PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud AbbasFlash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas reacted on Friday night to the disappearance of three yeshiva students near Hevron and said that the PA would assist Israel in the search.

An official statement issued by Abbas’s spokesman and quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 News said, “The Palestinian Authority hopes the boys will be found and we will help Israel in searching for them.”

The statement added, “The incident occurred in Area C and in previous cases in which Israelis entered the territory of the Palestinian Authority, security personnel helped transfer them safely back to Israel.”

The statement comes after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said it held the PA leadership responsible for the boys' disappearance and possible kidnapping by terrorists.

Netanyahu later spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and reiterated this stance while noting that the disappearance was directly related to the unity government between Abbas and Hamas.

"What is happening on the ground since Hamas was added to the government is a deterioration of the situation. This is the direct result of allowing a murderous and racist terrorist organization into the government," Netanyahu told Kerry.

Earlier on Friday, a spokesman for the PA’s security services said that the PA was not responsible for the three students’ disappearance.

"Three settlers are missing, why is this the fault of the Palestinian Authority? We have nothing to do with this issue,” the spokesman said.

“If a natural disaster hits Israel, would we be responsible? This is mad and unacceptable, we have no knowledge about this,” he added.

Israeli security forces are continuing the search for the three students, with whom all communication was lost as they were on their way home from the yeshiva, located in Gush Etzion, roughly between Jerusalem and Hevron in Judea.

Security sources suspect they may have been taken into a vehicle driven by terrorists that stopped for them as they waited at a popular hitchhiking spot.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)