A meeting of Palestinian Authority (PA) officials with the Israeli “Peace Parliament” in Tel Aviv last Friday and a subsequent meeting with Israeli journalists in Ramallah on Sunday have generated angry reactions on the PA street.
The meetings were condemned as “a form of normalization with Israel” and some demanded that the organizers be punished.
Others noted that the meetings took place at a time when the PA is calling on Arab states to refrain from having political contacts with Israel.
Last Friday, the Israeli Peace Parliament, led by former Member of Knesset Ophir Pines-Paz, met with PA ministers and members of the PA Legislative Council. The meeting was intended to formulate positions and discuss the US’ Deal of the Century peace plan its implications.
Pictures of the participants, entitled “the Shame List,” are being circulated on social networks alongside derogatory remarks and threats. Among the photos are those of Elias Zananiri, deputy chairman of the Committee for Dialogue with the Israeli Society, Bassem Khoury, formerly the PA’s economy minister, former minister Ashraf Ajrami, the mayor of Anabta Hamdallah Hamdallah, and Naja Estelle, a Fatah member of parliament.
Attendees of the Tel Aviv meeting attempted to explain that “Bassem Khuri said that he presented the official Palestinian positions and its stance against the scheme known as the Deal of Century,” and although he reiterated that “normalization with Israel is tacit treason,” he claimed he acted to serve the Palestinian interest.
Khouri, who is also a member of the Bir Zeit University Board of Trustees, was the focus of a protest rally at the university. The student union said that Bir Zeit “it is the university of the martyrs and therefore we refuse any meeting and normalization with Israel.”
Ashraf Ajrami also repeatedly told the media that “he was meeting with Israeli officials who oppose the American Deal of the Century for the Palestinian interest.”
Senior Fatah official Azam Al Ahmed also justified the meeting with leftist organizations in Tel Aviv as “part of the Palestinian popular struggle.”
On Sunday, Israeli diplomatic correspondents were hosted at a restaurant in Ramallah, as guests of the Committee for dialogue with Israeli society. Representatives of the PLO and the PA were also present at the meeting.
TPS has learned that Muhammad al Madani, the head of the Committee for Dialogue with the Israeli Society, whose permit to enter Israel was rescinded by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, did not attend the event in Tel Aviv and therefore invited the reporters to Ramallah.
Al Madani, who is facing heavy criticism for hosting the reporters in Ramallah, explained to the local media that the event was intended to present the Palestinian positions against the Deal of the Century.
Sources in Ramallah that Molotov cocktails were thrown at the restaurant during the meeting, but the Committee has denied the claims.
Hanan Ashwari has come out against the meeting with the reporters, and in response to a question on Twitter, replied that “it is disgraceful.” Her remarks were aimed at the presence of journalist Lahav Kharkov, whose name is was mentioned on networks as an Israeli journalist who denies the existence of the Palestinian people.
Some wondered how the PA hosted Israelis in a restaurant in Ramallah while boycotting food products from Israel.
Others claimed that the PA will not be able to criticize the Sudanese ruler for his meeting with the Israeli prime minister.
Casper & Gambini’s restaurant, which hosted the meeting in Ramallah, stated that the event was initiated by a formal and recognized Palestinian body and that the restaurant does not inquire about the identity of its guests and is not involved in political activity.
The restaurant’s statement said that it too opposes “normalization with the occupation.”
However, Fatah operatives and PA officials told TPS that one of the owners of the restaurant is senior Fatah official Bassam Walwill.
“Once again, the PA’s face is exposed as its heads favor their personal interests over the national interest,” a Fatah activist told TPS.
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