Abbas: Israel Leading Region Toward “Bloody Religious War”
Jerusalem is our capital and there will be no concessions, says Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 10th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death • Jailed Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti calls for renewal of armed struggle.
The Palestinian Authority marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat on Tuesday, with thousands of Palestinians attending a rally in Ramallah at which PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivered an inflammatory speech in line with Arafat’s legacy.
Abbas accused Israel of leading the region toward a “religious war” and claimed Israel was responsible for the escalation of violence at the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem.
“Leaders of Israel are mistaken if they think they think they can rewrite history, establish facts on the ground and divide the Al-Aqsa mosque in terms of prayer times and prayer sites, as they did at the Cave of the Patriarchs [in Hebron],” Abbas said, to applause from the crowd.
“The leadership in Israel apparently does not realize that it is leading the region and the world to a bloody religious war that will bring destruction to the entire region. The Muslim and Christian worlds will never accept Israel’s claims that Jerusalem belongs to it. Jerusalem is our capital, and there will be no concessions. The Jerusalem that was captured in 1967 is our Jerusalem, and our responsibility is to protect and defend the holy places.”
Abbas’ words drew a sharp response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Abbas was making matters worse.
“Instead of calming tempers, he is inflaming them,” Netanyahu said. “Instead of educating his people for peace, [Abbas] is educating them for terror attacks.”
In his speech, Abbas also attacked Hamas, accusing the terrorist group of undermining Palestinian reconciliation efforts after a seven-year rift. Fatah and Hamas agreed in June on the formation of a unity government, but Hamas, which violently seized Gaza in 2007, continues to control the coastal enclave.
Abbas accused Hamas of carrying out a series of bombings on the homes of Fatah leaders last week that led to the cancellation of what would have been the first Arafat memorial ceremony in Gaza since 2007. He also said the group was blocking post-Operation Protective Edge reconstruction efforts.
“For whose interest are they blocking the reconstruction?” Abbas said. “The only losers are our people, while you sit in your houses and hide out.”
Meanwhile, jailed Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti, the former leader of Fatah’s Tanzim military wing who is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for involvement in terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada, called on Tuesday for Palestinians to resume armed struggle against Israel.
In a letter he sent from jail to Palestinian leaders, Barghouti wrote, “The Palestinian leadership must reconsider its policies regarding the unarmed popular struggle and allow the Palestinian people to return to armed struggle against the occupation.”
Barghouti also called on Palestinians to “immediately halt security cooperation with Israel and stop the coordination between the occupation security forces and the Palestinian security forces.” Barghouti is considered to be a candidate to succeed Abbas as chairman of the PA.
Following the letter, the Almagor Terror Victims Association called for Barghouti to be stripped of some of the rights granted to Palestinian prisoners.