In the wake of the terror attack at a Jerusalem Light Rail station in which a three-month-old baby was killed Wednesday, prominent Israeli politicians blamed the Palestinian Authority for sowing seeds of violence and inciting terrorism.
Echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Wednesday lashed out at PA President Mahmoud Abbas over the attack, lawmakers from various parties called for urgent measures to contain the violence simmering in the capital.
Writing on his official Facebook page, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon asserted Thursday that the attack was “clearly the outcome of those in the Palestinian Authority who educate the younger generation to hate Jews and expel them from their homeland.”
He added, “The Palestinian Authority does not, and never did, have a culture of peace, but rather a culture of incitement and jihad against Jews. It starts with Abbas’s lying statements against Israel from the UN podium, continues with persistent Palestinian attempts to delegitimize us in the international arena and ends with incitement in the Palestinian education system. These are the harsh consequences.”
Ya’alon was referring to the death of a three-month-old baby, Chaya Zissel Braun, when an East Jerusalem member of Hamas plowed a car into a train platform in the capital Wednesday, also injuring eight others.
“This is why we say time and again that the roots of the conflict are not territorial, but rather the fact that the Palestinians refuse to accept our right to exist as a Jewish state within any borders at all,” the defense minister concluded.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, meanwhile, linked Wednesday’s terror attack to the assault Wednesday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, by a man who had converted to Islam.
“The terrorist attacks that took place almost simultaneously yesterday in two parts of the world, Jerusalem and Ottawa, prove once again that terrorism is a global plague that must be fought forcefully and uncompromisingly.”
He added that terrorism doesn’t stem from “construction in Jerusalem, Ottawa, New York, Madrid, London or Mombasa (in Kenya) — but from radical Islam’s war on the Western world.”
“We stand with our friends from Canada,” the foreign minister said.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said in statements on both Wednesday and Thursday that Israel should respond to the attack, and to other recent unrest among the Palestinian population, by announcing the construction of more housing units in Jerusalem and assert sovereignty over the city.
“He who is afraid to build houses in Jerusalem, he who ignores rock-hurling in the capital, he who allows gas and train stations to be burned, announces that he has given up on sovereignty over Jerusalem,” he said.
Speaking to Army Radio on Thursday morning, Bennett stressed that Wednesday’s attack was directly linked to the “endless” incidents of rock-hurling and Molotov cocktail use against the city’s infrastructure and Jewish houses in recent months.
“There has been no adequate response to these incidents,” Bennett said, adding that the attacks proved it was “not desperation that drives our enemies,” but “the hope of kicking us out of here” with more and more terrorist attacks.
“What we need to do is say that we are staying here, we are building in our capital, and I call on the prime minister to issue building permits. Without sovereignty, there can be no security,” said Bennett, the leader of the nationalist Orthodox Jewish Home party.
MK Ayelet Shaked, also of Jewish Home, spoke in a similar vein, writing on her Facebook page late Wednesday that terrorists “kill us because they harbor the hope” of expelling the Jews from Israel. Urging Netanyahu to announce “the construction of thousands of new housing units in Jerusalem, our capital, tonight,” she said the solution was to “make it clear to them that we aren’t going anywhere.”
Other Knesset members posted photos of Braun, the slain infant, who was laid to rest on Wednesday night. Among them was Labor Party head and opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who eulogized the “beautiful, innocent” child and extended condolences to her family.
He, too, addressed the fact that Jerusalem was “heating up,” and called on the government to carry out emergency measures to “stop the cycle of violence and enforce quiet.”
“This is not the time for incitement and criticism; this is the time to examine everything that has happened in the past six months, since the three youths were kidnapped, to understand how to prevent a further escalation,” Herzog said. He was referring to the June killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank that sparked unrest and was one of the causes of the summer’s war in Gaza.
Fellow Labor MK Merav Michaeli, meanwhile, paid tribute to the dead and wounded while also blasting Netanyahu’s government for trying to “manage” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“It makes [my] heart ache also because this is the price of this government’s path. This is the price of managing the conflict … a price like [the one paid] yesterday,” Michaeli wrote on her Facebook page.
“This government doesn’t offer any hope for living here. For living together, with mutual respect … it’s hard to believe after so many years with Netanyahu, but there is another way.”
Netanyahu convened a telephone briefing with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen over the terror attack, ordering increased security in the capital.
“This is how [PA President Abbas’s] partners in government act, the same Abbas who just a few days ago incited attacks on Jews in Jerusalem,” he said in a statement.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, meanwhile, called for bolstered police presence in neighborhoods that have seen violent riots in recent months, as stone throwing protests broke out across East Jerusalem Wednesday night.
“We must restore peace and security in Jerusalem,” he said in a statement. “As I have said for months, the situation in Jerusalem is intolerable and we must act unequivocally against all violence taking place in the city. Today, more than ever, it is clear that we must send police forces into neighborhoods where there are disturbances, placing them strategically and widely in significant numbers.
“Following my request, the prime minister has given instructions to reinforce the police forces in order for us to implement an operational action plan formulated to deal with riots, including the addition of personnel and special units, using technological means, and increased intelligence.”
President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement: “The atrocious murder of an innocent baby girl, a victim of indiscriminate terrorism, should disgust all those who have a heart.”
“The increasing incitement on the Arab streets and the streets of Jerusalem, which unfortunately receives the backing of leaders in the Arab world, has the ability to destroy the delicate balance of life in Jerusalem, and carry us all into a maelstrom of destruction and pain,” Rivlin said. “As a sovereign people in our own country, and capital city, it is the security forces alone, who have the responsibility to act, decisively and unashamedly, in the face of these brutal terrorist operations.
Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.