Middle East

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki attends the raising ceremony for the Palestinian flag on October 13, 2015 at the United Nations Office in Geneva
'We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,' FM Malki said

One-on-one talks with Israel are out of the question, Palestinian foreign minister Riad Al-Malki said Monday.

"We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," Malki said in a press conference in Japan.

He is visiting Japan with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later Monday.

Their visit to Japan comes as the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuvin Rivlin in a push to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track. She is scheduled to meet with member of the Palestinian Authority during her visit as well.

Five Palestinians, including three teenagers, were killed while carrying out attacks Sunday, the latest in a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks on Israelis that erupted at the beginning of October.

The current wave of terror, which erupted at the beginning of October, has claimed the lives of over 30 Israelis, as well as an American, a Sudanese and an Eritrean.

167 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks against Israelis.

Many of the assailants have been teenagers who appear to have acted on their own.

Malki pointed to ongoing "Israeli occupation" of the West Bank, which began in 1967, saying Palestinians born under it have seen nothing "but humiliation, soldiers' check-points, deaths and killing".

"They are born without any hope for the future... that's why sometimes they (teenage assailants) decide to sacrifice their lives even at the age of 15... for the better lives of the rest of the Palestinians," Malki told a press conference.

Malki, at his press conference, also said that Palestinian authorities do not advocate violence and are trying to prevent it.

"But the international community has to understand that there is a limit to everything," he said.

Some analysts say Palestinian frustration with Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have fed the unrest.

Israel blames incitement by Palestinian leaders and media as a main cause of the violence.

Peace talks collapsed in April 2014 and since then, the situation has deteriorated, with the prospects of fresh dialogue appearing more remote than ever.

Malki stressed that a multilateral framework to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is needed and he praised an initiative discussed late last month by France to revive plans for an international conference to end the conflict.

And he warned that without international involvement a vacuum will be left that may end up being filled by the Islamic State jihadist group.

"If Daesh take advantage of lack of any brokers... then of course, they might come and try to fill it," he said, referring to Islamic State.

"This is very dangerous," he added.

"If the Americans are giving up and the Europeans don't have the courage to do anything and Arabs are really worried about their own problems, what do you expect? Extremists around might take over."

An Israeli official responded to Maliki's comments saying, "Israel knows peace will be achieved by direct negotiations. It seems the Palestinians know that as well, and that is why they do not want direct negotiations."

During the meeting, Abe pledged $78 million in fresh economic assistance, according to Jiji Press and Kyodo News.

Abe also "expressed Japan's intention to continue its political and economic support so that Palestine will be an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous state," Kyodo cited a joint press release issued after the meeting as saying.

(Staff with AFP)

i24NEWS' diplomatic correspondent Tal Shalev contributed to this report

4 Comments

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  • Michael Farmer
    February 17th 2016 - 11:24pm

    "contiguous?????" Yep, the West Bank with no interrupting no-go areas and no Israeli only roads. i.e areas A,B and C.


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  • J Go
    February 17th 2016 - 05:06pm

    contiguous?????


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  • Patrick Man
    February 15th 2016 - 09:26pm

    What are the Palestinians supposed to say, "please stop stealing from us?" They already know Israel's answer to that one.


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  • James Spackman
    February 15th 2016 - 06:50pm

    Great news...The muslim leaders are again refusing to talk peace with Israel...so no change there then. Please all the muslims who post on here remember his words...To a japanese audience who steadfastly refuse to allow immigrants into Japan..I wonder why. Maybe the japs are much cleverer than we thought.
    Al-Malki is obviously stupid is as stupid was....He must know that the japs do not trust muslims,,,,,why wont they let any into Japan. durghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    Malki, at his press conference, also said that Palestinian authorities do not advocate violence and are trying to prevent it.
    by teaching school children how to kill jews in school text books, and inciting the young people to "resist" jews..

    Israel's Arabs: A Tale of Betrayal
    by Khaled Abu Toameh
    February 11, 2016 at 5:00 am



    Comment
    During the past two decades, some of the Israeli Arab community's elected representatives and leaders have worked harder for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip than for their own Israeli constituents.

    These parliamentarians ran in elections on the promise of working to improve the living conditions of Israeli Arabs and achieving full equality in all fields. However, they devote precious time and energy on Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel. They vie for the distinction of being the most vitriolic provocateur against their country.

    Such provocations make it more difficult for Arab university graduates to find jobs in both the Israeli private and public sectors.

    The big losers are the Arab citizens of Israel, who have once again been reminded that their elected representatives care far more about non-Israeli Palestinians than they care about them.

    The uproar surrounding a recent meeting held by three Israeli Arab Members of Knesset (parliament) with families of Palestinians who carried out attacks against Israelis is not only about the betrayal of their country, Israel. It is also about the betrayal of their own constituents: the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel.

    Knesset members Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka managed to accomplish several things at once with this controversial meeting. They certainly seem to have provoked the ire of many Jewish Israelis. Perhaps they violated the oath they made when they were sworn into parliament: "I pledge to bear allegiance to the State of Israel and faithfully to discharge my mandate in the Knesset."

    One thing, however, they have accomplished without question is acting against the interests of Israeli Arabs.

    Zoabi, Ghattas and Zahalka met with Palestinian families who are not Israeli citizens and do not vote for the Knesset. As such, none of these families voted for the three Knesset members or the Arab List party to which they belong. Of course, as part of a democratic government, any member of the Knesset is free to meet with any Palestinian from the West Bank, Gaza Strip or Jerusalem.

    It is worth noting that not all Arab Knesset members are involved in fiery rhetoric and provocative actions against Israel. However, there is good reason to believe that some Arab Knesset members deliberately engage in actions and rhetoric with the sole purpose of enraging not only the Israeli establishment, but also the Jewish public.

    This meeting was the latest in a series of actions by Arab Knesset members that have severely damaged relations between Jews and Arabs inside Israel. Such actions have one clear result: colossal injury to Arab citizens' efforts for full equality.

    During the past two decades, some of the Arab community's representatives and leaders have worked harder for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip than for their own Israeli constituents.

    These parliamentarians ran in elections on the promise of working to improve the living conditions of Israeli Arab voters and achieving full equality in all fields. However, they devote precious time and energy on Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel. Their spare moments are spent vying for the distinction of being the most vitriolic provocateur against their country.

    Instead of acting against the interests of the Palestinians -- by pretending they were sitting in a Palestinian parliament and not the Knesset -- there are alternative scenarios. These Arab Knesset members could be serving as a bridge between Israel and Palestinians living under the jurisdiction of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

    Decisions such as the one to join a flotilla "aid" ship to the Gaza Strip -- which was more a poke in Israel's eye than any attempt to help Palestinians -- turn the Jewish public against the Israeli Arab public, who are then viewed as a "fifth column" and an "enemy from within."

    Such provocations make it more difficult for Arab university graduates to find jobs in both the Israeli private and public sectors. The deeds and rhetoric of these Knesset members have ensured a continuing gap between Arabs and Jews inside Israel.

    Thanks to some Arab Knesset members, many Jews no longer see a difference between an Arab citizen who is loyal to Israel and a radical Palestinian from the Gaza Strip or West Bank who seeks to destroy Israel.

    Of course, Arab Knesset members have the right to criticize the policies and actions of the Israeli government. But such criticism ought to be leveled from the Knesset podium and not from Ramallah, Gaza or on board a ship carrying a load of Israel-haters and activists.

    Just to be clear: this is not a call for banning Arab Knesset members from meeting with their Palestinian brethren from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. Rather, this is a call for Knesset members to consider carefully their aims and the tone in which they are carried out.

    The recent meeting in question began with a moment of silence for specific dead -- that is, the Palestinian attackers who murdered and wounded several people. Jewish Israelis are likely to have particular feelings about this choice of opening.


    Israeli Arab Members of Knesset Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas (at the head of the table, facing the camera) recently met with families of terrorists who attacked and murdered Israelis. The meeting opened with a moment of silence for the dead attackers. (Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)
    Things could have been different. Arab Knesset members could have used the meeting to issue a call for an end to the current wave of stabbing, vehicular and shooting attacks, which began in October 2015. They could have demanded that Palestinian leaders, factions and media outlets cease brainwashing young men and women, and cease urging them to murder Jews -- any Jews.

    The Palestinian families who met with the three Arab Knesset members have nothing to lose. Nor do the other Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For them, these Knesset members are probably doing a better job representing them than the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.

    The big losers are the Arab citizens of Israel, who have once again been reminded that their elected representatives care far more about non-Israeli Palestinians than they care about them.

    Thus far, only a handful of Arab Israeli voices have had the courage to criticize their representatives in the Knesset. Yet it is precisely these citizens who need to punish their failed Knesset members, not the Israeli government or any parliamentary committee or court. The power is certainly in their hands.

    If the Israeli Arab majority continues to waffle, allowing its leaders free reign, Arab Knesset members will lead their people only to nothing.

    Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.


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