WASHINGTON — The State Department encouraged a restart of talks between the Israelis and Palestinians — the Russians claim they’re going to happen in Moscow — while acknowledging they’re “troubled” by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party praising the Munich murders of Israeli athletes.
The Palestinian president’s party honored the anniversary of the 1972 attack, in which 11 Israelis and a West German police officer were killed, with a Facebook post calling it “a heroic operation.”
Posting the image on his Facebook page, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “a new low” for Fatah.
“If you want to know why we don’t have peace today, look no further than the fact that Fatah, President Abbas’ party, openly praises savage murder,” said Netanyahu’s post. “Young children read these posts. They end up seeing murderers as heroes. It’s no wonder that some of them want to murder Jews in the streets. They are taught day after day that murdering Jews is the greatest thing they can do.”
“Decades have passed since some of our most talented athletes were butchered in cold blood. Yet hatred of the Jews remains as fresh as ever. Enough is enough.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters today that “it’s obviously up to the parties to decide if they want to do a meeting, and when and where that meeting takes place.”
“As we made clear in the quartet report, we continue to call on both sides to demonstrate their commitment to a two-state solution, and to lay the groundwork for a successful negotiation,” Toner said. “I think we’re concerned that things might be moving in the opposite direction given, on the one hand, and we’ve expressed our concern about this, ongoing Israeli settlement activity, but equally, we’ve been troubled by the fact that — or by the incitement to violence.”
“I think most recently, the Fatah Facebook post that glorified the terrorist attacks on the Munich Olympics, where 11 innocent Israeli athletes were killed. So we are concerned and remain focused on encouraging all sides to take the necessary actions and steps that will allow for meaningful progress toward a two-state solution. So we welcome talks. It’s up for the both sides to decide if those take place. But it’s also about laying the groundwork, so that any talks would be successful and be able to lead to negotiations.”
Toner added that Secretary of State John Kerry “remains fully engaged in this effort.”
“He speaks to Prime Minister Netanyahu frequently. We speak to the Palestinian authority frequently. He speaks to leadership in the region, which is also vital to any eventual peace effort,” the spokesman said. “But I think it’s — you know again, it’s up to the parties to decide when and where they meet. I just would reiterate that we think there needs to be groundwork laid before effective and fruitful negotiations can take place.”