Diplomacy & defense
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected violent struggle against Israel and said that a Palestinian state can only be brought about by diplomatic means, the Jerusalem Post reports, citing an interview Abbas gave to Kuwait's Scoop TV on Sunday.
"We are now engaging in a popular uprising that includes massive protests and demonstrations against the occupation," Abbas told the channel. "I am interested in starting direct negotiations with any Israeli figure — be it an Israeli MK, Ashkenazi Jew or Mizrahi (Sephardi) Jew.
"In 2000-5 we engaged in a violent struggle. It ruined the country and we did not achieve anything," Abbas continued. "To the contrary, international public opinion sided with Israel, which enjoyed worldwide legitimacy to attack Palestinians.
"I will not enter a violent struggle. I will not ruin my people and my country. I will fight in the political field to reach my goal. I will never permit violent struggle against Israel and I am determined to prevent anyone from using weapons," Abbas said.
He also addressed the shift in support for the Palestinian cause, saying: "The world has started changing, and this change is manifested in the European opposition to Israeli settlements and in the labeling of Israeli products from the West Bank.
"Even the US cannot say it supports the settlements," he added.
"I went to Japan, which does not officially recognize Palestine. However, during my visit, I met with the emperor, the honor guard greeted me and the Palestinian anthem was played alongside the Japanese anthem. I was received as a head of state," Abbas revealed.
The PA head also had criticisms for US Secretary of State John Kerry and the US's handling of peace talks.
"In my latest meeting with Kerry, I raised three issues: Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the French offer to hold an international peace conference and the Palestinian plan to turn to the UN Security Council to end Israeli occupation," Abbas said.
"Kerry told me he would look into the issues, but he has not given me an answer."
Abbas referred to Russia as a "dear friend" and said it "fully supports the Palestinian issue." Nonetheless, he also criticized Russia for its role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
"The Russians and the Americans have agreed on a solution to the conflicts in Libya and Syria and reached a deal with Iran, so why can't they agree on a mechanism to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
"The current international framework formed to resolve the conflict, which is the Quartet, no longer functions since the US has canceled its meeting. I want another mechanism, similar to the P5+1, which will include Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt and I also want Japan, China, South Africa, France and Germany," he said.
Abbas also had harsh words for Iran.
"There are no official relations between us and Iran. There is an embassy and an ambassador, but they don’t have direct contacts with us.
"Today we released a statement saying that we do not know anything about the Iranian funds and we are not responsible for them. I say to Iranians: 'you want to engage in Palestine? Then you must do so in collaboration with the Palestinian Authority. If we have an embassy in Iran, why does it operate indirectly, through the back door?" Abbas continued.
"In the past I visited Iran and met with then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," Abbas said. He told me: 'I love the Palestinian people.' I told him: 'No, you don’t love them. If you love them, love all Palestinians, not half or a quarter of them.' Iran only loves Hamas and Islamic Jihad."