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Abbas Comments in Doha Trigger Bout with Netanyahu

Speaking to The International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Doha on Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas touched-off a war of words with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who called the Palestinian leader’s remarks “severe incitement.” Abbas had encouraged “Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem in order to strengthen our hold on the city and to establish the Palestinian culture and heritage sites.” Most egregious, according to the Israelis, was Abbas’ charge that Israel is waging a “final battle” to “erase the Muslim and Christian character of east Jerusalem.”  Netanyahu, who has been accusing Abbas of incitement rather than to “prepare the people for peace,” responded to Abbas’ comments in a statement, arguing that, “It’s time for the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the past and distorting reality. For thousands of years, Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” A number of Israeli Arab legislators incurred the wrath of their Jewish colleagues for attending the Doha conference where they registered as “representatives of Palestine.” They argue that openly disavowing loyalty to the state would bar seating in the legislature of any other democratic nation.