Palestinians: We never recognized Israel!
Yet another senior Palestinian Authority official has insisted that media reports suggesting that the ruling Western-backed Fatah faction accepts Israel's right to exist, while the defiant Hamas movement does not is utter nonsense contrived to advance Western agendas in the region.
In an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Wednesday, Rafik Natsheh, a member of the powerful Fatah Central Committee, had this to say:
"Fatah does not recognize Israel's right to exist. All these reports about recognizing Israel are false. It's all media nonsense."
Natsheh's remarks came in response to reports that Fatah had recently asked Hamas to meet international requirements that it recognize Israel's right to exist so that a Palestinian national unity government could be formed.
"We don't ask other factions to recognize Israel because we in Fatah have never recognized Israel," he explained.
Natsheh, who also previously served as Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was the second top Fatah official in recent months to admit that his party, so heralded in the West as "moderates" and "true peace partners," in fact has never met its most important peace obligation.
In March, Mohammed Dahlan, a top advisor to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the former Fatah strongman in charge of Gaza, said on Palestinian Authority TV:
"I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all of my fellow members of the Fatah movement: We do not demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand of the Hamas movement not to recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel, even today."
Dahlan went on to explain that the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority only pays lip service to recognizing Israel in order to obtain assistance from the international community, both in the form of financial aid and political pressure on Israel.
Earlier this month, Kifah Radaydeh, deputy head of the Jerusalem chapter of Abbas' Fatah faction, sought to reassure Palestinians who worried increasingly active American involvement would actually bring an end to the conflict short of Israel's destruction.
Speaking on Palestinian Authority TV, Radaydeh noted:
"It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine."
First mission of European Imams and Rabbis to the US
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), will co-host a festive dinner this evening to meet and dialogue with members of the first Mission of European Imams and Rabbis to the United States. The event will take place at the ADAMS Center
The visiting imams and rabbis, who are among the top Jewish and Muslim spiritual leaders in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, and Russia, will be traveling to New York and Washington from July 20-23. The purpose of the Mission, which is jointly sponsored by ISNA, FFEU, and the World Jewish Congress, is to introduce European rabbis and imams to the pioneering work of ISNA and the FFEU in strengthening Muslim-Jewish relations in North America.
Last fall, the FFEU established the Weekend of Twinning program, in consultation with ISNA and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. This very successful effort brought more than forty mosques and more than forty synagogues from across the continent, representing over 10,000 Muslims and Jews, for the purposes of confronting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. In conjunction with the numerous events across the country, The Weekend of Twinning coincided with two widely-seen public calls for an end to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and a broadcast public service announcement on CNN. The ad featured six imams and six rabbis from across the US, noting, “We are Children of Abraham. We are rabbis and imams standing side by side, knowing that our words and our actions will determine our future.” The goal of the Weekend of Twinning, continuing into its second year this November, is to engage Jewish and Muslim leaders and their local congregations in dialogue to strengthen relationships between both communities and fight intolerance.
The FFEU is a national non-profit dedicated to strengthening relations between ethnic communities, "committed to the belief that direct, face-to-face dialogue between ethnic communities is the most effective path towards the reduction of bigotry and the promotion of reconciliation and understanding."Speakers at this evening's dinner will include ISNA National Interfaith Director Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Imam Mohamed Magid of the ADAMS Center, FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier, and Rabbi Gerry Serotta, co-founder of Clergy Beyond Borders. All Muslim and Jewish dietary laws will be observed.