Israel praises Abbas remarks, slams Hamas pact

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas for condemning the alleged kidnapping of three teenagers, but criticised his unity pact with the Hamas movement.

Netanyahu spoke as Israel began to wind down a huge crackdown on Hamas, having arrested hundreds in an operation to find the youngsters who went missing in the southern West Bank nearly two weeks ago. The Jewish state was coming under increasing international pressure to use restraint in its manhunt, after Israeli raids across the West Bank killed four Palestinians.

"I appreciate what president Abbas said a few days ago in Saudi Arabia, rejecting the kidnapping," Netanyahu told his Romanian counterpart Victor Ponta at a meeting in Jerusalem. "I think these were important words," he said. Abbas condemned the alleged kidnapping, telling a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that those who kidnapped the three teenagers want to “destroy us.”

"We will hold them accountable," he said, but stopped short of blaming Hamas. US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Abbas for his courageous stand in support of efforts to find the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in telephone talks. Kerry also emphasised the need for restraint from all sides during this difficult time.

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Aaj Kal