Palestinian Spokesman: Israel to Blame for Escalating Violence

Hamas praises Jerusalem attack as 'daring operation' and 'natural response'; Netanyahu held Abbas accountable for the attack, saying he has incited Palestinians against Jews.

Jack Khoury
Haaretz
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Scene of terror attack at Jerusalem light rail station, October 22, 2014.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jack Khoury
Haaretz

Palestinian Authority Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Thursday that Israeli incitement and occupation were to blame for the escalation of violence by Palestinians.

Rudeineh's remarks came as a jab to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who following the terror attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday held Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accountable for the escalation in violence, saying that he had incited Palestinians to attack Jews. A three-month-old baby was killed and seven people were wounded when an East Jerusalem man rammed his car into a light rail station in the city a day in an act of terror.

Pointing to Abbas' call on Friday to Palestinians to use "any means" to bar the settlers from the Temple Mount, Netanyahu said: "That's how Abu Mazen's [Abbas'] partners in government act, the same Abu Mazen who just a few days ago incited to an attack on Jews in Jerusalem."

Abu Rudeineh said in the wake of the attack that the ongoing occupation, the Judaization of Jerusalem and harm to Muslim and Christian holy sites, and the Israeli incitement against the Palestinian leadership, particularly Abbas, were the source of this tense atmosphere. The entire world opposed Israel's occupation, he said, and was beginning to recognize the legitimacy of a Palestinian state.

Abu Rudeineh added that the Palestinian leadership had warned the Israeli government against continuing polices that lead to further escalation and tension, calling instead for an end to the occupation and hostilities.

He further warned that the Palestinians would not return to negotiations with outstretched arms, in light of occurrences in Jerusalem, and said that Israel was trying to evade the peace process by creating a negative atmosphere though continued settlement construction and incitement.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat also took Netanyahu to task for laying the blame on Abbas:"By recklessly claiming that President Abbas is inciting terrorism, Mr. Netanyahu has turned his back on peace. He called the situation in East Jerusalem 'intolerable' without mentioning his government’s recent provocations that have inflamed the political situation."

"Hereby we declare that Israel, the occupying power, and particularly Mr. Netanyahu are responsible for the current situation in Occupied East Jerusalem and throughout the Occupied State of Palestine."

Hamas spokesperson Mushir al-Masri on Thursday praised the attack a "daring operation" and a "natural response to the crimes of the occupation against our people and our holy places."

Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, a 21-year-old Palestinian resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan who in the past served prison time for security offenses, drove up to the station near Ammunition Hill on Wednesday evening and hit passengers disembarking from the train. He was shot and arrested trying to flee the scene on foot, and later died of his wounds.

The United States condemned the attack, calling it “despicable.”

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured. We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement released Wednesday, hours after the attack.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that Wednesday’s attack in Jerusalem and an attack on the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa are both a result of the rise of radical Islam.

“The terror attacks which took place yesterday almost simultaneously at two sides of the world, Jerusalem and Ottawa, demonstrate again that terrorism is a worldwide epidemic that must be fought strenuously and without compromise,” Liberman said.

“Terror is not the result of building in Jerusalem, Ottawa, New York, Madrid, London or Mombasa, but of the war of radical Islam against the Western world. We stand alongside our friends in Canada, who have demonstrated by their firm stand alongside Israel and again recently in joining the war against ISIS, that they will not give in to terror. Israel, too, will remain firm in the fight against terror and terrorists.”

Relatives of Al-Shaludi told the Palestinian Maan news agency that he had been recently released from an Israeli prison where he served 14 months. He was the nephew of Mohiyedine Sharif, the former head of Hamas’ armed wing who was killed in 1988.

Al-Shaludi posted messages and video clips in support of Hamas on his Facebook page, the Times of Israel reported.

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