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November 18, 2014 3:40 pm

As Abbas Uses Synagogue Atrocity to Condemn ‘Israeli Incitement,’ Fatah Officials Celebrate

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Ax-wielding Palestinians in Gaza celebrate the attack on the Jerusalem synagogue. Photo: Twitter

Read the bulk of the media coverage of today’s Palestinian atrocity at a synagogue in Jerusalem and you can be forgiven for thinking that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued an unambiguous condemnation of the murder of four Jewish worshipers.

Closer reading of Abbas’s remarks, however, opens up a different interpretation. While not in any way endorsing the actual attack, it is clear that Abbas seeks to push attention onto alleged Israeli misdemeanors.

The full statement reads as follows:

The president always condemns killings of civilians from any party whatsoever, and condemns the killing of worshipers today in one of the houses of worship in West Jerusalem, and also denounces all violent acts no matter what their source is, and demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers.

The presidency also confirms that it is time to end the occupation and end the causes of tension and violence, affirming our commitment to a just-based solution on the basis of a two-state solution, in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, and maintain an atmosphere of calm and understandings that have been made with King Abdullah II and American Secretary of State  John Kerry in Amman.

The bulk of the statement is concerned with Israeli actions at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and goes so far as to accuse “Israeli ministers” – who are not named – of “incitement.” Neither does the reference to “provocative acts by Israeli settlers” explain why today’s attack took place in an area of western Jerusalem that was part of the State of Israel from 1948 onwards. Most significantly, Abbas made no pledge to take measures that would prevent the Palestinian copycat attacks that Israelis now fear will strike Jerusalem and other towns.

Officials of Abbas’s Fatah movement openly praised the attack. Leading Jewish blogger Elder of Ziyon offered the following round-up of Fatah celebrations:

Central Committee of Fatah member Tawfiq Tirawi said “I consider the Jerusalem operation to be a natural response to the occupation and the crimes of the settlers.

Another Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki said that Yasser Arafat was right when he said that the biggest leaders belong to the people, meaning that terrorists are more leaders than anyone.

Official spokesman for Fatah Ahmed Assaf said that “the Jerusalem operation was a natural response to the Israeli violations.”

Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades called all of the victims “soldiers” and issued a statement in support of the attack calling for more “revenge” attacks.

Large numbers of Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza were pictured celebrating the attack, handing out candy to children. Many of the celebrants carried axes to mark the fact that an axe was among the weapons utilized by Ghassan and Odai Abu Jamal, the terrorists behind today’s attack.

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