In a rare Israeli television interview on Thursday, Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that he is working hard against Palestinian violence and still considers Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a partner for peace negotiations.
On Channel 2’s Uvda program, Abbas told journalist, Ilana Dayan, that he is battling the current wave of violence.
“I would have to be crazy to tell my son that [carrying a knife] is the right thing. Or that these knife attacks are the right thing to do,” he said, adding, “You know, we, our security services, go into schools to look in students’ backpacks, search whether they are carrying knives. You do not know about this. In one school we found 70 boys and girls carrying knives. We took the knives from them, talked to them and told them it was a mistake.”
“When a child goes and takes a knife, he does not consult with anyone. Not with his parents, not his brother,” continued Abbas, who insisted, “No sensible person would have his son come to him and tell him ‘I want to take a knife and kill’, and he will answer him: ‘That’s a wise thing to do, go for it.’ It is not possible. It is not possible. He will take away the knife. Parents do not want this.”
Dayan asked him about the brutal murder of Dafna Meir, who was stabbed to death in January near her home in Otniel by a 15-year-old Palestinian. Abbas blamed it on a state of despair created by Israel.
“A 15-year-old child who takes a knife and goes out to kill Israelis does it because he has no hope”, said Abbas. “I do not like to see Palestinian children take knives and stab Israelis,” he continued. “No doubt, it saddens me greatly. It is unacceptable, because this woman is a human being. You cannot kill a human being, never. Human blood must not be spilled for any reason. I object to that, I want peace…when a child loses hope for peace, what will he do? You tell me. What can the child do?”
“We never lost our humanity. We need to say that what is happening is unusual. Something that must not continue. It’s unnatural, contrary to human nature, contrary to our nature as Palestinians and to yours as Israelis. If we accept the status quo, we will not have a future. We want to look to the future. The future is peace,” said Abbas.
The PA chairman also claimed, however, “When people think that the Israeli government does not believe in peace, does not believe in a two-state solution, builds settlements every day and night, so they say: ‘We have no hope. We have to do something.’”
The solution according to Abbas lies with Netanyahu. “If he says that he believes in a two-state solution, and we sit around the negotiating table to talk about the two-state solution. This will give hope to my people, and then no one will dare to go out and stab, shoot, or do anything like that.”
Abbas demanded that Israel stop operations in Palestinian controlled territories.
“Give me responsibility for the Palestinian Territories, and test me… if Israel has specific intelligence information, give it to me and I’ll handle it,” he said. “But they don’t give me the intelligence information. So what am I doing here? Where is the security cooperation? You want me to be your employee, your agent. I don’t accept this, I want to do it myself.”
It was reported last month that the PA rejected an Israeli offer to reduce military operations.
Abbas stated that he is willing to meet with Netanyahu. The PA chairman also said that if invited, he would be willing to meet Netanyahu “anytime and anyplace”..
“I still reach out to Mr. Netanyahu because I believe in peace. I believe that the Israeli people want peace and the Palestinian people want peace. Either we politicians do it, or we leave it to the people. They will do it in a week,” he added.
It was reported last month that Abbas rejected a US peace plan presented by Vice President Joe Biden on his recent visit to the region. The VP’s visit was marred by violence, as his wife and two grandchildren dined on the beach 1,000 yards away from a stabbing that wounded 11 and killed an American citizen. Biden met with Abbas after the attack.