Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that the feared kidnapping of three settler youths in the West Bank by Palestinians is “the destructive result” of the newly formed Palestinian Authority unity government backed by both Fatah and Hamas.
Netanyahu aides released a statement to the press on Friday saying that the premier told the secretary of state by phone that Israel views the PA responsible for the well-being of the missing teens.
US officials could not confirm whether one of the three missing Israeli students in the West Bank is American, but expressed serious concern over the suspected abductions and over the well-being of the youths.
Security forces fear three teenage yeshiva boys, all 16 years of age, were kidnapped in the West Bank after they went missing from a hitchhiking spot in the Gush Etzion area Thursday night.
The youths went missing during the course of Thursday night and security forces are conducting sweeping searches of the area.
"We have seen those reports [of an American citizen being among the missing], but cannot confirm them due to privacy considerations," a State Department official said. "Generally speaking, when a US citizen is reported missing or kidnapped, we work closely with local authorities and cooperate fully in their search efforts."
The Jerusalem Post
has learned that one of the three is an American citizen. Sources said that Ambassador Dan Shapiro has been briefed on the situation.
The official in Washington said that US Secretary of State John Kerry "expressed his concern" in a meeting with Tzipi Livni a short while ago and, separately, in a call with Palestinian resident Mahmoud Abbas.
Livni urged Kerry to work with Abbas in helping to return the missing Israelis home.
"The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority are working closely together on efforts to find the three teenagers and to hopefully bring a quick resolution to the matter," the official added. "We are giving this security cooperation our full encouragement."