PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Israel news photo: Flash 90

Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is skipping attendance at the upcoming celebration of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution, citing prior commitments.

In confirming the fact the Palestinian Authority chairman would not attend the ceremonies, however, PA "embassy" official Dr. Omar Dakkah said in Tunis that Abbas "did not refuse the invitation (by President Moncef Marzouki) as some media has reported. He has prior commitments."

Dakkah went on to explain that Abbas "will be visiting Germany and Russia during that period, but we are sending an official delegation in his stead."

Abbas succeeded PLO founder Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, recognized by the United States and the European Union -- and the United Nations -- as the only legitimate political entity representing the Palestinian Arabs.

The rival Hamas terrorist faction apparently had already beaten Abbas to the diplomatic punch last week with an official visit to the country by de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. During his visit, Muslim extremists chanted anti-Semitic slogans and called for the country's citizens to "Kill the Jews."

Tunisia's newly-elected president had issued a statement last month underscoring the nation's principles of religious tolerance. "“Tunisia remains, today and tomorrow, a democratic state that respects its citizens and looks after them regardless of their religion…. Members of the Jewish community in Tunisia are citizens enjoying all their rights and responsibilities,” he said. Marzouki is a member of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party that won a plurality in the October 2011 elections.

Nevertheless, Dakkah denied the rivalry had anything to do with the decision by Abbas to skip the event, one of Tunisia's most important celebrations since the revolution that toppled the 23-year regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

"Tunisian-Palestinian relations are too deeply rooted to be harmed by such an event," Dakkah said in a statement quoted by Tunisia Live. "Our relations date back to the 1920s, and we are intending to preserve them."

Historically, in the 1920s, the term "Palestinians" referred to the Jews who were settling the Land that eventually became the State of Israel.