Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to Sunday’s angry speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that the latter’s rejection of United States-led peace efforts and charge that Israel is a “colonialist project” shows that Abbas has “torn off the mask,” making it clear that the biggest impediment to peace is the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist, Ynet reported Monday.
Netanyahu said of Abbas, “He has revealed his true beliefs. He has torn off the mask and shown to the public the simple truth that I have been working to instill for many long years: The root of the conflict between us and the Palestinians is their steadfast refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders whatsoever.”
In the widely-reported speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization Central Committee, Abbas charged that Israel was “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.” A report on the speech in The Times of Israel characterized the speech as representing Abbas’s “understanding of the history of Zionism” and cast doubt on many of the PA leader’s assertions.
Abbas’s charge that Israel has nothing to do with Judaism echoes a sentiment in the Palestinian National Charter which asserted that “claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.”
Abbas has, over the years along with many other Palestinian leaders, denied that there is any historical connection between Jews and the land of Israel, often denying that Jewish Temples ever stood in Jerusalem, despite the overwhelming historical evidence that the Temples were located in Jerusalem.
Dore Gold, the former Director General Israel’s Foreign Ministry, also criticized Abbas, telling The Jerusalem Post, “We don’t need Abbas when he is renouncing the basis for the peace process.”
“Abbas’s speech revealed that his narrative is extremely important to him,” Gold explained. “It’s critical for Abbas’s strategy to characterize Israel as an apartheid state, to put Israeli history in the context of colonialism and to advancing boycotting, divesting, sanctions and other lawfare. These become the messages he wants to leave for Palestinian youth even after he goes, and this is extremely destructive.”
David Horovitz, the editor in chief of The Times in Israel, in assessing the Abbas speech called the PA leaders assertions “a series of falsehoods obvious to the most casual student of 20th century events.” Abbas, Horovitz wrote, “believes the vicious propaganda disseminated first by his late and unlamented predecessor Yasser Arafat and then maintained during his own 13 years at the helm of the Palestinian Authority.”
He also noted that Abbas didn’t mention that he had rejected a far-reaching peace offer from then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. The reason Abbas would not agree to the Olmert offer was because it “would have required the Palestinians to acknowledge the legitimacy of an Israel which, in Abbas’s own words, is just an unrooted ‘colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.’”
Abbas in his Sunday speech referred to terms of President Donald Trump’s vision of a peace deal as the “slap in the face of the century.” Abbas has, in the past, shown a resistance to American-led Middle East diplomacy. In 2011, The New York Times reported that Abbas “has lost faith in Mr. Obama,” and refused the president’s wishes not to bring the issue of Palestinian statehood up before the United Nations General Assembly.
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