JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was willing to meet with Mahmoud Abbas while blaming the Palestinian Authority president of fanning the flames of the current wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis.
On Thursday, at a news conference for the English-speaking media, Netanyahu accused Abbas of “incitement and lies.”
“I have called on Abbas time and time again to renew peace talks without preconditions,” Netanyahu said in response to a BBC reporter’s question about whether he was open to a meeting with Abbas. “I am willing to meet him, he is not willing to meet me and you ask me if I’m ready to renew negotiations – ask him.”
Netanyahu said a meeting with Abbas could “stop the wave of incitement.”
The Israeli leader said he was meeting with the media to refute what he called the “big lies” that Abbas was feeding to his people: that Israel is attempting to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and is executing innocent Palestinian youths.
Netanyahu referred to Abbas’ accusation on Wednesday in a publicly televised speech from Ramallah in which he accused Israel of “executing” a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who took part in a stabbing attack against an Israeli teenager.
“First of all, he isn’t dead, he’s alive, and second he isn’t innocent, he tried to kill a 13-year-old riding a bike, who was the true innocent,” Netanyahu said of the attack on Monday, which left the victim in serious condition.
He said the threat of changing the status quo has led to the current wave of violence.
“Nothing justifies terrorism. This is terrorism – murder pure and simple,” Netanyahu said, calling on the international community to hold Abbas accountable.
Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, told reporters about the Temple Mount, “There is no change in the status quo. The Temple Mount is open to Muslim prayer only. Muslims pray there regularly.”
Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu’s Arabic spokesman, showed slides of posters and memes calling on Palestinians to perpetrate stabbing attacks.