DAY 4: The search for the three kidnapped Israeli teens

Abbas calls Netanyahu, condemns kidnapping

In first conversation for a year, PM asks Palestinian leader to help locate missing teens; Ramallah speaks out against abduction as well as Israeli response

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Monday morning, calling on him to help find three kidnapped teens.

The conversation, which broke more than a year of silence between the two leaders, was initiated by Abbas and came two days after Netanyahu held Abbas responsible for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers.

Abbas, for his part, issued an official condemnation of the kidnapping, as well as of the Israeli arrest operation in the West Bank.

“I expect you to help in returning the youths and capturing the kidnappers,” Netanyahu told Abbas. “The Hamas kidnappers left territory under PA control and [after abducting their victims] returned to area under PA control.”

“The repercussions of the partnership with Hamas must be understood. It’s bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, and bad for the region,” Netanyahu added.

Also on Monday morning, the Palestinian president’s office condemned for the first time what it dubbed “the chain of events that occurred last week, beginning with the abduction of the three Israeli youths, and ending with the successive Israeli violations.”

The Palestinian communique also blasted Israel for the hunger strike of Palestinian detainees under administrative detention, the IDF search of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and “the assault on many innocents.”

Palestinian security forces, the statement continued, have been working to “safeguard law, quiet and stability and prevent Palestinians from slipping into anarchy and instability, as well as prevent any side from taking advantage of the situation for unpatriotic ends.”

Israeli forces have embarked on a massive manhunt for the three teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, after they were kidnapped last Thursday while hitchhiking south of Jerusalem.

The operation, which has focused on putting pressure on Hamas and the Hebron area, has included cooperation with Palestinian security forces.

In comments after the kidnapping Netanyahu blamed Hamas and faulted Abbas due to his Fatah party’s recent unity pact with the Gaza-based group. The prime minister also asserted that the kidnappers had set out from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, making the PA responsible even though the kidnapping itself took place in Area C, where Israel’s security forces hold sway.

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