Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke about the missing teens on the Senate floor, and declared that Hamas “must not receive any further recognition or legitimization.”
In a Senate speech Thursday, Cruz called the missing boys “teenagers who were targeted for who they are, who have done no wrong, who have done nothing that comes near to deserving what has happened to them that day while waiting at the bus stop to go home from school.”
“Sadly, this is business as usual for Hamas. This is the same terrorist organization with which the Palestinian Authority recently joined in a so-called ‘unity’ government,” Cruz said.
“There can be no more illusions that Hamas has any role in any future government formed by the Palestinian Authority. They must not receive any further recognition or legitimization,” he said.
“Hamas, give the boys back. Hamas, give those boys back now. The full weight of the world should bear down on Hamas to give them back safely and immediately.”
Abbas has been cooperating with Israeli efforts to find the missing teens, but has also been critical of the Israeli security operation, in which more than 300 Palestinians, most of them Hamas members according to the Israeli army, have been detained.
At the beginning of June Abbas swore in a new, Hamas-backed national unity government, following the conclusion of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and his Fatah organization.
Netanyahu is calling on Abbas to stand by words he spoke in Saudi Arabia last week, “and to break his pact with the Hamas terrorist organization that kidnaps children and calls for the destruction of Israel.”
At an Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Jeddah, Abbas said, “the missing settlers in the West Bank are human beings like us, and we must look for them and return them to their families.” He also accused Netanyahu of “exploiting” the kidnapping as an excuse to launch a major security operation in the West Bank.
Israel’s Shin Bet security service named Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha, identified as Hamas operatives in the P.A.-ruled city of Hebron, as suspects in the abduction of Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, who went missing in the West Bank on their way home from school on June 12.
Hamas has denied responsibility for their disappearance, but Hamas leaders have also praised those responsible, alluding to the possibility Palestinian prisoners could be freed in a future exchange, as has happened before.
There has been no word from the kidnappers, and no claim of responsibility.
The State Department, which confirmed earlier that one of the missing youths, Naftali Frenkel, holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, has “emphasized the need for restraint from all sides during this difficult time.”
U.S. law on Palestinian funding prohibits funds for “any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”
But because the “interim technocratic government” sworn in by Abbas on June 2 does not include Hamas-affiliated ministers, the administration says as things now stand funding for the P.A. will continue – a decision decried by Israel.