Israel demands Palestinian leader’s help after abductions

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Monday that he expected his help in finding three kidnapped Israeli teenagers and capturing their abductors.

A telephone conversation, initiated by Abbas, came after Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man overnight as they continued an aggressive campaign across the West Bank, arresting a total of 150 people, most of them leaders of the militant Islamic movement Hamas.

Among those detained in the latest sweep was the Hamas-affiliated speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, which has not met in years.


Netanyahu and other Israeli officials insist the kidnapping is the work of Hamas, despite claims of responsibility from other groups, but hold Abbas accountable because of his April reconciliation with Hamas, which led to the formation of a new Palestinian government that Israel has urged the world to reject.

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“The consequences of the partnership with Hamas must be understood,” Netanyahu told Abbas, according to a statement from his office. “It is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, and bad for the region.”

Abbas’s office on Monday condemned both the kidnapping and the Israeli military campaign that followed it, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

“The presidency also stressed again the importance of not resorting to violence by any side,” Wafa said, and “praised the efforts” of the Palestinian security forces “to maintain calm and order.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Abbas’s spokesman, said the Palestinian president had called Netanyahu on Monday because he “wanted to assure the Israelis that we don’t accept these kinds of actions,” referring to the kidnapping.


“The political connection between the two men is very important at this point,” Abu Rudeineh said in a telephone interview.

“It’s very important that Israelis are willing to cooperate with Abbas on these issues,'’ he said. “We are not going to say who is responsible. We are looking, together, to finish this issue peacefully, and that’s the important thing. The message is the two authorities are taking the right decisions and working together.”

Many of the arrests are not directly connected to the search for the missing teenagers but aimed at applying pressure on Hamas.

Israeli ministers were due to convene Monday afternoon to consider further measures against Hamas, including the deportation of members to the Gaza Strip, the destruction of activists’ homes and cutting off funding of affiliated charities and organizations.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of the secular Fatah faction, issued a statement overnight claiming responsibility for the kidnapping, saying the three teenagers were “in safe hands and outside the Hebron area.”


It also demanded the release of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, but that statement’s veracity was in doubt. Two little-known groups had previously taken credit for the abduction. Hamas has denied culpability.

“We warn the Zionists against committing any more stupidities, including their violations of international laws by the arresting of the Parliament speaker,” Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official, said in a statement Monday morning.