(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yoram Cohen denied on Tuesday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was intentionally inciting terrorism – contradicting statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
At the opening of a meeting that dealt almost entirely with the terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue earlier Tuesday, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said the attack was not a coincidence; rather, he said, it was part of a wave of terrorism resulting from incitement by the PA leadership.
“There is no doubt that we have to think of the correct response to this massacre from a security standpoint and in general, in dealing with the waves of incitement from Ramallah that influence Jerusalem,” Elkin stated.
According to sources in the committee, which took place behind closed doors, Cohen said that Abbas and the Palestinian leadership had no interest in encouraging terrorism and that he was not inciting violence.
However, Cohen added that some could interpret Abbas’s statements as encouraging to terrorists.
The Shin Bet chief also warned against changing the status quo on the Temple Mount in response to the violence, in order to avoid sparking a religious war.
Following the meeting, Elkin said he did not find Cohen’s words encouraging and that the Shin Bet head was unable to answer many questions about the situation.
“Until east Jerusalem is treated like any other place in sovereign Israel, when it has law and order like any other place, and as long as students in east Jerusalem study a PA curriculum including incitement in textbooks funded by Israel, there won’t be a solution,” Elkin stated.
According to Elkin, “the policy of containment and restraint only fed the flames; it never brings improvements... and whoever thinks that concessions and negotiations bring more quiet is denying the simple facts.”
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman recounted that “when we had talks in 2013, there were twice as many terrorist attacks and attempts in Judea and Samaria as there were in 2012, when there were no negotiations.
In 2000, when [prime minister Ehud Barak’s] government held talks... the second intifada began, and in the days of the Oslo Accords, the [Yitzhak] Rabin and [Shimon] Peres governments, there were terrorist attacks and buses blew up one after another.”