Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Monday the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
- Palestinians warn that Israeli pressure on West Bank could backfire
- Israel mulling expulsion of senior Hamas officials to Gaza
- Hamas kidnapping reminiscent of Hezbollah
Abbas issued the statement following a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the first conversation between the two leaders in more than a year, Netanyahu told Abbas he expected him to help return the missing teens and catch their abductors.
"The abductors from Hamas came from an area under Palestinian Authority control and returned to PA-controlled territory," Netanyahu said. "It's important to understand the consequences of the unity with Hamas – it's bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, and bad for the area.
"This incident reveals the character of the terror that we are fighting," he said. "Terrorists abduct innocent Israeli children while we give medical care in our hospitals to sick Palestinian children. That is the difference between our humane policy and the murderous terror that is attacking us."
Following the conversation, Abbas' office issued a first statement condemning the kidnapping.
Abbas denounced the kidnapping and the sequence of events that followed, including the death of a Palestinian youth in a clash with Israeli soldiers. He called on both sides to refrain from violence, and lauded the Palestinian security forces for their efforts to "stop the PA from being dragged into disorder and prevent the factions from taking advantage of the situation for non-nationalistic purposes."
He expressed intention to continue the struggle to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
Both leaders have had infrequent telephone conversations in recent years, usually to convey greetings on Jewish and Muslim holidays.
Netanyahu broke off Israel's peace talks with Abbas in April after the Western-backed leader signed a unity deal with Israel's bitter enemy, the Hamas Islamist group the runs the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, Netanyahu said Hamas members had kidnapped the three teenagers. Hamas dismissed what it called Netanyahu's "stupid comments" and suggested he was trying to draw the group into disclosing whether it was behind the abduction.
Reuters contributed to this report.