(JTA) – The Palestinian Authority (PA) is “on the brink of collapse,” its president, Mahmoud Abbas, told Israeli TV.
In an interview with Channel 2 broadcast Thursday night, Abbas also warned of “chaos” if the security co-operation between the PA and Israel stops.
“There will be rifles and explosions and armed militants everywhere,” Abbas said, according to i24news.
Abbas said he is sticking to his demand, reported by Haaretz earlier this month, that the Israel Defense Forces stop all operations in West Bank cities that are officially under Palestinian control per the Oslo Accords. Recent security talks collapsed after the Palestinians rejected Israel’s offer to stop operations in Ramallah and Jericho as a test; the Palestinians said the offer did not go far enough.
“Give me responsibility for the Palestinian territories, and test me … if Israel has specific intelligence information, give it to me and I’ll handle it,” he told Channel 2 reporter Ilana Dayan, according to Haaretz. “But they don’t give me the intelligence information. So what am I doing here? Where is the security co-operation? You want me to be your employee. Your agent. I don’t accept this. I want to do it myself.”
According to Haaretz, Abbas said in the TV interview that he is “prepared to meet [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu anywhere, any time.” He also denied that he is encouraging Palestinian youth to stab Israelis and noted that Israelis are unaware of Palestinian security forces’ efforts to prevent stabbings.
Noting that Palestinian security searches schools for knives, Abbas said, “In one school we found 70 students with knives,” which security forces confiscated, “telling [the students] it was wrong.”
However, he noted, teens attack Israelis because they have “no hope.” Abbas also accused Israelis of engaging in incitement, referring to Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef’s recent statement that non-Jews who don’t follow certain Jewish laws should be deported to Saudi Arabia. Yosef retracted the statement, saying it was “theoretical.”