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Netanyahu blames Palestinian incitement for shooting attack as US, EU condemn

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York
Jewel SAMAD (AFP)
Hamas praised the assault as a 'new chapter' in the fight against attempts to 'Judaize Jerusalem'

A chorus of condemnations came pouring in from across the Israeli political spectrum on Tuesday after a deadly shooting attack at the Har Adar settlement near Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others blaming the attack on "systematic incitement" among Palestinian political and religious leaders.

"This murderous attack is the result of – inter alia – systematic incitement by the Palestinian Authority and other elements and I expect Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] to condemn it and not attempt to justify it," Netanyahu said at the start of a weekly Cabinet meeting.

"Security forces will continue to take action against incitement and terrorism as they have been doing night and day and we, of course, will finish the investigation of the incident and will discuss together the next steps," he said, adding that work permits granted to the terrorist's extended family would be revoked and his home demolished.

The attack, in which three Israelis were killed and a fourth seriously injured, came as US President Donald Trump's specially appointed peace envoy Jason Greenblatt arrived for a visit to the region to advance negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kobi Gideon/GPO

The attack was carried out by a 37-year-old Palestinian identified as Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, from the West Bank village of Beit Surik who had "significant personal and family problems" including a history of domestic violence.

His wife recently fled to Jordan and left him with their children. Prior to the attack, Jamal left a note saying he was “a terrible husband” and that his wife had “nothing to do with what will happen,” Israel Radio reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the Palestinian leadership needed to take action against such attacks or there would be no point in following up on the US initiative to re-launch peace talks.

"The terrible attack at Har Adar is the Palestinian reception for US envoy Jason Greenblatt," she said.

"The American efforts must focus first of all on ending the murderous Palestinian terror." 

Hotovely renewed the Israeli government's call for the Palestinian Authority to stop paying allowances to the families of those killed or jailed while carrying out attacks, which Israel strongly condemns as encouraging poor Palestinians to turn to terror in a bid to be jailed and gift their families with a better standard of living. 

"There's no point negotiating with someone who just fans the flames of terror and continues to pay terrorists' families," Hotovely said.

Global reaction

MOHAMMED ABED (AFP)

Greenblatt later released his own condolences over the attack, writing on Twitter that "My family & I are horrified by the attack in Har Adar. Shame on Hamas & others who praised the attack. All must stand against terror!" and that he was praying for the victims and the relatives.

The US embassy in Tel Aviv lent support to Israeli claims that incitement is a chief cause of Palestinian terror, writing in a statement that the US condemns "statements glorifying terrorism and call on all to send a clear message that terrorism must never be tolerated."

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, also condemned the violence and warned that praise for such attacks undermines peace prospects.

"I condemn this morning's shooting attack by a Palestinian perpetrator in the Har Adar settlement," Mladenov said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all victims and I hope for a full and speedy recovery of the wounded."

"It is deplorable that Hamas and others continue to glorify such attacks, which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis," he continued.

The European Union's foreign policy branch, the EU External Action Service, said in a statement that "there can be no justification for such a crime and attempts by Hamas to glorify the attack are reprehensible. Violence and terror will only achieve more loss and pain and must stop."

Ambassadors to Tel Aviv from France, Australia, Canada and other countries also expressed shock and sadness over the attack on social media. 

Israel blames incitement 

Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz (Likud) called the attack "a message to American emissary Greenblatt, who is on a visit to Israel today."

"Abu Mazen incites against Israel in the United Nations and a Palestinian terrorist kills three Israelis and injures one," he said.

In a similar statement, MK Yoav Kish (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) said that "the murderous attack on Har Adar is the Palestinian reception for the envoy of President Trump."

They urged the government to boost settlement building in the West Bank "to make it clear to the murderers and to the mediators that this is our country, and we will not compromise on it."

Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) called the attack "a direct result of the false incitement of Abu Mazen at the UN," and said it is "further evidence that there is no partner and that any talk of a Palestinian state increases terrorism."

Menahem KAHANA (AFP)

Earlier in the day, the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization was quick to praise the attack calling it a "new chapter" in the "intifada (uprising) against all attempts to Judaize Jerusalem."

"Jerusalem is Islamic and its sons will sacrifice their lives for it," the group said.

Since coming to power Trump has assigned his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his former lawyer Greenblatt to talk to both Israelis and Palestinians in order to map out a way of reviving on-and-off peace negotiations.

The Palestinian Authority's payments to the families of terrorists has been a major sticking point in advancing a new round of peace talks, however.

The United States has urged that Abbas end the payments as part of its push to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, and has taken a firmer stance on the issue after the revival of the Taylor Force Act by Congress -- legislation that would cut US funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to provide financial support to the families of perpetrators of attacks against Israelis.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has nonetheless vowed to continue the payments, defending them as an “internal Palestinian issue” and a “social responsibility” of his government.

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