by Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian Authority leaders have radicalized Palestinians to such a point where many do not want to hear about peace with Israel.
The Israeli government this week barred Jibril Rajoub, a former Palestinian Authority security commander in the West Bank, from entering Israel to attend a conference organized by the left-wing Meretz party.
By banning Rajoub from attending the conference, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was actually acting in line with the Palestinian Authority's policy of promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Had Rajoub attended the conference, he would have been sharply criticized by his own Fatah faction for violating a ban on "normalization" with Israel.
Rajoub, who had spent 17 years in Israeli prison for his role in terror attacks against Israelis before being released in 1985, should in fact express thanks to Ya'alon and the Israeli government for denying him permission to attend the Meretz conference.
The decision to ban Rajoub from entering Israel coincided with the opening of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] conference at Bethlehem University in the West Bank.
The conference was held under the auspices of Rajoub's Palestinian Authority with the goal of promoting boycotts and divestment against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority Minister of Economy, Jawad al-Naji, was thrown out of the conference by angry participants who accused him and Mahmoud Abbas of hypocrisy.
Angry participants said they could not understand how al-Naji was talking about the need to boycott Israel while the Palestinian Authority was conducting security coordination with Israel and some of its leaders were continuing to meet with Israelis.
Had Rajoub attended the BDS conference, he too would have been expelled by the same Palestinians he and the Palestinian Authority have been urging to boycott Israel.
The incident at Bethlehem University, where one of Abbas's ministers was expelled in a humiliating manner, is a sign of growing radicalism among Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority leadership itself bears almost full responsibility for radicalizing Palestinians.
By continuously inciting against Israel and encouraging Palestinians to boycott Israel, the Palestinian Authority has made it nearly impossible to talk about peace with Israel.
Under the current circumstances, it is hard to see how US Secretary of State John Kerry would ever be able to persuade Abbas or any other Palestinian to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
It is ironic that Rajoub was invited to attend the Meretz conference only weeks after he told a Hizbullah-affiliated television network that if the Palestinians had nuclear weapons, they would be using them against Israel.
Last year, Rajoub, as head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, opposed a request for a minute of silence to remember the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics by Palestinians in 1972. Rajoub condemned the request to commemorate the slain athletes as "racist."
And as head of the Palestinian Football Federation, Rajoub did not come out against threats made by his Fatah faction against young Palestinians who played with Israelis in the city of Holon a few weeks ago.
Kerry, who is returning to the Middle East later this week in yet another bid to revive the "peace process," is probably unaware that Abbas, Rajoub and other Palestinian Authority leaders have radicalized Palestinians to a point where many do not want to hear about peace with Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh
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