Batarseh, a Christian, was elected to his post thanks to the support he enjoys from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In fact most of the town counsel seats are held by Hamas.
What is it with these crybabies? For months they have heard “we will not deal with Hamas unless it changes it’s ways.” And they act insulted when someone from Europe keeps its word. Geesh, I suspect that its less about insult and more about the fact that they are surprised that Europe has held to its word this long.
German FM angers Palestinians Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 5, 2007 Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh on Saturday attacked German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for refusing to meet with him during his visit to the city. The German minister’s decision to boycott Batarseh is apparently linked to the fact that the Bethlehem municipal council is dominated by Hamas figures. Batarseh, a Christian, was elected to his post thanks to the support he enjoys from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Bethlehem Governor Salah Ta’mari boycotted the German minister in solidarity with the mayor. During his visit to Bethlehem, Steinmeier met with Palestinian Authority Finance Minister Salam Fayaad and Tourism Minister Khuloud Daibes. “This is a humiliation not only for the Bethlehem Municipality and its mayor, but for the entire Palestinian people,” Batarseh said. “There is only one address in Bethlehem: the municipality and the mayor. Anyone who does not want to meet the mayor is not welcome in the city. Our municipal council was elected in a democratic vote and anyone who does not respect this should not come here.” A big sign hanging in Manger Square read: “Anyone who does not want to meet with our mayor is a persona non grata in Bethlehem!” Batarseh said he was planning to send a letter to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to ask that he take a clear position regarding the boycott of Hamas-controlled municipalities. “The international community must respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people,” he added. “What happened today [Saturday] is scandalous and unacceptable.” Btaraseh is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], a Marxist Palestinian group based in Syria, which won three seats in the last municipal elections in Bethlehem. The PFLP has since formed a coalition with Hamas, which won five seats and Islamic Jihad, which has one seat. The meeting between Fayaad and the German minister took place at the Intercontinental Hotel near Rachel’s Tomb. Fayaad said the meeting aimed at easing the daily suffering of the Palestinians. He said he urged his guest to work toward ending the Western-led economic boycott of the PA government and exert pressure on Israel to release tax revenues belonging to the PA. Fayaad also called on Steinmeier, whose country currently presides over the European Union, to enlarge the temporary mechanism for assistance to the PA and decrease the debts of the Palestinian private sector. The EU had agreed to a temporary mechanism of assistance to sideline the previous Hamas government. This is not the first time that Germany angers the Palestinians. Last month, PA officials accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “offending the Palestinians’ feelings” during her visit to Ramallah, where she met with Abbas. Merkel rejected a request by the Palestinians to visit Bethlehem and meet with Christian leaders. She also refused to tour Israel’s separation fence in the West Bank. “She did everything to provoke the Palestinians during her visit,” said one official. “She showed no understanding for the plight of our people. On the other hand, she appeared to be very biased toward Israel.” The official claimed that while Merkel refused to meet with families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, she focused during her talks with Abbas on the need to release kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who has been held in the Gaza Strip since last June. In addition, he noted, Merkel met with the families of missing IDF soldiers during her visit to Jerusalem. At the joint press conference with Abbas, Merkel refused to answer a question about the Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the official added. “She appeared to be obsessed with the case of Gilad Schalit,” he said. “But she refused to even acknowledge the fact that we have more than 10,000 prisoners in Israel.” Another PA official described Merkel’s visit to Ramallah as “extremely negative and a total disappointment.”