Senior members of the cabinet despaired of the chance for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Thursday, following Fatah's decision to accuse Israel of killing former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. The accusation was made during the Fatah international leadership convention in Bethlehem.
The accusation casts serious doubts on Israel's ability to make progress in negotiations with Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PA, said ministers Eli Yishai and Yisrael Katz.
"The Fatah conference and the decision regarding Arafat prove that [Abbas] is not a leader, but rather, is led, towards bizarre and extremist anti-Israel positions,” Katz told Ynet.
"Whoever wants war, will get war,” he warned.
Yishai, the head of Shas, was even more direct in his rejection of Abbas as a peace partner. “This is additional proof that diplomatic dialogue on Mars has a better chance of success than do talks in our region,” he said.
Fatah's leadership is attempting to pacify extremists within the party, and by doing so, is legitimizing terrorism against Israel and proving itself unworthy as a peace partner, he added.
Coalition MK Alex Miller said, "The strange decisions coming out of the Fatah convention are causing great embarassment to the Palestinian people." Miller added, "If the heads of the organization are interested in being portrayed as a real partner for negotiations, they better act accordingly instead of coming out with ridiculous declarations which only weaken them."
Ben-Ari: Arrest Conference-going Terrorists
MK Michael Ben-Ari and his parliamentary aide, Itamar Ben-Gvir, went a step further than the ministers, and called for Fatah terrorists at the conference to be arrested. The two filed a petition to the Supreme Court on Thursday demanding that five specific Fatah terrorists be arrested upon leaving the Bethlehem meeting.
IDF officials had told the five terrorists that they would not be arrested if they attended the conference. However, that promise is invalid, as IDF officials do not have the right to absolve the terrorists of punishment for their crimes, particularly not without pursuing clemency through the usual legal channels, Ben-Ari and Ben-Gvir argued.
The petition states that the terrorists in question have continued to take part in attacks despite agreements signed between Israel and the PA. “According to up-to-date information from the security apparatus, these five recently took part in terrorist activity targeting Israeli civilians, soldiers, and even the Arab population,” it charges.
The Supreme Court is asked to require Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Police Commissioner Dudu Cohen, and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to explain why they did not order that the five terrorists be arrested as they passed through Jerusalem-area checkpoints on their way to Bethlehem.