Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Monday that Israel was deliberately seeking to stoke unrest in the occupied West Bank but that Palestinians would not be provoked.
“The Israelis want chaos and we know it but we won’t let them,” Abbas said in comments at his West Bank headquarters, seemingly in response to an Israeli demand on Sunday that he calm a wave of protest in the territory.
“We want peace and freedom for our prisoners and no matter how hard they try to drag us into their schemes, we will not be dragged,” he said.
Protests in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons have been building and gained new momentum with the sudden death in his cell on Saturday of 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat, a former militant of Abbas’s Fatah movement.
Palestinian officials accuse Israel of torturing him to death.
“We lost Arafat Jaradat who was arrested and came back in a coffin and this cannot pass lightly,” Abbas said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday that “Israel passed an unequivocal demand to the Palestinian Authority to calm down the (West Bank) territory.”