Netanyahu slams Arab MK’s ‘lies’, warns of Passover escalation

Speaking at a pre-Passover toast in Tel Aviv with the Union of Local Authorities, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned of efforts to trigger another escalation in terrorism, and urged local leaders to help "calm the mood."

Netanyahu, who recently noted a sharp downturn in the number of Arab terror attacks, warned local heads against becoming complacent.

"We must be patient. We know that there are attempts, even now, to change the trend of a decline in the number of terrorist attacks," he said.

"There are, at present, attempts to rekindle the unrest and the violence, especially over Passover and the Temple Mount, as we previously experienced during the holidays last autumn," Netanyahu continued, echoing IDF officials. "Ahead of Passover, all kinds of extremist elements are spreading lies about our policy on the Temple Mount in order to cause riots and stir things up.

"We are working against these inciters. We will increase our forces in places of friction; we will use additional defensive measures. We are also sending messages to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the entire Arab world.

"I also call on you, local council heads and mayors, Jewish and Arab alike, to work with your publics in order to calm the mood. Do not allow an extremist minority to change the order of things."

Illustrating the delicate nature of the current period of calm were two terror attacks within minutes of each other Thursday afternoon.

In the first, two 12-year-old Arab boys were arrested for carrying array of weapons in Jerusalem's Old City, and admitted to planning an imminent terror attack. Just minutes later, an Arab terrorist attacked an IDF soldier with an ax further south in Gush Etzion.

The prime minister hit out at extremist Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, for recent comments in which he called for Arab terrorists to re-escalate their campaign of violence, and aired a provocative conspiracy theory – often peddled by Islamists attempting to stir up violence – that Israel is planning to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

"I tell you for certain: There is no change in our policy regarding the status-quo on the Temple Mount," Netanyahu insisted. "Do not believe the lies, which I regret are also being spread by several MKs.

"We are committed to maintaining the peace and the security and will do whatever it takes to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel."


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