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.
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.
Thousands of people visiting mount Herzl for the national Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers, police, security and terror victims. pic.twitter.com/XZJKVdwMKB
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) May 1, 2017
Rivlin, Netanyahu, and Edelstein were among those who laid wreaths during the ceremony.
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.
- Israel & the Region
- Israeli Memorial Day
- Mount Herzl
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Reuven Rivlin
- Yuli Edelstein
- Gadi Eisenkot
- Roni Alsheich
- Yossi Cohen
- Nadav Argaman
- Shin Bet
- IDF Israel Defense Forces
- IDF soldiers
- Hadar Goldin
- Oron Shaul
- Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery
- Avigdor Liberman
- Yosef Kirma
- Haim Katz
- Mahmoud Abbas
- PA Palestinian Authority
- Palestinian terrorism