On Thursday of last week the Palestinian Authority arrested four Palestinians. Their crime? They attended a Sukkot holiday event in a West Bank settlement.
During Sukkot it is customary for Jewish hosts to invite guests for meals inside the sukka – a tent-like structure meant to symbolise the dwellings that ancient Israelites used during 40 years in the desert after being released from slavery in Egypt.
After committing their “crime”, the four Palestinians were held for four days by the Palestinian Authority, which according to reports, required considerable effort from the Israeli army’s chief coordinator to secure the men’s release.
A senior Palestinian security official said Sunday that “any Palestinian cooperation with settlers is viewed as violating the law, as he cooperates with the enemy.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss the matter.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi said, “It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It’s time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together.”
Netanyahu made his thoughts known about the issue on Sunday. He condemned human rights organisations who are overly critical of Israel when they detain Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities, but remain silent when Palestinians are arrested for having coffee with their neighbours.
“Where is the outrage of human rights organizations? There is none. To their great shame, they are silent,” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook. “I call on the international community to work to help free these innocent Palestinians whose imprisonment is yet another proof of the Palestinian refusal to make peace.”
Netanyahu is quite right. If the Palestinian Authority arrests people for having coffee with Jews, how can the Palestinian Authority ever imagine making peace with Jews?