President Reuven Rivlin lashed out against comments made on Sunday by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in which he said, “The Europeans wanted to bring the Jews here to preserve their interests in the region.”
Speaking on Monday at his official residence to an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) delegation, Rivlin said: “What we heard yesterday from Mahmoud Abbas was terrible. He returned back to the ideas he expressed decades ago, when they were no less terrible. To say Israel is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations? To say that the Jewish people has no connection with the land of Israel? He forgot many things, and said exactly the things that led him to be accused years ago of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.”
In recent meetings with foreign officials, Rivlin has tended to find excuses for Abbas, citing his problems with Hamas and his loss of popularity among a population that is frustrated by lack of progress in ending the conflict that disrupts the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Rivlin has also quoted the Koran, often specifying chapter and verse. This time, however, he said Abbas “is rejecting our return to our homeland, even though Abu Mazen [Abbas] knows very well that the Koran itself recognizes the land of Israel as our land.”
By continuing to employ such language, Rivlin said, Abbas is blocking any attempt to settle the conflict, something Rivlin himself usually refers to as a tragedy by saying, “Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together, they are destined to live together.”
This has been a mantra he has repeated many times since first becoming president.
Despite his anger over Abbas’s comments, Rivlin was happy to welcome the delegation led by AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus. He underscored the organization’s unwavering bi-partisan support for Israel and how much that support is appreciated.
“You and so many people like you all around the United States are what makes AIPAC so great,” he enthused.
Rivlin is a great believer in the importance of the Israel-America alliance. When asked to name Israel’s most reliable partners, or when volunteering such information without being asked, he often says: “First, the United States of America; second, the United States of America; and third, the United States of America.”