The ongoing violence in Jerusalem is a political game Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is playing in order to boost his popularity following his cancellation of the elections that had been scheduled for later this month, the head of a watchdog told Breitbart Jerusalem on Monday in an exclusive interview.
Jerusalem has been the center of violence in the waning days of the Muslim Ramadan holiday, with police officers and rioters embroiled in clashes. Palestinian rioters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police officers, who responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets.
According to Itamar Marcus, the director of monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch, the crisis in Jerusalem was “artificially created” because Palestinians understood that Abbas had canceled elections because his party Fatah and no chance to be victorious. In order to distract the population’s ire at him for trampling democracy, Abbas needed violence to redirect the anger at Israel. The elections, set originally for May 22, was postponed indefinitely late last month.
Abbas is in his 16th year of a four-year term and has not called for elections since 2006.
“The timing of this latest terror wave initiated by Mahmoud Abbas is not at all surprising,” Marcus said.
“After canceling the [May] Palestinian elections because his Fatah party faced certain defeat, Abbas was at his lowest popularity ever with no legitimacy to continue ruling. He was desperate to redirect Palestinian wrath from him to Israel,” he went on.
“Palestinians are going out to fight, attack Israelis, and possibly die in the name of protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem, but the only cause they are dying for is protecting Mahmoud Abbas from what would have been his political demise,” he added.
“Abbas wants Jewish and/or Arab blood in order to survive politically.”
According to Marcus, one of the methods that Abbas’ ruling Fatah party has used to stir up violence is by broadcasting inciteful programs on the Palestinian Authority’s official television network.
Songs promoting terror were aired at 4pm – prime time for children’s programming – and included lyrics such as, “make sure your bullets hit the target”/ “My machine gun and my bullets are the path to salvation.” The latter was broadcast shortly after a deadly shooting attack killed one Israeli.
Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip and Abbas’ chief political rival in the West Bank, also sought to earn political points by launching dozens of rockets into Israel. According to Marcus, Hamas would have won the elections by a landslide had Abbas not cancelled them.
The U.S. on Sunday issued a statement saying National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had spoken by phone with his Israeli counterpart to express “serious concerns” about the clashes.
In the statement, Sullivan encouraged the Israeli government to “pursue appropriate measures” to preserve calm in Jerusalem.
In response, Ben-Shabbat issued an implicit rebuke of Sullivan’s chastising, saying international intervention in the clashes “rewards the rioters” and those who organize them into thinking Israel will be be pushed into compliance, the Israel Ynet news site said.
The news amid several false reports in international outlets regarding the source of the violence.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said: “A struggle is now being waged for the heart of Jerusalem.”
“These things are being expressed erroneously and misleadingly in the global media. In the end truth will win but we must constantly reiterate it.”