The Israeli government is laying the blame for the current wave of terrorism squarely on the shoulders of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
In his speech marking the 10th anniversary of the death of his mentor Yasser Arafat, Abbas accused Israel of “leading the region and the world into a devastating religious war,” but it was the Palestinian leader’s rhetoric that betrayed violent intransigence.
“Jerusalem is our capital and we will never give this up… Don’t let our holy sites be contaminated [by the Jews],” Abbas declared.
Meanwhile, Abbas’ official state-run media speaks of a third intifada (or terrorist uprising) and openly calls for more vehicular terror against the Jewish residents of Jerusalem. He also publicly praised the terrorist who shot and critically wounded Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a prominent activist for Jewish religious rights atop the Temple Mount.
“Abbas is not a partner to the effort against the incitement. He has proven how irresponsible he is – instead of calming tensions, he stokes them,” Netanyahu told a Jerusalem press conference. “Instead of telling the truth, he is spreading lies as if we are attempting to change the status of holy sites. Instead of educating his people on peace, he is teaching them terror.”
The prime minister also called out the international community’s complicity in the current situation: “Unfortunately, the international community does not hold the Palestinians responsible for this sort of incitement and denial of history, and I think that’s tragic, because these distortions and this incitement are so corrosive to the effort to reach a genuine peace.”
On the Palestinian side, pressure is mounting to end all security cooperation with Israel. At the same time, Abbas dares not enter the Gaza Strip, despite internationally-backed promises following the summer’s Gaza war that his Palestinian Authority would exert control over the volatile coastal enclave. Israeli officials say Abbas is afraid, both for his life and his political career, and so the present violence centering on Jerusalem is a god-send, drawing attention away from the Palestinian leader’s failures, and once again on Israel.
Voices to the right of Israel’s political spectrum are growing increasingly frustrated with this dance. “Hamas and Abbas have one and the same agenda, the destruction of Israel,” insisted Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.