Netanyahu Says Abbas Responsible for Jerusalem Attack

The prime minister and Defense Minister Ya'alon blame the attack, in which one person was killed and 13 injured, on the 'incitement' of the Palestinian president.

Barak Ravid
Jonathan Lis
Gili Cohen
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Police at he scene of Wednesday's attack in Jerusalem.Credit: AFP
Barak Ravid
Jonathan Lis
Gili Cohen

Israel's political leadership on Wednesday held Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for the Jerusalem attack earlier in the day.

One person was killed and 13 injured, several seriously, when a Palestinian drove his car into two groups of pedestrians in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

"The vehicle attack in Jerusalem is a direct result of Abu Mazen's incitement," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a memorial ceremony for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at Mount Herzl, on the 19th anniversary of Rabin's assassination.

"We are in the midst of a struggle for Jerusalem and I have no doubt that we will triumph," the prime minister said. "We are deploying all the forces that we can. It could be a prolonged struggle and we need to unite the entire nation behind it."

The prime minister was set to hold a security assessment meeting at 8:30 P.M. on the situation in Jerusalem. 

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also held Abbas responsible in his response to the attack. "Abu Mazen's rhetorical incitement, in which he disseminates lies and hatred against Israel, while praising Palestinian terrorists who harm Jews, are responsible for the bloodshed in Jerusalem."

Ya'alon launched a wide-ranging attack on Abbas, saying that he "hasn't changed and will not change In different parts of the world, he has the image of a moderate, but he does not promote a culture of peace and is not truly interested in living alongside the Jewish state."

The defense minister promised that the security establishment would defeat "the Palestinian terror in Jerusalem and lay our hands on the perpetrators and those who send them – terror that is aimed at damaging our sovereignty in Jerusalem and our rights to the city."

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Habayit Hayehudi party, said that Abbas was "the driver of the death car and the terrorists his emissaries."

"Israel needs to say clearly that the Fatah-Hamas government is a terror organization and we need to act accordingly," Bennett said.

Netanyahu placed the security of the state and the retention of Jerusalem as its capital at the center of his address during the memorial ceremony for Rabin.

"Israel is not a violent nation," he said. "In the countries around us, they behead, slit throats, put people in front of firing squads and the like. Israel is an outstanding exception. We are a democracy. Not only do we not sink to the low standards of the others, but we are a democracy that conducts dialogue in the middle of the conflict.

"The need to avoid political violence and assassinations will grow as the attacks around us and within us increase. The achievement of Israel in maintaining its democracy in the face of attacks such as no other country faces is immense. That is a basis on which we can agree; a basis for unity. We have, I hope, a basis for unity in keeping Jerusalem as our eternal capital, and a basis, I hope, in the understanding that security is the foundation of our existence and also the foundation of peace."

Netanyahu added that it had been clear to Rabin that any agreement that is not based on security will not last. "Paper alone doesn't make peace," he said.

President Reuven Rivlin also referred to the Jerusalem attack at the start of his address at the memorial ceremony. "There can be no forgiveness for those who turn vehicles into weapons and use them to attack innocent civilians at transport stops," Rivlin said.

"Those who get hurt most of all will be the terrorists, the inciters and those who encourage them. We will not cease walking and building in the streets of Jerusalem and maintaining peace and order as part of our sovereignty."

Meanwhile, at a joint press conference held with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah in Paris, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the attack in Jerusalem “is not just a terrorist act an act of – an atrocity, but it only makes matters worse.”

Kerry urged restraint, saying, “We urge everybody to try to step back and find a way to create enough calm and space to return to negotiations regarding these difficult issues.” He said that those who oppose peace must not be allowed to control what is happening in the region. 

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