RAMALLAH: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reiterated his concerns over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line policies as Israeli troops killed 16-year-old Palestinian girl Fullah Masalmah in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that the girl, from the town of Dahiriya, south of Hebron, died after Israeli soldiers shot her in the head during their storming of Beitunia.
The Israeli armed forces rounded up several Palestinians across the West Bank at dawn on Monday and carried out vast invasive operations in several West Bank towns.
Abbas said that Netanyahu was “not a man who believes in peace” with the Palestinians but that he would be forced to “deal with him,” even if the prospects for peace talks were minimal.
He made the remarks in a TV interview with an Egyptian channel on Nov. 13.
Abbas told the news channel: “I have known Netanyahu for a long time and have dealt with him a lot since the 90s. He is a man who does not believe in peace.”
The president said: “I deal with him because I have no other choice; with whom do I deal as a representative of Israel? There is a problem between me and Israel that occupies my land and my country. Who is its prime minister? Netanyahu. I have to deal with him, and at the same time, I stick to my position.”
Notably, Israel’s current and recent former leaders — Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid — refused direct contact with Abbas.
At the same time, there was limited Israeli connection with the Palestinian leader through Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who had focused on security cooperation and resolving Palestinian humanitarian issues.
Abbas said: “If he (Netanyahu) does not believe in peace, I say let’s find another solution. No. Peace is necessary. The proof is that we have often forced him to go to the US to discuss the peace process. But he is a man who does not believe in peace and believes that the occupation will remain forever.”
He added: “In the US now, many Americans do not accept his position and many American Jews — and this is something new — say that Israel is an apartheid state. In addition, 90 percent of America’s churches do not believe in Israel’s policy and publicly declare that this policy will not lead to any result.”
Abbas added that the Palestinians were working in a cumulative way to promote the Palestinian narrative in the US in an effort to overturn the dominance of pro-Israeli thought.
“The Palestinian people are fully aware of this policy, and there are no illusions that the solution will be tomorrow because we have been under occupation for 75 years. We know Israel. It’s challenging to withdraw from the Palestinian lands unless their theory fails,” Abbas said.
He added: “We recently talked with the Israelis about the bilateral relationship. We told them the Oslo Accords say it is forbidden to carry out unilateral actions on both sides. You are doing unilateral actions; stop it and release our money.”
The president praised the efforts of Egypt and Algeria to promote reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as a success, adding that he only asks Hamas to recognize that the PLO is the representative of the Palestinian people and identify its international legitimacy.
Abbas said that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the most crucial political vehicle for Palestinians since the Nakba and that there would neither be a state nor a Palestinian entity without the PLO.
In his interview, Abbas also criticized Washington’s brokering of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, warning that not a single step forward had been taken since the US became involved in the Palestine dossier.
“Since the US laid its hand on the Palestinian-Israeli file in 1993 until today, the case has not progressed. We are in negotiations and in contact with the Americans about the bilateral relationship daily,” Abbas added.
The Palestinian leader said that he adopted the political method of peaceful popular resistance that is acceptable to all parties, adding that the Palestinian issue is “complicated” and “the solution is far away.”
Abbas said: “We seek permanent membership in the UN and access to the International Court of Justice despite the pressures, knowing that the UN has ignored us for more than 70 years.
“But we will continue regardless of the pressures without hesitation, because we are the owners of a cause and maintain our independent decision.”