Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday defended his security cooperation with Israel against widespread Arab criticism, telling senior Arab and Muslim officials his forces are helping in the search for the three missing Israeli teens because “these three boys are human beings like us, and they should be returned to their families.”
Abbas reiterated Wednesday that he does not know who is responsible for the abductions, but said that the kidnappers “want to destroy us,” an apparent reference to his self-rule government, the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian leader’s presentation was couched in pragmatic terms, however.
Abbas told the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that security coordination is a Palestinian national interest. “We don’t want to go back to chaos and destruction, as we did in the second [Palestinian] uprising,” he said. “I say it openly and frankly. We will not go back to an uprising that will destroy us.”
Abbas’s remarks were rejected by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine [DFLP].
They accused him of betraying the Palestinian cause.
A source in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office on Wednesday night dismissed the comments.
“[Abbas’s] comments will be judged according to the efforts made by the Palestinian Authority to return the kidnapped boys to their homes, and the true test of his comments would be canceling the [unity] deal with Hamas,” the source told Ynet.