Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas charged that “America is occupying Palestine” just as Secretary of State Antony Blinken was reportedly planning to visit Israel and the West Bank.
“When Israel says that it is celebrating its independence day, it has gained independence from whom?,” he said during a public speech in Ramallah.
“Who was occupying the State of Israel so that it celebrates the anniversary of its freedom from this occupation, this is a big lie.”
He noted the religious tensions in Israel, pointing to the attack against the Yom Kippur scuffle that broke out in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square when activists tried to enforce gender-segregated prayer.
His attack on the Biden administration and Israel comes amid work on a security arrangement between Washington and Riyadh, including an Israeli-Saudi normalization deal and a possible interim agreement with the Palestinians.
The United States is pushing to include Palestinian issues in the deal and Blinken’s potential trip is seen in part as an opportunity to advance that possibility.
The United States is pushing to include Palestinian issues in the deal and Blinken’s trip is seen in part as an opportunity to advance that possibility.
The PA has called among other things for global statehood recognition, as expressed in acceptance to the United Nations as a member state. The PA would also like Israel to place portions of Area C under its authority, as part of a move to guarantee that this territory would be part of its future state. Area C comprises 60% of the West Bank and is now under IDF military and civilian control.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is expected to oppose both of those requests.
PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh created a ministerial committee to promote the development of Area C, declaring that region of the West Bank to be an “integral part of the State of Palestine.” He warned his cabinet on Monday that Netanyahu’s government was working to “annex” Area C.
Coalition members in Netanyahu’s government immediately responded, retorting: “The Jewish people has a natural, historical and legal right to the entire Land of Israel. Even Mohammed Shtayyeh can’t oppose this basic truth.”
The statement was issued by Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud), MK Limor Son Har-Melech (Otzma Yehudit), and MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party).
The three politicians believe that Area C, the biblical Judea and Samaria, should be part of Israel’s final borders and support the application of sovereignty to that territory. They have called on the IDF to increase enforcement against illegal Palestinian construction in that territory, where few permits are granted for authorized Palestinian homes.
“If we do not wake up and increase enforcement and stop the PA’s actions, it will be a cry for generations,” they stated.
Abbas' appeal to the United Nations
About two weeks earlier, Abbas called on the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as one of its member states, a move which would need the approval of the Security Council. It’s expected that the US would block all such membership attempts.
He accused Israel of “entrenching its apartheid” policies against his people and attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
“As I stand before you here, the Israeli racist right-wing government continues its attacks on our people and its army and its racist terrorist settlers continue to intimate and kill our people, steal our money, and resources,” Abbas said.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.