Memorializing terror victims, Netanyahu urges Abbas to stop funding terrorists
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Memorializing terror victims, Netanyahu urges Abbas to stop funding terrorists

At annual ceremony for those killed in terror attacks, PM claims PA has spent $1 billion in recent years in payments to jailed assailants

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on Israeli Remembrance Day during a ceremony held at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, May 1, 2017. (Amit Shabi/POOL)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on Israeli Remembrance Day during a ceremony held at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, May 1, 2017. (Amit Shabi/POOL)
  • Ahead of Memorial Day events, IDF soldiers put flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers in Mount Herzl Military Cemetery,  Jerusalem, April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Ahead of Memorial Day events, IDF soldiers put flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers in Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, Jerusalem, April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • A man stands by the grave of a fallen soldier on the eve of Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Sunday, April 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    A man stands by the grave of a fallen soldier on the eve of Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Sunday, April 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israeli soldiers light candles near the graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers light candles near the graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • An Israeli soldier holds flowers to be placed on the graves of fallen soldiers on the eve of Israel's Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Sunday, April 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    An Israeli soldier holds flowers to be placed on the graves of fallen soldiers on the eve of Israel's Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Sunday, April 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Israeli soldiers prepare before a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror, at the "Yad Labanim" memorial in Jerusalem on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers prepare before a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror, at the "Yad Labanim" memorial in Jerusalem on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israelis pay their respects near the graves of fallen Israeli soldiers at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on April 28, 2017.  (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis pay their respects near the graves of fallen Israeli soldiers at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on April 28, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli scouts of the Modiin Tribe light torches during a ceremony commemorating the fallen Israeli soldiers, on the eve of the Israeli Memorial Day at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israeli scouts of the Modiin Tribe light torches during a ceremony commemorating the fallen Israeli soldiers, on the eve of the Israeli Memorial Day at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Memorial candles near graves of fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2017.  (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Memorial candles near graves of fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli soldiers stand at attention during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2017, as Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Israeli soldiers stand at attention during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2017, as Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Israelis stand still in silence next to graves of soldiers at the Mt Herzl miitary cemetery in Jerusalem, as a two minute siren sounded across Israel, marking Memorial Day which commemorates Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror. May 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis stand still in silence next to graves of soldiers at the Mt Herzl miitary cemetery in Jerusalem, as a two minute siren sounded across Israel, marking Memorial Day which commemorates Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror. May 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, Police Chief Roni Alsheich, President of the Supreme Court Miriam Naor and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attend a ceremony held at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, on Israeli Remembrance Day, which commemorates Israel's fallen soldiers and Israeli civilians killed in terror attacks. May 1, 2017. (Noam Moskowitz/POOL)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, Police Chief Roni Alsheich, President of the Supreme Court Miriam Naor and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attend a ceremony held at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, on Israeli Remembrance Day, which commemorates Israel's fallen soldiers and Israeli civilians killed in terror attacks. May 1, 2017. (Noam Moskowitz/POOL)

At a memorial ceremony for victims of terror on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to stop paying terrorists and their families for carrying out attacks on Israelis and instead fund efforts toward peace.

The comments came as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas prepares to meet with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday.

Netanyahu addressed the national ceremony held at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem as the country marked the annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks.

The ceremony was also attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, Mossad head Yossi Cohen, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, MKs and bereaved families.

“Terrorists attack innocent people, Jews and non-Jews, in Israel and abroad,” Netanyahu said. “These awful terrorists get a monthly wage from the Palestinian Authority,” he continued. “The more you kill, the more you get.”

The PA spends $350 million a year paying wages to terrorists imprisoned in Israel or the families of terrorists killed during their attacks, the prime minister said. Over the past few years, it has spent some $1 billion on those payments.

“Think what could have been done with a billion dollars,” Netanyahu said. “How can you talk about peace when you at the same time fund murderers who murdered Israelis?”

The prime minister called on the PA to abolish the laws that require the funding of terrorists and their families.

“Fund peace,” he implored.

As a two-minute siren sounds across Israel, marking Memorial Day which commemorates fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror, people stand still in Jerusalem, May 1, 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
As a two-minute siren sounds across Israel, marking Memorial Day which commemorates fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror, people stand still in Jerusalem, May 1, 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Earlier in the day, speaking at an official ceremony for fallen soldiers, Netanyahu said Israel only survived because of the sacrifices made by the country’s defenders.

“We have learned to speak of our loved ones in the past tense,” Netanyahu said. “Me too. It is an unbearable task. The wounds of the past and the loss never really heal.”

Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan, an IDF officer, was killed leading a commando raid to free Israeli civilians held hostage by Palestinian terrorists in Entebbe airport, Uganda, in July 1976.

The prime minister also promised to work to return the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers killed in action in the 2014 Gaza Strip war, to Israel. Their remains are held by the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

“Our lives continue to depend on the willingness to heroism and sacrifice of our sons and daughters,” Netanyahu said. “It is a necessary condition for our existence. We have no choice but to continue defending our country, even if it means the best of our children fall.”

Since 1860, when the first Jewish neighborhood was established outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, 23,544 men and women have died defending Israel and the pre-state Jewish community, according to official figures.

Pnina Saror, the daughter of Pinhas Saror who was killed in the 1956 Suez Campaign, lit a memorial flame at the start of the ceremony. Uzi Kirma, whose son police officer Yosef Kirma was killed in a shootout with a Palestinian terrorist during an October 2016 attack in Jerusalem, then said Kaddish, the traditional mourner’s prayer, before Netanyahu delivered his address.

Rivlin, Netanyahu, and Edelstein were among those who laid wreaths during the ceremony.

Bereaved Israelis mourn next to graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, during Israeli Memorial Day, May 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Bereaved Israelis mourn next to graves of fallen soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, during Israeli Memorial Day, May 1, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Another memorial ceremony was held at the same time in the Kiryat Shaul military ceremony, attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The day is marked annually with candle-lighting ceremonies, melancholy music on the radio and newspaper features and TV programs about those who died.

Memorial Day began on Sunday night with a one-minute siren at 8 p.m. Sunday, though some local events began earlier, including an official event for fallen soldiers at Jerusalem’s Yad Labanim, or Memorial for the Sons, attended by Netanyahu. Memorial events end at 8 p.m. as the country transitions into Independence Day.

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