Settlement killings inhuman, Abbas tells Israel

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 10:27 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday condemned the killing of five members of a Jewish settler family and told Israel he was determined to help catch those responsible.

Abbas's interview with state-funded Israel Radio followed a complaint by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the his administration's earlier condemnation of the weekend knife attack had been lukewarm.

"This was a disgraceful act, inhuman and immoral," Abbas said in Arabic comments translated into Hebrew by the interviewer.

"I'm not capable of seeing a four-month-old baby girl murdered, or a woman slaughtered," he said. "Any person who has a sense of humanity would be pained and driven to tears by such sights."

Friday's attack in the Itamar settlement, which Israel blamed on Palestinians, shattered the relative quiet of the occupied West Bank and illustrated the long-standing distrust between Abbas and Netanyahu.

Abbas said he telephoned Netanyahu to offer condolences as well as help from his security force in solving the attack.

"Had we had advance information, we would have prevented this," he said. "Now we want to know who carried it out."

In broadcast remarks to Israel's cabinet, Netanyahu said on Sunday that "alarming incitement in Palestinian schools, mosques and media" had prepared the ground for the Itamar attack.

Abbas rejected the allegation, saying his Palestinian Authority was "the only place in the Arab and Muslim world" where mosques used sermons pre-approved and disseminated by the government.

He offered to set up a joint committee with Israel and the United States to vet Palestinian schoolbooks.

(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Andrew Dobbie)