In a stern and somber televised statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his “deep outrage” last night over the Shabbos killing in Itamar of five members of the same family, and said it was time the Palestinian Authority ended its “double talk” and stopped inciting terrorism.
“I demand that the PA stop the incitement, incitement taking place daily in its schools, mosques, and in the media it controls,” Netanyahu said from the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, where he was holding security consultations. “The time has come to stop this double talk.”
“The PA speaks peace outwardly, but permits, and sometimes leads, incitement at home. The time has come for it to stop incitement and begin educating its people for peace.”
Netanyahu said he was disappointed by the “weak and mumbled” statement regarding the murders coming from the PA. “This is not the way to condemn terrorism, this is not the way tofight terrorism,” he said.
Shortly after the statement, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, PA President Mahmoud Abbas called Netanyahu to express his condolences.
Netanyahu, according to a statement issued by his office, told Abbas it was not enough to condemn the violence because it “is against Palestinian interests” – as the Palestinians have done many times in the past – but because it is morally unacceptable.
“I expect that you stop the incitement in the schools, school books and mosques, and educate your children toward peace, as we do,” Netanyahu said. “The murder of children in their sleep is murder for the sake of murder.”
Abbas, according to Palestinian sources, expressed his rejection and condemnation of all acts of violence that are directed against civilians, regardless of their sources or reasons.
He also said that violence would only breed more violence, and that what was required was to quickly find a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict During his televised statement Netanyahu also called for a strong, clear unequivocal condemnation of the murders from the international community. He said he noticed “several countries that always hasten to the UN Security Council in order to condemn Israel, the state of the Jews, because it planned a house somewhere, or laid a tile somewhere,” but tarried when it came to issuing a “strong condemnation of the murder of Jewish babies.”
“I expect from them that they issue this condemnation immediately, without balance, without understanding, without justification,” the prime minister said. “There is no justification, no excuse and no forgiveness for the murder of babies.”
Netanyahu, who said that the country was “supporting and embracing” both the relatives of the victims and “our brothers, the residents of Judea and Samaria,” called on everyone in the country to act with “restraint and responsibly,” and not take the law into their own hands. Taking the law into one’s hands, he said, leads to a situation where “there is no law. The IDF and the security forces, and only them, will carry out their responsibilities.”
Netanyahu, who said that the Jews of Judea and Samaria should “not let their spirits falter,” stated that the country’s national interests – “first and foremost security” – would determine the settlement map.
“Terrorism will not determine the settlement map; we will,” he said.
Netanyahu spoke Saturday evening with the dead children’s grandfather and promised to do everything possible to help during this period.
“I intend to follow this personally,” the prime minister.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, directed Israel’s ambassador to the UN to file a protest with the UN secretary-general and with the president of the security council.
He also directed the country’s delegations abroad to stress that the attack had been a direct result of “wild incitement” against the settlements and settlers, and their deligitimization.
UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon issued a statement condemning the attack.
While the country has suffered innumerable terrorist attacks, this was one of the few times that the prime minister came out with a televised statement, something that sources in his office said was due to the “particularly egregious nature” of the attack, which triggered condemnations from a number of countries.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of five Israelis in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank, and we offer our condolences to their loved ones and to the Israeli people,” the White House said in a statement. “There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home.”
The statement called on the PA to “unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack and for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be held accountable.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the “friends and relatives of the family killed in Itamar have my deepest sympathies,” and that “this was an act of incomprehensible cruelty and brutality which I utterly condemn.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the “cruel and heinous” slayings, saying “nothing can justify such attacks.” France’s new foreign minister, Alain Juppe, condemned the attack and said France “condemns all acts of violence in the occupied territories and calls for maximum restraint in order to prevent deterioration in the situation.”
Quartet representative Tony Blair said “this brutal and appalling murder is shocking and deplorable,” and sent his “deepest condolences and sympathy to those remaining members of the family and to the community.”
Inside Israel, President Shimon Peres characterized the killings as “one of the most difficult and despicable events we have seen.”
The attack, he said, “indicates a loss of humanity. There is no religion in the world or any faith that allows these kinds of horrible acts. There are no words of consolation in the face of this devastation. Our hearts are with the orphans and with the community of Itamar during this extremely difficult time.”
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau, meanwhile, said that guilt for the murders rested with Abbas, who is responsible for an educational system that educates toward “hatred of Jews and toward a culture of murder and terror.”
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said the attacks showed “that there is no partner on the other side.
While our children are slaughtered in their beds and Gazans celebrate the criminal butchery by handing out candy and cheering shouts of joy, I ask the international community: With whom do you expect us to talk about peace?” Opposition head Tzipi Livni (Kadima) issued a statement saying the entire nation was united in sympathy for the family and supported the IDF actions against terrorism.
Likud MK Danny Danon blamed the attack on Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s “lax security policies in Judea and Samaria,” saying the “irresponsible removal of checkpoints and the abdication of our security needs to the Palestinian Authority has led to a situation where an innocent family was brutally slaughtered in their own home. Barak should be concentrating on protecting the citizens of Israel and not pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu into ill-advised ‘peace’ plans.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, Labor MK Isaac Herzog said the attack was meant to “prevent diplomatic progress” but that it should not serve as an “excuse by the prime minister for not presenting a diplomatic plan” while waging an uncompromising war on terror.
The United Arab List-Ta’al’s Taleb a-Sanaa condemned the attack as an “atrocity” and said its perpetrators were “criminals who don’t represent the values of the Palestinian people or Islam.” Meretz’s Nitzan Horowitz said that terrorism “undermines the deep interest of both peoples in peace and security.
Both sides need to do everything to prevent violence and renew the diplomatic process.”