Daily Israel Report

MK Chetboun: Why Are Israeli Students Meeting Abbas?

MK criticizes Student Union for planning to go to Ramallah. "Even the President of Guatemala isn't meeting Abbas," he notes.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/11/2013, 5:12 AM

MK Yoni Chetboun
MK Yoni Chetboun
Flash 90

MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) criticized on Tuesday a decision by the Israeli Student Union to send a delegation of 200 students to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The delegation’s visit to Ramallah is planned for next week and the purpose of the meeting to “hold a direct conversation” with the PA chief. Leftist MKs will accompany the students during the visit.

In a post on his Facebook page, Chetboun noted that even the visiting Guatemalan president was not planning a visit to Ramallah so as not to give legitimacy to the PA’s aspirations for a state.

"Today I met in the Knesset with the President of Guatemala, Perez Molina, as part of his visit to this country,” wrote Chetboun, adding, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investing considerable effort to have leaders and heads of state visit only Israel's capital, Jerusalem, and meet only with Israeli representatives, not visit Ramallah and meet with Abbas.”

“The reason for this is simple: not to give official recognition to a Palestinian state. But I guess this is unnecessary. Next week a delegation of Knesset members, together with the Student Union (a body that should be non-political) is going to hold a formal meeting with Abbas,” he wrote.

“Yes, this is a shame. Even the leftists, who want a Palestinian state so much, cannot repeatedly stick to behavior that harms the Israeli position,” said Chetboun. “Ultimately, it is only when we will stand firm about our natural right to live in this country that the world will understand too. In the meantime, have a nice trip to Ramallah..."

Chetboun further noted that the Knesset’s Education Committee will hold a discussion, initiated by himself and MK Shimon Ohayon (Yisrael Beytenu), over the Student Union’s decision to visit Ramallah.

The decision to send the delegation to Ramallah has sparked controversy, with students accusing the Student Union of promoting a left-wing political agenda. 25 Student Union representatives from across the country have sent an angry letter to the organization’s head in protest of the visit.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, however, has expressed support for the idea, saying, "I think it's great that you students are taking responsibility for your lives. Go to the meeting. Argue. Ask tough questions. Get involved. Then decide for yourself whether or not there’s a peace partner. Decide for yourselves without the mediation of politicians.”