The Prime Minister's Office on Sunday blasted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
for his declaration that Jerusalem has always been and will remain an Arab city.
Abbas made the remark earlier Sunday in a speech at the International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem
in Doha, Qatar. The Palestinian leader promised to "encourage Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem in order to strengthen our hold on the city, and to establish the Palestinian culture and heritage sites."
The Prime Minister's Office released a statement calling Abbas' remarks "severe incitement."
"It's time for the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the past and distorting reality," the statement read. "For thousands of years, Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
"The city allows the freedom of worship for everyone, and Israel
will continue to devotedly protect the holly sites of all religions. Abbas knows well that his slanderous statements are groundless – including the baseless and irresponsible remarks about the al-Aqsa
"The State of Israel expects the (leader), who supposedly aspires for peace, to prepare his people for peace and co-existence instead of spreading lies and incitement. This is not how you make peace," the statement added.
Arab Knesset members have also taken part in the conference, and were registered in the event as representatives of Palestine, drawing staunch criticism from right-wing lawmakers.
While in Doha, one of the Arab legislators, MK Ahmad Tibi, met with Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace, and spoke in favor of forming a UN Security Council committee that would look into Israeli activity in east Jerusalem.
Tibi also lamented the Israeli Arabs' plight, saying that the Knesset has recently seen a "flurry of racist legislation." He said that it is imperative for the UN to pay more attention to the sector, and its demand to be recognized as a minority.
"Serry expressed much interest in the situation of Arabs in Israel, who are a minority that has always lived here and expressed concern about the dead end, which compromises the future success of the two-state solution," Tibi said.
Moran Azulay contributed to the report