Mahmoud Abbas: Israel blackmailing PA with the Palestinian prisoner issue

PA president accuses Israel of exploiting the suffering of Palestinian prisoners jailed before 1993 Oslo Accords.

Responding to Friday’s Temple Mount riots, Abbas accused Israel of launching “fierce assault” on al-Aksa Mosque.

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, HERB KEINON

 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday accused Israel of “blackmailing” the PA leadership on the issue of Palestinian prisoners.

He also called for an emergency meeting of Islamic countries to discuss Israeli “aggression” against the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas  at the UN - Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN – Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Abbas said that Israel has agreed to the gradual release of only a limited number of prisoners who were jailed before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Abbas’s allegation came during a meeting in his Ramallah office with families of dozens of veteran prisoners who were jailed before the Oslo Accords.

Abbas told the families that Israel was exploiting the suffering of their sons to “blackmail” the PA leadership, but did not elaborate.

Abbas said that the PA’s priority was to secure the release of all Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, especially those incarcerated before 1993 and the sick.

The meeting came after families of the prisoners accused the PA leadership of not doing enough to secure the release of their sons.

Also Saturday, Abbas accused Israel of launching a “fierce assault” on the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.

He was referring to riots that erupted on the Temple Mount following Friday prayers, during which Muslim worshippers hurled stones at policemen and the Western Wall compound.

Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the rioters.

Abbas appealed to the Islamic Cooperation Organization, which represents 57 countries, to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the incident, according to a statement issued by the PA president’s office.

In Cairo, the Arab League announced its support for Abbas’s appeal, PA envoy to the league, Mohamed Sbeih, said.

Sbeih said that the Arab League was following the “unfortunate actions carried out by Jewish extremists under the protection of the occupation police and the aggression on worshipers and al-Aksa.”

Regarding Abbas’ charge that Israel launched a “fierce assault” on the Temple Mount, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said Israel acts in a “restrained and measured manner” when it comes to violence on the Temple Mount.

Unfortunately, Regev said, Palestinian leaders don’t help matters when they make “ridiculous comments” about alleged Israeli designs or actions on the Temple Mount.  This is “playing with fire,” Regev said. “We urge them to stop in, and urge friends of the Palestinians in the West who know their claims are rubbish to call them out on this and also call on them to stop it.”

One government official, referring to Abbas’s accusation that Israel was using the Palestinian prisoner issue to blackmail the PA leadership, denied the charge, and said that within the framework of a peace process moving forward, Israel was ready for “mutual, parallel, confidence building measures.”

 

View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=286863

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