Netanyahu - AP - Jan 19, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, January 2011. Photo by AP
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community and the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn the fatal knife attack which claimed the lives of five family members in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.

"I expect the international community to explicitly condemn the murder," Netanyahu said Saturday during an official speech on the matter. "I noticed that several states which rushed to condemn Israel for building a house in some place are taking their time in condemning the murder of children. There is no justification for the murder of babies," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu stressed that he is disappointed by the ambiguous condemnations issued by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

"I demand a real denunciation from the Palestinian Authority. I am disappointed by the stuttered replies. When there were similar situations but opposite, we reacted differently – even though such an event never happened," Netanyahu said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday reacted to the fatal stabbing in Itamar, saying that he opposes any form of violence against citizens, regardless of the reasons for it.

"Violence will only bring more violence – we must hurry to find a comprehensive, just solution to the conflict," said Abbas.

Abbas called Netanyahu earlier Saturday to condemn the settlement attack, following several long months of almost no communication between the two.

Netanyahu told Abbas that his condemnations are not enough. "The incitement must stop and the Palestinian people must be educated toward peace," said Netanyahu.

"The violence must be condemned not only because it conflicts with the PA's political interests but because it is not acceptable morally. I expect that you will stop the incitement in schools and in mosques, and educated your children toward peace, as we do," said Netanyahu.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also commented on the attack on Saturday, saying that  "Violence does not justify violence, we condemn it completely, whoever does it and whoever the victims are."

Earlier Saturday, Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority's "incitement against Israel" for the fatal knife attack in Itamar.

"A society which allows for such wild incitement prompts the murder of children," said Netanyahu.

Netanyahu also called on the Palestinian Authority on Saturday to put a stop to the incitement against Israel in mosques and media outlets which are controlled by the government.

The prime minister vowed that Israel would protect its citizens in the West Bank after militants stabbed to death two parents and three children in their home in Itamar.

"Israel will not stand by idly after such a despicable murder and will act vigorously to safeguard the lives of the citizens of Israel and punish the murderers," Netanyahu said.

President Shimon Peres also condemned Friday's attack, saying that the murder of parents and young children shows a loss of human dignity.

"This is one of the hardest and ugliest events that we've seen," Peres said. "The murder of parents and their young children, including a three-year-old and a month-old baby in their beds on Shabbat is a testimony of a loss of human dignity.

"No religion or faith exists in the world which allows for such atrocious acts… our hearts are with the orphans and the entire town in these horrible times. I am sure the security forces will do everything they can to find the murders and bring them to justice."

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement sent to reporters.

They said the attack was an "heroic operation" that was "part of the natural response to the massacres of the fascist [Israeli] occupation against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said the leaflet.

"We tell the criminals of the occupation that their crimes won't pass without punishment," the movement concluded.

Danny Dayan, representative of the Israeli settlers association, the Yesha Council, in the West Bank said, "The government must support the settlements in Judea and Samaria, which pay the heaviest price."

The family members - two parents and their three children - were killed when a terrorist broke into their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar and stabbed them all to death.

Extensive police forces and Israel Defense Forces are in pursuit of the suspects.