In a meeting between officials in Saudi Arabia, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the return of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. Abbas said those behind the abduction were “seeking the destruction of [Palestinian] authority,” reports Haaretz.
The meeting occurred between Muslim and Arab officials in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, reports Haaretz. Abbas said he was cooperating with Israel for the safe return of Gilad Shaer, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 16. The three teenagers were hitchhiking near Gush Etzion in the West Bank when they were abducted on Thursday. The meeting and the call for the return of the Israeli teenagers follows Abbas’ earlier condemnation of the kidnapping, reports Haaretz.
While Abbas is supportive of the rescue mission, he also had expressed concerns over the way Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was handling the search for the Israeli teenagers. According to Abbas, the search could serve as a way to launch another West Bank military campaign, reports Haaretz.
According to the Associated Press, Israel claims Hamas was behind the kidnapping but have yet to provide proof for the claims. In a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said members of Hamas were arrested as part of the search mission. Abbas said on Wednesday they are still looking for the abductors and have not blamed the kidnapping on any particular group, saying, "We are still looking and searching to find out who carried out such an act," reports AP.
Abbas' comments follows the arrest of more than 65 Palestinians, including 51 Palestinians who were freed as part of a prisoner exchange in 2011, on Wednesday, reports Reuters.