Netanyahu: Palestinians, our so-called peace partners, must fight terrorism

Incitement leads to attacks, PM says before meeting Kerry in NY.

By
October 4, 2015 01:26
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in New York

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in New York. (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)

 
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The Palestinians must start fighting terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday as he vowed that Israel will wage an unrelenting battle against the newest wave of Arab violence.

“We hear incitement that – worse, when we hear praise for the terrorists from our supposed peace partners, we say cut that out, start fighting terrorism. If you won’t, we will,” Netanyahu said in New York.

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“We’re going to fight these terrorists, and we’re going to fight them in ways that they will understand makes terrorism not worth it,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu spoke before meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, but after Thursday’s terrorist attack that killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in Samaria.

The prime minister was expected to leave for Israel Saturday night.

In an interview with Fox News, taped on Friday, Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians do not understand that they need to clamp down on terrorism and halt incitement, “it means they don’t want peace.”

In a discussion with Israeli reporters on Thursday night, Netanyahu drew a link between the shooting murders of the Henkins, as they drove home with their four children, to Palestinian incitement, particularly over the issue of the Temple Mount.



“The killers knew that they were murdering a mother and father, the children were there [in the back seat]. It has been proven again that the wild Palestinian incitement leads to acts of terrorism,” he said.

“We’ve witnessed how they have spoken of our ‘cruel acts’ on the Temple Mount, a charge that is baseless. Unfortunately, these kinds of words have consequences,” Netanyahu said.

He called on the Palestinian Authority to condemn the latest round of Arab attacks.

Israel immediately condemned the July 31 arson attack by presumed Jewish extremists who torched two homes in the Palestinian village of Duma, killing Saad and Reham Dewabsha and their toddler, Ali, Netanyahu said.

He explained how he went to the hospital to visit the Dewabshas’ other son, Ahmed, who is recovering from his wounds.

“Compare this to the silence of the Palestinian leadership now, I have not heard their condemnation,” the prime minister said.

The Henkin couple were killed just after Netanyahu spoke against Palestinian incitement at the UN General Assembly in New York, and before he met with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon Awhere, among other things they discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

In the months leading up to the General Assembly, the Quartet, composed of the UN, US, EU and Russia, had spoken of a renewed push to resume the peace process that has been frozen since April 2014.

Although the Quartet met on the sidelines of the General Assembly session in New York, it did not announce any initiative.

Before he left for the US, Netanyahu had called on Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to hold direct talks without preconditions.

In an opinion piece in The Huffington Post on Tuesday, Abbas said he could not talk with Israel as long as it was an occupying power. On Wednesday, Abbas told the UN General Assembly he would cancel the Oslo Accords, which had governed Israel’s relations with the PA for more than two decades unless Israel halted its “violations” against his people, stopped all settlement activities and released Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

On Thursday, just before the attack on the Henkin family, Netanyahu once again called on Abbas, from the General Assembly podium, to hold direct talks for a two-state solution.

“I am prepared to immediately, immediately resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions whatsoever,” the prime minister said.

“Unfortunately, President Abbas said yesterday that he is not prepared to do this.

Well, I hope he changes his mind. Because I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.

During that General Assembly speech, he also called on Abbas to stop “spreading lies about Israel’s alleged intentions on the Temple Mount.”

During Netanyahu’s meeting with Ban after the speech, the UN secretary-general condemned Thursday’s terrorist attack and asked the prime minister to make “significant policy changes that will have a concrete impact on the lives of Palestinians.”

Ban asked Netanyahu to “cease all settlement activity and demolitions while enabling access for Palestinians to a fair planning system.”

Netanyahu told Ban that Abbas was “running away” from negotiations to avoid making the necessary concessions, such as recognizing that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and that the Palestinians will not have the right of return to Israel.

“He is not ready to do so, so he finds excuses,” Netanyahu said.

He later told reporters, “If Abbas continues to incite and refuse to negotiate, he pulls himself out of the peace process.”

On Thursday night, the US condemned the terrorist attack, extended its condolences to the family and urged “all sides to maintain calm, avoid escalating tensions, and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

“This tragic incident, once again, highlights the need for significant steps that help stabilize the situation, reverse the current negative trends and restore hope that a just and lasting negotiated twostate solution is possible,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

The EU issued a statement expressing its condolences and calling for restraint.

“The continuing loss of life highlights once more the necessity for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it said.

During her meeting with Netanyahu in New York on Thursday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said it was important to implement steps on the ground consistent with prior agreements, to reverse current negative trends in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and to work on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, as stated also by the Quartet.

While in New York, Netanyahu also spoke with Mogherini and Kerry about regional issues, including Iran.

In an interview with CNN, Netanyahu said Israel wants to avoid an adversarial relationship with Moscow and is unsure how Russia’s recent military intervention in Syria will affect the situation there.

Netanyahu, in an interview recorded for broadcast on Sunday on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, did not join the United States and other NATO nations in criticizing Russia’s recent military actions in Syria.

Russia has said it is only targeting Islamic State terrorists, but other countries including Britain claim the focus of its attacks has been other rebel groups fighting to oust President Bashar Assad, Moscow’s ally.

“We don’t want to go back to the days when, you know, Russia and Israel were in an adversarial position,” said Netanyahu, who met with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on September 21.

“I think we’ve changed the relationship. And it’s, on the whole, good.”

Assad also is backed by Iran, and Israel is concerned that Russian weapons being deployed in Syria could end up with Tehran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.

“I went to Moscow to make it clear that we should avoid a clash between Russian forces and Israeli forces,” Netanyahu said.

“In Syria, I’ve defined my goals. They’re to protect the security of my people and my country. Russia has different goals. But they shouldn’t clash.”

He said Israel and Russia would talk soon about the situation.

Asked if Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict would be destabilizing, the prime minister said: “I don’t know. I think time will tell.”

Netanyahu signaled that Russian deployment would not deter Israel from continuing to take occasional military action in Syria.

“If anybody wants to use Syrian territory to transfer nuclear weapons to Hezbollah, we’ll take action,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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