In an address to the Organization of Arab Cooperation in Jedda on June 18, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas denounced the abduction of three Israeli youths and defended PA security coordination with Israel. "These are human beings, and we wish to protect human life," he said of the abduction. "It is in our interest to have security coordination with the Israelis," said Abbas, declaring: "We shall not return to an Intifada that will destroy us." The speech was broadcast on the official PA TV channel.
Following are excerpts:
Mahmoud Abbas: Three [Israeli] youths were abducted near a settlement, and even though they were in Area C, where responsibility for security is not ours, and even though the [Israelis] did not report the incident when it happened, but only over 12 hours later, we are, nevertheless, cooperating with them, in an effort to reach these youths.
At the end of the day, these are human beings, and we wish to protect human life.
The Americans told us that one of them is an American citizen, and we said: American or Israeli – as far as we are concerned, these are human beings, and we must search for these people, and bring them back to their families.
The truth is that whoever carried out this deed wants to destroy us. Therefore, we will take a different approach toward whoever is behind this, because we cannot tolerate such operations.
We cannot confront Israel militarily or otherwise. We confront them politically. I don't want to say that we have overcome them, but we have struck a political and diplomatic balance with them.
I want to say something that will not be popular [among Palestinians]: Our government believes in security coordination with Israel. There are, of course, people who rebuke us and blame us for this, but it is in our interest to have security coordination with the Israelis, in order to protect our people. We do not want to return once again to the chaos and destruction that occurred during the second Intifada. I say this loud and clear. We shall not return to an Intifada that will destroy us. That is why we have security coordination.