WASHINGTON - Palestinian Authority representative in Washington Afif Safieh charged Sunday that the Likud party is responsible for distributing Danish anti-Muhammad cartoons worldwide in a bid to bring about a collision between the western and Muslim worlds.
In a tense television debate held between Israeli Ambassador in Washington Danny Ayalon and Safieh, which was broadcast on CNN's "Late Edition," the Palestinian envoy was asked by host Wolf Blitzer to comment on the recent violent Muslim demonstrations
across the world that erupted in response to the publication of caricatures mocking Prophet Muhammad in a Danish paper.
Safieh replied by saying that his personal acquaintance with both western and eastern societies has led him to believe the pro-Israeli Likud's global wing acted to bring the western, mostly-Christian society to a collision course with Islam.
Stunned by Safieh's answer, Blitzer asked his guest whether he was serious, or only joking. Safieh then explained that the editor of the Danish newspaper that originally published the cartoons is a fan of Jewish right-wing columnist Daniel Pipes, and that the two cooperated in distributing the caricatures that roused furor among Muslims.
Israeli Ambassador Ayalon dismissed the remarks and said they were "nonsense." Ayalon stated he was as much concerned by these caricatures as by anti-Semitic cartoons in the Egyptian press, but added that what worried him even more was the Muslim reaction, including flag burning, torching embassies and physically hurting people.
I did not see such a response when anti-Semitic or anti-Christian cartoons were published, Ayalon said.
'Hamas won't enforce religious reforms'
During the interview, the Christian Safieh was also asked to refer to the possibility Hamas may transform the Palestinian society into a religious Muslim society. According to the PA representative, this was not a probable scenario.
Hamas knows it does not have a mandate to change curriculums in schools or force women to cover their faces with veils in order to make society more Muslim, Safieh said, adding the group is also aware of the fact it cannot go against the peace process the Palestinians yearn for.
Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S. Nabil Fahmy, who also took part in the debate, referred to the recent meeting between Hamas representatives and government officials in Cairo, and said Egypt was very firm, candid and even blunt with Hamas.
Hamas representatives were told there would be no progress in the Middle East without engaging in a process that would lead to a two-state solution – a Palestinians state along side an Israeli state, Fahmy said. The best way to do it is not to get dragged into a cycle of violence with Israel, Hamas was told.
Ambassador Ayalon stressed in the interview Israel's stance that there would be no negotiations with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas until the group accepts the Quartet's and Security Council's preconditions to renounce terror and disarm.