Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) on Friday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli figures for shaking hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who traveled to Jerusalem from Ramallah to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres.
In a Facebook post after the funeral and without naming names, Bennett wrote: “I can’t understand why Israelis are standing in line to shake the hand of Abbas, who today encourages the murder of Israelis and pays a monthly allowance to the families of [Palestinian] killers.”
“He should prevent funerals from needing to take place before attending any,” Bennett went on, in reference to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks over the past year that have claimed the lives of more than 30 Israelis.
Israel has repeatedly accused the Palestinian leadership of inciting young Palestinians to terror and Abbas himself for not doing enough to stop it.
At the funeral, Netanyahu and Abbas exchanged a few words and his wife Sara told the PA leader she would be pleased to host him at the prime minister’s official residence someday.
Abbas also shook hands with President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama and met with other Israeli officials.
While some commentators on Bennett’s official Facebook page agreed with him, others criticized what they called his small-minded approach to the incident.
“This, Mr. Bennett, is what being a leader is about … the truth is it took real courage on his part to even come,” wrote one user.
“The Israelis who shook the hand of Abbas are not beholden to the radicalized voters of Jewish Home and their Jewishness is not defined by hatred of Arabs. You have proven that real leadership is far removed from you,” wrote another.
Peres was buried Friday at Mount Herzl ceremony in Jerusalem. His funeral was attended by world leaders from over 70 countries, including US president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
The last of Israel’s founding fathers, Peres died early Wednesday at the age of 93.