Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not offer any concessions to the Palestinians during his scheduled meeting in Berlin later this week with US Secretary of State John Kerry, a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday night.
Rather, the official said, he will demand that the Palestinians stop the incitement that is fueling the terrorism.
Kerry confirmed Sunday that he is scheduled to meet Netanyahu later this week in Berlin, and then Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the region. The meeting with Netanyahu is slated for Thursday, if the security situation allows the premier and some of his top ministers to travel to Berlin on Wednesday for an already once-postponed government-to-government German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
There are unconfirmed reports that Kerry’s meeting with Abbas will take place on Saturday in Amman.
Israel is not the problem at the Temple Mount, but rather the solution, Netanyahu said at Sunday morning’s cabinet meeting, rebuffing a French proposal to place international observers on the holy site.
“We are preserving the status quo,” he said. “We are the only ones doing that, and will continue to do this responsibly and seriously.”
He reiterated what he has been saying for weeks, that there has not been any change in the orders of prayer or the visiting rights on the Temple Mount. The only change in the status quo has been efforts organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel and other “outside forces” to bring explosives into the mosques on the site and “attack Jews from them,” he said.
This is the change in the status quo that has caused all the events there over the last year, he added.
Netanyahu said that Israel rejects the French proposal put forward at the UN Security Council, and pointed out that it did not mention Palestinian incitement or terrorism.
There is, however, a call in the proposal to “internationalize the holy sites.”
Netanyahu said that everyone has seen what happens to holy sites in the Middle East, “what happened in Palmyra [Syria], what happened in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere where Muslim extremists destroy each other’s mosques, to say nothing about Christian, Jewish and heritage sites.”
The prime minister said that Israel is acting in an aggressive and systematic manner against the wave of terrorism through the reinforcement of security forces, and taking both deterrent and punitive steps.
“Today we will begin taking steps against incitement, including against the Islamic Movement, which is the foremost inciter,” he said, adding that Israel will take action against that group’s source of funding.
The security cabinet met Sunday afternoon to discuss this matter, but announced no decisions afterward.
The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, launched a scathing attack on Israel, accusing Netanyahu of authorizing “summary executions” of Palestinian civilians.
PA officials said no date has been set for a meeting between Abbas and Kerry.
The PA Foreign Ministry said that the “summary executions” were a sign of “growing terrorism, racism and extremism” among IDF soldiers and settlers.
The ministry said that the Palestinians have begun documenting Israeli “summary executions” and “incitement” in order to file a complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court.
It repeated the call for an international commission of inquiry into Israeli “crimes” against Palestinians.
The ministry claimed that 18-year-old Fadel al-Qawasmeh, who was killed in Hebron on Saturday after he tried to stab a settler, was an innocent man who had been “executed in cold blood.” It accused IDF soldiers of placing a knife near the body of Qawasmeh after he was shot to make it look as if this “crime” was an “act of self-defense.”
One Israeli government official ridiculed the Palestinian claims of “executions,” saying that the 13-year-old Palestinian boy whom Abbas last week accused Israel of “executing” has “proven to be very much alive.”
That boy, the official said, “is neither innocent nor dead, and is recovering in the hospital after going on a murderous knife attack.”
If the Palestinians think they have a legal case against Israel at the ICC, he said, “they are deluding themselves.”
The official added that Israeli police officers are subject to strict rules governing their use of force, which is permitted only in life-threatening situations.
“Confronting an attack by a gun or a knife wielding terrorist certain qualifies in international law as legitimate self defense,” he said.
In a related development, Netanyahu met Sunday with US Gen. Joseph Dunford, the visiting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Prime Minister’s Office said the two men “discussed strategic cooperation between the two countries and the strategic challenges that we face.”
Netanyahu was joined in the meeting by Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and the prime minister’s military secretary, Brig.-Gen.