Returning to his base in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas again failed to condemn Thursday’s terror attack in which an Israeli couple were shot dead in front of their four small children.
Abbas repeated comments he made Wednesday in his adversarial speech at the UN General Assembly, during which he said the PA no longer regards itself as bound by agreements signed with Israel over the past 22 years, and chose to remain silent on the terror attack that killed Eitam and Naama Henkin as they drove in the West Bank.
“What we said in New York we will say here again,” Abbas said to supporters in Ramallah. “We are committed here too to what we said and will implement it.”
He also vowed that the Palestinian flag, raised at UN headquarters for the first time on Wednesday, would fly over the mosques, churches and “all the walls of Jerusalem.”
Channel 10 reported, nonetheless, that Abbas has ordered his security forces to carry out “preventative arrests” of Palestinians intending to carry out further attacks, in order to avoid a further escalation in tensions with Israel. The report did not cite a source.
A military wing of Abbas’s Fatah faction of the PLO, perceived by many in Israel and the international community as a relatively moderate political movement, earlier on Friday claimed responsibility for the attack.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, on Friday wrote on Facebook that the attack was the first sign of the signficance of Abbas’s UN speech, in which the PA leader accused Israel of letting “extremists” into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and planning to change the status quo at the disputed holy site.
“The call to arms by Abu Mazen [Abbas] was heard in Israel, and it is the crimson color of blood. A people whose leaders encourage murder will never have a state, and this should be said loudly and clearly. Now the time for talks is done, the time to act is nigh,” wrote Bennett.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of Bennett’s party, told Channel 2 on Friday night that Israel needed to impose “painful measures” on the Palestinians. She accused the prime minister of not taking sufficient steps to combat terrorism. “The army tries, but is not doing enough,” she said.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also linked Abbas’ comments at the UN to the “heinous murder,” calling it a direct continuation of the “policy of incitement and lies” by the Palestinian leader.
“You cannot say you promote peace, and on the other hand live with the terror of a couple of parents murdered in front of their children’s eyes. The lowly terrorists who did this should know they are not untouchable and will pay a heavy price for their actions,” Lapid wrote.