Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu Criticizes Arab Leaders for Not Condemning Kidnapping

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warns Israeli Arab leaders that without condemning abduction, they cannot be part of Israeli society.
By Hezki Ezra and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 6/30/2014, 5:05 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued sharp criticism against Israeli Arab leaders Monday, over their failure to condemn the abduction of three Israeli teens - more than two weeks after the fact.

"Our effort to return the kidnapped boys home, safe and sound, continues - and we are not sparing any effort [in this regard]," Netanyahu said. "I also recognize that, over time, we may see the condemnation begin to flow, [labeling the abduction] as a criminal act in the strongest terms." 

The prime minister noted that many of Israel's Arab citizens have not condemned the abduction, and criticized the Arab leadership in Israel.

"I am disappointed in their institutional leadership, who did not bother to condemn the act," Netanyahu said. "This is serious because these leaders are not willing to do even what [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas has done: condemn[ing] the act of kidnapping innocent children."

"If they want to be part of Israeli society, they must condemn it," he added.

Netanyahu's speech echoes similar sentiments from Sunday, when the Prime Minister condemned the anti-Israel incitement at a heated protest outside Umm-Al-Fahm last week. 

"Outrageous calls were heard supporting the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers," Netanyahu said. "Most of Israel's Arab citizens do not support this, and I call on their leaders to stand boldly and firmly in condemning these statements."

Until then, he said, he would fight the incitement. 

"As Israeli citizens, we cannot accept and put up with such outrageous statements," Netanyahu warned. "The IDF protects all of us."

The kidnappings - which have united Jewish Israelis in condemnation and sympathy with the victims' families - have been something of a catalyst for introspection within the Arab-Israeli community.

Some Arab leaders have gone further than simply not condemning the kidnappings, and have expressed sympathy with the kidnappers, triggering widespread revulsion.

Yet a handful of Israeli Arabs have defied their traditionally anti-Zionist leaders to come out vocally and condemn the kidnappings. Most notable among them is 17-year-old Mohammed Zoabi of Nazareth, who has been forced to go into hiding due to threats on his life following a viral video he posted condemning the abductions.

And the inflammatory comments expressed by Zoabi prompted other members of her own extended family to publicly distance themselves from her and condemn the kidnappings.

Members of other Israeli minorities have shown solidarity with the parents of the kidnapped boys, including the head of Israel's Druze community.