Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki seems to have committed a "crime". He said that the Palestinians are prepared to hold a meeting with Israelis! Malki made this scandalous statement during a meeting last week with foreign journalists.
"The Palestinian leadership has confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin," Malki said, referring to the possibility of holding a video conference meeting between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under the auspices of the Russian president. "The Palestinians will consider this possibility if Russia determines that its useful."
The Palestinian leadership, since 2014, has been boycotting peace talks with Israel. Since 2017, the Palestinian leadership has also been boycotting the US administration in response to President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Abbas, on May 19, announced his decision to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US, including security cooperation. As far as the Palestinian leadership is concerned, Israel and the US administration are now the main enemies of the Palestinians. It is prohibited to talk to any Israeli or US official. It has also become taboo for any Palestinian to talk about holding meetings with Israeli or US officials.
Malki's statements have therefore sparked widespread anger among Palestinians, some of whom are denouncing him and calling for his resignation.
Notably, those who are now condemning Malki are not only from extremist groups opposed to any peace process with Israel, but also from Abbas's own ruling Fatah faction. This is the same Fatah that is regularlyreferred to in the international media as the "moderate" faction of the Palestinians.
Founded in 1959, Fatah is the full name of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. In 1967, Fatah joined the PLO, which signed the Oslo Accord with Israel in 1993 ostensibly to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by means of territorial concessions.
At the time, then PLO leader Yasser Arafat sent a letter to then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin claiming that the PLO was willing to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, commit to finding a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and relinquish all forms of terrorism.
Twenty-seven years later, the leaders of Fatah evidently believe that conducting negotiations with Israel is a "crime" and that Palestinians who still believe in a peace process with Israelis at the very least need to be removed from their jobs.
Responding to Malki's statements, senior Fatah official Tawfik Tirawi issued a stern warning to the Palestinian foreign minister and accused him of acting in violation of the Palestinian "national consensus." Addressing Malki, the Fatah official said: "It is time for you to go home for self-reflection. You are no longer able to express, with a minimum of diplomacy, the aspirations of the [Palestinian ]people. The prime minister is urgently required to replace you."
Tirawi's attack on Malki, meanwhile, has been welcomed by several Palestinian groups that reject Israel's right to exist, including the Iranian-funded Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).