also attempted to quell Israeli security concerns.
“Israel’s security is at the heart of the concerns of France. I said to Netanyahu that Israel has the right to live in peace and security alongside a Palestinian state,” Ayrault said. “I came with a clear message, that the friendship towards Israel is always in my heart.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency
Newsflash – and a really awful one at that.
This White House and its environs were just teasing when the inhabitants of that foggy realm said they were stepping back from trying to arm wrestle the inhabitants of the Middle East into creating another terrorist state and undermine the only vibrant democracy in the area. Yes, the news is now out: yet another Arab-Israeli “peace process” plan is in the works, as reported in a news story posted late Monday, March 7, in the Wall Street Journal.
This one, the White House threatens, may involve a United Nations Security Council Resolution that will impose a solution, rather than the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs working out the details of how they will co-exist “side by side in peace and security.”
In addition to a UN Security Council Resolution, other initiatives may include a presidential speech and a joint statement from the Middle East Quartet: the U.S., the U.N., the E.U and Russia. Sound friendly? It’s not clear which is scarier: another speech on the Middle East by President Obama, or his coordinating a joint statement by a larger group of foreigners, none of which includes Israel. But both, not either-or, are being threatened.
The timing for the launch of this new plan is not yet set in stone, but for sure it will be before President Obama leaves office in January.
An earlier JewishPress.com article mentioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision not to come to Washington later this month, either to attend in person the AIPAC conference or to meet with Obama, as had been requested. It is not hard to imagine Netanyahu seeking to avoid any arm-twisting on such a mission playing a role in his decision not to come to the States at this time.
The White House let it be known that it was disappointed by Netanyahu’s refusal to show up for the meeting, and allowed that it had found out about it by reading the newspaper – the same story it told about Netanyahu’s acceptance of a Congressional invitation to speak about the proposed Iran treaty.
The concessions to be extracted from each side are likely deal-breakers for both: from Israel, an end to building for Jews beyond the 1949 Armistice Line and handing over what the Americans call eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinian Arabs; from the Arabs, recognition of Israel as a Jewish State and ending the call for a “right of return” to Israel for the descendants of Palestinian Arab “refugees.”
No word on whether the Arabs will be asked to stop the non-stop television shows teaching their children how to murder Jews and die a martyr.
Also no word on who will be the one expected to make any promises for the Palestinian Arabs: Mahmoud Abbas, in the eleventh year of his four year term? One of the jihadi leaders from Hamas? Someone who represents all the so-called Palestinian Arab refugees scattered around the Middle East? Details, shmetails.
Of course the only change in circumstances is Mr. Obama beginning his exit, which has no bearing whatsoever on the people whose lives will be impacted by any new effort on his part.
According to the Journal, Obama’s plan is to create facts on the ground that will constrain the next White House occupant. No word in the White House press guidance on why that’s an appropriate task for someone who won’t have to live with whatever problems are created by the latest Obama “peace” initiative.Lori Lowenthal Marcus