As the IDF’s ongoing operation in the West Bank aimed at locating three kidnapped Israeli teenagers entered its second week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remained committed to preventing a popular uprising against Israel at all costs, the Palestinian foreign minister said Friday.
Riyad al-Maliki stressed that while he believed the IDF’s military campaign was excessive and unjust, the Palestinian president was intent on continuing his cooperation with the Israeli government in its attempt to bring the teenagers back to safety, he told Reuters in an interview.
“We will do our utmost to help because if the situation continues as it is, this will end up [with] the destruction of what we have built in Palestine,” Maliki told the news agency.
Last week, Israeli forces embarked on a massive campaign to locate the three kidnapped boys — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16 — while simultaneously destroying parts of the Hamas terror infrastructure in the West Bank. The Israeli government said it holds Hamas responsible for the abduction.
The Palestinian FM added that if the terror organization was indeed found to be behind the kidnappings, the Palestinian Authority would take “drastic” steps regarding the Fatah-Hamas agreement, which resulted in the establishment of a unity government sworn in earlier this month.
“If Hamas is behind it, and nobody knows up until now, then it will be a blow to the reconciliation process,” Maliki said.
“If we reach that conclusion, then the president will take drastic decisions.”
Maliki went on to say that while the Israeli government was committing “atrocities” in the West Bank, Abbas would continue to assist in the search for the teens, even if his status as a Palestinian leader was compromised as a result, according to Reuters.
“I can assure you that as long as President Abbas is in charge, there will be no third Intifada,” he said.
Maliki urged the international community to condemn the Israeli operation, adding that a failure to do so would give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the green light to destroy, kill [and] upset the life of all the Palestinian people”.
The IDF arrested 25 suspected Hamas operatives overnight Thursday in the West Bank as part of the ongoing Operation Brother’s Keeper to return the kidnapped yeshiva students. The latest arrests bring the total number of Palestinians suspects held in the ongoing sweep to 330, 240 of whom are associated with Hamas, according to the IDF. According to Israeli government officials, several dozen of the detainees are individuals who were released as part of the 2011 prisoner exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.
Hamas has praised the abduction of the teenagers, but has not claimed responsibility for it.