As two Mideast peace envoys arrive from Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas exchanged hostile words over terrorism and settlements on Tuesday.
With Jason Greenblatt in Israel as of Tuesday, and Jared Kusher due to arrive on Wednesday, the two sides seemed less ready to renew talks than almost any time recently.
Netanyahu reacted angrily to a Palestinian decision to name yet another street after a terrorist, this time in Jenin, after “martyr” Khaled Nazzal, whom he noted was “a Palestinian terrorist chief who planned the 1974 Maalot massacre in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 22 school children and 4 adults.”
“Palestinian President Abbas tells the world that he educates Palestinian children for peace. That’s a lie,” Netanyahu tweeted.
“Naming yet another public square for a mass murderer teaches Palestinian youngsters to murder Israelis,” Netanyahu said soon after. “That’s the very opposite of peace.
“President Abbas: Stop poisoning the minds of Palestinian youth. Educate for peace, not terror,” he wrote.
For their part, the Palestinians lashed out at Israel for breaking ground at the new community of Amichai, to relocate evacuees from the Amona outpost.
“This is a serious escalation, an attempt to thwart the efforts of the U.S. administration and to frustrate the efforts of U.S. President Donald Trump,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Abbas, said in a statement on the official PA news site Wafa.
As the first new housing project in Yehudah and Shomron in many years, a negative reaction from the Palestinians was only to be expected. Netanyahu was unfazed.
“Today, ground works began, as I promised, for the establishment of the new community for the residents of Amona,” he declared.
“After decades, I have the privilege to be the prime minister who is building a new community in Yehudah and Shomron.”
Meanwhile, as Israeli leaders prepared for talks with Kushner and Greenblatt, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon warned that they mean business.
“There’s mounting American pressure to advance a deal,” Kahlon told a conference in central Israel on Tuesday. “Something has happened. The American government feels it can reach an agreement, maybe because the good ties with the Israeli government allow Trump more influence than was possible during Obama’s term,” he said.