Netanyahu Says He Appreciates Abbas' 'Important Words' Against Kidnapping

Israeli prime minister makes first positive statement about Palestinian president since his condemnation of teens' kidnapping.

Reuters

For the first time since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the kidnapping of three Israeli teens last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed appreciation of his words on Tuesday.

"I appreciate the statement President Abbas made several days ago in Saudi Arabia; these were important words," Netanyahu said in a conversation with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in Jerusalem.

"But if he really means them," continuted the prime minister, "and is truly committed to peace and to the war on terror, reason dictates that he dismantle the alliance with Hamas. That is the only way we can continue moving forward."

"Yesterday we heard the Hamas leader Khaled Meshal praise and defend the kidnapping of three innocent Israelis who were on their way home from school," said Netanyahu. "Meshal thus made it clear once again that Hamas is committed to waging war on Israel and its citizens, and on every Jewish person on the globe. How can Abbas strike an alliance with such hatred-glorifying terrorists?"

While no credible group has yet taken responsibility for the kidnapping, Israel says it is sure Hamas is behind the act.

Lieberman: Hamas behind kidnapping

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman replied on Tuesday morning to the claim made by Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas’s political wing, that his organization had no information about the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. Lieberman’s response to Meshal was that Israel was 100 percent sure that Hamas was behind the kidnapping. In an interview with Israel Radio, Lieberman said, “We cannot give specifics about all the intelligence, but we have proof that allows us to be 100 percent certain that Hamas perpetrated this kidnapping.”

Lieberman added that Israel ought to be thinking not only about Meshal in Qatar. “We saw a wave of support for the terrorists within Israel as well. We saw Haneen Zoabi, who supports them and is in solidarity with them. There is a clear law against incitement to terrorism.”

He added that since the establishment of the Palestinian unity government, Hamas has received freedom to act in the West Bank while the Palestinian Authority, he claims, did not strengthen its own influence in the Gaza Strip. “This is what we warned about from the beginning. This move sabotaged the talks between the Palestinians and Israel and also hurt the Palestinian Authority. Over the past two weeks, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) has realized that the free hand that was given to Hamas in the West Bank endangers him as well.”

In an interview Meshal gave to Al Jazeera Monday, he referred to the three kidnapped boys as soldiers, saying that he could not confirm or deny Hamas’ involvement in their kidnapping. “In any case, I bless the kidnappers, because we must free our prisoners from the occupation jails,” he said. This is the first time that a Hamas leader in exile referred to the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah.

Meshal said, “Three settlers who enlisted in the occupation army have disappeared. Israel claims that no one has taken responsibility for the act. Denial or confirmation of the act depends on information that we do not have as yet.”

Meshal also said that the backdrop to the kidnapping was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disregard of the hunger strike of the administrative detainees being held in Israel. “If Netanyahu had listened to the families and not attacked the reconciliation government, then the atmosphere among the Palestinians would not have been as tense as it is today,” he said.