Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he still sees Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a partner for peace.
Speaking to journalist Ilana Dayan on Channel 2’s “Uvda” program, Abbas also claimed that the PA’s security forces fight terrorism and go as far as to search backpacks of Palestinian children for knives that can be used for stabbing attacks.
“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 [to carry a knife].”
“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.”
A 15-year-old child who takes a knife and goes out to kill Israelis does it “because he has no hope”, claimed the PA chairman.
“I do not like to see Palestinian children take knives and stab Israelis,” he continued and, when asked by Dayan about the Palestinian teen who stabbed Dafna Meir to death in front of her children, replied, “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 (the Palestinians) say: ‘We have no hope. We have to do something.’”
The Palestinian Arabs will have hope, said Abbas, if Netanyahu “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.”
Asked by Dayan if he thinks Netanyahu believes in the “two-state solution”, Abbas replied, “I don’t know. Ask him…he is a partner, he is responsible. He must believe in peace.”
The PA chairman also said he would be willing to meet Netanyahu “anytime and anyplace” if Netanyahu invites him to a meeting.
“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.
Despite his remarks, Abbas reportedly recently rejected a new peace plan outlined by visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
According to the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper, Biden’s initiative would have included dividing Jerusalem and a total freeze on Israeli "settlement building" in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
In return the PA would be expected to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and give up its demand for a "right of return" for the descendants of Arabs who left the country during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.
Abbas also admitted last November that he rejected "out of hand" an offer by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a PA state on nearly 95% of Judea and Samaria.
Asked about the talks with Olmert in the interview with Dayan, Abbas admitted that he and Olmert were “very close” to reaching an agreement but it did not go through due to Olmert’s corruption trial.