Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a press conference for world media Thursday. Netanyahu accused Abbas of lying and inciting violence to encourage the wave of knife attacks over the past two weeks.
Netanyahu accused Abbas of spreading “bare-faced lies.” The first of these lies is the accusation that Israel has been working up a secret plan to change the rules governing the Temple Mount, where only Muslims are currently allowed to pray. Netanyahu and his spokesmen rejected this claim, running through a summary of the rules, including the prohibition against Christians and Jews entering the mosque at the Temple Mount.
Nevertheless, Abbas and his Fatah party have been spreading propaganda on social media calling for stabbing attacks against Israelis to “protect” the mosque. Examples of these incitements were presented during the press conference. The less “moderate” of the Palestinian gangs, Hamas, chipped in with a video entitled “How to Murder Israelis,” complete with the staged knife murders of stereotypically costumed Jews.
Spokesman Ofir Gendelman spoke of “thousands and thousands of posters and memes” calling for Palestinians to take up knives against Israelis. A full copy of the materials presented by the Israeli government at the press conference can be viewed here.
Netanyahu also accused Abbas of lying about Israeli security forces carrying out “field executions” of Palestinians, such as 13-year-old Ahmed Manashra. Abbas gave a speech yesterday in which he declared, “The Israelis execute our children in cold blood, as they did to this boy Ahmed Manasra.”
But as Netanyahu pointed out, Manashra was no innocent, having tried to murder a 13-year-old Israeli who was “the true innocent”… and Manashra is not dead. He was apprehended alive, and is currently receiving extensive care at Hadassah Hospital. His injuries were not caused by a police shooting; he was hit by a car while running from the scene of his crime. (Another Palestinian boy who joined Manashra in knifing the Israeli child was shot dead after attacking Israeli security personnel.)
Netanyahu said he was willing to meet with Abbas, and other leaders such as Jordan’s King Abdullah and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, provided the Palestinian leader ceases his incitements to violence. He took umbrage at the notion of Kerry calling on him to talk with Abbas. “He’s going to call on me to resume negotiations? Are we living on the same planet?” he asked incredulously.
“I’ve been calling day in, day out, in every forum – in the United Nations, in the U.S. Congress, in Israel, in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv… I haven’t done so in Nepal, because I haven’t visited it. I’ve called on President Abbas to resume unconditional negotiations immediately. Right now, as we speak, we can meet. I have no problem with that. I think we should stop, immediately, this wave of incitement against Israel and these attacks.”
He also warned the United States and other observers to avoid creating a “false symmetry” between Palestinian violence and Israel’s response to it.
“We expect all our friends, and anyone concerned with the facts and the truth, to look at these facts to see the truth and not to draw false symmetry between Israeli citizens and those who’d stab them and knife them to death,” Netanyahu said.
This was a response to State Department spokesman John Kirby enraging the Israelis by accusing their police of using excessive force to halt Palestinian knife attacks. “Now, we have seen some – I wouldn’t call the checkpoints this – but we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force,” Kirby said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Kirby also seemed to agree with Palestinian propaganda concerning the Temple Mount, and was forced to retract his comments after a diplomatic firestorm erupted. Fox News notes that Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio accused the Administration of “spreading malicious falsehoods about the attacks,” while Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) called the Administration’s conduct “disgusting and shameful,” and called on Secretary of State John Kerry to discipline Kirby or step aside himself, if he refused to do so.
Netanyahu addressed the accusation of Israeli police using excessive force by asking, “What do you think would happen in New York, if you saw people rushing into crowds trying to murder people? What do you think they would do?”
Netanyahu contrasted his government’s response to arson attacks in the Arab village of Duma by Jewish extremists with the conduct of the Palestinian Authority. “Nothing justifies the systematic and deliberate slaughter of the innocent – the attempt to menace, or maim, or murder innocent people,” he declared. “Nothing justifies it. I don’t justify it. It’s time that President Abbas stops, not only justifying it, but also calling for it. He says he wants to see more blood spilled in Jerusalem. And it’s time for the international community and fair-minded people to make that distinction. Stop justifying murder, and stop calling for murder.”