Europe

Abbas Snubs Rivlin, Repeats Discredited Water Libel at EU Parliament

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for global terrorism and repeated a discredited canard that Jews are seeking to poison Palestinian water while addressing the European Union parliament a day after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, The Times of Israel reported Thursday. Abbas also refused to meet Rivlin while both men were in Brussels.

In his speech, Abbas asked the EU to save the Palestinians from Israeli provocations, and cited as evidence a hoax story about rabbinic calls for Jews to poison Palestinian wells. The discredited charge, propagated by the PA’s Foreign Ministry’s earlier this week, was attributed to an Israeli rabbi and a council that do not actually exist. It was rejected by the group Breaking the Silence, which some Turkish and Arabic media cited as the source for the story. Canards about rabbis authorizing the poisoning of wells have been used to incite violence against Jews since the Middle Ages.

Abbas also alleged that Israel is the cause of global terror, saying, “Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world.” (Palestinian terrorism predates the Israeli occupation.) Abbas further ruled out making any compromises to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a maximalist plan backed by the Arab League.

The Palestinian president refused to meet with Rivlin during his visit to Brussels, despite EU encouragement. Rivlin, who agreed to meet and reiterated the importance of direct talks to peace efforts, said that he found Abbas’ rejection odd. “On a personal level, I must say that I find it strange that President Mahmoud Abbas, my friend Abu Mazen, refused again and again to meet with Israeli leaders and turns again and again to the support of the international community,” he said. “We can talk. We can talk directly in a way to build confidence.”

Since 2000, the Palestinians have rejected a number of peace proposals. In July 2000 at Camp David, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rejected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of all of the Gaza Strip and 92% of the West Bank, offset by land swaps, along with a capital in eastern Jerusalem. After he left office, President Bill Clinton made it clear that Arafat was to blame for the failure at Camp David. Arafat responded to the offer by launching the Second Intifada.

In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented Abbas with a proposal for a peace agreement, which was also rejected. In an interview a year later, Abbas said he refused the offer because “the gaps were wide.” (Abbas again admitted his rejection of Olmert’s offer last year.) In March 2014, Israel accepted Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework for continued peace negotiations and agreed to proceed on the basis of it, while Abbas rejected it and the next month formed a unity government with the terrorist organization Hamas. In September 2015, Netanyahu said that he was willing to restart talks at anytime without preconditions. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, responded by calling Netanyahu’s bid a “PR stunt” and rejected the offer.

Earlier this year, Abbas rejected a proposal to restart negotiations made by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

[Photo: euronews (in English) / YouTube ]