In his weekly address this past weekend, former Chief Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Yosef said, “May our enemies and those who hate us be gone from this world. May the Holy One Blessed Be He strike them down with plague, them and those Palestinians, evil ones and enemies of Israel.”

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef wished death upon the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and his people in the backdrop of the opening of direct peace negotiations this coming Wednesday. In his weekly address this past Shabbat, Rabbi Yosef said, “May our enemies and those who hate us all die, Abu Mazen and all these evil people, they should be gone from this world. May the Holy One Blessed be He strike them down with plague, them and those Palestinians, evil ones and enemies of Israel.”

Up until now, the Rabbi, who has more than once been considered extreme with his expressions, has been careful to keep quiet regarding anything having to do with the negotiations. In the late 80’s, Rabbi Yosef ruled that it is necessary to strive for peace even at the price of painful concessions in the framework of the ultimate value of Jewish law—saving lives.

This ruling brought his political party, Shas, to vote in favor of the Oslo Accords in 1993, which directly brought the PA and then Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas to power in Israel from Tunisian exile, the same Abbas he now wishes would be struck down with plague and die. Without Rabbi Yosef’s prior endorsement, the Oslo Accords would not have passed into law.

Abbas is not getting any rest from the other side either, as Halil Haya, one of the stronger personalities in the Hamas political wing in Gaza, issued a carefully worded threat in his direction. “The Iz al din al Kassam brigades are ready to step on the neck of whoever foregoes Al Quds (Jerusalem), refugees, and Palestinian land. These talks are designed to destroy Palestine,” Haya added at a gathering two days ago in the strip. It should be noted that according to the Hamas charter, “Palestinian land”, means all of 1948 mandatory Palestine.

Halil Haya is not alone – behind him stands an entire movement, not to mention an entire state, that wants to see the failure of these talks. Arabic media reports that the White House relayed messages to Damascus not to intervene and make things difficult for Abbas. The Syrian leadership hasn’t made a sound at all since the talks opened in the last few months, but others are doing the work for them.

First, representatives of the 13 Palestinian organizations in Damascus met and in a coordinated announcement called on Abbas not to go to the table. Afterwards, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, said that the talks, in Israel’s point of view, are a continuation of the war with other methods. “These talks are illegitimate, as are the results of these talks, and therefore they do not obligate the Palestinian people for anything,” said Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader in Damascus.

The pressure coming from Syria and Hamas are being joined by the opposition growing from within Ramallah, partly from the PLO committee itself. This is the answer as two why Abbas needed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordianian King Abdullah with him on