National News

Abbas criticizes abduction of Israeli teens

The mothers of the three missing Israeli teenagers, from left to right, Rachel Frenkel, mother of Naftali Frenkel, Iris Yifrah, mother of Eyal Yifrah and Bat Galim Shaar, mother of Gilad Shaar, embrace in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Nof Ayalon, where Frenkel family live, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Israeli security forces searched the West Bank looking for three missing Israeli teenagers who they fear have been abducted by Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum) ISRAEL OUT -
The mothers of the three missing Israeli teenagers, from left to right, Rachel Frenkel, mother of Naftali Frenkel, Iris Yifrah, mother of Eyal Yifrah and Bat Galim Shaar, mother of Gilad Shaar, embrace in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Nof Ayalon, where Frenkel family live, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Israeli security forces searched the West Bank looking for three missing Israeli teenagers who they fear have been abducted by Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum) ISRAEL OUT
— image credit:

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.

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