Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday to dismantle the Hamas-Fatah unity government at once, after Israel published the names of two Hamas members who are believed to have carried out the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank two weeks ago.
“A short time after the kidnapping, I said that those who perpetrated this activity were terrorists of Hamas,” Netanyahu said at an Israeli Air Force graduation ceremony. “And indeed today the security services of Israel have published the names of two of the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
The prime minister went on to call on Abbas — who, during a recent meeting in Saudi Arabia with foreign ministers from the Muslim world, spoke out against the kidnapping – to bring the reconciliation process with Hamas to a full halt.
“I now expected President Abbas, who said important things in Saudi Arabia, to stand by those words and to break his pact with the Hamas terrorist organization that kidnaps children and calls for the destruction of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The two alleged abductors, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, both known Hamas members, have been missing from their homes in Hebron’s Hares neighborhood ever since the kidnapping took place, and are still at large. The suspected kidnappers attended prayer services regularly at the same mosque, Israeli officials said.
Abu Aysha, a 32-year-old locksmith, was last seen at a family gathering only hours before the kidnapping, according to his father. Kawasme, a 29-year-old barber, was detained by the Palestinian Authority and by Israel in the past. His family is known to be affiliated with Hamas.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the kidnapping of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar, though the Islamist group has denied involvement. Thousands of Israeli troops have searched hundreds of locations in the West Bank and arrested some 400 Palestinians, many from Hamas, including some who were freed in a 2011 prisoner exchange for Hamas-kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report