Senior minister: Abbas is ‘leading’ terror incitement
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Senior minister: Abbas is ‘leading’ terror incitement

Jewish Home party's Naftali Bennett says security establishment wrong in claiming PA leader working to end the violence

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 20, 2015. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 20, 2015. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of leading a campaign of incitement against Israel to fuel a recent wave of terror attacks in the country, and declared that Abbas no longer has a role to play in the future of the Middle East.

Bennett, who leads the right-wing Jewish Home party, claimed during an interview with Army Radio that the root of the attacks lies in “incitement that is being led by [Israel’s] Islamic Movement and Abbas.”

The Palestinian leader, he continued, “is not a partner [for peace]. [Abbas’s] role in the Middle East has come to an end.”

Confronted with the fact that Israeli defense officials have reiterated in recent days that Abbas has been seeking to lower the flames, Bennett said, “I think the security establishment is wrong. I know that the security establishment… assesses that there is an important role today for [Abbas]. I think that he is leading the incitement, leading the international campaign against Israel, in The Hague, in the UN.”

During Bennett’s interview, reports broke of a car bombing attack that was thwarted on the road to Jerusalem from the West Bank town of Ma’ale Adumim. A Palestinian woman detonated a bomb in her car after being pulled over by a traffic cop as she drove toward the capital. She was seriously wounded, while one officer was lightly hurt.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah office, with an imge of the Temple Mount in the background (Photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah office, with an image of the Temple Mount in the background (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

In all, 14 Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians have occurred in the past week alone. Much of the violence has centered around Palestinian claims that Israel is seeking to change the five-decade-old status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. The site, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque, is administered by the Muslim Waqf. Under rules set by Israel, Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray at the site. Israel has repeatedly denied that it is intending to make changes to the current rules and says the accusations are incitement to violence.

On Sunday morning, Army Radio cited a senior defense official as saying that Abbas has been “active in recent days in a serious way to calm the situation.”

The source, who was not identified in the report, said Abbas has taken significant steps on the ground, including demanding that resistance groups not take any part in the violence, banning school strikes, and demanding that the PA’s media organizations broadcast content that has a calming influence. Abbas is acting to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control, and expects to be rewarded by the international community, the source said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed Palestinian leaders’ rhetoric of “delegitimization” of Israel lies at the root of ongoing terrorism. According to a Saturday statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, he has ordered security officials to come up with measures to combat anti-Israel messages, including from Israel’s own Islamic Movement group.

On Sunday morning, shortly after his army interview, Bennett posted on his Twitter account photographs of posters allegedly distributed by Abbas’s own Fatah political party that glorified as “martyrs” some of the Palestinians who have carried out stabbing attacks in Israel in recent days.

“New posters by [Abbas’s] Fatah, ‘the national calmer,'” he wrote sarcastically. “[Abbas] is inciting, is sanctifying the martyrs; he is not the solution but the problem.

One flyer praised Ishaq Badran, a 16-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem, who was killed as he stabbed two elderly Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday, as a “heroic martyr,” and promised “eternal life and glory for our shahids,” the Arabic word for martyr, the Ynet news site reported.

The flyer bears photos of Fatah founder Yasser Arafat — and of its current leader Abbas.

A similar poster was printed by Fatah on Saturday honoring Mohammed Ali, who attacked police officers at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Saturday afternoon. The posters were in keeping with rampant praise showered on such attackers in official PA radio and television.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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