If the Palestinians are serious about peace, stop paying salaries to murderers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a memorial ceremony on Mount Herzl for victims of terrorism.
Speaking two days before Abbas was scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington, Netanyahu said to the PA president: “How can you speak about peace with Israel and at the same time pay murderers who spill the blood of innocent Israelis?” The premier said that if Abbas wanted to take a true step toward peace, he would stop the payments to terrorists. “Fund peace, not murder,” he said at the memorial ceremony on Monday for 4,128 people killed in terrorist activities, some 3,117 of them since the founding of the state.Netanyahu said that when Israelis celebrate on Independence Day, and every day, they should look around “because among the musicians who are playing in the orchestra, and the checkout person at the supermarket, and the gas station attendant, and the lecturer at the university and the judges in the courts you will find our brothers and sisters, those dear ones among us who are part of the family of the bereaved.”Terrorists, he said, indiscriminately attack Jews and non Jews, in Israel and abroad, to spread fear and death.“They imbibe this incitement against our people with their mother’s milk,” he said.“They are seen as heroes in their own societies. What kind of hero is a youth who takes a knife, breaks into the room of an innocent and pure girl and stabs her in her sleep.”Netanyahu was referring to Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13-year-old Israeli girl murdered in her sleep last year by a 17-year-old Palestinian in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.“It is impossible to ignore the fact that these lowly murderers receive a monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority. The more you murder, the more you receive,” he said, noting that the PA pays $300 million annually to murderers and the families of dead terrorists “they call martyrs.”“How much would it have been possible to educate the young generation of Palestinians toward true peace [with that money],” he said.At an earlier Remembrance Day tribute on Monday, Netanyahu mourned the loss of Israel’s fallen soldiers, yet stated that sending troops to battle is “essential” to achieving regional peace and for the country’s survival.Speaking at an official state ceremony for Remembrance Day at the National Military Cemetery at Mount Herzl, the premier extended his condolences to bereaved families and extended his appreciation to all those who have contributed to Israel’s continued existential fight.“I wish a speedy recovery to the injured, and I promise that we will not rest, and we are not resting, until we bring back our warriors Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul,” he stated of the two fallen IDF soldier whose bodies are thought to have been held by Hamas since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.Pointing to 1948, the year of Israel’s independence, Netanyahu said: “So much has changed in our country, and yet so little – our lives continue to be contingent upon the sacrifice and bravery of our youth. And I know that this sacrifice is not only a necessary condition to living here, but also necessary to make peace with our neighbors.”“Therefore, when the time comes for me to send our soldiers into battle, I always think of it with a heavy heart and with in-depth and utmost consideration because I think about them and their families and because I know the price is enormous,” he said.Netanyahu also mentioned those “who have paid the price,” including those from the country’s Jewish, Druse, Muslim, Beduin, Christian and Circassian sectors.“We are brothers in good times and bad, in our yearning for peace and in the hardships of war,” he said.Invoking the memory of his own brother, Yonatan, who fell in action during the IDF’s 1976 Operation Entebbe in Uganda, the prime minister also spoke of his first-hand experience in losing a loved one in combat.“I saw my parents’ lives change when the river of my brother Yoni’s [life] stopped running and they were left with broken hearts of stone and sand,” he mourned.“But somehow they were able to garner the strength to keep on living and have a productive life.“Until the day I die, I will admire the majestic nature in which they lived through the misery of losing their first born son, Yonatan,” Netanyahu proclaimed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the official Memorial Day State Ceremony at Mt. Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS)