TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday praised the U.S. Ambassador to Israel for blaming the lack of peace on the Palestinians’ endorsement of terror.
“I want to congratulate Ambassador [David] Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel, who tweeted the truth, unvarnished, straightforward,” Netanyahu told a gathering of foreign journalists in Jerusalem. “He said some important things. The important thing is that [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas’s government is supporting the kind of murderers that murdered a father of six. Such people in our jails get $355 million a year, they and their families, from the Palestinian Authority. That is something that is untenable.”
Following the West Bank shooting attack that claimed the life of Rabbi Raziel Shevach on Tuesday, Friedman posted a tweet roundly condemning the Palestinian leadership.
“An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace,” Friedman tweeted.
An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace.
Praying for the bereaved Shevach family.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) January 10, 2018
In response, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Friedman’s comments displayed a “prejudiced and selective attitude toward the occupation, settlement construction and the Palestinian just and legitimate national rights.”
President Donald Trump’s Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt also slammed the “glorification” of terrorism by Hamas and the Fatah party led by Abbas.
“Palestinian terrorists murdered Rabbi Shevach, father of 6 young children. Hamas & Fatah glorify his murder. This violence & horrific glorification will only incite more attacks & rob Palestinians of the chance for peace. I pray for the Shevach family,” he wrote.
At Wednesday’s reception, Netanyahu reiterated his condemnation of the PA’s “pay-for-slay” laws.
“Funding and incentivizing murder doesn’t exactly advance peace,” he said, saying that the PA teaches Palestinians to “Kill an Israeli and get rich.”
“Now what kind of message does this send to impressionable Palestinian children?” he asked.
The prime minister also told the foreign journalists to focus on stories about the government’s unprecedented NIS 15 billion ($4.4 billion) program to improve the lives of Israel’s Arab population. He said the foreign press should refrain from referring to Iran’s government as “moderate.”
“Call me old fashioned but I don’t think there’s anything particularly moderate in calling for the destruction of Israel,” he said.
Asked what his “ultimate [peace] deal” would look like, Netanyahu said, “Why don’t you let Mr. Trump present his first? Then we will see what the penultimate deal is and what the ultimate deal is. It takes time.”
Netanyahu blasted Abbas for saying that in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Palestinians can no longer consider the U.S. a broker for peace.
“You know that’s not going to change. You know that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel under any deal, ultimate or not. Everybody understands that — with a deal, without a deal, Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Netanyahu said.
“Mr. Abbas has used this statement to seek a way to essentially run away from the negotiations. He’s done it before,” he added.
“The last thing you should do as journalists is give him credence. If you want to negotiate peace, you’ve got to negotiate. We’ve never put any preconditions on negotiations, and I don’t do so now. And, of course, if President Trump puts forward his proposal, his ideas, I’ll study them very carefully,” he said.