#AceNewsServices – JERUSALEM – June 18 – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday and said he expected him to help in efforts to find three Israeli teenagers abducted in the occupied West Bank (Reuters)
(Abbas Calls for Return of Israeli Teenagers Headline in Live Updates Haaretz Daily)
“I expect you to help in the return of the kidnapped youngsters and in catching the abductors,” a statement issued by the prime minister’s office quoted Netanyahu as telling Abbas in a telephone call.
On Sunday, Gilad Erdan, a minister in Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told Israeli television that Abbas’s security forces were “willingly” helping search for the teenagers.
A statement on Monday by Abbas’s office made no mention of the conversation with Netanyahu. But it said the “Palestinian presidency condemns … the kidnapping of three Israeli boys and the series of Israeli violations” — a reference to Israeli military raids and arrests since they disappeared on Thursday.
Both leaders have had infrequent telephone conversations in recent years, usually to convey greetings on Jewish and Muslim holidays.
(SeattleTimes) One of the missing teens, Naftali Frenkel, 16, a yeshiva student at the settlement of Kfar Etzion, holds U.S. citizenship. The others have been identified as Eyal Yifrach, 19, a student at a yeshiva in the Jewish settlement enclave in Hebron, and Gilad Shaer, 16, who attends the same school as Frenkel.
“We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a written statement. “As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.”
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Under a reconciliation deal reached by Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, an interim government backed by both factions was formed earlier this month. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and is deemed a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Israel suspended peace talks with the Palestinians and says it will not negotiate with the Hamas-backed government.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio that the kidnappers were members of “an arm of Hamas” in the West Bank. Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip declined to comment on the abduction or take responsibility for it, suggesting that it might have been initiated independently in the West Bank.
A leaflet issued Friday carried a claim of responsibility by a local branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — the radical Islamic group that has made dramatic gains in fighting in Iraq in recent days.
The group is not known to be active in the West Bank, however, and the statement has not been authenticated.