Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday pointed the finger at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for inciting Palestinian violence, saying attacks on Israelis were the direct result of inflammatory rhetoric ordered by Ramallah.
During a tour of a West Bank army headquarters with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lambasted the Palestinian leadership for failing to condemn Sunday’s terror attack in Jerusalem, Liberman went a step further, saying that “the worrisome thing is that terrorism and incidents in the field are the result of orders from on high — direct orders from Abbas to imams in mosques to incite [to violence].”
On Monday, the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom reported that a relative of Fadi al-Qunbar, the driver of the truck in Sunday’s terror attack that killed four soldiers, had seen him incensed after hearing a sermon at his local East Jerusalem mosque on Friday excoriating US President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
According to Israel Radio, the expected embassy relocation was the chief subject of religious sermons throughout the West Bank on Friday, with PA leadership instructing the mosques under its control to focus on the matter.
Liberman’s remarks linked the Palestinian leadership to the deadly terror attack in Jerusalem that left four troops dead and 16 injured.
“Anyone who thinks that instead of sitting down and talking, he will change the situation through pressure, intimidation or international conferences is wrong,” Liberman added. “We have no intention to waver from the decisions we’re made and I hope that we’ll exact a toll on the other party for all this incitement.”
Netanyahu on Tuesday criticized Abbas’s Fatah party for not only “fail[ing] to condemn the latest terrorist attack, but that there were even those in Fatah who praised it,” according to Army Radio.
Both Netanyahu and Liberman have previously blamed incitement from the PA for fueling terrorism against Israelis, although the prime minister said Sunday regarding the attacker that “according to all the signs he is a supporter of the Islamic State” terror group, without elaborating.
It wasn’t clear which mosque Qunbar, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, attended on Friday.
On Friday, the Palestinian Authority’s supreme Sharia judge Mahmoud al-Habbash said moving the embassy was tantamount to “a declaration of war on all Muslims,” vowing the measure “would not pass in silence.”
“Occupied Jerusalem is our eternal capital, the capital of our existence and the capital of our state,” he said in a sermon attended by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “In matters of religion, faith, values, ethics, and history, there can be no compromises. Therefore, it isn’t possible to compromise on or negotiate over Jerusalem.”
The funerals of the four soldiers killed — Lt. Yael Yekutiel, 20, of Givatayim, Lt. Shir Hajaj, 22, of Ma’ale Adumim, 2nd Lt. Erez Orbach, 20, of Alon Shvut, and 2nd Lt. Shira Tzur, 20, of Haifa — took place in quick succession on Monday.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.