PM: Israelis ‘Frustrated’ With PA Intransigence, EU Labeling
At a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in New York on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his frustration with the Palestinians’ continued refusal to enter into peace talks with Israel – and the continued assertions by the international community that the fault is Israel’s, not the Palestinian Authority’s.
“I have called on [PA chief] Mahmoud Abbas numerous times to enter into talks with us without pre-conditions,” Netanyahu told Mogherini. “The fact that he has rejected all these appeals is evidence that he is not interested in peace.”
Despite Abbas’ refusal to negotiate, the European Union continues to blame Israel, demanding that products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria be labeled as such, in order to make a boycott of those products easier.
Many Israelis, Netanyahu told Mogherini, are reminded of “dark days in Europe” by this demand – evoking the rise of Hitler, when Jews were systematically excluded from European society and eventually decimated by the Nazis – and that impacts significantly on Israeli public opinion, making it much harder for Israel to hold a rational discussion on how to approach negotiations.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly earlier Wednesday, Abbas said that the PA was no longer “committed” to the Oslo Accords, the international treaty that the Authority owes its existence to.
“We are determined to preserve the unity of our land and people…we will not accept temporary solutions or a fragmented state,” Abbas said. “We will not allow this…we rather will seek to form a national unity government that functions according to the program of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and hold presidential elections.”
Accusing Israel of breaching the 1994 Oslo Accord, he said the Jewish state had “destroyed” the agreements, effectively “negating” them and freeing the PA of its own commitment.
“We therefore declare that we can not be part of this agreement and Israel must undertake all its responsibilities of an occupying power…We for our part are not committed to those agreements, and Israel must bear full responsibility,” he said.
Netanyahu quickly condemned the speech, saying it “was deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East.”
“We expect and call on the [Palestinian] Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accede to the proposal of the Prime Minister of Israel and enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” the Prime Ministeradded.
A report on Reuters late Wednesday said the “Quartet” of Middle East peace mediators had agreed to try once again to bring Israel and the PA to the negotiating table.
“We have decided to work together … on concrete steps on the ground in the absence of the peace process in the Middle East and have decided to reutilize the Quartet’s activities,” Mogherini told reporters after a Quartet meeting at the United Nations. “This crisis that has been there for decades, out of all the crises in front of us, is the one that is still possible to solve.”