Obama Called Him a Violence Renouncer, But Abbas Is Silent on Passover Eve Shooting of Israeli Family

By Patrick Goodenough | April 16, 2014 | 4:31 AM EDT

President Obama and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Update: Israeli media on Wednesday cited a group of left-wing Israeli lawmakers as saying Mahmoud Abbas told them that he has denounced all terror, including the killing on Monday of Baruch Mizrachi. But Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh later disputed that, saying Abbas had not referred specifically to the Mizrachi shooting, but had said he was "committed to a total condemnation of violence from any party.")

(CNSNews.com) – Weeks after President Obama described Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas as “somebody who has consistently renounced violence,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted Tuesday that the P.A. had not condemned the killing of an Israeli and the wounding of his wife and son on their way to a Passover Seder.

“The Palestinian Authority continues to constantly broadcast – in its official media – programs that incite against the existence of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Last night this incitement was translated into the murder of a father who was traveling with his family to celebrate the first night of Passover.”

He added that that “incitement … continues in that it has yet to see fit to condemn this abominable and reprehensible act.”

Not only has Abbas or any other P.A. leader publicly spoken out against Monday night’s killing near Hebron in the West Bank, but the P.A.’s official news agency, Wafa, did not carry a report on it. (A Wafa report Tuesday stated that Israeli forces were carrying out searches in a town near Hebron, without mentioning the attack that triggered the searches.)

Baruch Mizrachi, a police intelligence officer and father of five, was killed and his pregnant wife Haddas was injured, according to Israeli police. One of their children, a nine-year-old son, sustained shrapnel chest wounds. Israeli forces were hunting for the shooter or shooters, but no arrests were reported.

Abbas’ P.A. is Israel’s negotiating partner in the U.S.-sponsored effort aimed at reaching a “two-state solution” to the drawn-out conflict. That initiative is currently near collapse, as negotiators try to overcome a series of setback s and agree to extend the talks beyond the April 29 deadline originally set by Secretary of State John Kerry.

While an outstanding Palestinian prisoner release and a P.A. push to sign up to international treaties have been cited as the main immediate obstacles, the Israeli government has also sought to draw attention to what it calls a “culture of hatred cultivated by” P.A. leaders and official media outlets against Israel, including incitement to violence and demonization of Jews.

When Obama hosted Abbas in the Oval Office on March 17, he commended him as “somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security.”

Meanwhile a top leader of Hamas, the U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization which controls the Gaza Strip and is not a party to the negotiations, praised the shooting.

Ismail Haniyeh said the attack had “brought back life to the path of resistance” and warned that more were to come, adding that “the West Bank will be the future point of our struggle with the enemy.”

Hamas also issued a statement saying that it “praises the heroic Hebron operation and considers it a result of the occupation’s oppression and crimes against our people and holy places, including the Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Another Gaza-based terror group, Islamic Jihad, also welcomed the shooting, although neither it nor Hamas directly claimed responsibility for it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki at the daily press briefing condemned the attack.

“We offer our condolences to the man’s family and support Israel’s efforts to bring those responsible for justice – to justice,” she said. “We urge all parties to exercise restraint and avoid any actions that would raise tensions.”

Psaki said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were due to meet again on Wednesday, seeking agreement to extend the talks beyond the end of April.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow