Home / China / World

Abbas defends cooperation with Israel

By Associated Press in Ramallah, West Bank | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-20 07:22

The Palestinian president defended his policy of security cooperation with Israel in a politically risky speech to senior Arab officials on Wednesday, even as Israeli forces escalated their most extensive West Bank crackdown in years in response to the alleged abduction of three Israeli teenagers.

President Mahmoud Abbas' comments were quickly condemned at home and shone a light on one of his most controversial policies - working with the Israeli military to contain the Hamas militant group, which Israel accuses of carrying out the kidnapping.

In a speech to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, Abbas condemned the apparent kidnapping, saying it had caused heavy damage to the Palestinians and that his forces were helping search for the missing teens.

"We are still looking and searching to find out who carried out such an act," Abbas said.

"He who committed such an act wants to destroy us," he said, apparently referring to the fragile Hamas-Fatah unity government created on June 2.

Abbas said he hoped to rescue the teens "because these youths are human beings, and we want to protect human lives."

While accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exploiting the crisis to inflict pain on the Palestinians, he also said coordination with Israel is in Palestinian interests.

"We don't want to go back to chaos and destruction, as we did in the second (Palestinian) uprising," he told the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"I say it openly and frankly. We will not go back to an uprising that will destroy us."

Unpopular policy

Abbas' comments were remarkable because of his audience and because security coordination is widely unpopular among Palestinians. They also put additional strains on the new unity government that Abbas formed earlier this month bringing together his Fatah organization with the more radical Hamas group.

The government was meant to enda rift stemming from Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip from Abbas seven years ago. But tensions remain, and Hamas is still in control of Gaza, while Abbas governs from the West Bank.

Abbas' comments quickly drew condemnation from Hamas. "These comments are based on the Zionist narrative," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza.

Widespread crackdown

Israel claims three youths, two age 16 and one age 19, disappeared late on June 12 while hitchhiking home from Jewish seminaries in the West Bank. Israel accuses Hamas of being behind the alleged abductions, and has launched a widespread crackdown on the group, despite offering no evidence linking it with the abductions.

Hamas has not accepted responsiblity for the disappearance of the Israeli youths.

Israeli troops have arrested more than 250 Palestinians, including scores of Hamas members, as part of an operation as it attempts to locate the missing youths, killing at least one Palestinianman in the process.

The crackdown is the most extensive military ground operation in more than five years. Israel said it is using the search operation to deliver a painful new blow to the remaining Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank.


Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349