Palestinians Admit Anti-Jewish Well-Poisoning Libel False, After Telling Europe

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

The Palestinians had to retract on Friday an anti-Jewish libel spoken by President Mahmoud Abbas—accusing Israeli rabbis of encouraging the poisoning of Palestinian wells—because the claims were completely false. But the correction came only after Abbas told the European parliament in a speech the day before. And Israel noted that even the much-deserved apology was “halfhearted.”

The Ma’an News Agency reported that the Palestine Liberation Organization acknowledged in a statement that it had “become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless.” The statement went on to say that Abbas “affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people.” The retraction then went on to defend Abbas, rejecting claims Abbas had offended Judaism and “condemned all accusations of anti-Semitism.” After that limited apology, Israel pointed out the libel is really part of a trend that stands out more than the retraction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released by his office, on Sunday said that Abbas “again proved to the entire world that he is not interested in direct negotiations with Israel.”

Abbas “spread abhorrent lies” about Israel and Judaism, Netanyahu said, before noting that “true, he quickly apologized, a halfhearted half-apology, but the things he said there were in keeping with what he has said about us on other occasions, including at the [United Nations] General Assembly.”

Netanyahu is set this week to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the situation with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has repeatedly called for peace talks with Abbas, who has not accepted those offers and then told European leaders what turned out to be blatantly false accusations against Israel. Netanyahu said things are pretty clear following this latest round of Palestinian incitement.

“I think that people can conclude from this who wants to advance peace and a peace process—and who does not.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 26, 2016)

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