Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas took the first opportunity possible Wednesday to call on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “condemn the kidnapping and murder [of an Arab youth]… as we condemned those of the three Israelis.”
Except that Mahmoud Abbas took several days to get around to his condemnation, whereas Prime Minister Netanyahu had already condemned the murder of young Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, 17, by the time Abbas was demanding that he do so.
The entire Israeli leadership, in fact, rushed to unequivocally condemn the murder, from one end of the political spectrum to the other. That, despite the fact there were quiet indications by sources that requested anonymity the killing might be connected to a blood feud, a clan war or an “honor killing.”
Nor is Abbas doing anything on his own to discourage the violence of Jerusalem Arabs, who are rioting in every neighborhood in which they live.
The young Arab teen is believed to have been kidnapped from the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina overnight Tuesday. His parents called police to report him missing at about 4:00 a.m. and his body was allegedly found in the Jerusalem forest about an hour later, at 5:00 a.m., burnt and showing other signs of violence.
The efforts by Abbas to compare the murder to the kidnapping and subsequent murder by Hamas terrorists of three Israeli teens from Gush Etzion on June 12 was obvious, as was his attempt to place the blame for the killing at the doorstep of Israeli Jews, as a “revenge attack.”
Equally clear was his determination to seek a way to halt the IDF’s continued Operation Brother’s Keeper as soldiers proceed with the intensified search for the murderers of the boys, whose bodies were laid to rest Tuesday in the Modi’in cemetery.
Abbas blamed Israel for the death of the young Arab teen, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported. He said in his statement to the WAFA news service that Israel should “take real measures” to “stop all revenge attacks.”
But Netanyahu had already referred to the killing as a “despicable murder” in public statements at the start of the day. The prime minister also spoke with Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich, urging him to get police moving to track down Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir’s killers.
The family of Naftali Frenkel, one of the murdered Israeli teens, meanwhile, told reporters Wednesday morning there was no difference between Arab and Jewish blood.
“If the Arab youth was murdered for nationalistic reasons then this is a horrible and horrendous thing. There is no difference between [Arab] blood and [Jewish] blood,” said Yishai Frenkel, uncle of the young terrror victim. “Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness and no justification for any form of murder,” he said.
However, there are many issues that are not yet clear.
It is still not known, for instance, whether in fact the two incidents are related, according to police officials. The prime minister called on security agencies to work swiftly to track down the perpetrators and identify their motives — but Abbas has obviously ignored his words.
Netanyahu also called on all sides not to take the law into their own hands, warning that Israel is “a nation of laws and everyone must act according to the law.”
Moreover, reports have surfaced of an Arab teen who was allegedly forced into a car in Shuafat late Tuesday night. It is not yet clear who was behind the kidnapping, nor whether the teen mentioned in the report is Muhammad, or someone else.
Nor has the body that was found in the Jerusalem forest definitely been identified as that of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir. It may belong to someone else. All these issues have yet to be clarified.
Hana Levi Julian