RAMALLAH, March 29, 2018 (WAFA) – The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) strongly denounced on Thursday statements by the US ambassador in Israel, David Friedman, and Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman who attacked President Mahmoud Abbas, considering their statements as irresponsible.
Friedman said in an interview that if Abbas does not return to negotiations with Israel, he will be replaced. Lieberman, on the other hand, said the president was a “terrorist” for allowing the Palestinian Authority to pay stipends to families of Palestinian resistance fighters who were either killed or imprisoned by Israel.
“There is no doubt that Mr. Friedman‘s behavior and statements are irresponsible and solely guided to advance Israeli colonialism, an enterprise that he has been personally committed to as one of its funders,” said Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the PLO’s Executive Committee. “During his time as US Ambassador to Israel, he has worked tirelessly to advocate and legitimize Israeli violations while dehumanizing Palestinians, inciting against the Palestinian national movement, and now even calling for a change of leadership in Palestine.”
Erekat said in a statement that the US ambassador to Israel “has once again shown his ideological commitment to Israel‘s colonial-settlement policy as the first US official to declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestine doesn‘t exist. He is also the first to declare that the Trump Administration will refrain from taking any action should Israel decide to annex occupied Palestine,” adding that “no doubt as an attorney, he (Friedman) understands the legal implications of annexing occupied territory as a grave violation of international law.”
The PLO official said that in parallel, Lieberman attacked President Abbas and the Palestinian people for the payments made to the families of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs.
“We are not intimidated by those statements,” he said. “Palestine pays a financial price for the occupation because Israel refuses to uphold its international obligations regarding prisoners. We will not abandon our prisoners. We consider this a moral and legal obligation enshrined by Article 81 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. While Israel will not make these payments, as required by international humanitarian law, Palestine will provide for the families through the Palestinian social welfare system – as any other nation worldwide provides for the maintenance of their citizens.”
Erekat said “Avigdor Lieberman, an illegal settler himself, and Friedman, a staunch supporter of Israel‘s illegal colonial-settlement activities, have proven to be members of the same camp. A camp which aims to deny the rights of the Palestinian people, and perpetuates occupation while imposing an Apartheid regime all over Palestine.”
He stressed that Friedman has further confirmed that “there is nothing to come out from President Trump‘s Middle East efforts that remotely resembles freedom, justice, or peace.”