"Moderate" Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Dr. Mustafa Barghouti accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself of being responsible for the murder of teens Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19) on Tuesday. Barghouti went on to justify the murders, claiming Palestinian Arabs cannot be held responsible for their actions.
"First of all, let me tell you, I am sorry for the deaths of anybody - including these three people and also for the ten Palestinians, who were killed by the Israeli Army this week," Barghouti began, in an interview with CNN.
He then accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of calling Palestinian children "monsters" - despite the fact that Netanyahu only referred to the murderers as "human animals" in his speech Monday night - and claimed that the PA has no "actual control" over its own land.
"Regarding the Palestinian Authority, I think that there is no place in the West Bank today which is actually under the control of the Palestinian Authority," Barghouti claimed, accusing Israel of "invading" the PA.
"I think that the person who is responsible for the death of these young people is Netanyahu himself," he fired, "by sending them into illegal settlements by international law."
"Settlements are illegal, these guys should not have been there," he added, justifying the kidnapping and murder by pointing out that the IDF has been "destroying houses in Hebron, threatening to deport Palestinian politicians to Gaza, and threatening to conduct a war against Palestinians."
The ultimate 'straw man'?
Earlier, Barghouti made similar remarks to BBC Newsnight, at which point an astonished newscaster called him out on his remarks.
"So you're saying these three boys, these children, 'had it coming,' are you, because of where they were geographically?" she challenged. "Are you not suggesting then that any settler is 'fair game'?"
Barghouti merely replied that "peace cannot come to Palestinians or Israelis until the illegal Occupation ends."
Besides for the obvious refusal to acknowledge that the murder victims were children, it is worth noting that the legality of Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria is a topic of empirical debate.
While many media outlets and commentators regularly refer to Jewish communities there as "illegal under international law", many international legal experts firmly disagree.
Indeed, many of the international treaties wielded as evidence of the illegality of "Jewish settlements" are not in fact applicable to Israel's control over lands liberated in 1967.
Barghouti's casual references to these inaccuracies have raised eyebrows, particularly due to his "moderate" reputation.
Barghouti has a reputation as a "moderate" in many western media circles; he is General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative, a member of the PA parliament, and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council.
Earlier this year he participated in violent "Naksa Day" riots, throwing stones at IDF forces.