Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day after a West Bank couple was murdered in front of their four kids, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that the peace process being pushed by the administration could end all of these slayings.
Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama, both in their 30s, were driving with their family when a car containing at least two Palestinian gunmen pulled up and shot the couple to death. Their children, ranging from 4 months to 9 years old, were in the backseat, uninjured.
“Palestinian terrorists murdered yesterday a young mother and father leaving four little orphans. A gunman brutally murdered nine innocent Americans,” Netanyahu said before his meeting with Kerry in New York today, referencing the community college massacre in Roseburg, Ore. “I appreciated your strong statement of condemnation. I have to say that I have yet to hear any condemnation from President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.”
“Worse, I heard senior officials from his Fatah movement praise this action. They say this is the way to go. No, it’s not the way to go. The way to go for any conceivable arrangement is to fight terrorism and to make sure that terrorism reaps no rewards.”
A group linked to Fatah claimed it was behind the murders, while Hamas said “this operation was in response to the crimes of the Zionists.”
Kerry said that “our hearts go out to the families of the Israelis who have been lost, but our hearts also go out to the people in Oregon too, where we’ve had our own violence in our country.”
“So that’s really what brings me here today to talk to you about is the violence — too much, particularly in your part of the world. And you know this because you live with it every single day,” Kerry continued. “So we have a lot to talk about. I think there are ways to cooperate to take constructive steps that can address this over the long term, which is something we have worked on together and that we need to work on.”
“So we’re sharing with you the grief that Israel feels today,” he added. “I hope we can share also the efforts going forward that can reduce and maybe ultimately one day even eliminate any families having to go through these kinds of losses.”
Netanayhu then jumped back in, stressing that “any path forward requires one thing: you have to fight terror.”
“And the terrorists are there; the fanaticism, the zealotry is there; and we have no choice but to fight them,” the prime minister said. “But when we hear incitement that — worse, when we hear praise for the terrorists from our supposed peace partners, we say cut that out, start fighting terrorism. If you won’t, we will. But that’s the call that the international community must place on the Palestinian Authority.”
“But I want to make it clear: we’re going to fight these terrorists, and we’re going to fight them in ways that they will understand makes terrorism not worth its actions and not garner any rewards.”
Both Kerry and UN Ambassador Samantha Power ditched Netanyahu’s Thursday speech to the UN General Assembly. The State Department hasn’t yet commented on the circumstances behind the snub.