Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he appreciated PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s words on the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens in Saudi Arabia, labeling them “important.”
Netanyahu’s comments, made during a meeting with visiting Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, signified a steady upgrade in his response to Abbas’s remarks, that had started out more tepid. On Sunday, in an NBC Meet the Press interview, he termed Abbas’s comments “good.” But Abbas’s words, he said, were not enough.
“Now, if he really means what he said about the kidnapping, and if he is truly committed to peace and to fighting terrorism, then logic and common sense mandate that he break his pact with Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“This is the only way that we can move forward. I think this is something that is shared by many in Europe who understand that the quest for peace and stability and tranquility means that we have to fight the forces of terror, intolerance and darkness. There can be no alliance with the kidnappers of children.”
Abbas strongly condemned the kidnappings last Wednesday at a conference in Saudi Arabia. “We are coordinating with them [Israel] to reach them,” Abbas said of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer. “They are human beings and we care about the lives of human beings.”
Abbas said that those behind the kidnapping “want to destroy us,” adding that they would be held accountable for their deed regardless of their identity.
The initial response from the Prime Minister’s Office was muted, however, with a statement put out saying Abbas’s words would be judged by actions on the ground.
Netanyahu has said that Israel has unequivocal evidence, that has been shared with the US and some select other countries, that Hamas was behind the abductions.
Abbas has since come under a barrage of criticism from within the Palestinian camp for his comments and the PA’s continued security cooperation with Israel. And Netanyahu was criticized by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid for not being more charitable toward Abbas’s words.
During the meeting with the Romanian prime minister, Netanyahu referred to Hamas head Khaled Mashaal’s interview on Al-Jazeera Monday night, during which he neither confirmed nor denied Hamas responsibility for the kidnappings, but praised them anyhow.
“Mashaal once again made clear that Hamas remains committed to its war against Israel and its war against every Israeli citizen, and coincidentally, against every Jew around the world. So, how can President Abbas make an alliance with these terrorists who extol kidnapping?”