- Our Town
Abbas criticizes abduction of Israeli teens
By Associated Press, The Associated Press
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday defended his security co-operation with Israel against widespread criticism and said his forces are helping in the search for three Israeli teens missing in the West Bank.
Security co-ordination with Israel serves Palestinian interests because it helps prevent a new uprising, which would "destroy us," Abbas said.
Abbas' blunt comments — delivered at a high-profile gathering of Muslim and Arab officials in Saudi Arabia — were remarkable, considering how unpopular the security co-ordination with Israelis is among the Palestinians, particularly at a time of a new Israeli crackdown in the West Bank in the wake of the teens' disappearance.
The teens disappeared from a West Bank hitchhiking junction almost a week ago. Israel has blamed the Islamic militant Hamas group for their disappearance, without providing proof.
In response to the disappearance, Israel launched the most significant military ground operation in five years and arrested more than 200 Palestinians, most of them Hamas activists and political leaders, in the aftermath.
Abbas told the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in televised comments Wednesday that he did not know who abducted the teens.
"We are still looking and searching to find out who carried out such an act," he said, adding that those involved "want to destroy us."
He did not elaborate, but appeared to be referring to his government as the target of destabilization attempts.