Netanyahu: Abbas Speech ‘Takes Off the Mask’

YERUSHALAYIM -

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s extraordinary outburst against the U.S. and Israel continued to reverberate on Monday, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders responded.

“I heard what Mahmoud Abbas said. He has revealed the truth. 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,” PM Netanyahu said in a statement issued from India, where he is currently visiting.

PM Netanyahu also said that the PA leader’s tirade was prompted by his fear of the U.S. peace plan in the works, and wanted to further eliminate Washington from the picture.

“The world has pampered the Palestinians, and not told them the truth,” he said. “I think Abbas is reacting. For the first time someone [Pres. Trump] is telling them the truth.”

In his speech on Sunday night, he included, among other things, another denial of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, and his assertion that the state was established as “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism” to safeguard European interests. Such comments, said PM Netanyahu, only serve Israel’s interests by revealing the true face of the Palestinian leader.

However, PM Netanyahu also registered “disappointment” by India’s refusal to back recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital. Instead, he was forced to settle for a bland joint statement calling for a resumption of peace talks.

Back in Israel, President Reuven Rivlin linked Pres. Abbas’s speech to his record as a Holocaust denier.

Pres. Rivlin told an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) delegation: “What we heard yesterday from Mahmoud Abbas was terrible. He returned to the ideas he expressed decades ago, when they were no less terrible. To say Israel is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations? To say that the Jewish people has no connection with the land of Israel? He forgot many things, and said exactly the things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

Pres. Rivlin said Abbas “is rejecting our return to our homeland, even though he knows very well that the Koran itself recognizes the land of Israel as our land.”

By using such language, Pres. Rivlin said, Pres. Abbas is blocking any attempt to settle the conflict. The sharp condemnation was uncharacteristic of the president, who usually refers to as a tragedy by saying, “Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together, they are destined to live together.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called on European countries to condemn Abbas, whose speech “is a resounding slap in the face to the international community, especially the Europeans,” Hotovely told Emanuele Giaufret, the EU’s envoy to Israel. Abbas called the Trump peace proposal being drawn up “a slap in the face to the Palestinians.”

“The Palestinians can’t continue to fund terror and request [the] embrace and support from the Europeans by demanding unilateral recognition,” she added.

And for once, there was unity on the political scene in Israel, as opposition leaders joined in condemning Abbas’s remarks.

Zionist Camp head Avi Gabbay said Abbas’s comments were “serious, false, and have anti-Semitic fictions.”

MK Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnua party, part of the Zionist Union coalition, and a longtime advocate of conciliating the Palestinians said: “Abbas’s false speech won’t change the Zionist history and he must not define our future.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said simply that Pres. Abbas had “lost his senses.”

However, in Moscow there was a different reaction. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday said Moscow “understands” the anger in Ramallah.

“We completely understand the emotions the Palestinians currently have. For years they made concessions without receiving anything in return,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.