JERUSALEM — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday ratcheted up his condemnation of the fatal stabbing of five members of a family in a Jewish settlement on Friday, calling it a “despicable act” that was “inhuman and immoral.”
The comments, in an interview with Israeli radio, appeared to be a response to complaints by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Palestinian denunciations of the killing had not been clear-cut, and that the Palestinian Authority was not doing enough to stop what he called anti-Israeli incitement.
A couple and three of their children, including a 3-month-old infant, were knifed to death in their beds in the attack on their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar. The Israeli government said Sunday that it had approved the construction of hundreds of new homes in West Bank settlements in response.
“Any person with a shred of humanity cannot watch this scene without feeling pain and crying over what he saw,” Abbas said, adding that he and Netanyahu had agreed on a joint investigation.
Abbas rejected Netanyahu’s charges that anti-Israeli incitement in mosques had encouraged the violence, saying that there was one officially approved text for Friday sermons in the West Bank, which did not contain such rhetoric.
Referring to the anti-government uprisings sweeping the Arab world, Abbas said that he was prepared to step down if his people demanded his ouster. “I’m not a proponent of hereditary rule and staying 20 years in power,” he said. “If the people go out and say, ‘We don’t want Abu Mazen,’ then farewell.” Abu Mazen is Abbas’s nickname.
Greenberg is a special correspondent.