Netanyahu to Abbas: If You Want Peace, Stop Paying Terrorists

On Memorial Day, the prime minister says soldiers' willingness to sacrifice is a condition for Israel's existence

Prime Minister speaks at the national Memorial Day ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, May 1, 2017.
Prime Minister speaks at the national Memorial Day ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, May 1, 2017. Kobi Gideon, GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "stop funding terrorism."

Speaking on Memorial Day at a service for victims of terrorism, Netanyahu addressed Abbas, mentioning the latter's upcoming meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "How can you talk about peace and fund terrorism?" Netanyahu said. "Cancel the payments to murderers, annul the law that requires payments to murderers. Fund peace, not murder."

Earlier, Netanyahu addressed a memorial service for fallen soldiers, saying that Israel's existence is dependent on soldiers' willingness to sacrifice.

"Our lives continue to depend on our sons and daughters' heroism and willingness to sacrifice," Netanyahu said during the ceremony at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. "It's not only a condition for our existence, but also for the achievement of peace with our neighbors." 

Netanyahu paid tribute to fallen servicemen, including his brother Yoni Netanyahu, as well as bereaved families. 

"The wounds of the loss never really heal," he said.

"When I prepare to send our troops to battle, with a heavy heart and the utmost consideration, I think of them and their families because I know that sometimes, the price is immense," he said.

"The citizens of Israel, we are brothers," Netanyahu said. "In the good and the bad, in the hopes for peace and the pains of war … all of us, Jews, Druze, Muslims, Bedouin, Christians and Circassians."

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, echoed Netanyahu's sentiment during a ceremony at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery.

"'No state is presented to a nation on a silver platter,' Haim Weizmann wrote… It needs to be fought for, it requires the will to fight and even give one's life," Lieberman said.

The fallen troops are "the terrible and painful price of the Jewish people's decision to be a master of its destiny, to return to its homeland and live its life and culture within a national, sovereign and free framework."

Prior to the ceremonies, Israel observed a two-minute moment of silence in memory of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.