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PA’s Botched Attempt to Manipulate UN Chief Was Prompted by International Condemnation of Terror Glorification, Israeli Analyst Says

avatar by Ben Cohen

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Ramallah. Photo: UN.

The Palestinian Authority’s unease over growing international frustration with its stance on terrorism lay behind its botched attempt to portray visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres as having shown empathy for imprisoned terrorists, one of Israel’s leading analysts of Palestinian affairs said on Thursday.

“In all likelihood, the current PA presentation of Guterres as sympathetic to Palestinian prisoners is intended to break the uniform international condemnation of PA terror support, by making it seem the UN Secretary-General supports their claims,” Itamar Marcus of research institute Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) stated in a report detailing the PA’s effort to manipulate Guterres.

On Tuesday, following his meeting in Ramallah with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Guterres was doorstepped by a group of relatives of Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences in Israeli prisons. According to a UN spokesperson, PA officials presented the group to Guterres as “Palestinian mothers of detained children” who wanted to present him with a petition.

“Confronted with the situation, [Guterres] received the group which presented him a petition,” the UN spokesperson said.

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The spokesperson flatly denied PA reports that Guterres had expressed support for the prisoners. “Any quotes attributed to the Secretary-General in this regard are fabricated,” the spokesperson said.

The true identity of the group was disclosed later on by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA. Among those present at the meeting with Guterres was Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of Nasser Abu Hmeid, a regional commander in the Al Aqsa Martys Brigade who is currently serving life in prison for the murder of seven Israelis in 2002. Abu Hmeid’s two brothers are also jailed for life in Israel for terrorist crimes.

According to WAFA, the group “demanded that the UN secretary-general act in a serious and concrete manner to save the lives of more than 6,500 Palestinian prisoners and female prisoners sitting in the Israeli occupation’s prisons from the grave violations that the [Israeli] occupation Prison Service perpetrates against them, such as medical neglect, administrative detentions, and the arrest of women, children, and parliament members.”

It then fabricated the response from Guterres that was later denied by the UN, in which the secretary-general was falsely quoted as having said, “We understand the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners. We will work together with the authorized and relevant parties in order to put an end to their suffering.”

In his first year at the UN’s helm, Guterres has made his opposition to the extolment of terrorism clear on several occasions. Last May, in a statement dissociating the UN from a West Bank women’s center named after notorious Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, Guterres declared, “The glorification of terrorism, or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts, is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

As with its demand that the descendants of Palestinian refugees have a “right of return” to present-day Israel, the PA is similarly determined to present its support for imprisoned terrorists as a non-negotiable article of faith. Families of imprisoned or deceased terrorists receive more than $300 million annually in so-called “martyr payments” from the PA  — a policy that is now the target of a renewed legislative effort in the US Congress.

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