Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki claimed on Sunday that Israel may have staged the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers 10 days ago to deflect international criticism from it, arguing that the Jewish state had no proof that Hamas was behind the abduction.
“They [the Israelis] have no proof that Hamas is behind this operation, as they have failed to provide any proof indicating this,” Maliki told Saudi daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat from Jedda, where he, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, was visiting last week.
“In the absence of proof, there are three possible scenarios for the issue: The kidnapping could be a childish game on the part of Israel to draw attention to it, it could be part of a larger game to turn the Israelis from aggressors to victims, or maybe they were really kidnapped,” Maliki said.
Even if the three teenagers were indeed abducted, the foreign minister continued, they could have been victims of “Jewish criminals, Palestinian criminals or Palestinian-Jewish criminals” who carried out the kidnapping “for their own personal goals.” The abduction could have also been carried out by “various Palestinian factions,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on June 15 that Israel had evidence that Hamas was behind the kidnapping, after initially blaming “Palestinian terrorists” for the act. On Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel has “unequivocal proof” of Hamas’s involvement, evidence that Israel had begun sharing with several countries and would soon make public.
Abbas has blasted the kidnapping as both inhumane and destructive to the Palestinian cause, but refrained from flatly accusing Hamas, his partner in a recently formed unity government. “Whoever was behind this kidnapping… they wanted to destroy us,” he said.
Like Abbas, Maliki defended the Palestinian security coordination with Israel, saying it contributed in staving off direct Israeli intervention in Palestinian security affairs.
“Security cooperation continuously persists between Palestinian and Israeli security agencies, regardless of the existence or absence of kidnapped persons,” he said. “From the start, we believed that security cooperation serves the purely Palestinian interest of maintaining security within Palestine.”