Netanyahu: Palestinian Public Must Hear Abbas Condemn Itamar Attack

Prime Minister cites 'great importance' to Palestinian president's declaration on Israel Radio that murder of family was despicable, immoral and inhuman, but says such expression of condemnation cannot be heard by Israelis alone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to express to the Palestinian public his condemnation of the deadly attack at a West Bank settlement over the weekend.

In an interview with Israel Radio earlier Monday, Abbas called the stabbing of five members of a family at the settlement of Itamar a despicable, immoral and inhuman act.

Emil Salman

"A human being is not capable of something like that," Abbas told the radio. "Scenes like these - the murder of infants and children and a woman slaughtered - cause any person endowed with humanity to hurt and to cry."

Netanyahu responded to the interview by saying it was not enough for Abbas to express such condemnation on Israeli radio – he must also take it to the Palestinian airwaves.

"I hear Abu Mazen [Abbas] condemn the murder in Itamar on Israel Radio this morning," Netanyahu told members of his Likud faction at the Knesset. "His words hold great importance in my eyes, but it is more important that he say these things on Palestinian radio, not just Israel."

Netayahu added that at the same time Abbas spoke with Israel Radio, a Palestinian minister indicated that the murder seemed to have been "carried out by settlers and the State of Israel to evade commitment to the peace process."

Expressions such as these are reminiscent of the responses heard immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said Netanyahu. "It would have been bad had it been said by just some guy off the street, but this was said by a minister in the Palestinian Authority's government, and to my great sadness, he was not the only one to say it."

Following the Friday night attack in Itamar, Netanyahu had repeatedly called on the Palestinians to condemn the murder explicitly, expressing dissatisfaction at the PA's immediate statements to that effect.

In his interview on Monday, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would have prevented the attack - in which five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death by two Palestinian terrorists - if it would have had prior information about it. He noted that he agreed with Netanyahu's proposal to launch a joint investigation into the matter.

Abbas added that that he does not expect a wave of terror attacks in the immediate future and stressed that he would not allow it.