World Bulletin / News Desk
Nabil Shaath, Abbas’ advisor for foreign affairs and international relations, stressed that the Palestinian president’s contacts with Israel had been suspended indefinitely.
“The [Palestinian] leadership is in no hurry to reestablish contacts [with Israel],” he said. “Any new decision in this regard must first be discussed by the leadership.”
“Leaving the [Israeli-occupied] West Bank requires a permit from the Israelis,” Shaath added. “President Abbas therefore decided to undergo needed medical testing here in the West Bank.”
On Saturday, Abbas underwent a battery of routine medical examinations at the Arab Advisory Hospital near Ramallah.
“The president is in good health and is carrying out his responsibilities as usual,” Shaath said.
On July 21, Abbas announced that he had halted all contacts with Israel -- including Palestinian-Israeli security coordination -- amid simmering tensions over East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
Revered by both Muslims and Jews, the mosque complex is often the site of clashes between Palestinian Muslims and Israeli settlers and security personnel.
“What happened recently in Jerusalem was a victory for the Palestinians,” Shaath said, referring to Israel’s recent decision to backtrack on a host of draconian security measures imposed against Palestinians in and around the holy site.
He added: “The battle against Israel’s occupation is set to continue.”
Shaath went on to voice hope that recent events at Al-Aqsa would serve as "an alarm bell for the Arab and Muslim world regarding the need to safeguard the mosque from the threats ranged against it”.
On recent U.S. efforts to revive the moribund Israel-Palestine peace process, Shaath said that no significant proposals had thus far been tabled in this regard.
“So far, I haven’t seen anything significant,” he asserted. “The U.S. is still ‘studying’ the issue and has yet to make any serious proposals, while the Israelis continue to impose new facts on the ground.”
Recent actions by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, “have only served to confirm that he does not want peace”, Shaath said.
“The U.S. position [on recent events in Jerusalem] has been abysmal,” he added. “They demanded that the Palestinians -- the victims -- refrain from violence while ignoring acts of violence perpetrated by Israel.”
In mid-July, Israel imposed a raft of draconian security measures in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex after two Israeli police officers were killed in the area, allegedly by Palestinian attackers -- all of whom were subsequently killed by Israeli police.
Palestinians responded to the measures by refusing to enter the mosque complex, choosing instead to pray en masse just outside the holy site.
Embarrassed by the wave of peaceful Palestinian protests and facing mounting international criticism, Israel cancelled the new security measures last Friday in a move hailed by Palestinians as a “rare victory”.