Abbas’ Office Scrambles to Deny Reports He Condemned Passover Terror Attack

The office of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday rushed to deny reports – given to media outlets by a delegation of opposition Israeli lawmakers who had just returned from Ramallah – that the Palestinian leader had condemned a deadly Monday terrorist attack on an Israeli family, a day after Abbas’s silence on the matter had been blasted by Jerusalem as deeply complicating efforts to sustain flagging peace talks. Terrorists had riddled the family’s car with bullets, killing the male driver and wounding his wife and child.

Abbas and other figures from his Fatah faction had through the week remained conspicuously silent on the matter, amid celebrations of the murder by other groups, triggering a harsh condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Multiple members of Israel’s Knesset parliament visited Abbas Wednesday and came back telling journalists that “it didn’t take much convincing” for him to specifically condemn the Passover eve attack:

Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who was part of the delegation, told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas denounced all terror including the killing of Baruch Mizrachi in Monday evening’s terror attack.

“Abu Mazen [Abbas] said this specifically, he emphasized his disgust from bloodshed and terrorism. He said he’s willing to participate in the investigation of the attack and to bring those accountable to justice,” Horowitz said.

Members of the Israeli delegation criticized Netanyahu for among other things failing to acknowledge that “there is a Palestinian partner in Ramallah.”

Abbas’s office remembered the conversation differently:

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Ruaineh said the PA president opposed violence but did not speak out against the attack.

“We are against violence and a return to violence,” Abu Ruaineh quoted him as saying, adding the Abbas “is committed to a total condemnation of violence from any party.”

Israeli and American lawmakers have long expressed concerns that Palestinian leaders, up to and including Abbas, stoke violence both by failing to dampen it and at times by explicitly glorifying it.

Peace talks originally scheduled for Wednesday were pushed back at the request of the United States.

[Photo: AFP News Agency / YouTube]