There is controversy regarding the extent of the opposition by Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) to the intentional killing of Israeli civilians. There are those who claim he abandoned such support in the time leading up to his taking office as Chairman of the Palestinian Authority in 2005, or even previously, while others point to Abbas’ ongoing public statements in Arabic that glorify acts of terror. In an example of the former, according to the New York Times, Abbas said in a 2011 interview with Israel Radio that the stabbing murder of five members of the Fogel family in their house was an “abominable, inhuman and immoral” act (see Itamar attack). Additionally, according to a June 16, 2014 article in Haaretz, “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Monday the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.”
However, critics of Abbas have compiled many examples of his written statements, radio and television interviews, and public speeches which glorify terrorists. For example, according to a July 3, 2010 CNN article relating to the Munich Massacre:
Abu Daoud, the man who claimed to be the mastermind behind the massacre that marked the 1972 Munich Olympics, has died, according to the official [WAFA] news agency of the Palestinian Authority. … Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent his condolences to Daoud’s family, WAFA reported. “He wrote in his letter to his family, ‘He is missed. He was one of the leading figures of Fatah and spent his life in resistance [against the occupation] and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people’s just causes,’ ” the news agency quoted Abbas as saying.
In addition, in a 2005 statement broadcast by the official Palestinian Authority TV, Abbas himself stated that the Palestinian Authority sent fighters to kill Israelis (video here): “I demand [the release of] prisoners because they are human beings, who did what we, we, ordered them to do. We – the Authority. They should not be punished while we sit at one table negotiating.”
In a televised speech in April, 2008 (video here), PA Chairman Abbas honored and greeted convicted Palestinian terrorists, including:
– Sa’id Al-Ataba, who was then serving a life sentence for being the commander of the military unit that planted explosives in a market in Petah Tikva in 1977. (Al-Ataba was released in August, 2008 as a gesture to the PA and to Condoleeza Rice, after Al-Ataba served 31 years in prison.)
– Jamal Tirawi, who was serving a life sentence for murder for his role in a suicide attack in an Israeli cafe.
In 2011, Abbas expressed his wish for the release of another convicted terrorist, Ibrahim Hamed (video here): “Allah willing, soon we will see here brother Marwan Barghouti, brother Ahmad Sa’adat, Ibrahim Hamed, and Abbas Al-Sayid.” At the time, Hamed was a Hamas military leader serving 54 life sentences for orchestrating suicide attacks that killed a total of 46 Israelis. According to Haaretz: “In 2001, he was released from a Palestinian Authority prison and masterminded a string of deadly attacks during the Second Intifada, including the Café Moment, Hebrew University, and Zion Square attacks in Jerusalem and the Rishon Letzion pool hall attack.”
In the same statement in 2011, Abbas prayed for the release of Abbas Al-Sayed. According to the Jerusalem Post, in 2005, al-Sayed was convicted of the Passover suicide bombing in Netanya and also of ordering the 2001 HaSharon Mall suicide bombing. He received 35 life sentences for each murder victim and additional time for those who were wounded.
- Note: The translation of the relevant Hebrew passage from this Haaretz article is as follows: “After the death of Arafat in 2004, Abbas was appointed as Arafat’s replacement as the Chairman of the PLO. In 2005, Abbas was chosen in a democratic fashion as the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, a role he holds to this day. During his term, and also previously, Abbas consistently rejected acts of terror against Israeli citizens, and supported a diplomatic process, with respect to Israel and other countries, as a means for achieving Palestinian goals.”